In 2008, the total output of the material handling industry summed RMB 275.4bn with a year-on-year rise of 27.67%. The total sales volume reached RMB 270.6bn, up by 29.67%. For the lifting equipment sector, the total output volume in tons increased by 14.72%, which was summed up by its dead weight.

From January to November 2008, the total import of all kinds of cranes summed $639.05m; the total export amount was $4235.4m. The total import and export volume reached $4874.45m. For serial lifting equipment, such as hoists, winches and jacks, total imports were valued at $438.54m, and the export volume summed $982.65m. The total import and export amount was $1421.19m. From January to November, we exported 3,081 overhead cranes and 683 gantry cranes, also importing 752 units and 81 units respectively.

Highest in history

In the first half of 2008, China’s crane industry reached the highest point in history. With the impact of the international financial crisis, the turning point was the third quarter. According to statistics released by China Heavy Machinery Industry Association on January 24, 2009, nine main member companies produced 69,374 wire rope hoists in 2008, with a decrease of 0.3%; 17 main member companies produced 24,853 overhead travelling crane units, up by 9.7%; and nine main member companies produced 287 gantry crane units, up 43.5%.

However, some crane managers have expressed concern that their remaining orders can keep manufacturing going only to the second quarter of this year. The trouble most crane companies are facing now is the shortage of new orders and the uncertainty of some remaining orders, which means crane companies are not sure when customers need these cranes, if at all.

Normally, as in the past few years, most crane companies have received three quarters of the following year’s new orders at the end of the previous year. Because of the shortage of new crane orders, some small crane companies have closed up. Mid-range and large crane companies, while affected by the global financial crisis, have kept manufacturing.

Some crane managers are resigned to the fact that the situation is a direct result of the hottest market demand ever seen. It is cyclical, but the global financial crisis has made it occur earlier, and without presage.

Cranes for the application of ship building and steel works are slowing in demand dramatically. However, the market demand in nuclear power, railway construction, city subway construction as well as wind power generation is still high.

Stimulus investment package

China’s central government unveiled a stimulus investment package of RMB 4,000bn in November 2008, which will boost China’s domestic market demand before the end of 2009. RMB 1,800bn of the package will fund the construction of railways, express ways as well as airports, for example. China’s crane industry will, thus, benefit directly.

China’s top priority policy in 2009 is to keep economic growth steady, and the central government and local governments at all levels have put forward diffident stimulus investment plans all structured to this end. For example, Beijing will invest RMB 120-150bn in 2009 and 2010. Shanghai will invest RMB 500bn in 2009. Chongqing will invest RMB 1,100bn in 2009 and 2010, while Guangdong will invest RMB 2,370bn in 2009.

Liaoning will invest RMB 1,300bn in 2009 and Shangdong will invest RMB 1,200bn, also this year.

Most of the investment from government will go to fixed assets, such as infrastructure and industrial upgrading. As a result, China’s crane industry will be pushed forward. We are expecting to see crane demand improving in the second half of this year to a state of moderate growth.