Japan: Kato Works exhibited three new cranes at the recent Conet exhibition in Japan. Largest of the three was the 71 ton capacity SL-650R truck crane. A notable feature is the three section telescopic hydraulic jib that raises the maximum hook height to 192 feet from the 144 feet for the main boom only.

Also on display was the MR-350SL, pictured, from Kato's city crane range. Like the SL-650R, this 38 ton capacity unit has a three-stage fly jib that increases hook height from 109 to a maximum of 155 feet. Also on display was the 14 ton MR-130 city crane.

All three cranes are designed for the Japanese market and, Kiyohiko Akagi, manager of Kato's overseas marketing department, said, “We are ready to export if there is demand but truck cranes like the SL-650R are only really popular in the US and Japan.” This partly explains why the company has pulled back from the European market in recent years. Akagi explained, “We have sold a lot of cranes in Europe over the years, but we are not active at the moment because of the CE-mark requirement.” Akagi continued, “I think this will change in a year or two.”

Whether Kato comes back to Europe remains to be seen. In the meantime, the company is seeing an improvement in its domestic sales. “Business is getting a lot better in Japan. It's slowly improving from the low point three years ago,” Akagi said.

Like other manufacturers, Kato is finding it difficult to source some key components to help it keep up with demand for new cranes. “It is difficult to get materials, especially tires and high strength steel,” Akagi explained.

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