What does the buyer want in a boom truck? “Creature comforts” seems to be a big thing, according to manufacturers, which recently have been focusing on introducing models with larger and more comfortable cabs, easy-to-operate controls and safety features.
“In particular, the swing cab machines seem to be especially popular,” says Lyle Jacobson, inside sales manager for National Cranes. “Whether that trend will continue, that seems to be the general trend in terms of size of machine. From there it's speculation whether the operator wants to sit down or stand. National has had cab machines longer than anyone else in the boom truck business.”
In addition, Jacobson says air-conditioned cabs are also important. “In the early years we sold very few with air-conditioners, but now half [of those sold] have air-conditioners.” Owners may have concluded that they must have nicer equipment to attract quality operators.
Manitex is also focusing on operator effi ciency, comfort and safety. “We've added several features that were previously unavailable, particularly the pilot-operated controls in all our riding seat platforms,” explains Manitex's Scott Rolston.
Elliott Equipment is also focusing on operator features, in addition to ride-around control consoles. “Our product is designed to increase operator effi ciency,” explains Jim Glazer, president and CEO of Elliott Equipment. “We have a patent pending on our ride-around control console. On a front-mounted crane, the operator can ride around and view the load at all times.”
In light of new regulations by states requiring certifi cation for crane operators, Tadano America has concentrated on pursuing markets for its smaller models, which are exempt from most crane operator certifi cation requirements. “We are looking at staying under the ceiling in order to be exempt from the crane operator certification regulations,” says Bryan Dammann at Tadano America. “This is a niche market we are trying to get into, focusing on customers who don't need large cranes.”
QMC has found a niche in retrofitting its boom trucks to the specifi c needs of its customers, which primarily are those in the precast concrete business or the oil and gas sector, which between the two account for 98% of the company's business, according to Mark Mason, sales manager.
QMC often builds its cranes to specifi c customer requirements, adding, for example, ladders, longer frames and other elements to make operations more effi cient and more particular to the application. “Our customers often want to move things around and want custom options for greater effi ciency,” Mason explains. “Often, if they can't get the option from another company they will call us and we will do the work. We have a customer who wants us to mount custom racks on the truck. We will do that. We will provide the engineering so that these things are easily bolted on. We do a lot of customer features.“