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12 November 2014

Zoomlion growing worldwide, particularly in lifting and concrete machine operations

First publishedin bauma China
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bauma China 2014 Preview Zoomlion factory in Changsha
Zoomlion continues to invest in its manufacturing operations in Changsha
Zoomlion is confident of future growth in its share of the world market for construction machines – Mike Woof writes

Chinese manufacturers now lead the world in both lifting and concrete delivery systems, with Zoomlion featuring a particularly high profile. As one of the biggest manufacturers of construction equipment in China, Changsha-based Zoomlion is now a leading player worldwide in truck cranes, crawler cranes and tower cranes in particular. The firm recently raised its profile by combining its mobile cranes and hoisting operations to establish its Zoomlion Lifting Machinery division.

Geoffrey Tao is vice general manager of Zoomlion Overseas Branch Company and he explained, “We have a long history of making tower cranes. It makes us stronger if we combine the tower crane, mobile crane and crawler crane business in one division. We’ve decided to share research and development and manufacturing and we think it will make the business more efficient.” The firm makes some of the largest cranes anywhere in the world, with crawler crane, truck crane and tower crane models that have all broken an array of capacity records. The company’s presence in the tower crane segment was further strengthened when it bought the rights to the Jost flat top crane designs.

Following this acquisition, the firm switched to making the more modern flat top tower cranes, replacing its earlier designs. One of the most recent fruits of this deal has been the new T320 flat top tower crane, which has recently received its CE certification for use in Europe. Other new tower crane developments include the T3000 and most recently its mighty T160V, which can lift up to 160tonnes.
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Zoomlion’s sophisticated flat top crane technology
Zoomlion's sophisticated flat top crane technology is now gaining market share worldwide
The flat top crane technology has had a significant benefit to the company, which says that since this was introduced to the range, the tower crane business has seen revenue increase by 45%. Sales are widespread too with a customer base in the Middle East, Russia, Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as the US and Germany. The roll out of this range continues internationally and Zoomlion plans to introduce its sophisticated flat top cranes to Latin America in due course. The company has also had success in India, seeing its tower crane sales triple in 2014 over the previous year. In mobile cranes Zoomlion has yet to develop the same sales strength as for its tower cranes where it holds a major share of the global market, but the company believes its new lifting division is a step in the right direction. Rough terrain cranes are machines the firm sees particular potential for worldwide, including the US. The response at Conexpo 2014 to the Zoomlion rough terrain cranes was strong and Tao said, “We expect more grow
th for rough terrain cranes and we have had a lot of interest.”

The concrete division however remains Zoomlion’s largest operation. And Zoomlion’s acquisition of the Italian CIFA concrete pump business was a key stage in the firm’s growth, bringing with it a wealth of western technology as well as expertise in international distribution. From Cifa’s perspective too, the move was entirely positive, freeing up massive resources for further research and development.

A key development from this has been the launch of highly advanced concrete pumps that use lightweight carbon fibre boom sections, with Zoomlion and Cifa having jointly developed the world’s largest pump, featuring a 101m boom. Although only one of these high reach machines has been built, the carbon fibre boom sections are also fitted to the firm’s 65m and 80m class pumps, which are now attracting sales. These offer significant performance benefits as the light-weight carbon fibre permits the use of shorter truck chassis than would normally be required, offering major reductions in transport costs.

International manufacturing operations for Zoomlion took a further step when the group has opened a production site at Indaiatuba in Brazil. This site is used to make concrete equipment and other lines of construction machinery. Located some 90km from San Paolo, the facility has 22,000m² of production space and will produce over 1,200 machines/ year when it reaches capacity. The products will include truck mixers, batching plants and concrete pumps. Zoomlion is still undecided as to when it will re-enter the North American market with its concrete pumps, but given the sophisticated Cifa technology and the growing awareness of the brand’s quality cranes, this offers a strong potential for the future. The recent acquisition of the German M-TEC dry-mix mortar range has further boosted Zoomlion’s presence in the concrete equipment sector. Tao said, “Around 60% of the ready mix concrete pumped in the world is pumped with a Zoomlion machine and our machines are working in over 100 countries around the world.” Chinse relations with Africa are good at present, which has helped boost the firm’s sales to the continent. Other particularly good markets include Venezuela and Russia. Looking ahead, the company is highly optimistic and Tao said, “We are facing some slowdown in the domestic market but we are very positive.”

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