Fri, 13/09/2019 - 14:59
Current Issue 34
Operating out of Bergen, Norway, Munck Cranes is raising the bar across global industries with its technologically enabled, innovative, multi-faceted solutions
Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Ryan Gray
Despite being a common sight within urban environments, cranes remain somewhat alien to the untrained eye.
Often found dwarfing skyscrapers, the world’s largest crane able to lift 1,179 tonnes up to 550 feet in the air, they have become a crucial facet of modern-day urbanisation and construction. Yet from erection to operation cranes seemingly defy physics, lifting huge weights by using extensive horizontal booms, all while not tipping over.
For Rune Vabo, such pure innovation was more than enough to captivate his curiosity and interest almost four decades ago.
“I’ve worked for Munck Cranes for 38 years and have always found this industry to be highly exciting, full of technology and forward-thinking ideas,” he reveals.
Remaining committed to Munck Cranes for such a lengthy stint, Vabo has witnessed and indeed helped to oversee an extensive amount of change in the latter part of the company’s 95-year life span, having now stood as its Managing Director for 11 years.
“Born from the vision of Founder Sverre Munck in October 1924, Munck Cranes has gradually yet consistently risen over the past century to become a pioneer of Norwegian exports,” he states. “Having shipped our first hoist to Sweden in 1948, we now sell an ever-expanding portfolio of crane and hoist related products to markets the world over.”
Indeed, the products it sells today are distinctly more advanced than their predecessors, the business most recently taking advantage of the advent of industry 4.0.
This is no better evidenced than by its relatively new flagship range of automated cranes. Powered by proactive technologies that help to both improve security and reduce operating and maintenance costs, these innovative products have been used by plants handling hazardous waste, replacing forklifts and conveyors to ensure that workers can stay out of harm’s way.
“Glass processing and recycling plants, composting facilities, galvanisation plants, zinc production centres and incinerators have all benefitted from our autonomous cranes,” Vabo affirms, going on to explain that this specific category forms just one part of the company’s ever widening, technologically enabled range.
“We try to implement the latest innovations into our products every year. Just recently we created our own safety datalogger, for example, that captures all the movements and operations of any single crane, helping to proactively identify areas that may need to be serviced before problems arise.”
The internet of things has also begun to play a major role in Munck Cranes’ research and development function, enabling the firm to upgrade its existing flat cable systems.
“In addition, we’re in the process of releasing a new selection of hoists that generate energy when lowering – energy that can be returned to the internal system, helping to power the crane and provide cost savings,” Vabo adds.
“Of course, we are not alone. Everybody is looking to use new technologies. But we’re proud of the fact that we’re ahead of the curve and are often the first in the market to implement new, game-changing solutions.”
As you might expect, facilitating these innovative product developments is a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant.
Based in Bergen alongside the company’s main headquarters, the capabilities and scale of this crucial hub enable Munck Cranes to develop not only technologically leading products, but equally custom cranes designed to meet the individual requirements of any one of its clients.
From magnet cranes and gantry cranes, to those used for heavy industries, the fishing industry and even paper industry, the company has garnered a proven track record in providing tailored solutions, exporting roughly 750 cranes to more than 70 markets around the world every year.
“Be it Thailand, the United States and Canada, or various countries across the Middle East, our reach is testament to our network of esteemed licensee partners,” Vabo explains. “These are often longstanding collaborations – we’ve been working with the same partners in Singapore since the 1960s, for example.”
Such relationships have aided the firm’s involvement on a number of major projects over the years, including ongoing work with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Sweden and the supply of cranes to a number of oil and gas majors including the likes of British Petroleum, Esso and Shell.
“We’re always on the lookout for new partners,” the Managing Director continues. “Right now, we’re particularly excited about expanding our presence in the Middle East and South America – two markets that we see as having relatively untapped potential.”
These prospects, coupled with an upturn in fortunes across numerous relevant heavy industries, provide Munck Cranes with good reason to be excited for the future.
Such feeling is reflected in Vabo’s own thoughts. He concludes buoyantly: “The oil industry, aluminium industry, steel industry and energy sector are all heading in fruitful directions, something that we hope to capitalise on for years to come.
“Similarly, the market in Norway remains strong. There are a number of major projects underway, including the rehabilitation of numerous power stations. The same can also be said for Sweden where we have major presence; it’s a market that’s been growing rapidly over the past two years.
“When you consider all these different dimensions, there’s no doubt that we’re optimistic for the future.”