Hooked up to success

24 April 2008

Currently the market leader for system scaffold in Scandinavia, and a supplier to many other countries around the world, Haki AB has specialised in the provision of this type of scaffold from its first day of operation in 1956. “We started with this type of scaffold from the very first day of business. In fact, that is where the name Haki comes from as it means ‘hook in' in Swedish,” says managing director Bengt Olsson.

Currently the company manufactures and markets scaffolding systems for a wide range of industrial applications, including building and construction, infrastructure, processing industries, shipyards and the offshore oil and gas industry. Haki AB is today a part of Midway Holding AB, with its head office and production plant located in Sibbhult in northern Skåne, Sweden.

“If you look at the Scandinavian market, we have been in a leading position for the last 25 years,” says Mr Olsson, “and we have had a presence in other countries, such as the UK, for over 20 years. Europe is still our biggest market today, but we have made some large deliveries of our products to countries around the world lately, including Dubai, Japan, and into Africa. We also have exported some of our system scaffold into the USA, via our UK operation.”

Two-tier approach

Haki takes a two-tier approach to meeting its customers' needs around the world. In some European countries, such as the UK, it operates subsidiaries, while in others its products reach the market through distributors.

This customer base is divided in nature. “In Scandinavia, our customers mainly come from either the rental side or from scaffold erection companies”, says Mr Olsson, “but out in the rest of Europe, our customers also include general construction companies.”

The company offers a wide range of products for scaffolding applications. The Universal range is its current standard offering, designed for use in all applications from the simplest to the most complex of applications in almost any industry. It provides great flexibility where bay size and load class are concerned and its components can be used to assemble a wide variety of structures.

Haki also offers a narrow, quickly erected scaffold in the shape of the Haki Ram system, which is ideal for use when building facades need to be scaffolded. It has a simple design with quickly erected closed frames. It uses lightweight aluminium decking and self bracing guardrails that require no diagonal bracing to speed erection.

Roofing systems are another string to the bow - the HakiTec 750 (some components of which can also be used as vertical scaffold elements)in conjunction with Haki Trac sheeting, and the HakiTec 450 system can be used to construct gable or pen roofs.

But the company is not just a manufacturer, it also provides technical support and consultancy to customers as required. “We have a technical support department that currently employs six persons. The ability to offer this kind of service is a fundamental part of Haki's success to date. To be able to help our customers solve their problems provides them with added value,” says Mr Olsson.

Swedish production

Currently all manufacturing operations are carried out at the company's Swedish facility, with a small volume of aluminium product manufacturing being done in Hungary. Unlike some manufacturers, Haki currently has no plans to change this. Currently, the company employs 200 at this facility, which features a highly automated production facility which last year used 10000 tons of raw material (in the form of high tensile steel tube).

What about product development? “We are always working to make slimmer components that offer the same or improved levels of quality and safety through the use of higher tension steel. [It is] an ongoing activity for us,” says Mr Olsson.

In recent years, some questions have arisen over problems of non-original elements being used as part of a system scaffold, but Mr Olsson is clear:“All original equipment suppliers have to accept that they will inevitably have imitators who will copy their systems. It can then become potentially a problem if inferior quality components or copies are used in conjunction with original elements. Despite this, I believe that original manufacture system scaffold is inherently safer than traditional tube and fitting.

“You have to be more skilled and careful when you go for tube and fitting. Of course, it is still a perfectly good solution when in the right hands,” says Mr Olsson, “but I am still firmly convinced that system scaffolding is better.”

Haki has seen its sales volume increase 50% year on year in line with the greater levels of activity that have been seen in construction generally, but Mr Olsson says that there are further opportunities for the company to grow. “We are the market leader in Scandinavia, are present in most of Europe, including Eastern Europe, in one form or another, and have distributors around the world, but there are still opportunities for us - I see further potential in the UK and France, for example. However, we have a view to expand in other regions of the world, such as Australia and New Zealand. We think there is a considerable opportunity for us there, and in addition, they are orientated towards the west, with very similar banking systems.

“The far east is not a region we are looking at currently, with the exception of Japan and Hong Kong.” he continues. The Hong Kong presence has a historical background. In addition to scaffolding products, Haki also produces a range of mast climbers - the former Malmqvist range - with working heights up to 200 m (656 ft) that traditionally have sold well in this city.

Mr Olsson says: “The last few years has seen an enormous expansion for Haki, but to be fair largely as a result of the current construction boom. Nevertheless, high quality materials allied to high quality manufacturing is at the heart of our product range, and it is this that I believe has us well positioned for the next 50 years.

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