As Brian McNamara, then the executive chairman, Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA), said two years ago: “Life has been great, it continues to be good, and it’ll slow down some time soon.”

crowd shot

But what’s changed? Expect the same sense of anxiety on the show floor at McCormick South about when exactly this decline is going to happen and, moreover, how bad it will be.

Few economists are painting a positive picture, and many are warning of a global recession. How is the overhead lifting market really shaping up? Pretty good, depending on who you speak to.

Canada-based jib crane manufacturer O’Brien Installations Ltd., a licensed partner with Vetter Foerdertechnik GmbH, recorded its best year to date in jib crane sales in 2007/8 and looks forward to continued growth in the current fiscal year, it says.

“There is still strong demand for jib cranes, especially in the oil and gas industries,” it says. It is also looking to expand its dealer network.

Over the border, US firm Columbus McKinnon is still outpacing the previous financial year. Timothy Tevens, president and CEO, says: “Despite a slowed economic environment in the US, sales in the first quarter outpaced the same period last year,” citing growth in emerging economies in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America, as well as in the established markets of Western Europe.

Miguel Tellez, managing director, Tele Radio America LLC shares in the optimism: “Our sales are not only not declining, but keep growing exponentially. We are nevertheless worried about the status of the economy and are keeping a close eye on market development.”

But he agrees that the overhead lifting equipment market may escape the slump altogether. “The low exchange rate of the US dollar seems to be more important for industrial companies which are exporting more than ever,” he says.

Meanwhile, the game plan is well practiced: only when we unite forces against the lift truck business will we gain a priceless portion of the massive slice of the overall materials handling market they currently enjoy.

Find here a comprehensive guide to the show and its key overhead lifting exhibitors.

Hoist and sister publication Overhead Crane & Hoist (OCH) will exhibit at booth 252. Bonus distribution will be circulated from the stand.

What is ProMat?

ProMat is a biannual, international exhibition which focuses on the productivity solutions provided by material handling and logistics, including overhead cranes, jib cranes, chain hoists, wire rope hoists, blocks, end-of-line attachments and components.

The four-day event will be the most comprehensive showcase of material handling and logistics equipment, systems and technologies in the United States in 2009.

The ProMat 2009 show floor is divided into four solution-specific sections: manufacturing and assembly solutions, fulfillment and delivery solutions, information technology (IT) solutions and the knowledge centre.

green bit on map

The first of these, the manufacturing area (colour-coded green) is where you will find the majority of exhibiting companies relevant to the overhead lifting business. And its where distributors and end users should head first.

The US Department of Commerce has selected ProMat 2009 for the ninth time for its prestigious International Buyer Program. The program provides matchmaker services for interested buyers and sellers through an international business centre located at the event. International trade specialists will be on hand to provide expert counselling.

Opening hours

Monday: 10.00–17.00

Tuesday: 10.00–17.00

Wednesday: 10.00–17.00

Thursday: 10.00–15.00

Breaking news: safety and productivity are on the rise. Visit booth 362

There are clear advantages of, say, bridge, gantry and jib cranes over more widely used lift trucks and alternative forms of ‘lifting and moving’ materials handling: reduced lifting accidents; improved workplace health and safety; reduced product damage; improved workflow; lower costs; a green solution that reduces environmental impact, to name just a few.

To spread this message, the newly formed Overhead Alliance (OA), a Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) group entity, will exhibit for the first time at ProMat.

The OA was formed to serve member companies organised under certain MHIA affiliated trade associations: CMAA (Crane Manufacturers Association of America), HMI (Hoist Manufacturers Institute), and MMA (Monorail Manufacturers Association). The three groups faced common opportunities and challenges, and determined they could compound the results of their efforts by joining forces and pooling resources.

End users need to be given a better picture of the materials handling movement within their plants and the OA, an ad hoc working group, intends to provide it.

The OA will also show visitors to ProMat the potential lean and green benefits of overhead lifting and the positive impact it can have on your operation and your bottom line, in addition to a raft of other benefits.

It will also address, for example, manual handling and ergonomic lifting.

According to the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), back injuries cost American industry $10-14bn in workers’ compensation costs and about 100m work days annually.

In the past, light loads were lifted manually contributing to the statistics of on the job injury. Installing a lifting and moving solution that limits the amount of manual handling by your employees is a good measure to prevent physical injury.

OA maze

Does moving materials through factory aisles make you feel like you’re trapped in a maze? Overhead lifting solutions allow you to swiftly guide loads over aisles and above obstacles in a direct path, says the Overhead Alliance.

OA brochure

The Overhead Alliance will outline the advantages of overhead lifting in a brochure which it will distribute from booth 362.


The OA exists to advance both the awareness and employment of overhead lifting and moving technologies. It utilises industry knowledge, member company resources, MHIA platforms and a variety of marketing communication tools to reach a broad spectrum of prospective (and current) customer bases. Its non-commercial structure, internal expertise and independent organisation give the OA market credibility not available to individual member companies.


The OA is equally represented by member companies within CMAA, HMI and MMA, as well as by MHIA staff. Member personnel include marketing and other professionals, and are directed by a three member steering committee, one each from CMAA, HMI and MMA. It is funded by, and therefore held equally accountable to, each of those three MHIA organisations.

Market presence

Effective January 2009, the OA will be publicly visible through its website, media advertisements, targeted direct mail and/or email campaigns, promotional literature and member company promotional campaigns. OA will also host two educational workshops at ProMat.

Contact information

Hal Vandiver, executive vice president, business development, MHIA, email:; Scott Miller, OA chair,; Jeff McNeil, OA marketing team chair,

Booth 362

The booth will provide resources to connect “horizontally” to MHIA member companies, in addition to government, compliance, regulatory and safety bodies via OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

It will provide educational resources, primarily through the CICMHE (College Industry Council on Material Handling Education) section of MHIA and offer hourly giveaways (premiums supplied by member companies).

The booth will be staffed by member company personnel (including Hoist and OCH magazines) in addition to other industry experts.

Cervis, Inc. will show a range of remote control products.


The removable electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) feature, for example, allows the operator to have one transmitter to spare an unlimited number of like systems simply by transferring the EEPROM from one transmitter to another like transmitter. “This virtually eliminates down time and the need for multiple spare transmitters,” Cervis said.

Both the transmitter and receiver have duplicate copies of EEPROM so in the case when a transmitter is lost or the transmitter’s EEPROM is destroyed, the spare transmitter can copy the receivers.

Cervis TM60 radio remote crane control systems can also be equipped with a range limitation option. This option will prohibit the system from being operated outside a working area defined by the LA60 infrared transmitter. “The system must have a line-of-sight between the operator and the LA60,” Cervis said.

If the operator becomes temporarily shielded from the range limiter device(s), the system is engineered to be flexible in order to continue operation and facilitate the operator’s movements for a factory set period of four seconds. This time can be adjusted, depending on customer specification.

The overall design of the system is to ensure the operator is within a safe working distance from the crane while simultaneously permitting normal work related movements of the operator.

The system consists of one or more LA60 infrared transmitters. The LA60 can be installed in a fixed position or on the controlled crane and oriented in such a way that they cover the targeted working zone.

Range limited TM60 RF transmitters contain an infrared sensor which receives the information emitted from the LA60 transmitter. This information is analysed by transmitter microprocessor and acts as a permissive. If the transmitter does not receive the infrared data within a pre-determined amount of time, the outputs are deactivated.

For more information on EEPROM, range limitation or other crane and hoist control solutions, visit Cervis at ProMat, booth 973.

Harrington Hoists Inc. will showcase its recently launched NER/ER three-phase electric chain hoists modified with “many enhanced features,” it says.


These revolutionary hoists are now equipped with ‘The Guardian’ smart brake technology, a failsafe maintenance-free brake with a 10-year warranty. All standard models are UL listed. Capacities, ranging from from 1/8 to 20 US tons, are offered in standard single speed and under-the-cover variable frequency drive dual speed.

Harrington’s NER/ER hoists are “now built environmentally friendly without the use of harmful materials,” it says.

The current draw required for operation has been reduced for energy efficiency while maintaining horsepower. New motor, brake and inverter components lower noise levels resulting in increased operator comfort. All models have a three-year warranty.

Enhanced premium quality features also include low-headroom upper and lower limit switches, heavy-duty contactors, super strength, nickel-plated load chain and 5 or 6 pocket load sheaves. Count hour metres, which record lowering starts and hoist on time, are standard on both the NER and ER models for preventive maintenance.

Harrington will also raise the profile of its new distributor login section on its website (, including REV-CON, wire rope crane kit pricing calculator plus pricing and training updates.

Headquartered in Manheim, Pennsylvania, Harrington Hoists Inc., a Kito Group Company, is a leading supplier of electric chain and wire rope hoists, air powered hoists, lever hoists, manual hand chain hoists, trolleys, cranes and crane components. It will exhibit at booth 1852.

MGM Electric Motors NA Inc. (booth 234) has supplied North American manufacturers with brakes motor since 2005.


Its European headquarters, MGM Motori Elettrici SpA, has supported OEM companies in planning and manufacturing their equipment for more than 50 years.

It says: “With a staff of highly experienced engineers we are able to support manufacturers with solutions to their brake motors needs for every application at competitive pricing.”

MGM produces more than 200,000 electric motors each year, and claims to have produced more than 4,000,000 brake motors since 1950. It distributes products in more than 40 countries, producing motors rated for 230/460V 60Hz (for the US and Canadian markets) and 230/400V 50 Hz (for the European market). Other voltages are available upon request.

Motors are inverter ready, while brake motors can be provided with AC or DC brakes. MGM provides electric motors between 1/8 HP and 60 HP and distributes gear boxes (worm, bevel, bevel helical and planetary).

It says the three phase AC brake technology “is the most advanced braking technology available.”

MGM carries two lines of brake motors, namely BA and BM.

The BA series main features include:

– high brake torque

– high brake duty cycle

– high Ts/Tn rate (up to 2.9)

– manual brake release

– easily adjustable brake torque

– precise and consistent reliable braking

– incredibly fast brake reaction time

BM series motors are standard brake motors equipped with a DC brake, which it says “leads to compact and silent units”.

MGM product range:

– brake motors

– hoist motors

– fly wheel motors

– high efficiency motors

– parallel shaft gearboxes

– gearboxes

Approvals and certifications include CSA (USA and Canada), CE (Europe) and CCC (China).

Canada-based, O’Brien Installations Ltd., a licensed partner with Vetter Foerdertechnik GmbH, and one of North America’s leading jib crane manufacturers, will exhibit its line of German-engineered, high capacity, multi purpose jib cranes.


It also hopes to expand its distributor and dealer network.

O’Brien offers standard capacities ranging from 50lbs to 30 US tons, available in free standing, column/wall-mounted, axial and articulating jib styles. It can manufacture jibs to suit any environment from outdoor applications to hazardous area requirements.

O’Brien Installations Ltd. comes off the back of its best year to date in jib crane sales (2007-2008) and, despite the economic outlook, looks forward to continued growth in the current fiscal year.

“There is still strong demand for jib cranes, especially in the oil and gas industries,“ it says.

O’Brien will exhibit at booth 2377.

Demag Cranes & Components (booth 2272) will show its DC chain hoist.

It will also use the show to raise the profile of its DR20 wire rope hoist.

Configurations range from the standard DR COM unit with contactor control or the individually customised DR PRO with electronic control.

The DR20 PRO hoist extends the DR line to capacities up to 50 US tons and features wireless infrared control.

The standard DR20 features a range of additional features, while the FDR model is used for crane or plant engineered installations and the EZDR double-rail crab model is a solution for double-girder crane applications.

Used in a wide variety of industries, the DR20 PRO features a ‘highly efficient’ FEM2 classification, provides optimum space utilisation, increased hoist speeds and requires little maintenance, according to Demag.

The DR20 PRO features a low-vibration, quiet running, two-speed motor engineered for high cycling rates and accurate positioning.

Low current switching extends the contactor life and is controlled by an on-board computer through a service diagnostic feature. A microprocessor provides real-time service and maintenance information that can be accessed from the pushbutton station LCD screen.

Communication is achieved with the hoist via a laptop or Pocket PC (PDA), with pre-loaded software from Demag, via infrared.

Used in a wide variety of industries, the DR20 features duty classifications ranging from FEM 1 Am to FEM 4 m, capacities from 6.3 to 50 US tons, and hoist speeds in a range of 12 FPM to 64 FPM.

Event organiser, the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) has confirmed dates for its other exhibition, the 2010 North American Material Handing & Logistics Show (NA 2010), which will be held April 26-29 at Cleveland’s I-X Centre. NA and ProMat operate on alternate years.

The show will feature over 150,000 square feet of exhibits from over 500 of the leading suppliers of material handling and logistics solutions for manufacturing, distribution and supply chain operations.

NA 2010 will be the most comprehensive material handling and logistics show and conference held in the US in 2010. Like ProMat, exhibits will represent all segments of the material handling and logistics industry, from traditional, manual equipment to computerised, automated systems. The NA show floor will be divided into the same solution-specific centres as ProMat, including manufacturing and assembly, fulfillment and delivery, and information technology.

The NA 2010 exhibit spacedraw will be held on the Wednesday (January 14) of the ProMat event. This will be the first opportunity for organisations to secure exhibit space at this event.

Power Electronics International, Inc. will celebrate its 40th anniversary at booth 1912. It will exhibit a working control panel with high temperature crane and hoist drives, in addition to its new Page-Swap programming features.

power electronics

Spanco, Inc., a manufacturer of overhead material handling products, as well as Rigid Lifeline fall protection systems, will exhibit at booth 1559.

This year’s exhibit will provide distributors and end users with the opportunity to view and interact with a wide range of those products.

Additionally, visitors are encouraged to “take advantage of this valuable opportunity to talk to an experienced sales associate or engineer, get hands-on experience with Spanco products, and learn more about our promise to perform,” it says.

It will also use the show to expand its distributor network. “ProMat 2009 will be a great place to stop and talk to us and learn more about our unmatched loyalty and commitment to our dealers,” it adds.

Spanco has recently launched a new corporate website at

Its product range covers the following overhead solutions:

– aluminum gantry cranes

– articulating jib cranes

– freestanding jib cranes

– stainless steel wall mounted workstation jib cranes

– retrofit jib drives

– freestanding workstation bridge cranes

– double girder workstation bridges

– Alu-Track workstation bridges

– trussed telescoping workstation bridges

– steel and aluminum track styles

– monorail systems with switches

– Lift Boss electric wire rope hoist (pictured)

– Beam Boss beam tractor drives

– 500 version five end-truck and hoist trolleys

– stainless steel hoist trolleys

Tele Radio America LLC will showcase its T70-Jaguar system, the first unit it has specifically designed for the American market.


Miguel Tellez, managing director, says it is “the first ever real high quality and low cost system in the market. It closes the gap between two traditional alternatives, the low quality/low cost systems and the high quality/high cost systems,” he adds.

Tele Radio’s 860-Lion system complies with the more demanding European CAT 3 standards, but the company believes it is sometimes “overkill,” as it puts it, to compete with that unit in the American market where low cost systems compliant with lower safety standards are the norm. On that basis, T70-Jaguar is the first Tele Radio unit specifically designed for the American market.

The system is packed with numerous configuration possibilities, among others, being capable of controlling cranes with two hoists, pitch and catch, momentary or maintained relays, interlock, etc. All these configurations can be set by the user by just flipping DIP switches and typing specific codes into the handset (TX), explains Tellez. The latest technology has been used, including “durable and reliable” components, he adds.

T70-Jaguar uses the license free 433-434 MHz band. With a total of 64 different channels to choose from, “the system will always find a free channel to work from.” Another safety aspect is the TX’s stop switch which is metallic and complies with military (MIL) specifications. Damaged or lost TX units may be easily replaced without complex reprogramming.

Tele Radio will exhibit at booth 235. The 860-Lion, T70-Jaguar and T60/T20-Cougar units will all be on the stand. The company has promised further additions to its product range in 2009.

Vitali International Lifting Equipment Ltd., will use the show to exhibit a range of chain and lever hoists, including its so-called K-V Type lever hoist. The model is available from 0.8 to 9t units.

“The unit is lightweight and compact and the patented friction disc design means no brake discs are required,” says director Dennis Wong (pictured).

The unit includes a grade 100 galvanised or nickel plated load chain. Each chain block is operationally tested at 1.5 times rated capacity. The unique free wheel design means no preload is required to operate the hoist. Also on show will be the K-II chain block, available from 0.25t to 30t capacity.

Both chain block and lever hoist are for the industrial market. The overload protection device is an optional feature.