Working to stay ahead of competitors

Crane and hoist manufacturer Condra intends to focus on the continued supply of high-quality, robust and reliable products and lowering the overall lifetime maintenance costs of these products to foster a sustainable competitive advantage while miti- gating the major challenges currently faced by the South African materials handling industry.

Condra MD Marc Kleiner says these challenges include the global economic downturn, the stagnating local demand for products, the lack of clarity on mining- related labour and other government policies, as well as the cheap, lower-quality cranes and hoists imported from China. Condra’s overhead cranes are designed and assembled to speci- fication using hoists, drives, end carriages, brakes, gearboxes and about 250 other subassemblies produced in-group and in-house, while motors are bought from external suppliers. Its two hoist lines, the K-Series and Titan Short Headroom Series, which are manufactured in several standard models, from 1 t to 500 t, are suited to most mining, industrial and general applications.

Kleiner states that Condra manages to maintain the supply of high-quality, sustainable products that lower overall lifetime costs by delivering a “top-drawer design capability” and manufacturing products that adhere to International Organisation for Standardisation standards and other international quality standards such as nonprofit organisation the American National Standards Institute. “Our design philosophy is based on a modular approach, which allows for application flexi- bility without a disproportionate increase in price to the customer,” he adds. For example, standard hoists are used as a platform to accommodate modifications needed to meet customer specifications.

Condra regularly adapts units for high-lift applications to deliver a 15 m lift, which is more than twice the average lift height of 6.8 m. Condra continually looks to drive down product maintenance costs by, for example, using live-axle drives, which are cheaper to maintain, instead of ring-gear designs, and also adapted V-belt technology, which has been tested and proven in the motor vehicle industry. “In this way, the total cost of ownership of the crane over a typical useful life is lowered,” stresses Kleiner.

Condra supplied tankhouse cranes to integrated copper producer Konkola Copper Mines, in Zambia, a subsidiary of diversified natural resources company Vedanta Resources. Two 70 t bridge-spanning cranes, headgear cranes and four crusher maintenance cranes have also been supplied over the past several years to integrated copper and cobalt producer Mopani Copper Mines, also in Zambia, owned by mining services company Carlisa Investments Corporation. Further, the company completed the installation and commissioning of a 70-t-, 12-t-and 5-t-capacity 32-m-span crane from 2013 to 2014, and two 90-t-, 20-t- and 10-t-capacity cranes at a gas turbine power station in Perm, Russia, that were ordered in 2012.

Condra’s stand at the Mining World Russia trade show, in Moscow, Russia, held in April, was the catalyst for orders of a further two 100-t-, 20-t- and 5-t-capacity cranes with spans of 37.5 m. Meanwhile, the company notes that it will continue the expansion of its global distribution network, which started in the mid-1980s. Condra’s group management is actively courting reputable, respectable companies that can help achieve this goal. Condra is increasing its exports of hoists, cranes and spares to Canada, in North America, while, in South America, sales of cranes with capacities of between 40 t and 60 t continue at a steady pace.

The Condra group currently consists of nine entities, comprising two manufacturing companies in South Africa, one in Chile and one in Bulgaria, while the balance of its entities comprises associated firms. The parent company and main manufacturing facility remain headquartered in Germiston, South Africa, where Condra founder Josef Kleiner remains group owner of the family-managed company.

Condra South Africa will celebrate 50 years of existence on June 24, after starting as a drawing office in Elandsfontein, Johannesburg. The group’s factories produce hoists, end-carriages, single- and double-girder overhead travelling cranes, as well as portal, bridge and cantilever cranes for markets worldwide.

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