Intermat 2009: Rental Review

By Murray Pollok19 May 2009

Takeuchi's prototype 16 t wheeled excavator, the T1160W, shown at Intermat.

Takeuchi's prototype 16 t wheeled excavator, the T1160W, shown at Intermat.

International Rental News (IRN) reports from the recent Intermat exhibition in Paris, France.

This year's Intermat exhibition saw a significant drop off in numbers from the 2006 event, with a 12% fall in total visitors to 184500 but a much higher 35% fall in international attendees, reducing to 61000, representing a third of the total.

Maryvonne Lanoë, the director of the Intermat Exhibition, said those manufacturers attending Intermat had given a positive message to the construction industry; "The key message of Intermat 2009 from many of the manufacturers is that they are saying to their customers ‘We are here for you.' It is a difficult period of course, but this has always been a cyclical industry."

Ms Lanoë said; "I think there is a feeling at Intermat that people can see some light at the end of the tunnel."

The impact of the recession was definitely felt. Although exhibitor numbers were up on the 2006 event, the absence of big names such as Terex, Sandvik, Atlas Copco, Manitou and JLG has clearly had an impact on international visitor numbers.

Hyundai ‘dash-9' minis make surprise showing

Hyundai had previously said that it would not be showing any of its new generation dash-9 excavators at Intermat, so it was a surprise to see two prototype -9 mini-excavators at the show.

The R16-9 and zero-tailswing R27Z-9 models are the first of what will eventually be a full range of Hyundai-designed and built excavators in the 1.5 to 8.0 t range, replacing the current range of five Nagano-build models that Hyundai offers.

The two new models will be launched at the end of this year or the beginning of 2010, with other, larger models added when they are ready. The Nagano units will be phased out as the -9 range is released. A spokesman for Hyundai said the Hyundai range would be "more solid" than the Nagano units.

The company will also roll out its Hi-mate asset monitoring system with the -9 range, although the system is likely to be offered initially on the heavier machines in the range.

Other projects for Hyundai are more zero tailswing excavators on machines up to 21 t, and the launch of a range of backhoe loaders, which will be targeted in particular at the world's developing markets.

Kosran takes anti-theft technology to Europe

Patrick Sheeran, chief executive officer of Dublin-based anti-theft specialists Kosran ecv, was an Intermat to launch the company's new European office and to continue his efforts to persuade equipment manufacturers and owners that electro-mechanical immobilisation systems offer the best way to reduce equipment theft.

The company's new European office, based in France and managed by new recruit Nadia L'huissier (who previously worked for French company G'Tel), will sell its devices directly to rental companies and contractors and will have qualified fitting engineers located initially in four territories in France.

The Kosran system electro-mechanically shuts-off the diesel supply and locks the hydraulics, and, said the company, "takes a well-equipped professional thief more than one hour to bypass, which is too much time and too much hassle." Kosran said purely electrical immobilisers can be overcome in just 90 seconds.

The immobiliser, which can also be supplied with an integrated remote asset tracking system, can be retrofitted; "We've got a kit for every engine", said Mr Sheeran, "and you've only got to buy it once - you can remove it from old machines and retrofit to new ones."

Kosran said the fitting will take 25 minutes as an aftermarket installation and just 15 minutes if factory fitted by the OEM. (Kosran is inviting manufacturers to fit a simple Deutsch connector to the electrical loom of their machines to make retrofitting easier.)

Mr Sheeran said rental companies could supply a machine with the Kosran system deactivated - in ‘Valet Mode' - and then charge a weekly fee of €15 for activation. He said some renters in France were charging an extra 10% on the rental cost but giving a theft insurance waiver.

Battery specialist gets rental boost at Intermat

Sometimes luck plays a big part in business. For Belgian company SOSbooster.com - producer of portable battery boosters and jump start devices - the good fortune was finding itself exhibiting at Intermat next to fellow Belgian company Etramo.

SOSboosters is used to selling into the automotive, commercial truck and military markets, but it was Etramo, which sells portable conveyor belts and other compact equipment to the rental market, who immediately saw the potential to sell the battery devices to rental companies.

The products include portable 12v and 24 v battery boosters and jump starters that will either jump start an engine powered machine with a flat battery, or provide just enough of a power boost to move a battery powered machine to a delivery truck.

A new version of the booster now comes with an integrated light tester for checking that rear lights on a trailer are operating correctly, a product that was of particular interest to Etramo.

Etramo's general manager, Johnny Vancraybex; told IRN; "I think that every rental company can use these products. I haven't yet met a rental company that doesn't have trailers or scissor lifts. They all need to check the taillights, and they all have battery powered equipment. Nobody likes it when there is equipment stuck because of a flat battery. I see a big potential for it."

Estelle Dony, SOSbooster's export assistant, said the company had some experience with rental - DK Rentals in Belgium (now part of Lavendon Group) is a past customer - but its strength is its automotive distribution network; "Etramo has contacts and customers in rental. We know there is a huge rental market - we just needed the contacts."

‘World record' height on 3.5 t Palfinger lift

Palfinger Platform, the newly branded Palfinger division that combines the Bison and Wumag aerial platform truck mounted businesses, is claiming a world record 25.8 m maximum working height for its new 3.5 t GVW truck mount, the P 260 B, the first of a range of three models with 18, 22 and 26 m heights.

The platform, launched at Intermat, is the first machine to combine technology from Bison and Wumag, said Palfinger Platform sales director Stefan Kulawik, using Bison's aluminium boom technology with Wumag's chassis and outrigger design expertise.

Apart from its high reach and 13.3 m outreach over the rear of the platform (12.5 m over the sides and front), other notable features of the machine include a very compact design, with a short Nissan Cabstar chassis reducing overall travel length to 6.9 m and a width of just 2.1 m. All three units will be available from September onwards.

Meanwhile, Dirk Engels, Palfinger Platform's general manager, said the integration of the Bison and Wumag businesses was progressing well, with Wumag's Krefeld facility being the international sales, service and R&D centre, and the two facilities near Lobau being responsible for purchasing, materials handling, assembly and quality. Krefeld will also assemble the Wumag Jumbo machines of 53 m height and above.

Mr Engels said the distribution for the brands has now been combined in all its markets - in Spain, for example, Tadano Faun and Bison dealer Mycsa in now also selling Wumag machines, and Skyking in the UK represents the full range.

Although the Palfinger Platform name has been chosen for the aerials business, the Bison and Wumag brands will be continued.

At the same time as integrating the two platform divisions, Palfinger has been downsizing the business. The total aerial platform workforce at the time of the Wumag acquisition was 450 and Mr Engels said "our aim is to establish our basic team at a level of around 300 people."

The company produced 570-580 machines last year, and forecasts a sales volume of closer to 300 units this year.

The worst affected models are the ‘bread and butter' 3.5 and 7.5 t models, but Mr Kulawik said the company had more than 20 orders on its books for its +100 m model, including orders pending from Australia and Taiwan (for a Taipei rental company).

"The 100 m market is still very stable", he said.

The merger of the Bison and Wumag product lines has led to some duplication. Bison's famous double slewing counterweight system will be retained for machines up to 35 m, but production of the four Bison models above that height will be discontinued, with the focus on the Wumag branded Jumbo machines.

16 t prototype on show from Takeuchi

Takeuchi showed at Intermat a prototype of a 15 to 16 t wheeled excavator, the TB1160W, which will be the largest wheeled model ever produced by the company.

A spokesperson for Takeuchi said it would be the largest model in its range, with the aim being to remain a compact equipment specialist. Takeuchi launched another wheeled model, the 8 t TB175W, in November last year.

Also on the stand at Intermat were samples of the new 2-series tracked loaders and mini-excavators using new Stage III engines, plus a 2 t mini-excavator, the TB219, developed specifically for the French market. The TB219 is heavier than the TB016 and an updated version of the TB020 model that Takeuchi first started selling in France 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, Takeuchi said its all electric mini-excavator model - seen in prototype at Intermat in 2006 - is now likely to be launched in 2010 - see News this issue.

Kubota shows first prototype ‘dash 4' model

Kubota showed a prototype of its first 'dash-4' range of excavators at Intermat. The 5.5 t rated KX057-4 will be introduced in Europe in October.

Bernard Dewaele, Kubota's export sales manager, told IRN that the new machine has a new look and a new design. Among improvements on -3 models are a larger, more comfortable cab; twin auxiliary hydraulic lines (rather than one); air conditioning as standard; refueling pump as standard, and a digital dashboard providing more information to the operator. The excavator's 1.5 t lifting capacity - higher than Kubota's 5 t model - is another benefit.

Built in Kubota's Hirakata plant in Japan, the KX057 will fit between Kubota's existing 5 t and 8 t models

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Volvo Construction Equipment's Bengt Carlioth, who runs Volvo Rents in Europe as well as those dealers in Europe not owned by Volvo, told IRN that one by-product of the recession in construction had been an increase in requests from major customers for long term rental contracts for specific big projects.

"We clearly feel that on the few large construction sites starting up - there are some major projects - we are seeing more demand for rental than outright purchase...we also expect contractors to first rent before they buy [when the market improves]. We expect rental to improve first."

"The market has been difficult, but there are some bright spots beginning to come - China for one, and Brazil...I think we're approaching the bottom in North America. We'll see what happens in Europe over the next five or six months. The rental business has been very slow, and probably had the largest impact [on equipment sales] of all." Jim McCullough, Case Construction Equipment CEO and president

Pierre Saubot, chairman of Haulotte Group, told IRN that he believed the recovery from recession would be rapid because of the ‘artificial crisis' caused by the banking and financial crisis. He said low interest rates would make for a good investment climate when business confidence returned.

Jorg Unger, president of Bomag, told IRN it would be two years before European rental companies started investing again in equipment.

Thierry Robert, managing director of BM Location told IRN that the French rental sector was likely to see a 15-20% fall in revenues in 2009. He said BM Location would probably close one or two depots this year.

The ECED (European Confederation of Equipment Distributors) held a conference for its members on the first day of Intermat. Speaking at the meeting, David Phillips, managing director of London-based Off-Highway Research (pictured left, with ECED president José Gameiro), had few positive words on current market conditions; "Anything associated with rental is awful, and anything associated with compact equipment is awful", he said.

Forecasting a 50% reduction in manufacturing of construction equipment in Europe this year, he predicted "bankruptcies all the way through the supply chain."

Italian manufacturer Hinowa - which is best known for its compact earthmoving and material handling machines - launched its first truck mounted aerial platform at Intermat. The Orchid Lift 21.11 has a working height of 21 m and a 10.6 m outreach and is mounted on a 3.5 t Nissan Cabstar.

Susanne Landstorfer, from Hinowa's marketing and export department, told IRN that the Orchid Lift had already generated interest from Hinowa's existing aerial platform customers as well as new customers familiar with truck mounted platforms.

New to Doosan's tracked excavator range is the 14 t class DX 140 R. Powered by a 70 kW Cummins QSB 4.5 diesel engine the machine offers a digging depth of 5.5 m and a maximum reach of 8.3 m. The model on display at Intermat had an operating weight of 14.4 t. Other new additions to the Doosan range include the DX 170 W wheeled excavator in the 17 t class and the DL 350 wheeled loader.

Caterpillar Work Tools used Intermat exhibition to launch new demolition tools in its attachments range. The four model multi-function P300 series crusher range for carriers weighing from 15 to 85 t provides its customers with greater cost-effectiveness, flexibility, ease of use and functionality, said the company.

The 1890 kg P315 (pictured) is intended for use on 15 to 25 t machines and has a jaw opening of 731 mm and a tip closing force of 90 t. The 2550 kg P325 is for use with 25 to 35 t carriers and offers a jaw opening of 855 mm with a tip closing force of 125 t. All the crushers offer a maximum crushing force of 350 bar.

According to Cat, the special position of these new crushers cylinders allows them to generate the same power but at a significantly lower weight.

Brendon Powerwashers, exhibiting both inside in the UK pavilion and outside with dumper manufacturer Thwaites (Brendon's French representative), showed its new mini-bowser, the MBW100. Available as a Honda petrol or Yanmar diesel powered unit, it can be supplied with the washer unit integrated into the carrying frame or detachable.

The washer comes in four versions, with pressures ranging from 500 psi to 2000 psi and flow rates from 10.0 l/s to 13.2 l/s. Prices vary from around €4200 (petrol) to €5000 (diesel). Export sales specialist Robin Adams said the company hoped to grow its business in France this year "which is fantastic under today's circumstances."

Perhaps most obvious of the innovations from Kaeser at Intermat was the polyethylene rotomoule canopy, available since November 2008 for the five models, M20 to M50, of its range of trailer-mounted compressors. Kaeser said the corrosion resistant cover is more durable than the sheet metal versions also available, and that owners can even retrofit their metal-cover versions with the polyethylene covers.

Elsewhere on the stand was the new 19.7 m3/min, 8.6 bar Mobilair 200 model. The 146 kW compressor is also available in 10, 12, and 14 bar versions, which deliver 18, 16, and 14.5 m3/min or air, respectively. All have Kaeser's Sigma Control mobil system for pressure control to within 0.1 bar and to optimise fuel economy.

JCB's new 6.5 t 8065 RTS reduced tailswing tracked excavator, launched in Paris, features a Stage IIIA (Tier 3) 40.5 kW Isuzu engine and replaces the company's 8060 model. It has a maximum dig depth of 4.35 m and with a 4.27 m dump height has the biggest working envelope of a machine in this class, claimed JCB.

A 117 mm reduction of the machine's tailswing makes it more productive when operating in confined spaces, the company said. Christophe Lecarpentier, product manager for the compact and heavy line at JCB France, said, "The operator's comfort is also very important - there is a good door width providing good accessibility. The operator's controls move with the suspension seat which is quite unusual on a compact machine, but customers were asking for this as they were used to it in bigger machines."

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