The World Crane & Transport Summit has opened today in Amsterdam, attended by more than 270 delegates.
Keynote speaker Jan Kleijn, CEO of Mammoet, started the two-day event with a speech highlighting some of the potential disruptive trends impacting on the industry.
He mentioned disruptions to the energy industry, the refugee crisis in Europe, lower oil prices, political issues in Russia; "These and other issues make it clear that we can no longer rely on relentless economic growth."
He said web-based technology companies like Uber and AirBNB were examples of disruptive changes; "we are challenged to embrace these changes...just imagine if somebody started an Uber service for cranes and transport...a company without any assets.
"We are a quite conservative indusry, we like to own our equipment - we are proud of it, me too - is this the way to think ahead?"
"3D printing, at first glance, may be great...but if you take it to the next level, what about printing a bridge or a 1000 t process reactor on site - no need for cranes, no need for transport."
"The biggest competition we will face will be from something that we don't expect."
He also said leaders of the crane and transport industry were in a position to have an impact on sustainability; "The industries we serve are becoming more sustainable every day...customers have adopted sustainabilty, but what about us?
"What can we do today? Why don't we have recycling standards for crane mats, or use technology to reduce our carbon footprint...there are many opportunities that require us to think differently...We must urge ourselves to rethink our business models."
The event, organised by International Cranes and Specialized Transport magazine and KHL Group, is being held at the NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel in Amsterdam, and over the two days will hear from speakers on topics as diverse as wire rope technology, wind turbine operations, operator training and project reports.
Full reports on the conference will be published in International Cranes and Specialized Transport.
The conference is supported by industry associations including the SC&RA and ESTA, and GoldSponsors are Terex and Zoomlion. Silver Sponsors are Kobelco, Liebherr, Manitowoc, Scheuerle/Nicolas/Kamag and Tadano, with Supporting Sponsors A1A Software, Blokcam, Raymonville, Goldhofer, Modulift, Trimble and WiireCo WorldGroup.