International Cranes and Specialized Transport magazine editor's comment February 2009

06 March 2009

Alex Dahm

Alex Dahm

February is the time of year when many companies announce their financial results for the previous full calendar year of trading. At the time of writing in late January, Manitowoc had just released its figures announcing that 2008 overall was a record year, despite the fourth quarter being down on the same period the previous year. A fall in sales around 20% is forecast for 2009.

The world's largest knuckle boom crane manufacturer, Palfinger, reported that the latter half of 2008 had been a difficult period but remained positive about the future. "We have reason to be satisfied. Our strong market position and the flexible structures that we established in previous years have supported us in this environment."

Palfinger is one of several manufacturers that announced job cuts. Others are Cargotec (Hiab), Terex and Manitowoc. The word from Liebherr in mid-January was that there would be no layoffs in the foreseeable future. It is, however, a far from rosy outlook for the industry as a whole.

Looking at the wider economy, for example, in the UK, more than 7,000 jobs were lost in the first few days of the last week of January. All were attributed to the economic recession. One of the least affected areas so far is the Middle East where, while some projects are on hold or have been postponed, many are continuing or still starting up. For more on the Middle East see the feature starting on page 25.

Also in the Middle East is Marr Contractors' Favelle Favco M2480D, claimed to be the world's largest luffing jib tower crane. It is a spectacular achievement and one that promises advantages in terms of, among others, space saved on site and the possibility of being able to do more pre-assembly on the ground prior to lifting larger loads into place.

Despite the general gloom, it is not all bad in the crane industry. In a piece of stop press news, IC has learned that confidence in the big Favco's utility is such that Marr has just ordered a second unit. For more on this crane see the feature on page 31.

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