Certain themes inevitably recurr on the pages of this magazine, now into its second year of publication. One of them is the whole issue of cost versus investment. Materials handling equipment, such as electric overhead travelling cranes, is expensive and can be a daunting outlay of capital for any factory or workshop. Faced with a wide variety of lifting solutions, the choices can be confusing for a start.

Is a whole new system needed, or should existing equipment be upgraded by retrofitting remote control or automation? And as technology progresses, the sums involved in remaining state of the art seem to keep on growing. However one proceeds, it is important to realise that the bolder the step taken, the greater the likely payback and the money spent should be regarded not as a cost but an investment. It is a distinction that many public sector organisations either fail to make or are not able to make because of the constraints imposed by government spending controls. Witness the deterioration in the infrastructure of New York or the local highways of Britain. Under-investment in maintaining the value of capital assets only leads to higher costs in the long run. EOT and hoist manufacturers themselves should know better than any of us, therefore, the importance of distinguishing between cost and investment. As we report in this issue, Street Crane invested nearly one and a half million dollars (admittedly with the aid of a UK government grant) on developing a new range of hoists. Such a sum has the potential to sink a company the size of Street, had it not kept a keen eye on the road ahead. But companies that are too short-sighted to invest continually in their product and in their capital assets are not going to survive long anyway. And frankly they don’t deserve to.