Pierino Bravi's insight is driving development at Bravi Platforms.
By Maria Hadlow28 February 2012
The Bravi Platforms range is steadily expending and each new development is driven by a desire to improve the productivity, comfort and safety of the user. Maria Hadlow talks to Pierino Bravi, founder, designer and managing director about the company's direction.
From the development of his first Leonardo Pierino Bravi has been steadfastly user focused - the first user was, after all himself. The first machine, Lui Mini, was built as a means to an end, Mr Bravi needed a fast way to complete a contract in his insulation business - a business he still runs - and came up with the lightweight self propelled lift.
The aluminium mast design he developed then is still used in the current machines. They are built from specially made extrusions, have a 10 year guarantee, are wear resistant and need no grease or lubrication. A synchronised cylinder operates inside the mast, for a very smooth motion with no settling.
There are now six machines in the Bravi Platforms range based on the original concept.
In 2011 Mr Bravi reported that business had grown between 50 to 60% in over 2010, partly due to the demand for the specialist warehouse pick and place machine Taddy (Caddy in some markets) in particular a big order from DIY retailer B&Q.
Bravi Platforms was also expecting an order from a big forklift company for 500 machines this year.
Around 1500 machines were sold in total last year between 6 and 700 Leonardos with 20 -30% more anticipated next year.
Bravi Platforms is already selling well into in Germany, Italy, France and the Middle East, India and Australia are said to be very good developing markets. Mr Bravi plans to increase export in 2012 although appreciates the financial situation is a challenge.
"In 2012 we will continue with our plans of 2011 growing the European market and affirming our position in other countries. We want to start looking at Eastern Europe and improve our position there.
"Euro problems are very hard to forecast, very unpredictable," he says. "In my opinion the Euro will get weaker but world economics next year will begin to rise again shortly. By 2015 - economy will be very much improved."
The Taddy (Caddy) born out of extensive research with retailers and warehouse operators is now selling at a rate of six to seven a week.
The ground speed and rise and fall of the Taddy can be faster than that of machines used in construction because they are working in a more controlled environment. Because, like all Bravi machines there are no chains in the mast, it is easier and cheaper to maintain. It is also rated for outside use, which is particularly useful in shop and warehouse situations where the Taddy might be employed to do maintenance and cleaning jobs as well.
The Taddy is said to be 2.5 times better on duty cycles than comparable machines and users can pick at heights up to 5.3m.
As with all models development is on-going and Bravi Platforms has added a barcode reader and a keypad reader and is working on a dead lock for the gate when the machine is elevated.
In a break with his self propelled tradition the latest machine launched by Bravi Platforms is the Spin-Go a compact push around version of the Taddy.
Despite the huge success of the specialist warehouse models Bravi Platforms continues to be passionate about the models in the Leonardo and Lui ranges and the Bravi Lite machine.
Lately further development work has been carried out on the Leonardo HD (heavy duty). Customers have said they would prefer a steel rather than fibreglass chassis and Bravi Platforms is providing that without adding weight to the 508kg machine.
Forklift pockets have also been incorporated and the pothole protection and the controller upgraded. The HD also has a different "car quality" paint finish for better wear. Other machines are powered coated.
"The machine has been available for the last three to four years," Mr Bravi says, "The forecast is optimistic for the HD we have invested in the quality of the product. Rental companies need to understand that it is not expensive for the level of quality."
Mr Bravi is still frustrated that rental companies and some contractors do not see the value that the Bravi machines could add to their business by saving them time and money in the completion of a contract.
"People don't think of business," he says, "they do not want to change - innovation in management is very important. Self propelled machines are very fast, but construction is blinkered they do same thing over and over.
"For example if you are an electrician your material is the same price as everyone elses, your wage costs are the same so how can you win a contract and make more money? - You must reduce the time it takes to do the job."
When Mr Bravi originally made the product for himself he says that one Leonardo paid for itself in five months.
Originally,when he was using the machines, other contractors wanted the machines because they'd seen the difference it made to his work. One local company, with five employees, has four machines "In a 20km radius of the Anconda factory," says Mr Bravi, "every construction site will have a Bravi, the trouble is they are often very old - ten years or so - they just keep on going."
However, when he put Leonardo on the market it didn't respond as he'd hoped, "My biggest frustration is that rental companies have massive business opportunity under their nose and they can't see it. They don't understand the users' needs.
"I believe that a machine bought for rental can be completely paid for in two years."
Andrew Fishburn director of Bravi UK and Bravi Platforms distributor in the UK agreed, "It takes a contractor 30 seconds to see the benefit [of the Bravi machines] but when they try to rent one there are none in stock
"It is important to find smaller rental companies with a big business mind who can see the bigger picture. Rental companies need a sensible sized fleet of Bravis to make it worthwhile then they can get good rental rate."
Some markets have taken to the concept very well - in particular Germany. "At first they didn't think they would rent," says Mr Bravi, but now there is 80 to 90% utilisation in some companies.
"Originally they also thought the platforms were too low - they wanted 7m but it's a different market- now Germany is well established with 150 machines sold in 2011 and 130 in 2010."
Mr Bravi's admits that with his strong end user focus he was not so familiar with the needs of the rental market. This has been changing as he combines their needs into the products such as the forklift pockets on the HD for easier loading and unloading for transport.
Development, not only of the products, but of the production system continues. Mr Bravi has invested €100k in a specialist consultant to help organise the factory for optimal productivity and capacity. He believes the company could produce 3000 a year with the current 40 employees.
Welding, assembly and electrical testing of all new product configurations takes place in the factory.
In assembly there are six stations each with a specialised operation. It is in assembly where things may change by possibly putting in a separate line for each machine type.
When machines are finished they are tested thoroughly and the aesthetic checked.
Currently 25/30 machines are made in a week, Mr Bravi thinks they could almost double production.