President and CEO Pekka Lundmark reckons local markets embrace the hands-on approach. He has targeted 10% organic and 5% acquisitional growth in the service sector.

With the acquisition of MMH Holdings, Inc., the owner of US-based Morris Materials Handling, Inc. in 2006, Konecranes highlighted its large installed base, saying “the spare parts, maintenance and modernisation opportunities it represents are widespread.”

More recently, Konecranes acquired the ports service business of Italian service company Technical Services SRL. The acquired operation specialises in providing maintenance and engineering services to port terminals, shipyards, shipping companies and related equipment manufacturers.

Technical Services was founded in 1998 and is based in Vado Ligure, close to Genoa in north-western Italy. Total sales of the company in 2006 were Euros 1.8 million.

“This addition to the existing Konecranes service network further strengthens our position in Italy and the Mediterranean area,” says Trygve Boström, director, ports service at Konecranes. He added: “Italy has a high and fast-growing container throughput and Konecranes now adds one more base to support port equipment sales and serve customers in this area.”

“You need to bring the company to a certain position before you can prioritise service,” though, Lundmark says.

He continues: “Today over 90% of our annual service agreements are renewed. We strongly believe in our own abilities and dare to make promises where we tie our success to that of our customers. By delivering safe and reliable lifting equipment and service, we reduce the total cost of ownership for our customers and provide them with a good return on investment.”

Konecranes says it is focused on lowering costs through preventive maintenance and improving performance through better technology.

Konecranes’ service solutions include inspections, maintenance programmes, modernisations, installations, repairs, spare parts, consulting and training services, and ports and a harbour service. It has over 2,000 service technicians in over 40 countries that are on-call and able to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


John Paxton says that, while there is a high focus on safety worldwide, in the US, users live in a highly litigious society where people are prepared to sue as soon as anything goes wrong.

Paxton, who is president of Demag Cranes & Components North America, the parent of Crane America Services (CAS), adds: “Our customers are increasingly outsourcing service. There is a definite trend along these lines, particularly when it comes to meeting the requirements of Occupational Safety & Health Administration [the US government’s arm of occupational safety] inspections.”

He continues: “This is key, if only because customers are looking for crane experts to come in and take care of and document these important inspections for them. Today many more customers also do regular inspections and preventive maintenance to keep their crane and hoist systems in safe operating condition.”

Customers are always looking for a greater amount of uptime, Paxton says. “Today, some service providers can collect data electronically and then save it to a website that a customer can reference.”

This enables the hoist manufacturer to visit a customer with a hand-held PDA or laptop, fill out an inspection form, email him the information and then have a database where maintenance records can be accessed. Demand for new technology is growing because customers have a bigger appetite for information and documentation. “It is also a much more efficient process, as opposed to hand-written reports and typing,” adds Paxton.

CAS has provided electrical and mechanical services in the US for industrial customers for over 30 years. CAS is a subsidiary company of Demag Cranes & Components and operates from 31 locations in the US market. “Although they work like a local company, servicing local customers, they are part of a worldwide company,” explains Paxton.

He continues: “We believe that we get the best of both worlds in that you can get the synergies of a national company but you are working in the local markets with local sales people, service technicians and branch managers – but then all the branches roll up into one larger company.”

He says its service network is spread out primarily in the Mid-West, East and South East with three locations out on the West Coast. “With the leadership of the new president of CAS, Dave Sinkhorn, and the experience of our employees, there is certainly opportunity to grow,” he concludes.


“A hoist is a hoist until you take it out of the box and put it someplace,” says Gene Buer. What is not well appreciated, he continues, “is when it is put into service, a packaged tool like a hoist becomes a piece of applied equipment, working in a unique setting, that requires support as such.”

Buer joined CM in October 2005 to sort out CM’s crane building business, Crane Equipment & Service (CES), a roll-up of four regional firms acquired in the 1990s, including Abell-Howe and Gaffey. As president, he has expanded service. He explains why he sees service as a vital part of the business: “The service revenue is not only a good source of levelling out revenue performance, but the thing is that in the crane business it leads to better access to more business in terms of new cranes and new hoists.”

Customers need not pay for all of this service, Buer says. “Application support comes as part of CM’s infrastructure costs for the most part. Certain other field support is usually sold as an extra. The point-of-sale people in the CM industrial sales force are savvy in applications as well. Major end users and some sales channels don’t know much about hoists, and don’t want to. They expect the suppliers to know. That’s a huge advantage that CM has over its competitors.”

He continues: “The hoist itself can be commoditised to some extent. What can’t be is the support around it. It’s like when you go to ABC Warehouse to buy some electronic equipment, a computer or whatever. Nobody knows what they are talking about, and if it doesn’t work, you have to go through the whole chain of support to get it fixed. You bought it cheap, now you have to deal with the aggravation. Companies who rely on this equipment to make the business run don’t have time for that.”

Service and support are two of Buer’s big plans over the next couple of years for the CM Lodestar. He is planning more end user and distributor training, web-based training, and field support.

DeSHAZO Service Company

Fellow US firm, The DeSHAZO Service Company, with headquarters located in Birmingham, Alabama, is another leading provider of parts and services for overhead cranes in North America. DeSHAZO has established regional offices in Indianapolis, Indiana; Charlotte, New Connecticut; Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Knoxville, Tennessee; and West Palm Beach, Florida.

“Our 20,000 sq ft shop/office facility in conjunction with the company’s 100,000 sq ft manufacturing plant and engineering facilities in Birmingham enable us to provide our service customers with the engineering and manufacturing capabilities of a leading OEM crane company coupled with a broad range of after market services,” says DeSHAZO president David Hovey.

“We can supply you with OEM parts for all makes of cranes and hoists. Our skilled technicians can perform inspections, repairs, modernisations and rebuilds of your overhead cranes and hoisting equipment in the field at your site,” he adds. DeSHAZO has over 6,000 overhead cranes in service worldwide in North America, South America and the Middle East.”

Whiting Corporation

Whiting had historically concentrated its service efforts around the large installed base of Whiting cranes.  In 1993, that direction began to change when Whiting Services, Inc. was organised to begin serving the entire crane marketplace.

Jeff Kahn, president, Whiting, said: “It’s not unusual for us to get calls to modernise Whiting product built in the 1920s or 30s.” Whiting Services currently has three regional hubs supported further by field techs in various locations.

Kahn has plans to significantly add service talent to his organisation.  “With our deep engineering staff and large crane population, an addition of a talented crane service group will enhance our ability to continue to provide strong OEM support and also provide more personnel to supply top-of-the-line service to users of all overhead cranes,” he says.

A full round up of the state of crane service globally will appear in one of the early issues of 2008. More soon…

Richard Howes, Editor