This month, I’m going to highlight a very different trend, again raised by Kleiner, and that is what he says is “the fragmentation of the market into two main types of supplier”.

According to Kleiner, there are those “delivering specification-driven overhead cranes of the highest possible quality designed and manufactured to fulfil a specific customer function, and other companies importing lower-quality machines for shoehorning into the application”.

“There are still companies out there hoping to make a quick fortune,” he says. “They don’t manufacture locally, so they buy the closest suitable standard machine abroad with an eye to getting the job done in the short term. They are not looking to the long term, and these types of cranes generally fail early on under the stress of the application.”

Kleiner notes that this trend has been exacerbated by the formation of small, splinter companies resulting from the downsizing of some of South Africa’s key multinational crane manufacturers.

“Retrenched staff frequently form small start-ups allied to an external manufacturer in Europe or China. They supply a standard machine, the engineering of which often fails because the design is not suitable, forcing the supplier to redesign and rectify after commissioning with a consequent halt to the customer’s production,” he says.

If you are a customer on the African continent, is Kleiner’s two-tier analysis fair? And if you aren’t, is what he says is happening in the region also happening elsewhere? I’d be interested in hearing your views…