Hiab USA blends global expertise with local responsiveness to deliver turnkey solutions for the nation’s heavy lifters
There’s more to load handling than brute strength. Complex issues of precision, speed, reliability, safety, and ease of use define when, how, and if businesses can deliver goods. That’s where Hiab USA shines. Part of Cargotec Corporation, the Swedish-owned enterprise is a world leader in the manufacturing and innovation of on-road load handling equipment and digitally connected load handling solutions. With 32 locations nationwide, 500 employees, and a robust regional business management model, Hiab is a true class leader in truck mounted load handling solutions.
The firm’s brand presence includes Hiab loader cranes, Moffett truck-mounted forklifts, and Multilift hooklifts. We recently spoke with Barry McGrane, Vice President of Hiab North America, to learn more about Hiab’s groundbreaking impact on its market niche.
McGrane, who grew up as an engineer and R&D specialist in the truck mounted forklift sector, pointed to a significant shift in how customer relationships are cultivated and nurtured in the current material handling OEM space. “Hiab U.S., in particular, very much prides itself on developing ‘customer first’ driven businesses. The customer is the catalyst for everything that we do, from how we run our business, to the services we offer.”
As new products are developed, the company consults experienced users of high-end load handling equipment on what they like about the products, and, most critically, what they don’t. Pain points are analyzed, and the R&D team works to make customers’ lives easier, more efficient, and safer while improving ROI.
The customer partnership approach broke new ground for the firm, enabling them to offer true turnkey solutions.
“That's been quite a change in the past 5 to 10 years with Hiab, and it's made a tremendous difference especially here in the United States,” McGrane confirmed.
Hiab’s fit-for-purpose approach to design allows the company to add considerable value to their on-road load handling equipment. “We've been through many years of evolving the product mechanically. In many ways we’re closing the gap on the limit of physics,” McGrane stated. “So, now we are increasing our investment into our Research and Development centers. This additional spend will be focused more on the technology side and on our controls systems as opposed to the mechanical design. The message from our customers is clear; they want the equipment they use to be as easy and straightforward as possible and safety is paramount.”
Hiab’s Crane Tip Control technology, or CTC, is increasing efficiency while making the operating process markedly safer. Before CTC, crane operators would execute a complex string of remote commands that McGrane likened to playing a small keyboard. “You’d have seven or maybe even eight functions to execute, using different fingers at different times to coordinate the movement of the crane. After a while you get fluent with it as you do with most things, but it takes a bit of time to become skilled.”
The CTC system uses only three levers to control crane movements on a simple X, Y, & Z axis and the on board controller does all the work. The system can make a new operator look like a pro in minutes. Additionally, Hiab uses VSL+ (variability stability limit), in which the onboard computer continually detects the stability of both the truck and crane, monitoring the stabilizer’s position, payload on the trucks, and the position of the crane. “If the operator puts the crane in any kind of unsafe position, it will either slow it down or lock it out and prevent a dangerous situation. We’re set apart by this technology, as well as HiConnectTM, which provides real-time data on equipment operation and conditions through web-based dashboards.”
That critical data enables users to eliminate unplanned downtime, better understand idle time, and connect every truck in a customer’s fleet. Every action on every piece of equipment can be monitored and understood. “We can help the customer identify all different types of permutations,” McGrane clarified. In addition to providing vital user safety information, such as when and how an operator gets into an unsafe situation, HiConnect features valuable predictive maintenance capability.
Increasing ease of use is also vital to material handling companies struggling to meet their obligations in an exceptionally tight labor market. “Every customer I speak to has the same challenge. For them to hire a truck driver with the training or certification to operate a loader crane has been very difficult. Now they can hire workers with minimal experience or training and they can hit the ground running because of this technology. It's a fraction of the skill that was needed three or four years ago. This put us streets ahead of anyone else in the industry.”
Responsiveness is another key to their prominence. A recent organizational shift moved the unit’s sales and service decisions from top line management to a series of regional managers who can now act with immediacy. “Whether it’s a discussion or issue on sales or service, the business manager in their region has full autonomy and provides the sense of urgency to allow us to exceed our customer expectations. This gives us the global presence but local touch,” McGrane revealed.
“Our customers expect reliability and they expect uptime. That’s why we invested hugely in our business on the service side to provide that level of customer focus that they expect from us to keep the equipment moving at all times.” Hiab’s presence covers eight key regions with nearly 250 certified technicians, 180 of whom provide mobile service. To back this up, we invested in our regional parts distribution center in Indianapolis, which we operate on two shifts to provide same day dispatch on 98% of our parts, same day, even for the West Coast.”
As one of the world’s largest load handling truck equipment OEMs — the U.S. has three production/installation sites and 32 stateside branches — Hiab flexes considerable muscle in changing the way the sector does business. “Our approach is not just about selling equipment,” McGrane stressed. “We provide genuine turnkey solutions from end to end — it’s taking a consultative approach with our customers, it's the equipment sales, after sales, handovers, service, training — it’s full circle. We call it Total Care.”
Whether customers are looking for cranes or forklifts that can be mounted on existing equipment, or a top to bottom load handler that includes the truck itself, Hiab dives deep to understand user needs well beyond pricing, such as the terrain to be traveled, products to be delivered, and the status of their existing truck fleet.
That level of care extends through the life cycle of every product by necessity. As McGrane put it, “We can take the pain. We can supply any truck you like and to the specs you like and we can install our equipment to it. We don't just do the installation project, which on a loader crane is quite complex. It’s not something that you can bolt on and go. It has to be installed, certified, and tested for every single truck that we build. We can offer that service at any time. And that's even before we get to the after sales and the handover process.” That’s exactly the kind of heavy lifting that enables Hiab to reshape the future of intelligent load handling.
Hiab is the world's leading provider of on-road load handling equipment, intelligent services and digitally connected solutions. As the industry pioneer, Hiab's more than 4,200 employees worldwide focus on our commitment to increase efficiency in our customers' businesses and to shape the future of intelligent load handling.
Hiab's offering encompasses class-leading load handling equipment, including HIAB, EFFER and ARGOS loader cranes, LOGLIFT and JONSERED forestry and recycling cranes, MOFFETT and PRINCETON truck mounted forklifts, MULTILIFT skiploaders and hooklifts, and tail lifts under ZEPRO, DEL, and WALTCO brands. Hiab's ProCare™ service, award-winning HiVision™ crane control system, and HiConnect™ productivity service platform demonstrate our constant drive to provide intelligent services and connected solutions that add value to our customers. www.hiab.com
Hiab is part of Cargotec Corporation. Cargotec's (Nasdaq Helsinki: CGCBV) sales in 2017 totaled approximately EUR 3.2 billion, and it employs over 11,000 people. www.cargotec.com