US CRANE MAN­U­FAC­TURER LINK-BELT TALKS ABOUT FORG­ING STRONG MAR­KET TIES IN THE MID­DLE EAST

CBNME talks to Roy Burger, man­ager for in­ter­na­tional sales at US crane man­u­fac­turer Link-belt

Construction BusinessNews Middle East - - Machinery & Vehicles -

The his­tory of Link-belt Cranes Dates al­most years to when a young sales­man named 7il­liam $ana %Vert lrst Con­ceived of a chain belt that had de­tach­able links (hence Link-belt), rather than the drives that could break and de­bil­i­tate har­vesters when they were needed most.

The sur­round­ings of the large-scale projects in oil and gas and in­fra­struc­ture that Link-belt Cranes has been sup­ply­ing to in the Mid­dle East re­gion are very dif­fer­ent to the rich and ver­dant state of Ken­tucky where the mo­bile crane spe­cial­ist is based in to­day. How­ever, the re­gion has proven to be a largely suc­cess­ful ter­ri­tory since it lrst en­tered the mar­ket in the 1960s as one of the most es­tab­lished lead­ers in its leld.

The com­pany’s in­ter­na­tional sales man­ager, Roy Burger, tells CBNME: “Link-belt’s strong­est mar­ket share comes from North Amer­ica where it is able to mar­ket its full range of prod­ucts and where the great­est con­cen­tra­tion of dis­trib­u­tors is lo­cated. How­ever, the Mid­dle East is still a strong mar­ket for Linkbelt. The most com­pa­ra­ble mar­ket to the Mid­dle East for Link-belt Cranes is Latin Amer­ica.”

Rough ter­rain, tele­scopic, and mo­bile cranes were once viewed as use­ful for the oil and gas and in­fra­struc­ture in­dus­tries in the Mid­dle East but un­der­val­ued for other styles of projects. Progress made by com­pa­nies like Link-belt, and oth­ers such as SANY and Lieb­herr sug­gest at­ti­tudes are chang­ing. Burger says that the US com­pany boasts clients from both the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors and a var­ied re­sumé of projects – in­clud­ing a re­cent deal for the sale of mul­ti­ple 50-tonne rough ter­rain cranes to Bi­lal Trans­port in the UAE for the Dubai Har­bour project.

“Link-belt’s ma­jor mar­kets in the Mid­dle East in­clude oil and gas, in­fra­struc­ture, and gen­eral con­struc­tion – ei­ther for gov­ern­ment or com­mer­cial devel­op­ment. Many of Link-belt’s most no­table achieve­ments and projects have also in­volved part­ners in the mil­i­tary sec­tor in the Mid­dle East and Africa,” he ex­plains be­fore adding that the big­gest driv­ers for crane pur­chases are “rou­tine main­te­nance in rel­ner­ies for oil and gas, power plants, and other gen­eral lift­ing nec­es­sary for main­te­nance”.

Link-belt is able to rely on a strong dis­trib­u­tor net­work in the re­gion with dis­trib­u­tor­ships lo­cated in )raq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Pak­istan, Saudi Ara­bia, and the UAE. Burger says the com­pany is work­ing along­side them to ac­cess their cus­tomer bases, “to com­mu­ni­cate the benelts of own­ing and op­er­at­ing a Link-belt Crane. This in­volves train­ing of sales staff not just on our prod­ucts but also on specil­ca­tions of our cranes that meet or ex­ceed the re­quire­ments for safety, ser­vice, re­li­a­bil­ity, and over­all re­sale value in the re­gion.”

The end of 2017 saw its ranks of dis­trib­u­tors fur­ther bol­stered by the ap­point­ment of the Egymec En­gi­neer­ing Com­pany in Egypt. Through the part­ner­ship, the El Didi Groupowned busi­ness will be en­trusted with grow­ing the brand in a coun­try des­per­ate for equip­ment and ex­per­tise as it reignites its pro­gramme of devel­op­ment on a na­tional scale.

“Egymec com­ing aboard this year is also in­te­gral to fu­ture growth in Egypt,” aflrms Burger. “Egymec En­gi­neer­ing Com­pany is a divi­sion of El Didi Group founded in 19 and head­quar­tered in Cairo. Egymec plans to have the cranes and sup­port, in­clud­ing tech­ni­cal staff, to cover the needs of their cus­tomers. We think this is es­sen­tial for their suc­cess.”

With the dis­tri­bu­tion deal in place, Egymec has sub­se­quently pur­chased a 60t HTC-8660 Se­ries II hy­draulic

“The Mid­dle East is still a strong mar­ket for Link-belt. The most com­pa­ra­ble mar­ket to the Mid­dle East for Link-belt Cranes is Latin Amer­ica” Roy Burger

truck crane for a com­pany owned by El Didi Group. A fur­ther 50t RTC-8050 Se­ries II was de­liv­ered in 2017 to Zohr gas leld (the devel­op­ment of which is viewed as crit­i­cal in Egypt for its en­ergy se­cu­rity) for which Egymec will pro­vide ser­vice and sup­port. An ad­di­tional RTC-8050 Se­ries II is also on or­der to go into Egymec’s dealer stock, adds Burger, and is due to be de­liver in Q2 2018.

Be­yond Egypt, April will mark the fourth an­niver­sary of Link-belt’s ap­point­ment of Bakheet in Saudi Ara­bia. Like other ma­chin­ery and equip­ment sup­pli­ers, the com­pany has had to per­se­vere dur­ing a tough pe­riod for the con­struc­tion and en­ergy sec­tors in the coun­try. Burger says that Link-belt will be pre­pared when de­mand for its rough ter­rain, tele­scopic, and other mo­bile cranes starts to re­cover.

“The Saudi mar­ket has been chal­leng­ing,” he laments. “Although many changes are un­der­way, we have main­tained our fo­cus with our dis­trib­u­tor, Bakheet. Our fo­cus is on con­tin­ued train­ing and hav­ing a vi­able growth strat­egy in place when the mar­ket does re­turn.”

When it comes to how Link-belt’s prod­ucts give its clients a pro­duc­tiv­ity ad­van­tage in the leld, he says that the com­pany me­thod­i­cally se­lects its dis­trib­u­tors. He says: “First, you ship a great Qual­ity prod­uct af­ter that, it’s all dis­trib­u­tor sup­port, not prom­ises over the phone from the fac­tory.”

From a tech­nol­ogy point of view, he ar­gues that its cranes also fea­ture, “best in class ca­pac­i­ties with long­est booms, com­bined with in­tu­itive in­cabin con­trols, com­fort and vis­i­bil­ity are stan­dard project tar­gets Link-belt con­tin­ues to de­sign into its cranes.”

He con­tin­ues: “Link-belt’s new cab de­sign of­fers 20% greater vis­i­bil­ity and a cam­era vi­sion pack­age that en­hances on-board site mon­i­tor­ing and in­cludes cam­eras for view­ing the right side of the up­per, the main and aux­il­iary winch, as well as one for back­ing up. Link-belt’s mat-deck car­rier de­sign, ac­cess and egress, and work plat­form guardrails are three very im­por­tant fea­tures that re­in­force work­ing bound­aries.

“Ease and sim­plic­ity of rou­tine main­te­nance are also del­ning char­ac­ter­is­tics of a Link-belt Crane that in­crease the ser­vice life of a crane and re­duce cost of main­te­nance. Once on deck, rou­tine checks on pow­er­train com­po­nents and muid lev­els are a snap with large swing-out doors and LED light­ing that il­lu­mi­nate the en­tire en­gine com­part­ment. A cen­tralised pres­sure check and grease bank lo­cated near the cab al­lows an op­er­a­tor to mon­i­tor mul­ti­ple pres­sures and muid work­ings from one cen­tralised lo­ca­tion.

“Fi­nally [there is] ver­sa­til­ity. At Linkbelt, we be­gin every new crane de­sign with trans­port in mind. Min­imis­ing the num­ber of loads re­quired to move a crane and sim­pli­fy­ing as­sem­bly/dis­as­sem­bly are at the core of our de­sign and how we en­sure that Link-belt cranes trans­port bet­ter than any oth­ers in the in­dus­try.”

At Con­expo 2017, Link-belt de­buted the huge TCC-2500, a 250t tele­scopic crawler crane with an over­all tip-height of 105m. This is a crane built to han­dle huge in­dus­trial, en­ergy, and con­struc­tion loads and CBNME asks, given the scale of projects in the Mid­dle East, whether it might lnd a role here.

“The en­ergy sec­tor is a very im­por­tant mar­ket for the TCC-2500. Sev­eral of the early units to ship out have been found on en­ergy projects in the US in­clud­ing a wind farm in Texas, a rail yard in Kansas un­load­ing wind com­po­nents, and a chem­i­cal plant in Illi­nois where the TCC-2500 is com­plet­ing rou­tine main­te­nance. The TCC-2500 will be avail­able to ship glob­ally with dif­fer­ent en­gine op­tions be­gin­ning in 2018,” he re­marks.

An­other much smaller but also po­ten­tially use­ful tech­nol­ogy on dis­play was the Link-belt Pulse 2.0 sys­tem, which has been de­signed to de­liver a high-res­o­lu­tion screen tough enough for harsh op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ments as well as the abil­ity to ser­vice the crane re­motely. It solves is­sues fa­mil­iar to op­er­a­tors in the re­gion.

Burger ex­plains: “Pulse 2.0 is cur­rently avail­able on the TCC-2500 and 75RT. The re­ac­tion to Pulse 2.0 has been very pos­i­tive from Link-belt cus­tomers and op­er­a­tors alike. Based on on­go­ing op­er­a­tor and cus­tomer feed­back, the in­tu­itive de­sign of Link-belt Pulse 2.0 crane op­er­at­ing sys­tem pro­vides a sim­ple in­ter­face for crane op­er­a­tors with a larger dis­play, along with pro­gram­mable fea­tures that al­low each op­er­a­tor to cus­tomise their dis­play; and soft­ware can be up­dated re­motely.

“The most vis­i­ble dif­fer­ence to Link-belt’s Pulse 2.0 is the new 10 in. dis­play, 7% larger than the orig­i­nal Pulse screen. It has a re­sis­tive touch screen and can be used with gloves and be seen in di­rect sun­light with larger, clearer im­ages; and the unit is pivot-mounted for op­ti­mal view­ing. The in­ter­face is more dy­namic through­out the op­er­at­ing sys­tem, with larger but­tons and in­ter­ac­tive in­di­ca­tor lights dis­played on the mar­gins.”

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