According to machinery and heavy equipment auctioneers Ritchie Bros, India is emerging as an important buyer market for used Middle East mobile cranes and heavy lifting equipment.
In 2020, the Middle East experienced a gradual increase in demand from Indian buyers at its Online Timed Auctions, with sales of some mobile crane categories increasing by three times compared with the same period the previous year, the company noted in a press release last month.
Although crane sales in India are at the early stages of growth, the company stated that it will focus more of its marketing efforts on the Indian buyer market in the future.
Ritchie Bros commented that many civil and infrastructure construction projects in the Middle East continued unaffected owing to long project life cycles and resultingly did not have an immediate impact on the heavy lifting industry.
However, as the sector is heavily dependent on the oil, gas and energy segments, a prolonged period of low global oil prices resulted in decreasing regional demand for new and used mobile cranes. The exception was crane purchases by Indian organisations from online auctions, which were proving to be more effective at accessing new international buyer markets for surplus Middle Eastern mobile cranes and heavy lifting equipment.
"In a year of volatility, selling prices of used cranes have remained relatively stable,” said Ritchie Bros heavy lift and crane sector international strategic account manager Piet Kraaijeveld.
“Ritchie Bros has seen increased interest from crane owners, particularly in its quarterly Online Timed Auctions. In these online auctions the seller gets access to a global audience of motivated buyers.
“Since the crane industry is heavily dependent on the oil and gas and energy sectors, it is understandable [that], after the 2014 drop in global oil prices, many crane companies changed their asset and fleet management strategies to remain viable.
“Traditionally the oil- and gas-producing nations had the densest crane population in the world. We are now seeing this shift to non-oil producing nations such as India and some parts of Africa. If cranes are underutilised, they will no longer be profitable. As a result, over recent years, more used cranes have become available on the market as companies divested assets to readjust their balance sheets, mainly [owing] to the lack of new project work," Kraaijeveld added.
Ritchie Bros provide crane and lifting equipment sellers with a range of online asset disposal solutions that connects them to interested overseas buyers and offers market value for their surplus assets. The company noted that, by continuously monitoring global transaction statistics, it can gather the latest insights and identify significant trends in the crane trade market globally.
“Following our recent market analysis, a range of critical new statistics emerged; most notably a significant increase in crane buyer demand from India. Our advanced online infrastructure continues to successfully connect these buyers and sellers by expanding their reach and facilitating online, cross-border sales throughout this challenging period," Kraaijeveld averred.
Ritchie Bros hosted a December online auction in Dubai, which included over 1 200 registered online bidders from 83 countries. More than 40% gross auction proceeds came from buyers outside the United Arab Emirates, including India, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.
The first 2021 Dubai auction took place last month, with bidding opening on March 16 and ending at staggered times on March 23 and 24. The Ritchie Bros local team worked with businesses in the Middle East and further afield to add inventory to the auction, which took place entirely online.