Skyjack reveals global production expansion
By Euan Youdale14 March 2023
Skyjack has announced plans for its fast-growing international manufacturing footprint during ConExpo 2023.
In the weeks leading up to ConExpo, Skyjack’s president Ken McDougall spoke to Access Lift & Handlers and Access International to provide a full view of its production plans in Mexico and internationally. The company has invested $85 million in its Mexico plant and additional $40 million in its China plant.
As McDougall explained, Skyjack’s Mexico-based plant has two development phases, the first of which was completed ahead of the SJ1056 TH being built.
Phase one consists of a 200,000 sq ft plant with telehandlers and booms, with units produced there aimed at the Americas region. Phase two, which has already begun, will see 490,000 sq ft added to the plant.
At ConExpo, Skyjack is also highlighting the transformation of its manufacturing footprint over the last 12 months, resulting in new factories in three distinct operating areas for the company; the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.
It will allow a potential global unit capacity increase of 235%, compared to 2022, and grows the number of manufacturing plants from two in Canada to five globally – with new facilities in China, Hungary and Mexico.
Skyjack president Ken McDougall commented, “Prior to Covid we were pushing the boundaries at our Canadian plants to the extent that we had simply had no more space. Covid itself brought a new series of challenges that highlighted the need to revisit supply chain and logistics structures with a view to more localization.”
The plant in Mexico was also influenced by the decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) review to allow tariffs to be raised on equipment entering the US produced by manufacturers based in China.
“The ITC anti-dumping really affected some of the larger elements that we were bringing from China, and we undertook very rapidly to re-source those, and the source location we found was in Mexico,” said McDougall. “It played quite a role [in the decision we made] to move larger fabricated welds from China to Mexico.”
Expanding his view of the tariffs, McDougall added, “It was disruptive for everyone. And for us, we feel we were not a Chinese MEWP manufacturer, but we were kind of lumped into this.”
Read further insights in a full interview with McDougall in the upcoming AI March/April & ALH April/May issues.
The initial phase of development has seen an increase in fabrication and vertical integration at the company’s Canadian plants. The changes will result in a focus on the production of vertical masts, DC and RT scissors, with telehandlers and boom lift production moving to the new plant in Mexico.
In addition, the Canadian plants will become the innovation hub of the company, offering an advanced engineering unit and provide co-ordination of design and development activities across its global facilities.
One of MacDougall’s core messages is that production capacity in Canada will not just be protected under the ongoing plans, it will be expanded too, with the location also becoming the innovation hub for the company.
MacDougall said, “We have conversations with people in Canada, who say, ‘You’re moving - you’re leaving’. My answer is, ‘No, we’re not leaving, we’re growing. We’re still adding people into the Canadian organisation and will do so in the future.’”
MacDougall adds, “Skyjack is not abandoning its Canadian operations - it is very much a focus for us to build and grow in Canada, and by moving some of the production out it helps us focus on innovation in Canada.”
Earlier in 2022 Skyjack announced its intentions to open manufacturing facilities in China to consist of two phases. The first units came off the production line in September 2022, marking the completion of phase one which saw the use of a 35,000 sq ft facility. The plant, located in Tianjin, initially focused on the company’s smaller DC scissors.
Phase 2, which was launched with a ground-breaking ceremony in October 2022, will result in a 400 000 sq ft facility that will focus on DC scissors and booms to be supplied to the Asia-Pacific and Australian regions. The facility is scheduled to be in production in third quarter of this year.
McDougall told ALH and AI that the company has had its eye on China for a while and considered multiple entry options, including acquisition, but ultimately chose setting up its own factory.
Expanding on Skyjack’s differing product directions for each region, McDougall commented, “It’s a bit different in China compared to the launch model for Mexico, which is producing mature product for a mature market.
“So, you’ll see a more measured and drawn-out launches in the Chinese facility, slowly adding in product there over time.”
“Our vision is, when we are successful in gaining market share in those markets, 400,000 square feet is probably too small.”
Last year also saw increased activity in Europe as Skyjack expanded in Oros, Hungary. The facility offers 113 000 sq ft of space. Production of the New SJ45 AJ & SJ60 AJ articulating boom product started there in October and the plant is destined to supply telescopic booms, DC, and compact RT Scissors, as well as the articulating booms to Europe.
McDougall concluded, “2022 was a busy year and it is great to see how our global team achieved so much so quickly. 2023 will be even more exciting as this capacity comes on stream. This and some exciting new products later in 2023 will make it a memorable year.”
Read last year’s interview with Ken McDougall in which he provides details of the company’s plan to expand its global footprint.