Harsco identifies product development priorities for Europe

By Murray Pollok24 May 2010

Cameron Reid, business development director for mechanical access at Harsco Infrastructure.

Cameron Reid, business development director for mechanical access at Harsco Infrastructure.

Germany, Sweden and Norway will be among the first target markets in Europe for Harsco Infrastructure’s plan to extend mechanical access equipment throughout its operations.

At present, only in France, the UK and the Netherlands does Harsco offer the entire range of mechanical access, defined by Harsco as powered access, hoists, mast climbers and suspended cradles.

Cameron Reid, Harco's business development director for mechanical access, told Access International; "Development of the German business is the biggest opportunity for us. That alone could take a considerable amount of time, to do it organically."

Mr Reid, who was previously in the management team at Harsco's scaffolding and mast climbing business in the UK, said he would be helping Harsco businesses develop the capacities to offer the new products and work with them to understand the requirements of major account customers.

Investment in equipment will only take place when there is an increase in demand, said Mr Cameron, who added that the strategy was customer-led rather than product-led.

As part of the effort, Mr Cameron said that a new procurement process would be put in place, with a tiered supplier base comprising Tier 1 global suppliers and Tier 2 regional suppliers. A centre of excellence for training Harsco staff will also be required.

Harsco has already started redeploying its mechanical access fleet globally, with a significant amount of equipment having left the UK over the past 12 months, "to the extent that we have now established a mechanical access business in western and eastern US, as well as the Middle East", said Mr Cameron.

In the US, rack and pinion products and cradles are now based at Patent's Carson location in Los Angeles serving customers in LA and San Francisco. On the east coast Harsco is supplying mechanical access to a utility customer for maintenance and inspection of wind turbines. As part of the transfer of the assets, US staff are receiving training from counterparts in the UK and the Netherlands.

Some mechanical access products have also been shipped to Harsco facilities in Abu Dhabi and Qatar in the Middle East. Mr Cameron said expansion of the product range in China and Asia Pacific would take place later.

Harsco operates a fleet or 2000 aerial platforms in Europe as well as around 2000 drive units for rack and pinion products.

Harsco Infrastructure - the new name for Harsco's construction and scaffolding businesses including Patent Construction Systems, SGB and Hunnebeck - announced at Bauma that it aimed to expand the range of powered access and mast climbing work platforms it offers worldwide as part of a strategy to widen its range of services to major industrial and construction customers.

Paul O'Kelly, the recently appointed managing director of Harsco Infrastructure in Europe, said the company aimed to offer customers everywhere the full product range of scaffolding, shoring/formwork, cradles, powered access and mast climbing work platforms currently offered in a few markets such as the UK.

Mr O'Kelly said he did not know yet the scale of investments required and emphasized that spending on new equipment would only be made "when the market starts growing".

The strategy will see Harsco target more business with large construction and industrial customers, aiming to secure international contracts with these large customers. In Europe, for example, it aims to increase the amount of industrial business from the current 30% of the total to nearer 50%.

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