Fulfilling Customer Demands at Short Notice

Providing cranes at short notice requires a level of resource not all manufacturers can afford. Tadano’s Queensland team explain how they manage the supply of cranes at short notice and how important the role of product support is in ensuring the customer receives the full benefit of a crane, and quickly.

Jason Perry is the Tadano sales manager for Queensland and Papua New Guinea. He has been with the company for four years and he works closely with a Central Queensland crane hire business, QWEST Crane Hire, which is dramatically growing its footprint throughout the region. “QWEST Cranes recently secured a significant contract with a large resources company. We were in a position where we could deliver the required cranes at short notice and also provide training on the new products,” said Perry. Tadano understands that customers, particularly those in contract hire, can’t always predict when new contracts will be secured, and the cranes required to fulfill the contract. In turn, this means there is a need for Tadano to provide the cranes at short notice, says Perry.

“Realistically, we might only have five months’ notice on a deal, but we are expected to fulfil the contract. One of the major advantages with Tadano, compared to our competition, is we try to keep high levels of available stock in Australia. “We hold stock that we think we are going to need. This strategy has worked well for us during this COVID period. We have had stock in the country whereas other manufacturers do not have access to stock quickly. It has been one of our strategies to ensure we have cranes in different yards, which we are able to move around the country as
required,” he said. Managing the service and support of fleets operating in harsh and remote applications is always going to be a challenge says Perry. “The starting point for us is really good training. We find that if the customer, their operators and technical support team are up to scratch with their understanding of the cranes, it makes everyone’s job a lot easier. With knowledge of the cranes, they won’t need to come back to us for every little thing. “But if there is an issue that they can’t resolve, our guys will be on a plane and straight up there. In my opinion our service is second to none, but in terms of the day to day maintenance and wellbeing of the cranes, there needs to be a degree of ownership from the customer,” said Perry.

David Lillistone is the product support technician for Demag products and has been working on Demag product for 10 years. Joe Arena is Tadano Oceania’s product support manager. Arena has been with the company for 16 years and has 15 years of experience providing product support across the Demag range of products. Both talk about the importance of operating training, the benefits training provides for clients and the value operators receive from fully understanding the machine. “I am like many technicians in this business. I came through from being a technician on the floor and made my way through to product support where we assist customers with issues relating to their machines. My role is across all of the Tadano and Demag products but because of my experience, I currently specialise in Demag products,” said Lillistone. “We conduct training for our customers. We pre-deliver machines and we also manage the CraneSafe process. We are the point of contact for the customer and manage the technical side of the machines. Obviously, we work closely with the sales team to ensure the process of delivering the crane is seamless,” he said.

When a crane is delivered, the product manager arrives on site for the hand over process. If the customer is new to Tadano or Demag products, the customer and the operator are introduced to the crane and the main features are highlighted and explained says Arena. “Operators are walked through the crane. They are encouraged to jump in the cabin, where they are introduced to the controls and the operating systems. The product manager explains about what the various controls are for and what they do, which familiarises the operator with the crane. The crane’s functions are discussed, and the product manager runs through the different modes of the crane, the way it operates and the dos and don’ts. Operators are shown how to set up the crane up and highlight the best practices for the machine,” he said.

When the initial set up is complete, operators are shown how to operate the crane in terms of lifting, which can get quite in depth depending on the operators knowledge.
There are a number of topics covered including:

  • Understanding the load charts
  • Understanding the crane’s capabilities
  • Understanding the capacity
  • How to use all the functions and utilise them to their full capability

“This is to ensure that when the operator gets the crane to the job site, they are getting the best out of the crane. Knowing how to operate the crane correctly also assists in the crane’s life. If the operator understands the crane, the machine will work to its full potential,” said Arena. Training can take days depending on the experience of the operators. Some operators have been in the models prior to the delivery of the new crane. This is a bonus because the product manager can then provide a deeper understanding of the workings of the crane. Training includes identifying an issue with the crane, what it means and how it is handled.

“Once the product manager is confident the operator is comfortable with the workings of the crane, training moves to the accessories to ensure there is a clear understanding of how they are fitted and safely operated. Training then turns to the lubrication and maintenance of the machine. Operators get an understanding of their responsibilities regarding maintenance including issues relating to the following:

  • What should be inspected on a daily basis
  • What should be greased
  • What should be serviced and when

When operators are familiar with Tadano and Demag products, training can get deeper, quicker. Questions are asked about operating experience and what machines have been operated,” said Arena. “Operators go through the changes of a new model in terms of how they look and feel in the new crane. They are encouraged to ask questions which the product manager answers. The operator is then taken deeper into the crane and he is shown why it will respond to his control in certain ways. This provides a better understanding of the crane and it sharpens the operator’s knowledge of the control systems. “Training shows the operator what can be done with the crane’s self-diagnostic system and how they can look into inputs and outputs. If there is an issue and they are talking to a member of Tadano’s Product Support team, it is more likely this knowledge will help get the crane up and running quicker,” he said.

Lillistone has visited the German factories for training, but predominantly the factory training has been conducted in Australia. This training doesn’t stop and there is always more product knowledge to learn, he says. “It is a long gradual process, it’s not something you can learn overnight, it takes years to accumulate this knowledge. For me, I’ve followed the Demag product line, it’s a niche business to get involved with, but once you have started the process and begun learning about the product range, it’s not something you want to let go. “Over the years, I have been encouraged to learn more about the Demag products. Being a technician and working on the machines you reach a level of experience and competency which enables you to move into product support, which I did, that’s the progression,” he said.

“Obviously, we complete courses on different models over the years, and these help technicians accrue knowledge of the products. You don’t have to achieve certain levels or qualifications before you can move on to the next product. Over time you naturally acquire this knowledge through experience of working on the products,” said Lillistone. “At this stage I would say I definitely specialise in all terrains. On the east coast we don’t get the hands-on exposure to crawlers as they do in Western Australia. But we are expected to be able to deal with all product lines when the need arises,” he said.

*Photo (L to R) David Lillistone, Product Support Technician for Demag products, Joe Arena, Tadano Oceania’s Product Support Manager, and Jason Perry, Tadano Sales Manager for Queensland and Papua New Guinea.