Up & Down: Sweet Music To MacGregor s Ears
While market undulations cause tensions to rise and profits to waver, the movement has special meaning to Sweden's MacGregor Group AB. Not that MacGregor likes market instability anymore than the next company, mind you, rather that the company is one of the world's premiere suppliers of cargo care products — including ship's elevators, hatch covers, cranes, RoRo equipment, escalators and air conditioning chillers — and the ability to get "up and down" onboard a ship means more business for the group.
Founded in 1929 with a patented steel hatch cover design, the MacGregor Group has nearly tripled in size during the past few years, fueled by merger, acquisitions and growth from within. Along the way, the company formed by the brothers Robert and Joseph MacGregor have merged with or acquired equipment supplier leaders such as Finland's Navire, Dan-Elevator, and Conver-OSR. In 1993, Swedish industrial group Incentive acquired MacGregor-Navire's shares, and combined it with its own subsidiary, Hagglunds marine, which was a world leader in shipboard cargo cranes, to form the organization known today as the MacGregor Group.
Although rapid, the growth has actually occurred in a systematic and designed approach, positioning the company as a formidable global provider of equipment and services, positioned to meet the high demands of a market in transition.
According to John Albino, president of MacGregor USA Inc. in Pine Brook, N.J., part of the company's overall success is its partnering mentality: "In today's market, it is essential to provide life-cycle solutions instead of one-off product sales." The company's overall growth can be seen as reflecting this trend, and in a microcosm, its growth in the U.S. is a prime example. Realizing that service after the sale is similarly critical, MacGregor USA has steadily increased its presence. For example, growing its Miami office from a one-person operation in 1993 to a full service organization today, and relied on skilled craftsman to meet customers repair and maintenance needs. "We have no trainees, only workers with 9+ years of experience," Albino said. Apart from its strong hold on U.S. cruise operator customers, MacGregor has enjoyed good success with U.S. military projects helping to outfit the recent round of new Sealift ships Tech Behind The Talk The marine industry, with its unique and demanding operational parameters, is particularly brutal on purveyors of new technology. Salesmanship and style only go so far, as those products which do not support claims of performance are quickly dismissed. The MacGregor Group is highly regarded among shipyards and shipowners for supplying the systems, products and supports which withstand the rigors of operating at sea. Shipowners today, particularly on the high-value cruise ship side, are far more proactive and sophisticated in choosing major equipment suppliers, said Bjorn Stenwall, MacGregor's technical manager, Passenger Ship Div. "Owners are consulting with suppliers such as MacGregor to dictate the number and speed, for example, of a ship's movement systems." This trendhas also been spurred by the growing size of ships, as owners must adjust accordingly to accommodate more passengers on larger ships. The task of moving 3,000 people, for example, to the exits when leaving for ashore excursions can create tremendous bottlenecks and delays, unless the people moving systems have been provided for accordingly. MacGregor's Passenger Ship Division has enjoyed a steep rise in escalator orders, as it has secured orders for 42 escalators for installation in ferries and cruise ships during 1999 and 2000. The company said that escalators are being specified in increasing numbers as operators of cruise ships and ferries are recognizing that escalators are significantly more efficient than elevators between two or three decks. Typically, passenger movement rates of up to 9,000 passengers an hour are possible with escalators using 1,000 mm (twopassenger) step widths. MacGregor's escalators are a product of its partnership with Kone's wholly-owned subsidiary in Germany, O&K Rolltreppen GmbH. As with its elevator partnership with Kone, MacGregor provides its maritime expertise to develop escalator technology and market the products in the marine sector.
Key applications of escalators are in the quick movement of passengers to and from bottleneck areas or for speeding crew movements between galley/service centers and the restaurant areas.
For large passenger ferries, owners are recognizing the benefits of faster turnaround times by using escalators to move passengers between car decks and public areas, as well as to and from passenger loading points and the main entrance lobby.
Basically, the escalators utilize the same control technology and main components as Kone uses in its elevators.
They can therefore be linked to a ship's central elevator control and monitoring computers to provide for optimum shipboard passenger transport solutions.
The marine units are based on O&K's exterior grade escalator units and are fully weatherproofed and ruggedized. On the elevator side, MacGregor has won elevator orders for all seven of Royal Caribbean Cruises' latest newbuildings, the Millennium-class cruise ships. For each of the four Millennium ships, MacGregor will provide 17 elevators as well as eight service escalators.
The 10 passenger elevators will be arranged in three groups: one set of four panoramic elevators and two groups of three conventional units. The panoramic elevators will be quite unusual in that all will face outboard through an external atrium positioned on the starboard side of the ship. The other seven elevators are service units.
In an example of continuing innovation, Monarch of the Seas — which recently underwent extensive repair work at the Atlantic Marine yard in Mobile, Ala., feature the first marine application of MacGregor-Kone Mini- Space elevator. The new shipboard elevator offers space and weight savings compared with existing elevator mechanisms. MiniSpace is a new concept which uses a new compact drive motor, eliminating the requirement for large machinery rooms associated with conventional traction wire pull and balance-weight elevators.
MacGregor will supply 22 MiniSpace elevators, two conventional elevators and eight escalators for each of two vessels in a new class of cruise ships ordered by the Carnival Corporation from Kvaerner Masa-Yards. Carnival has ordered the first two 84,000-gt vessels for Italian-based Costa Crociere and Carnival Cruise Lines.