Khabarovsk on the rise
The story of PALFINGER crane trucks assembling plant appearing at the Russian Far East due to administrative support of Khabarovsky Krai authorities
Vehicle assembly project, unique for the Russian Far East, has been launched this summer in Khabarovsk. "Inzhenerno-Tekhnicheskii Tsentr Podyemno-Transportnye Mekhanizmy" (ITT PTM) (Engineering and Technical Center "Lifting and Handling Mechanisms") decided to grow from a mere service center for loader cranes into a producer of crane trucks based on KamAZ chassis. As a partner for providing equipment, the company selected a distributor PALFINGER SANY, high quality products of two largest crane producers from Austria and China. The first large order was rather challenging: manufacturer had to actually remake automobile for mounting cranes, which were to operate in the conditions of the North, at the Sily Sibiri (Powers of Siberia) deposits, and to do this within exteremely short period of time. However, due to the government support, everything should work out well, and the Russian Far East perspectives are so that the local market will only grow, believes the investor.
At the local market of special vehicles, the Group of Companies "Inzhenerno-Tekhnicheskii Tsentr Podyemno-Transportnye Mekhanizmy" (ITT PTM) has been operating for long, says Yuri Kolbin, the owner. The enterprise's workshops and warehouses are located in the industrial zone of Khabarovsk, but the specialists are servicing equipment from all the territory of the Russian Far East. This service center is believed to be the best service center for truck loader cranes (TLC) at this territory. It is here where all crane equipment in operation at the construction sites and other facilities, both of Russian and foreign make, are brought for repair and diagnostics. Here this equipment undergoes maintenance and upgrade. It is this line of ITT PTM business was eventually transformed into the unique project, so far the first project of this kind for the Russian Far East.
The company has long-term partner relations with the structures that represent in Russia products of PALFINGER AG, the Austrian industrial giant, the leader of the world market of loader cranes, says Yuri Kolbin. "It is a very strong and high-tech company, its products take up major part of the world market. PALFINGER's strength is production of hydraulic TLCs, although it also makes classic cable-operated TLCs," explains Kolbin. ITT PTM has been servicing PALFINGER vehicles at the Russian Far East, has a certificate for mounting its TLCs on various chassis. Several years ago the company got one more partner, joint venture of PALFINGER and the largest Chinese private producer of cranes, SANY. Synergy of two well-known brands made it possible to create game-changing crane products, specially for operation under Russian conditions.
Background Information. In 2011, PALFINGER holding bought out the Russian plant of loader cranes AO INMAN, having invested into creation of new production capacities in the town of Ishimbay. The enterprise produces several TLC series capable to operate within the temperature range from -40 to +40 C. The consumers of these vehicles are oil and gas complex companies, housing and communal facilities, Russial Railways, road construction organizations, Ministry of Emergencies, Ministry of Defense. Only two large-scale TLC producers are operating in Russia nowadays: JSC "Galich Mobile Cranes Plant" ("Galichanin" brand) and JSC "Klintsovsky Truck Crane Plant" ("Klintsy" brand), which belong to the same holding. Small quantities are also produced by JSC "Chelyabinsk Mechanical Plant" ("Chelyabinets" brand). In 2012, PALFINGER created joint venture PALFINGER SANY Cranes LLC (50% belong to the Austrian and Chinese producer each). JV is engaged in distribution of vehicles adapted under the Russian conditions, over the territory of Russia and CIS.
According to Yuri Kolbin, PALFINGER SANY Cranes registered growth of demand on loader cranes in the central part of Russia, after which started to investigate the market of the Russian Far East. And this market is a very specific one, continues Kolbin: for instance, low cranes on special chassis are not popular in this region, since construction sites should be very carefully leveled for their installation. At the same time, PALFINGER SANY products mounted on KamAZ chassis significantly leaves behind domestic goods, and is very close to it as regards the cost.
All this made it possible to get the first large order for PALFINGER TLC assembly in Khabarovsk: 35 vehicles to operate in Yakutia, at Chayandinskoye deposit, and in Irkutsk Oblast, at Kovyktinskoye deposit, were ordered by JSC Stroytransgaz, one of the largest contractors at the Gazprom facilities. From these deposits, gas will be supplied to fill in the Sila Sibiri gas pipeline, major Gazprom infrastructure project for the nearest years. Through the 3 thousand kilometer-length system, gas from Yakutia and Irkutsk Oblast is planned to be supplied to the Russian Primorye and Asia-Pacific countries, among them, China. Construction is proceeding at full throttle: as of June 2017, Gazprom has already built over 770 kilometers of the pipeline. Destination point of Sila Sibiri shall become the connection with the pipeline in operation Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok, interim point is side in Amur Oblast, where Gazprom has started to build Amur Gas Processing Plant (GPP) this summer.
NOVATIONS, AND NOT WITHOUT GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
"I am certainly proud of the fact that we have already received such an order for the Russian Far East. I really hope that we shall meet the expectations and develop out production. So far we have been certified for mounting of 25-ton cranes, those enjoying the highest demand. But we also have plans for the future for the whole line, 32-ton cranes, and 40-ton cranes as well. We also have plans for 50-ton cranes, but to achieve that, we need to develop, move forward," says Yuri Kolbin.
ITT PTM has already managed to make mounting of the first small lot of cranes, also based on KamAZ chassis, having perfected the technology. The first automobile has been already sent to the customer in Yakutia, and three more, for sales. But the new order for Stroytransgaz will be not very easy to fulfill, admits Yuri Kolbin. "35 cranes should be mounted on automobiles with the shorter wheelbase than those for the first lot. Moreover, the project has been initially designed for the automobiles that are non AWD and have two axles. But here we need automobiles with three axles. Therefore, we need to find our way along the way. The capacity will be at its limit. We will be probably working in two shifts, and on week-ends as well. The order is to be completed before the end of September," he says. Once their assembly is completed, the crane trucks shall go to the place of their operation under own power.
The first assembled crane trucks, notes Yuri Kolbin, have helped ITT PTM identify and overcome some important problems. For instance, regulatory and supervisory authorities in Khabarovsk for the first time faced the situation when the new transport vehicles had been assembled at the territory under their jurisdiction. Since the Soviet times, airplanes, military and civil ships have been assembled in Khabarovsky Krai, but as for automobiles, this kind of experience is not available.
At this moment, support of Autonomous Nonprofit Organization "Agency for Investments and Development of Khabarovsky Krai", organization under jurisdiction of the regional government, which task is helping initiators of investment projects in any problems they may face. The Agency's Supervisory Board is headed by Vyacheslav Short, Governor of Khabarovsky Krai. Having a status of "one-stop shop" for investors, on the one hand, and powerful administrative resource of the founder, the Krai Government, one the other hand, the Agency is capable to arrange support for the supervised projects at any government institution.
"Brand new vehicles leave our workshop: connection of loader crane and KamAZ," explains Yuri Kolbin. "For a new automobile, under the Russian legislation, the vehicle certificate of title (PTS) should be issued, which is the principal document to register the basic characteristics of automobile, and later mark the vehicle owners. It is not allowed to sell the automobile and register it and get a license plate without PTS. Far from making any crane truck, not a single automobile has been ever made in Khabarovsky Krai. Naturally, Directorate of the State Road Traffic Safety Authority had questions: the procedure is new for them, never applied before. Only thanks to involvement of the "Agency for Investments and Development of Khabarovsky Krai" which appealed directly to the Head of Directorate of the State Road Traffic Safety Authority via the government agencies, the first PTS was issued in the shortest possible time. More than that, after making a special room with the steel door and safe, we have been permitted to fill-in the PTS blank forms right on the enterprise site. How important it is to us as a producer in the situation of fulfilling large and urgent order, when literally each day counts, I think there is no need to explain."
ASSEMBLING IN THE MODIFICATION MODE
ITT PTM has its own production area in the industrial zone of Khabarovsk, with a large workshop which they have managed to build before the world financial and economic crisis. Sergey Tyulenev, Head of repair workshop, is proudly accompanying the guests over the building filled with busy rumble: eight KamAZ vehicles at a time, which have arrived from Khabarovsk "KamAZ Center", are having loader cranes mounted on them. Automobiles have been already fully equipped with "winter package", since they are intended for operation at the Northern territories: all manifold pipes, oil tanks, batteries, cabin have been made coldproof, windshield heating have been installed. The crane operator's cab with a separate heater, is made coldproof independently.
Normal oil may be put to the trucks and to the crane hydraulic systems mounted on them, but they should have good improvers, and it will retain operating viscosity down to -50 C. However, to preserve the systems from freezing at night, during the idle time, the heating elements are assembled in the hydraulic tanks, otherwise the pipes may be torn up. However, PALFINGER equipment, assures the manufacturer, has a tremendous strength margin. For eight similar vehicles under operation in Tobolsk, there has been so far one repair case during the frosts down to -47 C: a hose was torn up at the outrigger. But this would not have happened, if the vehicles were operated within the guarantee temperature limits, not exceeding -40 C.
At the ITT PTM workshop, arriving KamAZ vehicles, in spite of modification at the local center, still have to be transformed. "The first cranes were mounted on the long wheelbase, and it seemed they adjusted to them. Now we have to readjust, since these automobiles that our customer needs, have a shorter wheelbase. And the construction is different, even the rivets are located in different places, we have to make new fasteners. Spare wheels need to be mounted in a new place, tanks and receivers to be also relocated. There is no place left for exhaust muffler. it will be removed upwards. Sometimes we have to urgently buy additional parts. We disassemble and upgrade initial cardan shaft. All these modifications take up to half of the mounting time," says Sergey Tyulenev.
Taking into account complexity of works, Khabarovsk enterprise has to create technology especially for this project. Assembly charts for key units have been provided to ITT PTM by its Moscow partner: earlier similar TLCs were assembled in Podmoskovye, although for a different type of chassis. Chinese producer has its technological documentation as well. But because of these required modifications, some additions should be made to the documentation, for which purpose the enterprise employs its own manufacturing technician. SANY representatives also work at the workshop, who are able to define on site how the project should be modified under the specific ITT PTM's order. "It is necessary to streamline assembling and facilitate assembling processes. And we will have to expand production inevitably, which means employing and training new people. Now we are going to perfect the new technological map, write out time limits and specific features of all stages, up to the point of which keys are required for each operation. This way it will be easy for the new employees to join the work," emphasizes Sergey Tyulenev.
It is remarkable that ITT PTM order already offered employment to several other Khabarovsk companies. One of the enterprises makes heating elements for hydraulic tanks, another, tables for VIN numbers of cranes assigned during assembly. The company is also contemplating whether all turning works should be outsourced at the local market, although at the moment all turned works are performed by the company itself. "Also, stickers are made for us: standard delivery package includes stickers with SANY brand, not PALFINGER brand. We were also thinking whether or not we should make our own brand, for example, "Amurchanin". But all this is still on the stage of discussion. Maybe someday we will announce a contest for the best brand name," says the enterprise representative.
WHEN THE ANALOGS ARE NO COMPETITORS
TLC sets arrive to the enterprise via Vladivostok Port in 40-feet containers. To mount the loader crane on a specially prepared chassis, many transfers should be made, and also to add more electrical systems: TLC is operated by crane operator from his cab, but the truck driver may also shut the TLC down. According to Sergey Tyulenev, now around 14 company employees are engaged in assembling, who work 12 hours in a row – from 8.00 a.m. till 8.00 p.m. At this moment the workshop is able to produce four crane trucks each week. According to the terms and conditions of contract with Stroytransgaz, on September 5th, the first 16 completed vehicles are to be headed to their operation site. Now the assembly process is somewhere in the middle.
"We are also the service center for domestic analog vehicles, 25-ton crane trucks under brands Klintsy and Galichanin: here is, for instance, the vehicle under the first brand, and over there is the vehicle under the second brand," the head of repair base points at the place for vehicle standing before the workshop. "For the issues covered by the guarantee, all vehicles are brought to us. To tell you the truth, our vehicles are a far cry from PALFINGER SANY. They're just incomparable. Most important is that domestically produced TLCs have one hydraulic pump for all operations. But sometimes you need to combine two operations, for instance: to turn and lift at the same time. Domestic crane is not able to do this – pressure is not enough, the crane starts to twitch. PALFINGER SANY also has one pump, but that's a three-section pump. Three sections work for different operations, hence the lifting and moving are smooth.
Products of Austrian-Chinese JV, continues Sergey Tyulenev, have a wider footing than Klintsy and Galichanin have, which means greater stability and safer operations. "PALFINGER SANY's crane arm extends to 32 meters. The Russian analogs are just not able to extend the arm horizontally at this length – their footings are just not sufficient to support that," he goes on. At the same time, the 25-ton cranes being assembled by ITT PTM nowadays, have a capacity for increase of cargo capacity to the next category, up to 32 tons. "Powerful frame, revolving parts, good and up-to-date V-shaped arm – such an arm will not be "torn up". And what is an arm for a crane? To repair an arm, high class welding specialists are required," says Sergey Tyulenev.
Due to the collapse of the ruble exchange rate in 2015, new foreign-made cranes became hardly affordable. But the market still has a demand on 25-ton cranes. Used Japanese vehicles works for 20-30 years, and behaves quite decently. But because of the crisis, Japanese, German and other foreign vehicles are no longer imported. Russian manufacturers do not offer a good choice. Therefore, PALFINGER SANY, although seems to have analogs, in fact has no real competitors, believes Sergey Tyulenev.
"The vehicle has domestically produced wheelbase, it is a reliable wheelbase. Any crane operator to work at the Russian-made crane truck, is sure to understand how to operate this vehicle. Control is self-explanatory and has a graphic interface," say ITT PTM representatives. TLCs assembled in Khabarovsk will be covered by a 10-year manufacturer's guarantee. If in the nearest future, as it is expected, the customer orders also self-propelled 40-ton PALFINGER cranes, which will also require servicing, soon the whole mobile teams may be sent to the North: they will train personnel some subtleties of new vehicles operation and keep track of their performance.
PERSPECTIVES ARE BROAD-WISE, BUT INWARD
Perspectives of Khabarovsk project development are related to large-scale infrastructure construction projects which are currently under way at the Russian Far East, says Yuri Gorpinich, General Director of PALFINGER SANY Cranes LLC. "Our client, as well as many other large companies, are beginning to engage in the contracts for construction of Amur GPP of Gazprom. And it means a lot of work and big orders up to the year 2025. Therefore, the interest to Khabarovsk production site does exist. On September 15, for instance, representatives of Velesstroy, large subcontractor of Transneft facilities, are expected to arrive here, to the ITT PTM complex. Projects are numerous, and for our potential customers, available location in Khabarovsk makes many things easier. We need to make them see vehicles assembling with their own eyes," says Yuri Gorpinich.
According to him, PALFINGER SANY has no more assembly facilities on a territory till the Ural area. And the assembly in operation in Pskov Oblast, is able to meet the demands of the customers located only as far as the Western Siberia starts. Everything farther to the east, shall be the area of ITT PTM responsibility. "Khabarovsk project is able to cover the market till Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk, farther on delivery from the Russian Far East becomes too complicated," he specifies. Perspectives of expanding the model row in Khabarovsk are not bad, but the expanding will be made "step by step", emphasizes top manager: 32-ton cranes come first, then – cranes with greater capacity.
"There is no direct competition with the Asian producers," explains Yuri Gorpinich. "We are competing only with the Russian brands, Galichanin and Klintsy. Other Asian producers, for instance, Chinese XCMG and Zoomilon, so far have not introduced the similar product at the Russian market. Zoomilon is making attempts to perform assembly in Belarus, whereas XCMG is not doing even that. We are never going to take up most part of the market. Our product range is limited: for 25-ton crane, we have 32 meter arms, whereas the Russian plants offer arms 21 meters and up. Of course, the shorter is the arm, the cheaper the vehicle is. Many customers just do not need high-capacity cranes. These vehicles are good for erection works. If one needs simply loading and unloading, one will buy the cheapest options: Chelyabinets, Klintsy, Galichanin," says distributor representative.
At the same time, PALFINGER SANY Cranes LLC is intended to make its Far Eastern partner focus at the domestic market. "Sales to Europe are made from the Austrian office, the superstructures are ordered with further assembly through the local dealers. In Asian-Pacific region, they use different chassis, not the off-road or highway KamAZ. SANY exports large quantities of TLCs to India, but there they make cranes assembly by themselves. In Kazakhstan, KamAZ has its own assembly production, cranes are mounted there as well," he explains. Our target areas are Kamchatka, Sakhalin, Vladivostok, Jewish Autonomous Oblast," says the head of PALFINGER SANY Cranes.
Everybody understands, says Sergey Baushev, Director of Autonomous Nonprofit Organization "Agency for Investments and Development of Khabarovsky Krai", that " investor is a high priority nowadays, and everybody should work for improvement of investment climate in Khabarovsky Krai." "Only in this situation the project initiator will think over strategic partneship with the region. PALFINGER company is getting ready to the next big order. To do that, the workshop should be extended, and the existing site has no additional areas. Together with our agency, the investor is investigating the advantages of placing the production at the Priority Social and Economic Development Area Khabarovsk," says Director of Investment Agency. "Our objective is: to select a site, a concrete land plot with infrastructure, to help investor communicate with the PSEDA managing companies. As a result, we are aiming at "anchoring" the project at the Advanced Special Economic Zone."