Digger Misner, managing director and owner of Capital Cranes, has been involved in the crane industry for almost 30 years. With customer relationships, service and safety as his major priorities, his guidance has seen the business become a major force in the nation’s capital.
With a keen focus on the make-up of his crane fleet, Digger Misner has been prepared to invest in the latest technology, to provide Capital Cranes with a competitive advantage whilst ensuring the safest lifting solutions are available to customers.
“Today, my crane fleet suits a variety of works including quarries, mining, energy, telecommunications, utilities as well as domestic and commercial construction. The fleet consists of Liebherr all-terrain telescopic cranes, Franna articulated pick up and carry cranes, Kato city class cranes and Maeda mini crawlers.
“I’ve chosen the brand leaders in their respective class. Since buying my first Liebherr, a 2009 LTM 1040-2.1, I have become an un-ashamed fan of the brand. My previous mobile cranes had all been Japanese brand truck cranes. Even though they were very reliable, they didn’t have the advanced technological lift and safety features, or the refinement of the German built machines,” he said.
“All the modern Liebherr cranes in our fleet have the latest VarioBase technology. This Liebherr innovation is a game changer in the way we set up cranes in constricted working conditions. This means the customer will save money by not requiring a larger crane to do the same lift from a greater radius. The crews love the Liebherr all terrains for their compact dimensions and long booms,” said Misner.
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Five years ago, Capital Cranes was the first company on the east side of Australia to acquire the Liebherr LTM 1060-3.1, the 60t 3 axle machine with 48m main boom and Variobase technology. Misner was so impressed with the machine, which met and exceeded all his expectations, he ordered a second three months later.
“This was a whole new machine introduced to the Australian market with unknown credentials. World sales have since proven its popularity right across the globe. We work in a tough market, in a tough industry, and these modern versatile cranes can help win jobs. They are ideal for customers who aren’t just price focused but actually want to use a machine that has the safe capabilities to do the job,” he said.
According to Misner, Capital Cranes is focused on customer service and strives to deliver satisfaction by providing the right service with the right cranes.
“I won’t tolerate unsafe behaviour and insist on a safety – focused workforce.
There is no point having the right cranes if you don’t have the right operators, with the right skills providing excellent customer service. I’m extremely pleased with the culture in our yard. The skill level and the attitude of our employees are the reason we retain our customers. My team understands the value of customer relationships which in many instances, have been built and developed over many years,” he said.
In 2004, Misner took delivery of the first 20t Franna articulated crane in Canberra.
“When I first announced I had ordered the 20t Franna locally, my competition were of the opinion the dimensions were too big to manoeuvre around sites and inside factories. But it proved very popular with my clients and that same competition soon ordered their own. I was also the first to introduce into Canberra, the MAC 25t Franna with Superlift option which can increase its lifting capacities by up to 30 per cent,” he said.
Misner has recently placed an order for the all new Terex AT 40, the 40t capacity Franna to add to the company’s pickup and carry capabilities.
“I must admit, I was a little bit slow to recognise the potential of this machine, my opposition has already ordered their second machine,” he said.
All of Misner’s Franna’s are equipped with Robway’s Dynamic Load Moment Indicator (LMI). This software technology calculates the crane’s capacities when travelling over uneven ground, in real time. Using pitch and roll information, the deration is displayed on screen for the operators so they can concentrate on driving the machine safely, he says.
Capital Cranes is Australian and Internationally certified and accredited to safety, management and environmental systems including AS/NZS 4801, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
Misner got fed up with the extensive and complex onsite OHS requirements which differed from site to site.
“I decided to enrol in a Cert. 4 in WorkPlace Health and Safety. As a business owner, the WHS course helped me better understand my responsibilities to all stakeholders as a PCBU. (Person Conducting a Business Undertaking). The course continually referred to the Australian standards as the benchmark to comply with WHS Systems,” he said.
Following the completion of the course, Capital Cranes implemented a business management system which had been designed and installed following a consultative process with management and staff. The system was then certified by a 3rd party certifier.
“The certification is to Australian and International standards with 3rd party audits to ensure our systems are run correctly,” said Misner.
Every 12 months, a Surveillance Audit is conducted to ensure Capital Cranes is operating within the parameters of the management system, and if the audit detects any issues which need addressing, they are recorded and reported back to Misner.
To retain accreditation, Misner needs to demonstrate that Capital Cranes is compliant with the standards. These international standards include ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems Standard Certification, ISO 45001 Safety Management Systems Standard and ISO 14001 the Environmental Management Systems Standard.
To ensure operations are within the standards, the business follows the management system the way it has been designed to function, with all the processes associated with the system documented. For example, the Capital Crane’s team has to demonstrate it has adhered to safe operations when setting up cranes. They also have to demonstrate the right lift plans have been presented to the client and the client agrees to them prior to the cranes getting onsite.
Both parties are then assured the operations are carried out in a safe manner. Records of these actions are maintained so the relevant information and documentation can be produced when the annual audits are conducted.
This type of accreditation is not common in the crane industry. Capital Cranes is the only company operating mobile cranes based in Canberra that is 3rd party certified for operations. With a company that has this accreditation, the systems are in place so if something goes wrong, they can prove with the records kept, that all the relevant processes and procedures have been followed and the business has undertaken all the necessary precautions.
“These certifications make a difference to our customers looking to hire a crane company. For example, if a crane hire business is working directly with the ACT Government, it needs to be prequalified for that sort of work,” said Misner.
Because Capital Cranes has the 3rd party certification, it has a pre-qualification for this sort of work. Also, for larger companies that require safe systems, Capital Cranes are in a strong position when tendering for large jobs. Tier One builders and contractors will be looking for this type of accreditation. With Tier One and Tier Two customers, it can be a condition of the tender to only engage companies that have 3rd Party Certification of their management systems
Capital Cranes is the only crane company in Canberra that conducts random drug and alcohol testing by a 3rd party. Testing was introduced five years ago, and in that time no permanent staff member has returned a positive result.
“My staff approve of this initiative because it maintains a safer workplace and our customers can be confident that our crane crews are ‘fit for work’,” said Misner.
“Capital Cranes has grown with Canberra and the businesses of my regular customers have grown as well. We support them with the machines they need to keep growing, and as they’ve requested the size and variety of machines, we’ve purchased them.
“Jeff Wilson from Finlease equipment finance has played an important role in this business. Buying your next crane has to be a very calculated decision regarding timing. I’m a terrible procrastinator, but Jeff has always provided his professional financial advice to help me grow the business. I really appreciate his advice and support,” he said.
Misner is a long-term member of The Crane Industry Council of Australia (CICA). CICA had combined Victoria/Tasmania because Tasmania didn’t have enough members and, with his prompting, a similar initiative saw the ACT combined with NSW now NSW/ACT
“CICA plays an important role in our industry and is respected by the Tier One companies. I really enjoy the CICA national conference, it provides a chance to network with industry stakeholders, exchange ideas with other crane owners as well as taking in a ‘snapshot’ of the latest technology.
“It’s a tough industry and I have a lot of respect for crane owners because I understand the ever-changing challenges owners face. Owners must be dynamic to survive and yet every day we are faced with mobilising our cranes on outdated road and bridge infrastructure, antiquated Industrial relations and increasing administration costs. On top of everything else, we now contend with the coronavirus pandemic. Even with all the setbacks, risks and hard work, I still enjoy being part of the industry and in particular, the rapid technological advancements the crane manufacturers are making,” he said.