Interview: Elisabeth Ausimour, Manitou
19 May 2020
The new president of Manitou Group’s Material Handling & Access (MHA) division, Elisabeth Ausimour spoke to Euan Youdale about a new era of MEWPs and electric equipment at the company.
Manitou Group is undergoing a major expansion plan for its MEWPs division, as well as moving towards greater use of electric-powered equipment across its product range, including telehandlers.
Overseeing these changes is longstanding Manitou employee Elisabeth Ausimour, who in January became president of the Material Handling & Access (MHA) division of Manitou Group, which includes telehandlers and MEWPs and accounts for 70% of revenue across the whole group. She took over the position from former president of the division, Fernand Mira.
Ausimour joined Manitou in 2005 and assumed responsibility for hydraulic purchasing. In 2009, she took over customer quality and from 2011 to 2016, directed the Candé platform plant in Maine-et-Loire, France. With her team, she reorganised and strengthened the aerial platforms business, making it a growth driver for the group.
A major focus is on energy transition and technology. “With the talents of the MHA division, we are going to launch major transformation projects to achieve our ambitions of growth. Our role is to put innovation and industrial performance at the service of value for our customers.”
Revenue was up over the full 12 months of Manitou Group’s 2019 financial year but sales fell in the fourth quarter, compared to the same period in 2018, and the company forecasts a slower 2020. Manitou reported fourth quarter revenues of €494 million, down 6% on the fourth quarter in 2018. However, over the full year sales were up 11% to €2.094 billion.
As Ausimour explains, there have been uncertainties in the market that have affected all manufacturers, like Brexit and the oncoming US elections. But the MHA division had a very specific challenge. During the final quarter of 2018, the company was not able to leverage the required capacities to meet record orders, which led to longer lead times for customers and meant that in 2019 it was still working through that backlog.
Ausimour adds that the MHA division grew by 12% last year, while over the last three years there has been more than 55% growth in the division.
The same explanation is true for the projection of a slower 2020 for the MHA division. While the company faces the same headwinds as the rest of the manufacturing sector, there have been significant investment into growth in North America and its MEWP factory development. All this is leading to increased market share, explains Ausimour. “When you have this level of success and a small decline in 2020 it is still good news.”
Currently, aerial platforms account for 13% of turnover of the MHA division, compared to 76% for telehandlers. But that is set to change with a major emphasis on its MEWP output. For example, “We are expecting a lot from the US market, which is still the largest market worldwide and we have a complete range of platforms to address this market.”
At ConExpo this year, Manitou Group introduced a range of its products to the North American market. Premiers included the new MTA 12055 telehandler. This model, designed and distributed only in North America, has the largest lifting capacity in the construction telehandler range, offering 12,000 pounds (5.5 tonnes).
The range of MEWPs dedicated to the North American market was expanded too at the show, bringing the total to four platforms ranging from 60ft to 85ft. (See the ConExpo review in the April-May 2020 issue of AI).
The accommodate the growth, Manitou is building an 80,000 square metre manufacturing plant in Condé, Maine-et-Loire, France, to complement its existing site there. The new factory will focus specifically on all rough terrain MEWPs, including future electric-powered RT equipment, while the existing factory will build aerial platforms set for ‘industrial’ use, meaning indoor equipment.
Production there will include electric equipment. At Bauma, Manitou launched its 100% electric range, the Oxygen line, which included a new aerial platform and a pair of telehandler models.
The ATJ 200 e Oxygen is the group’s first electric all terrain aerial platform. With a working height of up to 20m for a maximum capacity of 230kg, the model provides the same performance as a diesel-powered version. Equipped with a 48V lead acid battery, it can achieve up to one working day on full charge in adverse weather conditions.
There will be a major emphasis on electric in the future, with the first deliveries set for the beginning of April. Ausimour said at the time of the interview, there were 50 orders for the model. “So, it is a good start. We have paid a great deal of attention it make sure it is at the quality level a customer would expect from Manitou.
Expanding on electric, she adds, “It is a page of history that is now being turned. We have plenty of expectation from our customers in Europe for this equipment, so, we are thinking about the rest of the range.”
Electric telehanders are also in the planning. “We are not waiting. We were working on the priorities needed for telehandlers to be electrified and we are starting the project to make units happen in the next three to four years.”
The company showed its intentions at Bauma with a new concept for the company in the MT 625 e Oxygen. It is a lightweight telehandler designed to accommodate an electric engine. The cab has also been redesigned with new intuitive operator aids. “It was a concept to make our direction clear. We know this will become the trend.
“We are dealing with an environmental emergency. We are getting requests for this telehandler equipment more and more, mainly in Europe today but I’m sure it will be a global demand at the end of the day. As I said, energy transition is our priority for all MHA ranges.
At the moment this global demand is some way off. An example of this comes in the manufacturer’s emerging market range, launched in May last year. The identical Manitou MXT 840 and Gehl TX 408 are manufactured in Manitous India plant and aimed at Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia markets and are designed to be more rugged and easy to use than their counterparts produced in Europe. The main specifications are a 7.6m lifting height and a maximum capacity of 4 tonnes.
Ausimour says telehandlers are still a new concept in much of the region but the they are being adopted slowly and units of the MXT range have been sold.
See more about Manitou in the Boom lift and ConExpo features in the AI May-June 2020 issue.