PALFINGER MARINE, as a proactive pioneer of the industry, has established a strong network of excellence in production, sales, and service across Europe. In this edition of our Around the Globe series, we take an in-depth look into how Europe acts as the cradle of innovation within the company in terms of product development, engineering, and digitization.

The development of a new product is a supreme discipline of the maritime technology industry, especially in times when evolving engineering standards and digitization offer so many possibilities to improve efficiency and safety. PALFINGER MARINE’s sites in Europe are renowned for their outstanding product development capacities. We sat down with Johannes Nußbaumer, Global Product Manager Marine & Wind Cranes, and Arne Handal, Head of Global Marine Engineering, who are based at our HQ in Salzburg, Austria, and in Bergen, Norway, respectively.

The origin of a new product

Johannes Nußbaumer, Global Product Manager Marine & Wind Cranes

So, how does PALFINGER MARINE decide on new product development projects? “Product development can be driven by both internal and external factors,” Johannes explains. “In terms of external factors, we differentiate between customer-driven and regulatory-driven determinants. The classic scenario involves the market as a whole demanding a new solution. An excellent example is our latest PFM foldable knuckle boom crane, which is currently in the final stages of development. It comes in answer to a demand for larger cranes with greater outreaches. In other cases, an individual customer or partner may approach us with a specific request that leads to a new product. In all instances, we sit down and evaluate the competition and regulatory environment in close collaboration with all involved parties.”

PALFINGER MARINE also taps into its own product development potential by regularly re-analyzing its own technology capabilities and internal processes. One of the most common outcomes is a product redesign that allows us to fulfill both customer needs and regulatory requirements better than before, as was the case in our recent PK series redesign. The process itself involves product management, engineering, procurement, operation, service teams, prototype-testing, quality management, and marketing.

Europe contributes product development milestones

The European region has delivered numerous product development milestones over the years. It therefore comes as no surprise that Johannes is swift to list his personal highlights on the job. “It was pretty amazing to see a customer purchase two of our new PFM cranes before the model was even launched. The new series’ USP and apparent quality convinced the buyer right away,” he recalls. “I always enjoy product redesigns for various applications such as the current PK project and upcoming update to the PAL40 control system. Yet developing completely new products – potentially for new applications and on new scales – is even more exciting. Great examples for the latter are our new nacelle cranes and the PFM series. Interesting times ahead.”

Large crane parked outside, in front of a hall.

New PFM 2100 crane currently in development

PALFINGER MARINE pioneers engineering and digitization in Europe

Arne Handal, Head of Global Marine Engineering

Arne, our second interview partner, fulfills the crucial role of supporting all our different European product engineering groups – including Marine & Wind Cranes, Offshore Cranes, Marine Handling Solutions, and Boats & Davits – in line with the “Go Digital” and “Go for Solutions” pillars enshrined in the PALFINGER Vision & Strategy 2030. “I am currently establishing a Software Research & Development (R&D) team that will build the foundation for future PALFINGER MARINE services related to predictive maintenance and new data-driven product features. This inaugural project involves developing a fully electric, remotely controlled jib crane in collaboration with customers and partners, mainly Aker BP and Optilift.

“What’s more, this project affords us a unique opportunity to simultaneously advance not only this external customer project, but also internal product development. In fact, we are building a data platform focusing on critical mechanical components and their status, which can later also be harnessed internally for future undertakings,” Arne explains. He elaborates: “In other words, we will build additional foundational elements for future advanced offshore cranes’ software and control systems, as well as feature and functionality add-ons that will enable data-driven decision-making on a new level for PALFINGER.”

Our customers and partners will help us push the limits of existing technologies.

Arne Handal, Head of Global Marine Engineering at PALFINGER MARINE

“Coincidentally, I am excited to find out which synergy effects PALFINGER MARINE’s digitization efforts can offer other product lines of the PALFINGER organization and vice versa.”

Ambitious digitization goals fuel Europe

While Europe is keen to lead the way in digitization, the aim is to develop solutions that can, in principle, be scaled in different markets and regions. “Digitization is not limited to certain locations or regions,” Arne agrees. “We face competitors from other continents, which makes it even more crucial to fully realize our engineering and digitization potential here in Europe,” he says. “In fact, we boast so much engineering experience and competence here. The unique history of PALFINGER as a renowned global lifting solutions provider with decades of dedicated development expertise is an amazing advantage when strengthening our grip on the marine and offshore markets,” Arne adds. The future sounds bright.

PALFINGER MARINE is a strong brand with an equally strong presence in Europe. As our network moves closer together as part of our renewed focus on complete solutions, we are confident that we can continue to grow in line with the market. As the market matures, we mature with it. Join us on this journey.

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