Platform Basket sets its sights on rental

Italy’s Platform Basket is rapidly developing its niche product line with rental as the ultimate aim. Managing Director Carloalberto Molesini explains all.

Carloalberto Molesini Carloalberto Molesini, Managing Director, Platform Basket

Platform Basket’s managing director Carloalberto Molesini left Ferrari cranes in 2006 to join the company shortly after it had acquired similarly named Basket, and went about developing some of the pre-existing spider lifts that would become its product of choice.

At the end of 2016 the company integrated electric systems supplier QBM, when it acquired 75% of the company, meaning it could bring the expertise in house and not rely on outside suppliers for such an important element of spider lift technology.

“That has been one of the goals of this company, and we are now able to manage the entire electric system through them meaning we are more flexible and able to customise the system accordingly.”

The company’s new engineering wing Elma has also become a significant part of the company as it innovates a range of new products, including the manufacturer’s first move into mini cranes.

“We are able to cover a majority of the steps to create a full product through QBM, Elma and Platform Basket.”

It has led to a range of new products that Platform Basket has unveiled in recent months at the APEX show in Maastricht and more recently at the GIS show in Italy. This included the spider cranes and the company’s fisrt vertical mast lift, alongside the launch of its largest spider to date – a 54m working height model with a difference.

Flexible spider

Platform Basket 54T Platform Basket’s Spider 54T at its production facilities.

AI received a preview of the new 54T spider, which is designed specifically for telecommunications and electricity pylon work, at Platform Basket’s headquarters in Reggio Emilia, the day before the GIS Show, in October.

The new Spider 54T has a maximum basket capacity at full working height of 400kg, and offers a 1,000kg capacity winch that is easily interchangeable and effectively turns it into a mobile crane. The unit is now production ready, save the testing of its control system, with the first unit already sold to rental company MinoEge - and there are three more units on order.

Platform Basket’s managing director Carloalberto Molesini told AI that the 54T took two years to develop. “We wanted to make something different to the average equipment in this category, with full capacity in the basket to full height.

Other features of the Spider 54T include a 360 continuous turret rotation and basket rotation of +/- 90 degrees. The basket has dimensions of 2.3m x 0.91m, while the model’s length with and without basket is 9.55m. The total weight is 23,000kg.

Mini cranes and material carriers

At GIS the manufacturer was also announcing its first range of mini material carriers and cranes, with and without stablisers, through the group’s Elma brand.

Platform Basket Compacts The Elma compact MCR material carrier and MCR mini crane at GIS.

The Elma MCR40 and MCR30 are crawler mounted cranes with adjustable stabilisers and offer 4 tonne/metres and 3 tonne/metres lifting capacity, respectively. Both models can also be used without the stabilisers as pick and carry cranes. As far as outreach is concerned, the MCR30 provides 4.75m, while the MCR40 ups that to 6.1m outreach. The standard weight of the machines are 1.4 tonnes and 1.46 tonnes, respectively. Optional, are adjustable tracks and an electric motor.

These first steps into mini cranes has resulted in what Molesini describes as a simple, yet user friendly design as the company gains experience to advance the product type in the future.

Some of the expertise came from the company’s independent French distributor Platform Basket France, which advised it to provide equipment suitable to a range of fields, one of them acting as a pick and carry crane to complement spider lifts in the tree care sector.

“This is the beginning for us in mini cranes and we want to gain experience now for future equipment.”

They have been joined by the 1 tonne capacity PCR10 and PCR12 crawler mounted material carriers that are designed without stabilisers.

Rental focus

Expanding sales to the rental market is a key focus for the company and was the thought process behind another of its new platforms this year, the Herron, representing another first for the company; this time into vertical mast lifts.

Molesini comments, “Platform Basket is now very well known in the arborist field and now we want to approach the rental companies in a better way.”

The bi-energy Heron 10 comes in two versions, a diesel-powered model and the Heron 10 E electric offering, both of which complement the manufacturer’s spider lift products with their tracked undercarriage and light and compact design.

Platform Basket Heron The Heron 10 comes in two versions, diesel-powered and electric.

An important feature is the ability to tow the Heron 10 on a light trailer of less than 3 tonnes, making it easy to reach a range of maintenance jobs, painting work, window cleaning and tree care applications.

Both versions offer 9.6m working height and 3.45m maximum outreach, with an 8.3m height at the maximum outreach and a maximum platform capacity of 230kg with two persons. Another key feature is the automatic stabilisation with the push of a button and incorporating four independent outriggers. In addition, a direct electric e-drive system was designed for this product and is set to be introduced to the manufacturer’s spider lifts in the future.

As Molesini points out, “Rental is greatly interested in the spider, as well as mini cranes and the Heron is another product that is interesting for the rental field. So, adding those together we can promote a full range of equipment to rental companies.

Another thought process behind these product lines is to remain in the niche product domain. “We are always looking to something that is not a big distribution product.”

International expansion beyond its core markets is an additional aim for the manufacturer. “Europe is our main market. We do almost €18 million (in revenue) against €14 million in North America and then Italy and Australia and the rest of the world – China and the Middle East.

“The Middle East is giving us good results. In China everything is wavering, but we are still trying there.”

International plans

One of Platform Basket's spiders at it factory. One of Platform Basket’s spiders at it factory.

Recently the company has set up in Hong Kong with its latest entity Platform Basket Asia. “We are looking for organisations to help develop the business in China.”

While placing Platform Basket in the top four spider lift manufacturers, Molesini says Australia it is probably its leading supplier. “As a market it is not much affected by what happens in Europe and the US.” The company’s distributor has opened up another branch in Perth recently.

The US is a major market for Platform Basket, and the company is hoping that the recent acquisition of its distributor in the country Tracked Lifts by a private equity firm will aid its advances there.

“There has been a lot of money put into the organisation. They want to double turnover not just be focused arborists but look at wider opportunities.” AI

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