One leading hoist manufacturer is Hercules Hoists Ltd of Mumbai, established in 1962 by the diversified Bajaj Group.

Domestic sales form the core of the company’s business for the moment, though export sales are projected to grow substantially in future as further production capacity is installed.

“The Indian hoist market has been booming for the past two years. We are expanding at 15% a year in material handling equipment sales as because infrastructure construction is growing and there is a lot of growth in core sectors including power generation, steel, coal and automobile production. The market for hoists is growing across the whole of India,” says Hercules general manager Viek Mahendru.

Anticipating a large growth in domestic and overseas hoist sales, Hercules recently has completed the first phase of a major long term production expansion programme.

“We have put up a second manufacturing plant on the Mumbai-Pune highway which has just opened in April 2006,” Mahendru says. “We are transferring production to our new plant. We are going to make all our crane models there.”

“The new plant will be four times bigger than the old plant eventually, but it is being developed in separate phases. Phase 1 will be almost as large as the existing plant. Phase 2 will be completed in 2008 and will double the plant from its phase 1 size. At that stage we will close down our old, original plant.”

“Our Phase 1 capacity will be used to supply the domestic market and for export. Our target is to achieve 40% of our turnover from exports by 2008.”

“All our products follow Indian Standards (IS) which are derived from British Standards (BS),” explains Mahendru. “Some of our standards also comply with German standards because of our previous cooperation with Hadef.”

“All our wire rope hoist equipment are underslung hoists, so our wire rope models go from 500kg up to 25t. Our smallest electric chain hoist is 250kg and up to 5t maximum in a compact model.”

Hercules manufactures a range of hoists along with storage stacker cranes that are supplied as part of storage systems. Hoist products include 500kg to 30t chain pulley blocks, 500kg to 10t electric chain hoists, 500kg to 15t electric wire rope hoists, manual and electric trolleys, and 500kg to 15t EOT cranes.

Storage stacker products include 1 to 2t floor operated stackers, 1 to 3t store stacker cranes and 10 to 25t roll out racks.

Mahendru points out that Indef hoists can be supplied with a creep arrangement that operates at either 10% or 25% of the normal hoisting speed. The creep arrangement consists of a separate creep feed speed motor to power the creep gear box which is operated by separate push buttons.

Among recently introduced products are fat drum wire rope hoists that now are offered in various sizes from 2.5 to 30t.

“We have introduced fat drum hoists for very high lifting which is required in cement plants, power stations and steel mills. The drum diameter is up to 900mm,” Mahendru says. “We improved our drum designs as these are best suited for crane applications where a compact drum is better. We have shipped 15 units so far.”

Hercules’ hoist factory is located in Mumbai. Substantial investments in production automation have been made at the plant in recent years.

“We employ 100 workers. We employed 400 people in 2000, but today we do three times as much business as then,” Mahendru noted. “Our hoist production has been automated. We have a CNC workshop with equipment including CNC gear hubbing, vertical and horizontal machining centres and fast turner lathes.”

Hercules produces about 30,000 manual chain hoists a year of which about 4,000 or 13.5% are exported. In addition, the company produces 2,000 electric chain hoists annually of which 150 or 7.5% are exported.

Hercules also manufactures about 1,000 wire rope hoists a year of which about 50 or 2.5% are shipped overseas.

“We are focussing more on the hoist component business. Some European companies are buying hoists from us including a top UK brand that takes units up to 10t under their own brand. They buy chain pulley blocks. We have supplied them for five years,” Mahendru said. “We also have supplied electric chain hoists up to 5t for an Italian customer under their own brand for six years now.”

Other export markets include the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Libya, South Africa, Liberia, Nigeria, Nepal, Bangladesh and Singapore. Customers in these markets buy electric wire rope and electric chain hoists in sizes up to 25t.

Hercules is seeking distributors in various countries with existing sales networks to supply its range of hoists and provide after sales service.

Meanwhile, among new products being introduced are overhead rail systems for hoists up to 1 to 2t that can be installed in factories and similar workshop areas.

“We have started importing the overhead rail sections, but we may make them ourselves in the long run,” Mahendru said. “We supply these overhead rail systems with manual or electric chain hoists for automated and medium size engineering units such as CNC rooms.”

Hercules also is expanding sales of stacker crane systems as well.

The company was founded by the diversified Bajaj Group, India’s largest producer of two wheeled scooters, which also makes a range of other goods that include electrical appliances and street lighting fixtures. Hercules’ other shareholder is the Shah family business group.

The Bajaj Group is in the process of selling off its shareholding in a sister company of Hercules, a steelworks factory crane maker called Mukund, to the Shah family. Bajaj was previously a sleeping partner.

“Mukund are in the steel business and started out in cranes,” Mahendru comments. “Their models are 25 to 200t. “They start where we stop, so theirs is a different business,” he says.