The Time organisation is probably the only vehicle mount aerial work platform manufacturer which exports worldwide. Of the approximately 4500 lifts produced annually around 3500 are exported. Much of Time's export success can be attributed to its Denmark based subsidiary Time International.
Time Export is headed up by Per Torp who set up the company in 1992 following a period running a company that designed export options for the Versalift range of booms, which are manufactured by Time Manufacturing the base company, based in Waco Texas. These include features still on the products today or developments of them such as the radial outriggers for vans, the walk through basket which allows you to walk through the van body to the basket at the back and the fly boom.
Now Time Export consists of two divisions Time Danmark which sells and supports the Ruthmann machines (see box story) and Time International which has the role of distribution and support of the Time International machines. Some 25 people are employed in sales, marketing and support engineering. The company handles between 1000 and 1200 machines a year.
Part of Time International's function is to identify regional requirements of European countries and other export markets such as the Middle East and the Far East. It can, using its market expertise, suggest design modifications or new products for those markets. Design work and some prototype manufacturing is carried out in Denmark.
For example the sub-frame systems to mount onto European truck bodies can vary from country to country because of the different rules . "It's still a headache, says Mr Torp, but after many years of the European Union it is starting to come together."
One of the reasons for the success of Time International is that it is able to supply booms in kit form for mounting by trained engineers anywhere in the world - Some Middle East and Far East mounting work is still completed in Europe or the US before export.
Europe has three mounting facilities Versalift UK, Denmark in Farsoe and in France near Paris.
New prototypes are developed in Denmark the approvals are coordinated in Denmark but it is the smallest mounting facility the UK and France are larger handling between 400 -500 machines a year.
Versalist UK has suffered more during the recession years of 2009/10/11 but business is coming back for 2012. France, however, has been growing year on year even though it has some customer base in Spain, Portugal, North Africa and Southern Europe.
Mr Torp says the French market is strong taking advantage quickly of the growth in truck mounts over van mounts. There has even been growth in Spain during the recession with an excellent 2012 forecast.
"Overall, says Mr Torp, we have come through the recession well, possibly because we cover all markets and offer a wide range of machines.
"Recession came late to us because many customers are not rental or construction. We saw no recession before 2010 then orders fell, but 2012 could be close to the turnover of 2008 - and we're ready for it."
"Time is a positive company and strong financially, during the recession - and even when orders were - falling we made extra investment into developments.
"We made a decision in 2009 that we would invest in new models. The company owners and [financial] backers were 200% behind new ideas and developments because they understand the company and get excited about its future.
"Of course they want to see pay back but don't have a short term attitude and are not looking to sell tomorrow."
One decision was to strengthen the engineering department in Denmark, which had always been active in helping with the design of lifts for the European market, but this time they were to design a new product from scratch for future manufacture in Waco Texas - the home of Time Manufacturing.
LAT39/TB (which indicates -lift articulated telescopic 39(ft) top bucket) has been designed for mounting on a Land Rover, but it could also be mounted on a 3.5t GVW truck. Time thinks there is a substantial market for this model in the UK and Ireland and following its launch at Bauma 2010 it is already doing well with 70 to 100 machines, sold mostly to UK utilities companies who have to work off road.
There are another two new ranges of machines coming to the market, which have been designed in a fully cooperative project between the engineers at Waco and in Denmark. Mr Torp says that the mixture of US and European engineers often come up with ideas before others, which begin by being reviled and are later copied by the competition.
A complete new line of van mounted Versalifts and three models for the 3.5t GVW range, the first machine is arriving in France in February. The truck mounted machines are a lightweight line using a very high tensile steel in the boom construction. They are 10m, 11m and 12m working heights for the 3.5t vans the lighter steel is being used to allow for an increased payload.
Three out of every four van mounted aerial lifts sold are a Versalift and the company wants to keep that market share. Customers are asking for more payload and as the actual vans are getting heavier Time must compensate with high technology materials. "We did it before in 2006 and we're doing it again now," says Mr Torp
All Time's platforms are fixed to the subframe, which means less space is used inside the van - this combined with the radial outriggers means the van body has more space for tools and outfitting
The new van line VT140/145/160/170/180 also use high tensile steels for added rigidity in the boom that, combined with the new control system, contributes to making the user feel secure in windy conditions - important, since the machines are very suitable for energy companies, which have to deal with repairs in adverse weather conditions. The controller positions the boom quickly and smoothly, outriggers can be deployed from the basket and the controller will automatically restrict boom movement to safe levels dependent on ground condition and outriggers deployed.
Ten of the machines have been built and the first have been delivered to Dond in Copenhagen, the biggest energy company in Denmark, also operating in the Netherlands. They have also been delivered to German and Norwegian utilities companies. Because the boom can be deployed without outriggers the vans are good for applications such as street lighting maintenance. The basket has a 265kg capacity for tools and two operatives.
Time is also planning a complete line of 3.5t truck mounts to 21m operating below Ruthmann's 3.5t range which ranges between 22-27m working height.
Time is anticipating continued growth year on year , "We are in a strong position," says Mr Torp but not over optimistic."
"China may be a threat in Europe in the future but our ability to make bespoke solutions and tailor machines to the market plus our understanding of the markets we work in put us in a very strong position."AI