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Cranes in the land of superlatives
During the same decade, the smallest of the four so-called Tiger economies, Singapore, took a massive leap forwards and became a significant financial centre for world trade. In summer 1989, our dispatch department placed a sheet with the shipping mark “Singapore” behind the windscreen of a mobile crane for the very first time. Today, more than three decades later, the ports in this modern trading metropolis are an important handling station for sales of our cranes in Asia.
The delivery of a used LT 1300 mobile crane 31 years ago marked the start of a thriving business relationship with Singapore, a city state in South-East Asia, which may be small geographically, but is nevertheless a very important financial centre.
At the same time, this transaction also marked the start of a trading route for Liebherr cranes being exported to Asia, which has become an extremely busy one. That LT 1300, which by today’s standards had a rather angular design, featured eight axles with a lifting capacity of 300 tonnes and was shipped to Singapore from the port of Hamburg. Goldbell Engineering, the buyer at the time, is actually still active in the commercial and industrial vehicle market.
Seven years later, an LTM 1160/2 was the first brand new crane to be delivered to Singapore. Since that time, Liebherr has acquired a whole host of new customers. In total there are currently around 150 mobile cranes, including the LTM 11200-9.1, from Swabia driving around the deep urban canyons of the metropolis.
Lots going on in a small area
The island and city state of Singapore, located to the south of the Malayan Peninsula and to the east of Sumatra, is just less than half the size of the city of London, measuring a little over 700 square kilometres in area. The Republic consists of a peninsular and around 60 small islands with a population of around 8,000 per square kilometre, making it one of the most densely populated countries on Earth. Perhaps the following, almost incredible, comparison demonstrates just how dense the population is – the country is around four times the area of Ehingen’s 180 square kilometres but has a quite astonishing population of 5.7 million people.
The importance of Singapore for global trade became apparent in the mid-19th century, under the colonial rule of Great Britain, as a result of its strategic location on the shipping routes between China and Europe.
With one thousand berths and several thousand anchorages, the island is one of the busiest ports in the world in terms of tonnage and goods handling. The South-East Asian country handles more goods in sea ports than anywhere else on Earth.
“Although it is a small country, it is extremely important to us from a logistics point of view”, says Marcel Beck, who is responsible for sales of mobile cranes to the Asian market from his Ehingen base. “Around half a dozen machines are sold direct to Singapore every year” says Beck, “but we also send the majority of shipments to the South-East Asian market via the hub that is Singapore. Over the last fifteen months we have transferred 21 machines to Thailand alone through Singapore”. Whilst the first LT 1300, as mentioned above, was shipped from Hamburg, today mobile cranes start their sea journey from the North German port of Bremerhaven. And they are then unloaded around four weeks later – almost exactly 10,200 kilometres from Ehingen as the crow flies.
Liebherr Singapore – hub, service centre & spare parts warehouse
Lots of transport and logistics service providers also require local personnel and expertise. Liebherr-Singapore Pte Ltd (“LSI” for short), a sales and service centre, is located in the west of the city. A total of 240 personnel from almost all Liebherr Divisions are grouped together in separate organisations under the LSI banner, taking care of sales and service for ASEAN territories. They provide services for a large number of business partners and support for customers looking for complex solutions to their project problems. Furthermore, our outlet is used as a customer service centre with an adjoining spare parts warehouse. Service deployments in the region are coordinated from Singapore with the support of engineers from the Liebherr service outlet and partners in the local countries.
The images shown here provide a short optical foray into the scenario and to the jobs carried out by our cranes in Singapore. They were taken for us by Eric Konijn, a young man from the Netherlands. Even as a child, he was interested in heavy haulage, special construction machines and mobile and crawler cranes of all types. “The whole thing started for me at the age of nine”, he remembers. When he was a teenager, Eric often sent us his fantastic crane photographs from the Netherlands. Some of them were even used on our large wall calendars. He is a mechanical engineering graduate, still obsessed by construction sites, and has been living in this small Asian country for around a year, working as a project manager. This gives the passionate crane spotter plenty of opportunities to put a crane in front of his camera lens whilst he is at work. “And often”, he says, “they are from Ehingen.”
Republic of Singapore
• Capital: Singapore (City State)
• Currency: Singapore-Dollar (SGD)
• Area: 712 km²
- 1 main island
- about 60 smaller islands
• Population: 5,7 million
• 8.000 inhabitants per square kilometer
This article was published in the UpLoad magazine 01 | 2020.