Grabbing opportunities

Global manufacturer and supplier of cargo handling and waste disposal grab equipment Salzgitter Maschinenbau AG (SMAG) can trace its roots back to the year 1919. Founded by the engineer and pioneer in modern drilling technology, Anton Raky, the company followed a strategic path of acquisition to grow into a world-leading group. Today, SMAG is a specialist in grab solutions, mining equipment, special-purpose vehicles, control cabins as well as mobile antenna masts. A particular milestone for the group, in terms of its presence in the shipping industry, came in 1986 when it acquired the grab technology division of Peiner AG, which today sits as a major subsidiary of SMAG following a strategic reshuffling of the group’s company portfolio.

Peiner SMAG Lifting Technologies (PSLT), as it is now known, is SMAG’s leading grab technologies subsidiary and provides a range of standard and bespoke solutions to a variety of industries. Currently its portfolio consists of motor, rope, hydraulic and special-purpose grabs, as well as slewing units designed to overcome a host of bulk handling challenges. To strengthen its position in the global shipping industry, in 1995 SMAG and its Peiner brand established the grabs business in Shanghai to serve the large port industry in China. This proved to be a significant move in SMAG achieving its world leading vision and the group now leads the Chinese grab market. In relation to this, a particular focus for the SMAG group at present is to further strengthen its position in the shipping industry through an expanding product offering. Part of this strategy has been to reinforce its robust presence in areas of high demand such as China and India and much of this alignment is being achieved through acquisition.

As such, in December 2014 the company announced the acquisition by PSLT of RAM Spreaders, itself a member of the NSL Engineering Ltd group. “Both companies hold a top ranking and will develop further in their market segments to become a leading multi-channel provider,” highlights Sebastian Brandes, CEO of SMAG and MD of PSLT. With its roots in blacksmithing extending back to 1876, RAM is today the world’s leading independent spreader manufacturer with a range of products designed for every type of containerhandling application. These include ship-to-shore, yard gantry and mobile harbour operations with a number of hydraulic and electric solutions. Illustrating its leading position, RAM products can be found in ports and terminals in all five continents and are present in the world’s top ten ports. “We are excited about this merger,” says Executive Director of NSL Ltd Oo Soon Hee, echoing Sebastian’s comments. “The complementary strengths of both companies will generate significant synergies and serve as a strategic competitive advantage for PSLT to seize further growth opportunities and, at the same time, provide rewarding and exciting careers to existing RAM employees.”

The merger brings together world leading expertise and experience to form the world’s leading bulk cargo and container lifting device organisation and will bring a renewed focus on solutions for port operators and crane manufacturers, as well as having implications for wider industry applications. The combined product portfolio of the group now includes a wide range of solutions designed to meet all possible logistic challenges faced by its target industries. Importantly for SMAG, the move significantly improves its global sales and production network as all parties now have access to much closer customer relationships across the world with outstanding delivery and maintenance services. CSO of SMAG and joint MD of PSLT, Jürgen Bialek explains: “Through this merger we are able to extend our marketability in several regions and provide enhanced order performance, delivery and customer service.” The group now has dedicated manufacturing facilities in Germany, China and India, as well as a comprehensive global sales and support network.

Following last year’s merger, the SMAG group has been focusing closely on marketing its wider offering under both the PSLT and RAM brands across the world. Of particular note, RAM exhibited at the TOC Europe 2015 show in Rotterdam in August, using it as a strong launching platform to inform the industry and customers of the newly formed relationship. With both SMAG and RAM sharing a history of innovation, the show was a good opportunity for the group to showcase its new RAM ‘SingFlex’ twin headblock connection for use on single hoist ship-to-shore cranes. This unit allows multiple containers to be lifted in one operation and thus results in quicker and more efficient container handling. Alongside this was the launch of the Ram ‘revolver’ bulkhandling machine, which plays a key part in the dust free, handling process of moving commodities from the mine to the ship in a more cost effective and environmentally friendly manner. In addition, PSLT will be attending a number of shows throughout China, India, USA, Korea and Europe in 2015 and 2016 to continue cementing its world leading position in the market.

Whilst acquisition can offer an obvious route into new markets the process of merging two well-established and leading organisations has to be managed carefully. By remaining true to the values and objectives of both parties, SMAG appears to have undertaken a successful market expansion as it looks to strengthen its position in the global shipping industry. Only time will tell of its long-term success, but internal confidence and a continued focus on driving innovation at the cutting edge of its markets, combined with the long history behind the group is showing early signs of a positive future.

Salzgitter Maschinenbau AG

World’s leading cargo handling and grab equipment producers

Current focus on strengthening position in the shipping industry

Recent acquisition of RAM Spreaders showing positive results