Bushman Products include coil and sheet handling equipment, upenders, pallet lifters, spreader beams, bottom blocks, tong grabs, jib cranes and gantry cranes. Equipment capacity ranges from 0.5 to over 50 US tons.

Hoist: To what extent will jib cranes be more commonplace in the coming years?

Bushman: Pending legislation will have an influence on the market for jib cranes. It will influence smaller capacity cranes (1 US ton and under) more than the larger ones. Most jobs with a load over 500lbs are already being handled by jibs or other overhead cranes.

Work station cranes will be favorably influenced. There will be a variety of different types of attachments including small vacuums, but other lifting attachments and tools will also gain in market share. Some cranes will be used for lifting the work piece. These will include tong grabs and custom designed end effectors.

Pneumatic devices that will grab or secure a load in some fashion will also gain share. Again, there will be a market for custom lifting devices, made for the particular application. Some cranes will be used to lift, position or manipulate work tools rather than the work piece. The piece may be stationary, on a work bench or on a conveyor.

The tools will be available to be moved to the work piece. This will be an important safety feature, but also a significant convenience and work flow feature.

Hoist: What do you think of the legislation controlling materials handling and jib cranes?

Bushman: We are not familiar with all the aspects of the legislation. We hope that it focuses on improving processes rather than levying penalties for non compliance. Generally, new equipment improves efficiency as well as safety and reduced strain. Prior efforts to legislate were very onerous in establishing fines, penalties and liability. As a result, many people that would have supported the product side of the legislation were turned off by its focus.

Hoist: How is the market for jib cranes?

Bushman: Very healthy.

Hoist: Is legislation increasing the numbers of jibs?

Bushman: Since this kind of legislation will influence the efficiency of operations, it will also influence the market for jibs as well as for all material handling equipment. Legislation will have more influence on lower capacity cranes, one US ton or less. Our focus is on higher capacity cranes so our jib crane business will not be influenced as much as our custom designed grabs and other end effectors.

Hoist: Will companies who previously used manpower be increasingly drawn to jibs?

Bushman: Yes. We would expect that this will result in reconsideration of assembly methods and work flow. Existing assembly jobs will become more stationary with the product and tools being moved to and positioned for the employee rather than the employee moving with the product or being involved with lifting or manually positioning the work piece.

This change will be further influenced by the low unemployment level. Other markets such as ergonomic work chairs, tools and lifting devices will also be affected.

Hoist: How many units do you expect to sell this year?

Bushman: This is an irregular market that is very hard to predict.

Hoist: Is this number growing?

Bushman: Yes, definitely.

Hoist: Which models are most common?

Bushman: We do not notice any trend or change in our product mix. Work station cranes, which we do not manufacture, are significantly increasing in volume.

Hoist: What lifting attachments are most common?

Bushman: We see an increase in custom designed devices, built for a specific product and function. This includes many types of lifters, tong grabs, etc.

Hoist: Which industries are demanding the most jib cranes?

Bushman: The volume of jibs increases with the size of the product handled, rather than by industry. Work station cranes are for lower weight applications. Jibs are for heavy applications where loads are from one to 15 US tons. The most common capacity would be in the four to five US ton range. Increasing demand includes the market for very specialised cranes such as the 60ft span, heavy duty jib crane we designed for a nuclear power plant.

Hoist: What are the advantages of jib cranes? Disadvantages?

Bushman: The advantage is the strength, stability and flexibility of the device. It is ideal for lifting a product to or from one material handling system to a work station or machine. It should be a repetitive process.

The major disadvantage is that it is stationary and cannot be moved easily from one work area to another. It is designed for positioning a work piece or tool, rather than for moving a product along in the work flow like an overhead crane.

Hoist: Where will the jib crane market be in a few years from now?

Bushman: We expect it to parallel the general economy. It will grow faster than the economy as industry looks to add efficiency and to replace labour hours with tools. We certainly expect the market for work station cranes to grow very quickly.