As the use of technology increases in our daily lives we can feel the tangible impact in our personal lives as well as the talk of the digital world in our professional lives. In the previous article, the use of technology on the construction equipment (more specific construction machinery and cranes) evolution was discussed in detail. Digital technology not only impacts the construction equipment options, but it could also facilitate the project management processes and construction project monitoring and progress; which consequently could result in reduction of cost and saving time and increasing safety at construction sites.
In this article, we are discussing the various elements of digital and online market/economy of construction equipment and the impact of new technology and mobile apps in client servicing in the construction sector.
These days, ecommerce is a hot topic. Almost all consumer brands are constantly looking to expand their client base and customer retention and satisfaction either through their own digital platforms or third-party platforms. Even, Mohammad AlAbbar, the chairman of Emaar Group, who is quite well known in the construction world, has teamed up with Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund and a number of prominent Gulf investor to launch an ecommerce platform called Noon.com which competes with likes of Souq.com (recently acquired by Amazon) and other international ecommerce players in the region.
However, that is from a consumer brand perspective, but how has the B2B and the construction industry been impacted by this digital revolution. We will investigate this issue from various aspects.
Online market of construction equipment, construction machinery and cranes
In an article published by NFT earlier this year about the second-hand market for cranes and renting construction equipment market, we saw that there is a massive demand for second-hand towers cranes and there are many players and stake holders in the market. Most of these stakeholders have major online presence in terms of inquiring about these products and also in term of suppliers.
Before getting into those details, here are some online platforms for new and used construction machinery options (these websites actually have very different approaches in terms of their offerings):
This is a bidding website where various bid from different suppliers are listed; While you can’t bid directly on the site, Construction Equipment Guide aggregates construction equipment auctions onto a calendar page view. Buyers can choose the suppliers based on geographical proximity and bid on the ones available.
Equipment Trader offers over 100,000 pieces of equipment in both new and used categories. If you’re looking to get sell your construction equipment or you are a dealer, Equipment Trader website is very user friendly and it is fairly easy to post a listing. There is a 72 hour waiting period after you’ve posted your listing as Equipment Trader verifies all listings; which is beneficial for both the suppliers and the potential buyers.
As the name implies, this website is solely dedicated to buying and selling of various types of cranes, including crane parts and equipment. You can also rent crane equipment and it offers training course and offers a dedicated section on getting quotes from inspection, transporting cranes, to lifting gear hire. This is an all around comprehensive digital platform that offers financing services too.
This website is a marketplace for crane buyers and sellers and allows crane suppliers to have advertising options to be communicate through their database. As compared to Crane Network, the users of this website tend to be more conservative in terms of sharing the prices and you might need to get in touch with them directly to get a quote.
This global website has over 40,000 items for sale from construction equipment, agriculture machinery, trucks to attachments and parts. However, this website is a good source for parts rather than the actual equipment.
This website offers free listings for sellers, potential buyers, and even potential renters, Machinery Trader is a great resource for anyone looking to buy heavy construction equipment without spending a significant amount in the process. Machinery Trader also offers parts, components, and attachments at a discounted rate, along with dismantled machines for the more adventurous construction company owner.
Ritchie Bros Auctioneers are a very well know auction house in the construction world and they have taken their operations online. Based out of Canada, they are the world’s largest industrial auctioneers. They are one of the biggest and most reliable digital platform for construction equipment market. Use their search function to first narrow down by location. Their auction calendar can be filtered into two categories: Industrial Auctions and Agricultural Auctions. potential buyers can filter their results by region, industry, equipment type, make, model auction location, year, serial number and more, making it one of the most user friendly platforms from the list.
In parallel, some magazines have capitalized on the fact that they are a neutral hub bringing together manufacturers, suppliers and readers into one platform. With that in mind, they have created a platform for the supply and demand of heavy machinery. Examples of that include KHL magazine with its World Crane Market and Cranes today with their Crane Marketplace.
Clearly, the online resources for buying, selling, renting construction equipment and parts is quite vast. However, actual crane manufacturers have rarely tried to offer their products directly and they have used some of the website mentioned above. We are looking at some the key benefits of the online market in the points below:
Easier access to different suppliers: Traditionally potential buyers needed to get quotation either by making phone calls or physically being present at the suppliers’ offices. With the emergence of online marketplace in the construction industry, not only access to almost all construction equipment suppliers has becoming much simpler but also it has impacted the pricing models as well. Potential buyers (therefore, the expected demand) has played a pivotal role in pricing strategies of suppliers which now they need to constantly create counter offers to win new business.
- Better deals through online trading: With greater and easier access to supplier comes more information on the available deals for construction equipment. Suppliers need to always keep their pricing per market forces.
- Better services through online platforms: Besides pricing, construction equipment suppliers also at time bundle up their offerings in terms of after sales services too. For example, in order to stay in the competition and not to cut down on prices too much, many suppliers offer financing and post-sale guarantee offers that in return benefits the buyers.
- It is significantly time saving: Of course, potential buyers have access to a world of listing at their fingertips without even leaving their office and they can actually make a purchase within a day.
These are just some of the benefits, however, online trading in construction equipment market has some points that the stakeholders need to be aware of.
- Responsibility & Credibility: Most of the website and online portals that are in the construction equipment market are Marketplaces; meaning that they connect the buyers to sellers and they do not necessarily take on most of responsibility in terms of after sales services nor the quality of the products being offered. Users on website such as Equipment Trader need to have their listings verified, however, the entire responsibility is with the buyers and nor the platform.
- Increasing number of middle men: Since it is much easier for companies and even individuals to list products online, in the construction equipment online market, at times there are a significant number user that merely connect buyers and sellers. This is also common in traditional markets, however, in online trading, potential buyers need to be aware that many of the listings are done by these intermediary companies and at time it could increase costs and time of delivery of equipment.
Digital Technology and client servicing – Tower Crane sector
Using mobile apps may be a part of our daily lives and even major business deals might be done through them (primarily online buying and communication apps), but also in the crane sector client servicing, they have made a great impact in term of customer satisfaction. Here are looking at some of these mobile apps:
Manitowoc diagnostic mobile app to increase crane up time: Manitowoc Cranes has announced a new smartphone app that will help customers to diagnose technical issues on their cranes much faster. The free app will be available on iOS and Android devices, and will enable users to understand the numeric diagnostic codes that are generated by their on-board control systems. Manitowoc is the first manufacturer in the crane industry to release an app of this kind.
According to Manitowoc website, “In the past, when cranes had technical issues, Manitowoc customers had no way to interpret the diagnostic codes that would appear on the main display of the crane’s cab. Specialized technicians would have to be called to the job site with proprietary equipment, and any time spent waiting affected the project schedule. Now, with this freely available smartphone app that instantly tells users what codes mean, crane owners can begin working on solutions immediately, boosting their uptime.”
“We’re entering into a new era of crane operation where we can harness the power of mobile devices and Manitowoc wants to lead the way,” said John Alexander, director of all-terrain crane service, mobile training and telematics at Manitowoc. “By accessing a cloud database right from their smartphones, companies can quickly get valuable diagnostic information to keep their cranes up and running.”
The first version of the app will address diagnostic codes on all Grove- and Manitowoc-branded cranes that run on Manitowoc’s Crane Control System (CCS), as well as all-terrain (GMK) models that have ECOS 1 or ECOS 2 installed. National Crane boom truck functionality will follow in a future update.
Tower Crane Operator Simulator:
There are various mobile apps available on the app stores that allows users to operate virtual tower cranes.
In this app, you can operate wide range of heavy construction cranes with realistic physics in this superb 3D simulation game. Play Tower Crane Operator Simulator in your android tablet and phones. Incredibly designed game play with full control over forklifts, magnet and skyscraper tower crane. You can fulfill duty as staff at dry port in the city lift containers and cargo loads with fork lifter and magnet cranes. You can have a sense of a constructor cranes operator in quarry crew member on some building sites or sandbox. This is particularly important for training courses for the new staff.
It is almost impossible to fully discuss the impact of digital technology on the construction equipment and crane market in an article. It is every evolving and significantly expanding. Overall, it has impacted the market in a very positive manner, easier access to information to both buyers and sellers, advanced after sales services, mobile apps for client servicing are just some of advancements in this field.
More traditional firms need to embrace these advancements and regard it as a very positive step for the future of their business. It wouldn’t be long before more digital players arise from this revolution that could replace some of the more conservative and traditional stakeholders.
NFT and its rentalpartner in the UK Radius sign agreement with Potain
A rental partnership agreement has been signed between Manitowoc’s tower crane manufacturer Potain, Radius and NFT for the United Kingdom. Radius NFT will supply Potain brand tower cranes for the UK market.
Mike Fryer, Radius NFT managing director, commented, “It is great that Manitowoc recognises both Radius and NFT as their partner in the UK. The manufacturer understands our business which reinforces our position in the UK tower crane market.” Nabil Al Zahlawi, NFT president, said, “Partnerships are important in our business – you cannot do it alone. We are strong because we have a factory behind us, supporting us, in a difficult market like the UK.“I hope we can do more and more in the UK and develop a better market share. We started with zero cranes and now we have 50. The potential is there, and for bigger cranes, and I hope we will soon reach 100 cranes.”
Barry Pennypacker, Manitowoc president and CEO, said, “This industry is very capital intensive; service dependent. It takes a lot of capital. To grow our market share we need to have partnerships and we look forward to continuing partnerships around the world.”
The announcement was made on 25 April during the Intermat construction equipment exhibition in Paris, France. It is the first rental presence Potain has had in the UK for several years. The agreement is in place with immediate effect.
NFT wins award for “Excellent in Operations & Marketing” at INTERMAT
Manitowoc Cranes has announced the first winner of its Dealer Awards ceremony at the Paris-based Intermat tradeshow. Abu Dhabi-based distribution partner NFT won the ‘Excellence in Operations and Marketing’ award. NFT won the award after it invested over $5 million in improving infrastructure and brand image in the Middle Eastern market. The dealership established a new 300,000 square meter yard in Abu Dhabi, UAE and made significant investments in marketing and safety promotion.
NFT CEO Nabil Al Zahlawi was presented with the award by Aaron Ravenscroft, executive vice president of Manitowoc Cranes. “Our investment wasn’t just a financial investment; it was an investment in people,” said Al Zahlawi. “Our partnership with Manitowoc is like a perfect marriage and I’m happy with our partnership both in the Middle East and all over the world.”