Locking horns with the bigger manufacturers in Europe to expand a market in Australia is no easy task. However, armed with an updated factory, new facilities nation-wide and a ranking of number one crane manufacturer in the world, XCMG is more than ready to embrace the challenge.
Conceived in 1943, Chinese manufacturing group XCMG wasn’t always the heavy-machinery powerhouse it is now. Initially named Huaxing Iron Works, the company provided the arsenal for the national army of China.
Rolling through to 1989, the company decided it was time to rebrand into the name that construction, mine and engineering workers recognise globally today – but not before they had already taken huge steps in the heavy-lifting machinery industry.
Fast forwarding to today, while providing sustainable development on a global scale in tandem with construction solutions, XCMG targets nine different focus areas: hoisting, earthworks, roadbuilding, mining, tunnelling, civil engineering, sanitation engineering, firefighting and paving equipment.
On top of these foci, the company has expanded globally, holding manufacturing capabilities in Brazil, India, China, USA, and Germany on top of its homeland operations base. With its global expansion, XCMG is now putting its roots firmly down in Australia by investing in OEM backed dealers across Australia and New Zealand.
Sales manager in the ANZ region for XCMG Stephen Broomfield elaborates on the company, its social standing, goals, and operational developments.
“Without compromising on quality, the XCMG team produces plant and equipment to ISO recognised quality assurance standards. The quality being produced by China manufacturing facilities currently is now changing people’s view of China manufactured products,” he said.
“It is widely acknowledged in the crane industry that spare parts and components are already manufactured in China and widely used across Australia and New Zealand. Today’s current global situation has challenged all manufacturers to overcome and adapt to these new times; this is where XCMG has risen to the challenge to become a global force,” he continued.
The figures back it up too. In 2022, XCMG placed third on the KHL Yellow Table, an annual power-ranking chart of the top construction companies in the world, and number one in the world for crane manufacturing companies.
Encountering the stigma associated with Chinese products is a hurdle XCMG Australia New Zealand will need to overcome. But Stephen says that as customers become familiar with its products, the quality will overcome the stigma.
“That angst that Australian clients have over Chinese products is unfounded, but it’s on us to give customers an understanding of where the product lies in the marketplace – especially the technologies and the highest level of quality control that are involved with XCMG.”
XCMG and its Australian team are working vigorously behind the scenes to put processes in place to support owners, users, and business partners, according to Stephen.
Signing up to be the platinum sponsor for CICA’s event in Perth later this year, he believes that it’s indicative of how XCMG “sees the Australian market” and that the company is “here to stay for the long haul.”
“We’re certainly seeing the fruits of our labour come to the fore,” he said. “I doubt 50 per cent of the crane guys even knew who XCMG were when we first expanded to Australia. Now, it’s a completely different story.”
While a strategy built around brand exposure and platforming the quality of the product being provided to customers are parts of the plan, Stephen is quick to specify that they do not form the whole approach to growing XCMG’s business globally – it is more a targeted, locally focused approach.
At the very forefront of this approach is a recently updated factory for the crane division back in China, featuring an array of new technologies and processes. Notably, on top of the already 75-square-kilometre facility, XCMG has also added a 4000-tonne pressing machine purchased from Sweden.
“The machine can create a curved boom – a special feature which increases a crane’s lifting capacity,” Stephen says.
“The factory saw that technology, and that was something they purchased abroad for in-house use. We didn’t want to outsource that work and drive up the cost.”
Additional to the new press, XCMG have also upgraded the capacity of its robotics so that 80 per cent of all welding completed on cranes is done by robots – up from the previous 50 per cent – containing the “latest technology in plasma welding”, according to Stephen.
“It’s a very special cool welding, which is stronger and yields better with the steel, resulting in efficiency and a maintenance of the high standards we want to uphold,” he says. “It really is state-of-the-art.”
“It’s why we’re able to keep our prices relatively competitive across the global market,” he continues. “Steel is less expensive in China, and using the latest robot technology enables XCMG to reduces costs.”
“A lot of the technologies that we adopt in our factory result in the product being of a higher quality.”
However, being in possession of state-of-the-art facilities is only one aspect of XCMG continuing its path as a global heavy-machinery powerhouse. The others, as mentioned above, revolve around clear communication strategies regarding what XCMG will provide to their customers and ensuring that support is consistently available from top-to-bottom.
“We want to make sure that when we sell a product, that parts, service and technical support is available locally. We’re continually expanding our technical support,” says Stephen.
For Stephen and XCMG, it’s about making sure this level of service is applied consistently – after all, as he points out, availability in a crane is just as important as pleasing the business owner.
“Yes, we’re selling to the owner of the business. But we continue to work with the operator of the machine as the feedback is critical in ongoing development, and we need to make sure we appease both.”
Appeasing just the operator and business owner isn’t all for XCMG though, as the company – with its ‘customer-centric’ mantra – carefully scouts out any potential dealer as to ensure that, through the supply and logistics chain, no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of expanding its business in Australia.
To support the crane industry further, XCMG has now opened OEM warehouses in Melbourne, Karratha and Perth to support customers in Australia and New Zealand.
“We’re looking very seriously at who we appoint as a dealer,” says Stephen. “It’s not a case of just grabbing somebody who wants to sell cranes; we want to grab a company that’s established, that possesses a workshop facility capable of servicing the cranes.”
And that, in essence, is the unfolding tale of XCMG’s fortunes in Australia. Ensuring consistency across all levels is paramount to transmitting a message about the quality of XCMG’s products.
“Telling that story to customers, of how we’re going about our business, of how we’re very customer centric, is what’s going to help us succeed initially. our role is just educating the customers to believe in our product,” says Stephen.
“Everyone’s starting to understand that there is this other company in China that’s got high-quality cranes and equipment,” he continues.
“We have nothing to hide and welcome customers to visit our facilities to understand how world leading we are. XCMG being the number one crane manufacturer in the world now is a big eye opener for a lot of people. They used to always think that the European companies were the number one, but now they can see and hear that for themselves.”