Konecranes couldn’t have started 2017 in a more uplifting way after completing the acquisition of Terex Material Handling & Port Solutions (MHPS) yesterday (January 5, 2017). However, speaking to PTI’s editors, Tuomas Saastamoinen knows that with this great opportunity will come equal, if not tougher, challenges.
Tuomas Saastamoinen has headed the Konecranes, Port Cranes sales and marketing team since 2009 until the start of 2017 when he became Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. He started working at Konecranes in 1993.
Konecranes now offers the container handling industry’s widest and deepest range of container handling equipment and automation technology:
What was attractive about acquiring Terex MHPS?
“When I heard the news, I was really excited because we can go to the customer and provide them with an enhanced service after the acquisition. We now have more people with a lot of substance, better geographical presence and a wider product portfolio.
The probability that we have an ideal match to something that our customers require is now much higher. Our service reach is now much longer and broader. Inventions don’t need to be physical products only, and as a combined company we have more power to build great new solutions than before.
We have been competitors up until the completion of the acquisition. Any kind of future planning together has naturally been forbidden.”
How will we see the combined company change?
“Acquisition is different from integration, which was originally the idea, it’s more straightforward.
Before closing we had two Business Areas: Service and Equipment. Now we have three: Service, Industrial Equipment and Port Solutions. This means that the ports business as an industry is now more visible in our corporate structure as its own business area, run by Mika Mahlberg, Executive Vice President, based in Finland.
Port Solutions covers a wide range of lift trucks, straddle carriers, mobile harbor cranes, port cranes and software. I’m very proud about joining forces with MHPS. The acquired businesses will grow and become stronger as part of our joint organisation. This acquisition makes it possible for us to realise a long list of synergies. We will be one technology company, creating the next generation of lifting.
We have done a lot of preparation work before today. Our dedicated integration teams have been working hard over the past months to make sure that everything would go smoothly today. And it did: Everybody is connected now, all communication channels are working and our integrated company is fully open for business, as of yesterday.
We are confident that customers won’t experience any delays with communication due to technical issues, our IT people have done an excellent job.”
What should ports and terminals be excited about?
“Now our portfolio is much wider and more comprehensive than ever before. This also applies to our port service network and capabilities. We added so much today. For example, Konecranes Gottwald mobile harbor cranes alone are a huge addition to the Konecranes product range. The Konecranes Lift Trucks offering is expanded with the range of Konecranes Liftace trucks. We now also have Konecranes Noell straddle carriers, and Konecranes Gottwald automated AGVs.
Automation is generally the area we are putting a lot of focus on, and as a combined company, we will have much more muscle and strength to do so.”
When you look at this acquisition and what it allows Konecranes to offer, automation appears to be the major factor. Could you elaborate a little more on that?
“Overall, we feel that automation is going to be huge for us. Whether you’re talking about crane-related automation, or process automation, both areas will now be much stronger because we are together.
Automation is a broad term because we can talk about individual functions and features of a product, for example the crane, which can be gradually improved and automated as an independent machine. The other categories are related to automated processes overall, within the terminal and in connection with it.
At Konecranes we have been pioneering automation, a concrete example of this being the automated RTG yard / terminal in Indonesia. There is nothing similar available in the market. So before the acquisition, both companies were very strong in automation, but now we can add products such as the automated straddle carriers and AGVs, and gain MHPS’s overall automation knowledge, so we are much stronger than Konecranes or Terex MHPS could ever have been alone.”
Moving on from automation, in what other product categories will there be developments?
“There are many major developments underway. One is in our lift trucks, where we are adding features such as a hybrid power source, smart connectivity and industrial internet. We also continue to deliver mobile harbor cranes that are fitted with advanced drive technology, making them not only easier to maintain, but also more reliable.
Naturally we have been developing the more conventional products such as RMGs. We will build on the good work already done. Last June we launched our new RMG, BOXPORTER, which has increased RMG operator visibility and allowed the operator to utilise technology adopted from our Automated Stacking Cranes. We will continue to embed smart features and technologies into manual operations.”
Which product from the 2017 calendar announced today are you most looking forward to and where will the main focus be?
“We are really excited about the advancement in equipment automation and automated terminals. It is an area we will continue to build on heavily. Whether that is the automated AGV, the automated RTGs or RMGs, the automated straddle cranes or software. It is clear that automation is a megatrend, set to grow and with great feedback already coming from our automated yards we will take it much further.
Konecranes products will allow customers to gradually automate a terminal, and they don’t necessarily have to invest a half billion to do it.
Naturally though, with our current wide portfolio we are ready to discuss whatever our customers want, and deliver.”
How will the acquisition affect the company’s global reach?
“This match is perfect for us. For example, Konecranes have generally been very strong in America, but not as much in Asia. Fortunately, this a place Terex MHPS has performed strongly. This means that Konecranes can now benefit from already developed networks in Asia and South America.
The acquisition makes for a really efficient geographical match, because the combined companies work to complement each other.”
What are Konecranes plans for software and hardware, bearing in mind that the industry seems to be veering towards a heavy emphasis on software?
“Software is obviously very important, but it isn’t everything. Containers, on average, weigh 27 tons. Unlike products in internet-driven industries, containers can’t be delivered in seconds to millions of customer globally. For the time being, heavy stuff needs to be lifted with physical machines.
In other words, gears, motors, controls and lifting devices will be needed for a very long time.
There will always be room for reliable hardware because software alone doesn’t lift anything. One of our strengths at Konecranes is that we design and build our own key components.
We use software to make sure these components, modules and products function together fluently as a package. On top of that, we know how they’re manufactured and when we add the service capability. We can really say that we know what we’re doing.
In a nutshell: smart software and purpose-built, reliable machinery are both needed for container terminals to perform at their best.”