The world’s first online crane rental platform, MyCrane, has expanded its operations into Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. SEAC talks to CEO and founder of MyCrane, Andrei Geikalo, about the benefits of digitalisation in crane rental business, the growth of the platform globally and its upcoming developments for the industry.
1). Mr Geikalo, you’ve spent many years in the crane industry. How did MyCrane come about?
Andrei Geikalo (AG): MyCrane is the culmination of our management team’s long experience in the cranes and construction industry. During our careers, we discovered that the industry is crying out for change, and would benefit significantly from the digitalisation that is taking place in all other areas of business and personal life.
I myself spent many years working at Mammoet, the global engineering and heavy lift specialist, initially as an engineer before rising to commercial director. Naturally I have had a lot of experience in the world of cranes – though I must admit my love of these machines started way before, in my university days where I studied construction equipment and machinery.
The global pandemic provided an opportunity for me to take stock, stop doing ‘business as usual’ and launch MyCrane.
2). What has growth been like for MyCrane since its launch last year?
AG: Our progress has been remarkable. In less than a year, we already announced the appointment of franchisees, and therefore the start of operations, in the UAE, Oman, Qatar, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the UK, Republic of Ireland, and three countries in Southeast Asia: Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. Further global expansion will be announced in the coming months.
In terms of operations, we continue to receive unsolicited communications from people all around the world, confirming our belief that such a service is needed. Similarly, feedback from MyCrane users has been overwhelmingly positive.
On a personal level, I was honoured to be invited to speak at the Cranes and Transport Middle East (CATME) conference in Dubai earlier this year, which provided an opportunity to present the benefits of digitalisation in the construction industry to a larger audience.
3). With MyCrane’s rapid success, how is it changing the construction industry?
AG: The starting point is to acknowledge that the crane rental process is outdated and complicated for all parties.
MyCrane is digitalising the crane rental industry. This sounds like a simple thing to do – but what does it mean in practical terms? Most importantly, it means the customer does not have waste time contacting multiple crane rental companies, making phone calls, chasing response to RFPs, clarifying quotations that are not clear, and so on.
For the first time, customers can log on to a digital platform, MyCrane, and submit the details of their lifting requirements. Then, registered crane companies respond with their proposals, allowing the customer to quickly and easily accept their chosen commercial offer (all online). No more phone calls, no more trying to work out if quotations are directly comparable.
Other benefits for the customer include the possibility to save costs on procurement process, faster results and the ability to get a complete overview of available crane options in the market.
Our service is free to use for both customers and crane rental companies (MyCrane charges a small commission when a project is confirmed using the platform).
4). Digital services are soon becoming a norm in all sectors. Could you share some unique features of MyCrane that differentiate it from others?
AG: MyCrane is the only platform solely focussed on cranes, and the only one of its kind available worldwide (as we believe the cranes industry is too complex to integrate in a more general platform).
Another unique feature is our Selector tool – the first of its kind to be offered free on a non-commercial basis – to help users find the right crane for their lift. We launched this tool after discovering that many companies are still using crane charts, which are no longer required in 2022.
We have also introduced a ranking system for crane rental providers, which provides an essential benchmarking service to customers and helps to drive up standards in the market.
We are integrating blockchain technology in our payment module to offer all users of the platform access to fact-based data on payment behaviour. This will address the payment issues we are facing in the industry.
5). MyCrane recently signed a franchise agreement for three Southeast Asian countries. Do you see emerging trends in this region, and what challenges are you facing?
AG: The Asian market is now one of the world’s fast-growing regions with a strong requirement for power, especially renewables. We also see a change in people’s behaviour in the region. There is increasing demand for transparency, and for business to be undertaken in a more ethical way. MyCrane is the perfect tool to help these companies.
Prices are still under pressure in the region, which is holding back innovation. MyCrane can bring technology to all parties, without having them to invest in this technology. Everyone can benefit from digitalisation to optimise their business.
The challenges we face in Asia are more or less the same we see everywhere else in the world. After all, there are people who still prefer to pick up the phone to call a taxi company!
Fortunately, the vast majority of people we speak to in this industry are extremely positive about the MyCrane services and the efficiencies it enables.
6). As MyCrane operates on a franchise basis, what kind of support do you provide to your franchisees globally?
AG: Our most important function is to provide our franchisees with the platform they need to operate their business, namely the MyCrane website. Besides the crane rental service, franchisees are also able to access and offer the full range of MyCrane services I referred to earlier, plus engineering support and our Marketplace which can be used to advertise various types of equipment for sale and career vacancies.
Our operations are run out of our headquarters in Dubai, where our newly-appointed COO Piet Kraaijeveld is based. One of Piet’s main roles is to support our franchisees, drawing on his long industry experience which has seen him work for major companies on three continents.
In Southeast Asia, we have franchise opportunities available in other countries such as Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and China, and we would be delighted to hear from entrepreneurs who may be interested in operating our service in their home market.
7). The MyCrane platform is already packed with innovative features. Are there new developments that you plan to introduce in the near future?
AG: In terms of design, we will shortly refresh the look of the MyCrane website, and as regards technology we are about to conclude discussions with a UK-based payment platform. This partnership will enable us to seamlessly take payment from the customer, splitting the payment between the crane rental provider and MyCrane (to pay our commission fee).
As I mentioned, we have already introduced the world’s first free-to-use Selector tool which enables users to find the perfect crane for their proposed lift. It is already populated with cranes by leading manufacturers such as Liebherr, Demag/Tadano, XCMG, Sany and Grove, and more manufacturers are being added on an ongoing basis.
Most of our products are developed in-house with our IT team, however MyCrane is open to engaging in new partnerships to bring already successful digital products to the crane industry.
Most recently, we also announced the addition of a number of new cranes to the platform, including boom trucks, crane manipulators/crane arm, man lifts, mini cranes, cherry pickers, aerial platforms and hydraulic gantry systems.
This is in addition to crawler, mobile or tower cranes, which were already available. We now offer cranes with a capacity of between 100 kg and 750 t and, by the end of the year, all types of cranes will be available on the MyCrane platform.