Danish loader manufacturer HMF makes moves
By Euan Youdale03 October 2008
Danish loader crane manufacturer HMF has launched a new range and is looking to expand further into the international market. Euan Youdale reports.
HMF, based in Århus, Denmark, is adding 3,600 square-metres to its more than 30,000 square-metre Hojbjerg facility. It will house a new automatic crane arm factory and painting facilities, and form part of a larger plan to improve manufacturing.
"This will include the design and manufacture of all main core components, including base, column and arm systems, as well as state of the art painting, assembling and testing of all HMF units," said Søren Them Kjær, HMF export manager. The expansion will allow an increase in production of more than 50%, according to requirements.
"HMF is transferring a major part of its yearly profit into research and development. Priorities do, of course, lie with what products are most requested from the market and what represents most value in return on investment," adds Kjær.
The new 13 to 24 tonne-metre range of knuckle boom cranes represents that demand as mid-range cranes attract around 50% of HMF's market, says Kjær. It will also play a part in the company's efforts to expand its global presence, alongside its three international divisions, HMF UK, HMF Ladekrane in Germany and HMF Sweden.
"It is part of an overall strategic plan covering the future of HMF, which will secure and develop our market position on established markets and attract future business partners and customers worldwide."
Kjær adds that it is difficult to pinpoint HMF's position in the global market. "The output by number and the actual turnover related to this specific business segment are not corresponding and, therefore, highly misleading when trying to understand the size of activity by company.
"Today there is no doubt which companies are in the top three. Then there is a group of manufacturers or brands fighting to be number four. On the manufacturing side, where HMF controls 100% of all production processes involved in the manufacture of its loaders, it is number four in the world. When comparing it to other Italian brands using subcontractors for components, parts and, in some cases, the entire crane, this picture may vary."
Historically, the Danish transport industry is based on small and flexible operators, but that is changing, says Kjær. "The market is turning towards large and more sophisticated cranes for many different end applications.
"This demand is founded in a modern building industry and infrastructure, including advanced architecture and industry requirements, such as large bridges and other areas, which has put considerable pressure on the suppliers of highly advanced building, lifting and transportation equipment."
Kjær adds that the European and world markets are reflected in Denmark. "More and more products are manufactured centrally and distributed worldwide accordingly.
"Also, new infrastructure, as well as higher labour costs in many countries worldwide, is requiring faster and efficient handling and lifting. At the same time, we, at HMF, are happy to see that most countries now, not just the CE members, will require loaders and other equipment to comply with strict safety norms and regulations."
While the economic downturn experienced in Europe will affect HMF, as it has other manufacturers, the massive demand for cranes and the resultant long lead times have proven a hindrance to some extent. "In a way we will be looking forward to a more normal market demand situation which will allow HMF and our distributors to forecast better and fulfil end customer demand better.
"However, the past 20 years of loader crane activity is showing growth rates of, on average, 15% growth per year. We see no signs that this growth rate will start to decline with new business segments, such as the booming windmill industry worldwide," adds Kjær.