BB Cranes 5-ton portal crane for Everflo.

Cape Town crane manufacturer BB Cranes has upgraded its manufacturing capacity as part of a transition to becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Condra group of companies. The acquisition is expected to substantially increase BB’s share of the Western Cape market over time. It became effective on March 1st.

Johannesburg-headquartered Condra is a leading manufacturer of custom-designed overhead cranes, portal cranes, jib cranes, hoists and general crane components for countries throughout central and southern Africa, as well as for specific countries in North America, South America, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Western Cape market

Commenting on the new shareholding, BB Cranes director Barry Brink says that the additional resources of the Condra group will expand his factory’s manufacturing and refurbishing capabilities, increasing capacity and improving productivity. “We will be able to manufacture more cranes more quickly and efficiently than before, and we will be able to more energetically serve the Western Cape market,” says Barry.

“Our focus will continue to be on the Western Cape Province. Our intention is to reach additional customers and to expand our base of over 400 successful installations. The first of the factory upgrades resulting from the changed shareholding, a girder jig, has already been installed and commissioned to enable quicker, more efficient manufacture of cambered girder box sections, reducing production time by some 75 percent.

BB Cranes’ staff and branding will continue unchanged. The company will operate independently within the Condra group, and existing staff will continue to service the customer base. A condition of the acquisition is that all staff retain their jobs. The management team is to remain in place, and the expertise of founder Barry Brink, now in semi-retirement, will continue to be available to all customers whenever needed.

BB Cranes 16-metre-span 20ton portal crane for a local power station, disassembled on the factory floor ready for delivery to site.

Steady increase in size

BB Cranes was originally formed in 1992 to marry crane girders and electrification systems manufactured in Cape Town to technically complex hoists, crabs, end-carriages and other crane components supplied by Condra, saving customers the cost of transport between Johannesburg and the Mother City. Majority-owned by Condra since 2016, the company is currently working towards the ISO 9000 certification of the parent group.

Cranes made by BB have shown a steady increase in size over the years, from the 11-metre-span overhead gantry cranes manufactured in the original Paarden Eiland factory, to the 25 and 26-metre spans of recent orders made at the current works in Rivergate Industrial Park. Though the majority of new deliveries have spans and capacities of around 20 metres and 50 tons, the company has the ability to deliver cranes with spans of any length, and capacities of up to 250 tons.

The majority of orders are for single and double-girder electric overhead travelling cranes, and for portal machines. There are four service teams to supply installation services, load testing, commissioning and maintenance capabilities.

Competitive advantage

Recent contracts have included a 5-ton portal crane for Everflo (refrigeration systems), a 16-metre-span 20ton portal crane for a local power station, and two 5ton container handling portal cranes for Bumbo (baby products).

Ongoing work is provided by orders for overhead travelling cranes placed by wastewater treatment works. BB Cranes enjoys a competitive advantage in this market because of the shot-blast zinc metal spray paint specification, supplied in South Africa by only one company which is also based in Cape Town.

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