MUNICH—Looking out over the Manitowoc stand at Bauma with its colorful mix of Potain, Manitowoc and Grove cranes, new Manitowoc Cranes CEO and President Barry Pennypacker saw opportunities for savings.
“What our customers want is for things to be simpler, and they want to make more money. So, that’s our philosophy,” he told a gathering of journalists at the Manitowoc booth at Bauma on April 11.
Manitowoc officially separated its crane business from its food-service business in March, and with the balance sheet of the new company relying entirely on cranes, Pennypacker and his management team are aiming for a lean and nimble company. But that sentiment didn't keep the company from showing off its latest innovations at the Bauma construction-equipment trade show, held April 11-17 in Munich, Germany.
The company launched several new innovative cranes at Bauma, including a self-erecting crane from Potain. The first in Potain’s new Hup range, the Potain Hup 32-27 boasts a 32-meter jib radius and a 27-m height. The crane features an offset jib, reducing the overall footprint of the crane. “The jib is offset from the boom, and that’s a new concept for the self-erecting crane market,” says Larry Weyers, Manitowoc executive vice president for tower cranes. “What does that get us? Well, we can get the 32-27 down into a 4-meter by 12-meter size, which means we can fit the whole crane inside one container for shipping.”
Manitowoc turned heads at Conexpo two years ago with its innovative variable-position counterweight (VPC) system. At Bauma, the company reported that, since the VPC system's introduction in 2014, the company has sold 60 cranes with the technology.
Manitowoc also is trying to get out in front of new regulations in some European countries that require operators to use elevators to get in and out of tower-crane cabs. In a joint venture with Turkey-based Alimat Hek, Manitowoc has developed CabLift, an integrated elevator system that rides up inside the tower crane’s mast. At the Manitowoc booth, the system was on display on a Potain MDT 219 topless tower crane. According to Weyers, the elevator system comes already installed inside the mast. “The lift is on a rack-and-pinion system inside the K600 mast. It comes in a section with the cab lift and everything in it—put it on, power it on, and the operator can access it from the bottom and use the elevator to get to height,” he says.
Despite the selection of innovative products on display, Manitowoc’s Pennypacker emphasized that, in the future, the new company will have to pick and choose which R&D ideas it chases down.
“We don’t need to have the most state-of-the-art, crazy invention that sometimes goes out into the field with reliability issues and then you have to deal with that for years,” Pennypacker said. “Innovation is in everything we do. But innovation doesn’t mean you have to have the newest computer object on the crane or on the device or service you are selling. What it means is, you have to be innovative in all your business processes.”
According to Pennypacker, Manitowoc Cranes is in need of a revival. “It's a great brand with a great presence, but it kind of lost its way a bit with quality and reliability,” he told ENR. “Everyone knows that—it’s a known fact. We’ve lost some share in the market. That’s unacceptable.”
He continued, “The Manitowoc way is to make sure we are developing our products in the same way, whether its Wilhelmshaven, Germany, or Shady Grove, Pennsylvania. We want one operating system across the entire enterprise.” Pennypacker says the company is going to emphasize common tools and processes across its different brands and facilities. “Our first step is, if you look at the products here, they all have CCS [Manitowoc’s crane-control system software]. Now, we got to take that to cylinders, we got to take it to hydraulics, boom technology, even drive train. Engineering standardization and standardization of the manufacturing operations [are] huge for us.”
Despite the challenges he sees for the company, Pennypacker thinks Manitowoc’s customers will stick with them. “Our customers have the trust, they have the brand, they love us, and it’s the most loyal network that you will ever find. They’re extremely loyal. What we’ve got to do is get the message internally, to ourselves.”