Italy's engineering is well-known in the world, and the country has many crane manufacturers. However, the pandemic was hit hard and early there. Since then, how has its crane manufacturer performed? Julian Champkin investigates and highlights recent projects.
Italy is known for its engineering ingenuity and excellence. Most of them are concentrated in northern Italy, especially Lombardy. Engineering companies, many of which are small and medium-sized and family businesses, are concentrated in the area. One of these companies is VHT, a manufacturer of cranes and light cranes. Its recent experience may be typical of many people.
In 2018, Brescia-based Olomec (itself a family business) acquired the company, but the brand continues to hold its own rights as an entity. Small and medium cranes and industrial cranes are its strengths. “The cranes we produce can lift up to 40 tons, sometimes up to 50 tons,” says export manager Melanie Wenzel. "Other products include electric chain hoists and rope hoists, bridge crane components, and cantilever jibs with a radius of 2m to 7m, a 270-degree rotation, and a capacity of up to 2t; we make an over-supporting jib with a radius of 8m.
"Our customers are often small and medium-sized engineering problems. Recently, we received an inquiry from a wind farm and have provided a crane to the Italian National Nuclear Science Center with all professional requirements, including motors, brakes, switchgear and Redundancy required for other nuclear applications. We also export to Central Europe, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. We also sell products in Portugal and have customers in the Middle East and Egypt."
Italy, especially northern Italy, was particularly hard hit in the early stages of the pandemic. "Business started to recover in the spring of 2019," she said.
"Then Covid interrupted this. According to the law, we had to shut down; we resumed production in mid-May 2020, but encountered difficulties faced by many companies. We used to have problems in the supply chain, and we still have problems. Materials are difficult to obtain. We need parts and castings, many of which have experienced serious delays and substantial price increases. This is a very important thing for us: we try to absorb as much additional pricing as possible, but we must Pass some on to our customers.
"But the situation is slowly improving. The Italian market is starting to pick up. Although it has not returned to its pre-pandemic state, it has been more than half completed. Exports have also become quite busy, although some export operations have been shelved. Before the pandemic, We received an interesting order from Turkey, and we completed and delivered the order, but the repeat business we hoped for has stalled due to the pandemic."
Globally, since the pandemic, manufacturers in many countries have found it difficult to recruit labor. "Italy is also experiencing this. We have hired 20 employees in cranes, but we have successfully recruited new employees." The accepted wisdom is that it is easier for better employers to attract employees; this will make VHT fall into the category of more Good employer category.
"We feel better than this time last year," Wenzel said. "The situation is improving. If it is slow, I am optimistic. We are a small company, but we are still here, and we have passed those bad times. The pandemic is not over yet, but customers are ordering from us; we hope to close More orders are coming, but this may come.
In order to obtain them, we are looking for new areas, such as concrete and steel producers, and of course, we will continue to serve our engineering customers. My colleagues have been working hard now; so business is pretty good. "
Progressive Media International Ltd. Registered address: 40-42 Hatton Garden, London, EC1N 8EB, UK. Copyright 2021 Progressive Media International Limited. all rights reserved.