Technical choice

7 December 2001

'Previously enjoyed' cranes are at the heart of a UK-based business success story

Refurbished cranes are the speciality of Technical Cranes, which designs, builds installs and maintains them. The cost saving for someone buying a used crane - usually between about half and two-thirds less than the price of a new one - is a major selling point but so is delivery time which can be less than half as long as the wait for a new crane.

And the company gives the same warranty for its reconditioned cranes as is given on a new one, says managing director Derrick Simpson who started the company in 1981 and now runs it with his son Jordan, who is general manager.

Another strength of the company is its ability to fulfil large orders for used cranes from stock which is unusual, according to Simpson, as often the first thought when a large number of cranes is needed is that only a supplier of new cranes can offer the quantity. The company is also competitive on one-off special cranes, Simpson says, because it does not have a production line that would have to be interrupted to produce an odd one.

Stock comes from buying used cranes at factory sales, liquidation disposals, from crane manufacturers, and from crane builders that only sell new cranes but take in used ones on contracts for replacement.

Derrick Simpson lists the following cranes, bought over a two week period, as typical of what he buys as often as twice a month: six 20t Demags; eight 20 tonners; a 10t Morris, one each 5t and 3t cranes with 24m spans; and two 5t units each with 18m span. His total stock can be about four times this, he says. Used Demags command a good price, you can get slightly more for them than other brands, according to Simpson. Of the 2,500m2 factory 60% is used for manufacturing and 40% for storing stocks of components. The outdoor yard area of the 3,680m2 site holds the stock of beams, gantries and other structural steel.

Some of what is bought in for stock is unused hoist units but on the used equipment all control panels and controls are replaced with new. Other work undertaken includes inspections, repairs, overhauls, modification and modernisation. There are seven mobile service engineers who carry out site work. There is also an over-the-counter new and used spare parts service for Clayton, Demag, Morris and Kone. Stocks include power feed systems, chain and wire rope hoists, pendants and jib cranes.

Recent orders include one worth £70,000 for four cranes and another, worth £80,000, for seven cranes. Latest orders include six 5t double girder cranes, one 3t single girder and three busbar systems totalling 240m in length for Allvac Ltd, Sheffield, UK and two 5t double girder cranes for tandem lifting, two 3.2t cranes, a fixed gantry with 10t grab units for tandem lifting and an 80m long gantry, all for Kyoob Building Systems Ltd, in the north of England.

Sales are not confined to the UK - two used cranes, complete with beams, were exported to the Caribbean in the second half of 2001. A 5t Matterson with 18m beams went to Trinidad, and a 6t Demag with a 24m span went to W&W Spice in Grenada, along with an engineer to install it.

And the company's activities are not confined to cranes. At the beginning of November Technical Cranes signed up as an agent to supply and install magnets from US magnet company Walker Magnetics. A marketing push is starting in 2002 but sales have already been made and others are in the pipeline. A 25t magnet for handling scrap metal has already been sold and installed (on a used 10t crane also supplied by Technical Cranes) at George Fisher in Lincoln, UK. Technical Cranes has tendered to supply further magnets for Anglo Dutch steel maker Corus, which the company has previously supplied with similar products.