How many corporations can boast two hundred years of excellence in product and service? Not many, but Demag Cranes is just such an organization and specializes in cranes, drives, and handling technologies. The company works within a host of industries including construction, steel and mining and is known for its quality and level of service. It boasts premium products and highly innovative solutions. We had the pleasure of speaking with Division Manager Jim Satow.
In 1819, a man by the name of Harkort started Mechanische Werkstätte Harkort & Co, a small machinery building company in Germany with his brothers. At one point, the company was called Deutsche Maschinenfabrik AG (which translates roughly as German Machine Factory), which then became known as Demag because that was its telegram abbreviation at the time.
“The brothers acquired different industrial businesses, constantly looking for the next innovative technology out there. Demag ultimately produced the world’s first steam-driven crane in the late 1880s – like today, as Demag continues to embrace these challenges and provide the most innovative solution,” says Jim. In 1910, Demag manufactured the largest floating crane in the world, known for its use in building the infamous RMS Titanic.
Demag has an assortment of material handling solutions but primarily manufactures overhead travelling cranes that run on rails. These cranes are generally indoors, but can also run outdoors and can be used in many ways, from a small shop to a large production environment. These are not the cranes used in constructing buildings or for excavation; they are primarily employed in the production of, for example, steel or paper. In the paper industry, the cranes are used in paper production and paper converting, along with all sorts of warehousing.
“Steel and paper industries use cranes to move heavy weights in the production process. The cranes are also used in maintenance for injection molding, moving stamping dies around, steel service centers and making tools,” says Jim.
Demag also has a niche in specialized industries, such as aircraft. Some of its largest orders in recent times have been for aircraft production, including cranes for Spruce Aircraft. It also works with commercial aircraft companies like Airbus and Boeing. It has performed over $35 million in business with those two companies in the last five years.
The company also makes some lighter lifting systems equipment that encompasses much of its business to handle loads in the one hundred to five hundred pound range. This includes engine components and body parts in automobile production environments.
“We make a special monorail product called KBK light crane system. It is used to move lighter loads. These systems typically incorporate the use of some of our smaller hoists, known as chain hoists. They are in production environments for automobile assembly, engine plants, and power train plants, moving smaller parts to production,” says Jim.
Another arm of the business involves ‘drives,’ the electromechanical gear motors and wheel systems that people use to build travelling machinery. A fair amount of Demag’s business portfolio is taken up with this. All told, it is a varied product offering. The company can pretty much help the customer move anything from five hundred pound objects to one hundred ton pieces of machinery that might be used in gas turbines.
“We have this range of products that can move just about anything for anyone,” says Jim.
Other products include the company’s DC chain hoist, rated from five hundred pounds to five tons. It includes seven framed hoist sizes to suit differing capacities, speeds, control options, and other choices for mounting them either statically or what is called jib cranes on a monorail system or an I-beam.
“There are a host of diverse options along with manually pushed trolleys, powered trolleys, double trolleys, and dual train lead-offs. There are all sorts of options depending on the application. That’s our line of chain hoists,” says Jim.
Demag also manufactures a line of rope hoists that are used either on cranes or solo. The rope hoist capacity starts at about three tons and goes up to one hundred tons. These come in several physical frame sizes with different options.
“All these items can go on a single girder or double girder cranes, with all types of speed options. Again, within that product range, there is tremendous diversity, depending on application requirements,” says Jim.
The company has gone through many changes throughout its history and, back in 2016, was bought by the Konecranes Corporation of Finland, which is the largest manufacturer of overhead cranes in the world. The Demag service offerings are now conducted through this crane entity in the U.S. and Canada. In Europe and South East Asia, however, Demag still retains service.
The impact of this acquisition on Demag in the U.S. and Canada is still evolving. There is much room to capitalize on all the potential collaborations, and cost reduction should be a reality soon for both companies in procurements.
“It’s pretty early in the process, but we are seeing some things that will improve quality and reduce costs to the customer. Konecranes has about $8 billion in sales, so we are backed by a huge entity. They bought us for $1.2 billion. This helps us financially and puts us in a good position to negotiate with our suppliers based on our combined usage,” says Jim.
Another facet of the business which sets Demag apart has to do with its ability to engineer solutions and the vast amount of experience it has with which to do this. The tenure of the average company salesperson or engineer is around twenty years.
“I’ve been doing this for thirty-four years. We are not a company that suffers a lot of turnover. We are a company that takes care of our own. We have grown with some of the most knowledgeable people in North America in their respective fields. As a company in general, we have a lot of long-term employees, a great sense of pride, and a good knowledge base to pull from,” says Jim. Quality and service are contributing factors to the success of Demag around the world.
Two hundred years is a significant milestone. The company’s website, https://www.demag200.com/en, allows visitors to explore its history, both as a timeline of the company and a product timeline. In March, there will be a ceremony in Wetter, Germany, the original home of Demag, when public officials and the company will recognize the anniversary. There will also be a customer appreciation day in September to celebrate with customers.
“We have a history in the U.S. and Canada of strong partners in the market, dealers that bring a local presence, and local service knowledge to the customer. Historically, we have done most of our crane business through our dealer network, and Konecranes wants that to continue,” says Jim. Konecranes also has a huge presence in Canada and the U.S. and will do business directly with end users of equipment.
Demag has its whole future laid out, and the company will emphasize going to market exclusively through dealers and distributors, although Jim’s personal plans for the future are totally different. “Personally, in ten years, I prefer to be in a rocking chair with a fishing pole,” jokes Jim.