Large corporations are giving in to modern methods of lifting, loading and transportation as the conventional unsafe methods are gradually being replaced by Palfinger technology bringing in more efficiency, productivity and safety, says Subhmoy Ghosh, Managing Director, Palfinger India. In an exclusive chat with EQUIPMENT INDIA, Ghosh throws light on the changing trends in the loading and lifting industry. Excerpts from the interview.To what extent have the end-user segments of different verticals shifted towards integrated load handling systems such as truck loader cranes? The truck loader crane is still in its conceptual stage in the Indian market. However, with experience, we can certainly say that acceptance of this concept is on the rise. Demand is being propelled mainly by a few needs. From the application needs such as areas in which no other materials handling system can be as productive or cost- effective as the truck loader crane like brick handling, scrap handling, pre-case handling; from the manufacturers/distributors, who have to deliver their product to their customer, products like the hume pipe, generator, transporter; construction and project companies for handling their project goods from the on-site warehouse to the project spot; and industries like steel, power where inplant movement with safety is a big concern. We can certainly say application needs, efficiency improvement and safety are critical drivers of this concept in the Indian market.What is the current demand-supply scenario for truck loader cranes? For the last four years (2007-2010), the demand for such equipment has always remained within 150 units. However with aggressive marketing by Palfinger, this market size has now expanded to around 300 units in 2011. We have plans of selling at least 350 ourselves through which we should expect 75-80 per cent market share. We certainly have strategic plans to increase this market base in the next five years.As the product is in its nascent stage, customers take a relatively long time in finalising their decision in favour. After this long gestation period, we do not want to make customers wait for deliveries. Hence, we have heavily invested in build up of stock of fast-moving variants, in order to reduce order execution time and to improve product visibility. Palfinger is a leading global manufacturer with a flexible production schedule and therefore, meeting the customer’s demand expectation in terms of delivery period is no big task.What is your take on the palletised load handling scenario in India? Do you see a link between the growth of truck loader cranes and palletised load handling?Palletisation of load is not a very popular solution in India as of now, compared to European countries, wherein 80- 90 per cent of the loads are palletised. Sooner or later this scenario will change in India though, as users have started understanding the benefits of pallet systems. Businesses that are using standard pallets for loading and unloading have much lower costs for handling and storage, with faster material movement than businesses that do not. In Europe, the majority of Palfinger cranes sales made are working with a pallet fork to lift the palletised load and we expect a similar trend to start in India but not immediately. If the pallet system pick up in India soon, it has the potential to change business volumes and market size.The cost of pallet is posing a major challenge in the pallet system as business considers it an additional investment which is not true if they will calculate for the long term.Brief us on the range offered by Palfinger in truck-loader cranes.In India, basically we offer three types of truck loader cranes:Stiff Boom Cranes: These are one hundred per cent indigenised cranes made by Palfinger in its Chennai facility. These localised cranes are used by customers looking for a simple lifting and loading solution. These cranes are supplied with a winch mechanism as a standard fitment. We have two variants in this type of cranes; PS 8000 4.0 which is an 8-tonne metre crane and can lift loads of up to four tonne at two meters` distance; and the PS 13000 6.3 which can lift six tonne of load at two meters` distance with ease. Further to this product line, Palfinger will launch higher capacity versions in the near future.Thanks to the use of high grade steel, Palfinger stiff boom cranes are designed for optimal dead weight, thereby not only providing more lifting power but also creating an opportunity for more payload.Knuckle Boom Cranes: These cranes have a hydraulically articulated telescopic arm which can be folded and occupies minimal space on the truck chassis. They have hydraulic power available at the boom end, thus enabling the fitment of various attachments which can do more specialised jobs than just simple lifting; jobs like brick bundle handling, scrap handling, lifting human beings to heights with a man basket, drilling with the earth auger, handling loose or waste material with clamshell buckets, etc.Palfinger has a huge range of knuckle boom cranes starting from 0.9-tonne-metre up to 116- tonne-metre which can lift load up to 30 tonne at 4 m distance. Currently these cranes are imported from Austria, but in future India could well be manufacturing these cranes, too.The Palfinger knuckle boom cranes carries a successful history of 50 years which make them highly optimised and technologically advanced. The multi- utility of Palfinger knuckle boom cranes make them the most versatile cranes available in the Indian market.Timber and Recycling Crane: These are heavy-duty and robust cranes especially for use in the process industry where the duty hours of cranes are very high. These are very fast and efficient cranes built for severe working environments. In India, these cranes are working successfully in paper mills like ITC, West Coast Paper Mill, Ballarpur Industries, to name few. These cranes can also be used for various applications like scrap handling in processing units, waste handling at transfer stations, coal loading and unloading.Tell us about the safety features both in-built and optional in these cranes?Safety comes first at Palfinger. Palfinger truck loaders cranes are built with the highest safety standards with safety features specially designed keeping the workers’ safety in mind. To ensure stability, a crane and truck combination is selected through a computer-aided system known as PACWIN. Thorough engineering calculations are done for each and every case. Palfinger cranes are equipped with safety features like:Load holding valves are provided on each cylinder to prevent the crane from dropping even in case of a breakage of hydraulic hoses.Laser profiling and special robotic welding which creates an immensely strong crane base frame, increasing durability and safety.Lever control on each side of the crane so the operator is always able to see the load when lifting, thus ensuring higher operating safety.Top seat control package gives full overview on the whole environment of the truck thus enhancing safety during working.Optional features like Overload Protection System does not allow the crane to lift loads beyond its rated capacity so there is no risk of the crane overloading and bypassing safety norms. No safety hazard.High Power Lifting System (HPLS): This feature increases the capacity of a crane up to around 15 per cent with reduced operating speeds. Increased capacity with no compromise on safety.Integrated Stability Control (ISC): This feature is a system that monitors the stability of a crane vehicle.We give due weightage to operators’ training as well. We have a team of experienced and specialised team of trainers who gives thorough training to the customer’s operators before handing over the crane to them.What are the major advantages a customer gets by using truck loader cranes, in terms of safety, productivity, reach, fuel efficiency?Palfinger truck loader cranes have set a very high standard in terms of product quality, technology used, confirming operational/environmental safety and strong after service, which is difficult to match by the conventional pick-n-carry cranes. Palfinger truck loader cranes enjoy a strong history of 50 years making them an optimised and technologically acclaimed product around the globe, whereas pick-n-carry cranes have no global reference to back them up. They are seen more in India and less in other countries.Truck loader cranes seem to have succeeded more in government-owned projects rather than private companies. Are there any specific reasons for the same?That is not really true; although we are making a strong entry in the government sector, the private sector still tops the list. We have supplied Palfinger truck-mounted cranes to corporate companies for their various projects across India, to people like L&T, Afcons, ITD Cementation, Reliance Industries, C&C Constructions, Tata Metaliks.Is cost a deterrent for the wide acceptance of these lifting systems?More than cost, I would say product and concept awareness is not widespread enough to achieve the desired volumes. With our aggressive marketing activities, we are trying to bring awareness about the multi-utility of truck loader cranes. You can already see Palfinger truck loader cranes functioning today in India in the brick and tiles industry, waste management sector, manufacturing companies, infrastructure projects, railway wagon maintenance, and doing general lifting and loading in several other industry segments. The numbers of truck loader cranes in the market will increase exponentially as its visibility in the market increases further and its application areas are explored by Indian customers.Brief us about your manufacturing facilities in India.Palfinger has set up a dedicated manufacturing facility in Chennai where current two variants of stiff boom cranes are produced. We can produce 200 cranes in single shift in a year. Regarding capacity enhancement, as of now we will be focusing more on optimisation of existing indigenised products and their manufacturing process to effectively utilise the available capacity. Depending on the market demand, we are ready to invest more, in terms of manufacturing facility expansion and manpower. We are looking at India as a prospective contender for setting up a dedicated manufacturing facility for knuckle boom cranes in the future.PALFINGER ADVANTAGE• Only company in India having more than four decades of experience in development, manufacturing and distribution. This counts when we provide solutions to customers.• Only global company having such a wide product range light-duty telescopic crane (PC series), medium and heavy-duty knuckle boom crane (PK Series), recycling and forestry crane (EPSILON series) and now, the stiff boom crane.• Only global company having a dedicated manufacturing centre in India. • Only company having dedicated R&D, product management and installation specialists providing complete technical solution to clients.• Largest sales & service team and dedicated dealership network supported with specialists from the company sideCORE COMPETENCIES• Palfinger uses special high tensile steel to reduce the weight of the crane – low crane weight sleek design and robust.• All Palfinger cranes are designed using the finite element method to ensure maximal lifting capacity and durability.• One hundred per cent replicable welding quality ensures constant quality and safety.• Laser profiling and special welding create an immensely strong crane base frame -long durability and highest level of safety.Operational Ease of Palfinger Truck Loader Cranes:• It is an integrated solution of loading, transporting and unloading, thus no multiple equipment required, absolute no coordination required and multi- point unloading possible.• Maneuverability – No realignment of Palfinger truck loader cranes is required to be done again and again and it can work in very congested areas with ease.Stability: Palfinger truck loader cranes have outrigger based stabiliser systems whereas pick-n-carry cranes carry counter-weights in them thus increasing the chances of the crane toppling.Largest safe working area of 250º as compared to only 56º available with pick-n-carry cranes makes Palfinger truck loader cranes far safer to work with.Safety: Palfinger truck loader cranes are equipped with world-class safety features which conform to the stringent safety norms laid down by corporate companies whereas many fatal accidents have been connected with pick-n-carry cranes.