Exports to lift crane-factory investment

9th April 2004 By: candice haase

Export growth predicted for this year warranted the commis-sioning of an additional 250 m2 of floor-space at Condra Cranes’ factory, in Germiston, in Jan-uary.

In spite of difficulties posed by the global oversupply of cranes and hoists, the company still sees growth potential in the Middle Eastern, subcontinental African and the South American niche markets. MD Josef Kleiner comments that the recent expansion adds about 20% to the existing space at the factory.

This will accommodate improved material flow at the crane-manufac-turer’s facility.

To support the company’s growth, it has also employed additional staff.

The company is in the process of manufacturing six cranes for clients in Zambia and five for Nigerian clients.

It is also supplying 12 sets of com-ponents to a company working on the Zambian Copperbelt.

Gold-mining activity in Ghana has also prompted an Australian company operating there to order a Condra crane.

It is also supplying equipment to an Australian firm of consulting engineers operating in Tanzania.

Condra GM Marc Kleiner com-ments that the strong rand has affected the local company’s ability to compete in the export market.

However, it has retained its com-petitive edge by continuing to pre-manufacture components in bulk, thereby allowing shorter lead times, he explains.

To support this strategic develop-ment, Kleiner hopes to introduce an additional lathe, drilling machine and milling machine within six months to produce special components.

Josef Kleiner, who started the com-pany some 40 years ago, is engaged in constant research and development.

Along with other management, he attends trade shows in Europe regu-larly, adapting the ideas he encounters to suit African applications.

During 2003, Condra increased the operating speeds of its existing high-speed models, and successfully entered the market for Class Four cranes.

In Zambia, the company currently has a Class Four crane operating around the clock.

Josef maintains that, in general, the cranes Condra produces are about twice as fast as the company’s main competition.

Further redesign work included improved versatility on the company’s hoist range across its Class One to Class Four models.

Josef comments that this was carried out in such a way that any hoist could be rated either Class One, Two, Three or Four.

“All that is needed are a few minor changes to gears and bear-ings.” Commenting on the com-pany’s export growth, he notes that Condra, which has been exporting its products since 1988, has supplied cranes and hoists to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Zan-zibar and Zimbabwe.

In the South African market, Condra last year became the market leader in the manufacture and supply of hoists, Josef in-forms.

“We intend to retain this lead, as well as our domination of the high-lift crane market, where our K-series hoists have a record of durable and robust performance under conditions of increased mechanical strain.”