Accelerate the brake business
Joel Cox president of Pintsch Bubenzer talks to Maria Hadlow about his passion for the industry and excitement about progressing the braking technology and the business.
Joel Cox president of Pintsch Bubenzer USA could be said to have cranes in his bloodline – his grandfather was a crane operator, his father was heavily involved in the electric motor industry, being responsible for bringing some brands to the US from Europe and he himself has worked with cranes all his working life.
“I worked from the ground up,” says Joel “Working on cranes and overhead cranes and rebuilding hoists from when I was young. And later at a controls company – putting controls on cranes. I have been involved in every facet of life around cranes – done it, built it or been part of it.”
Some years ago, Joel went into the port sector and other sectors where he gained valuable experience into the modernisation of cranes. “It was then I was introduced to Pintsch Bubenzer as a product,” he says. ‘While installing that product on cranes, I developed a love for the brand and luckily some years later got an offer to become their market manager. I’ve worked my way up to president.”
Pintsch Bubenzer is the result of a merger between Bubenzer Bresmsen and Pintsch Bamag, German companies with significant histories. More recently the company has become part of the Dellner Bubenzer Group, which encompasses Swedish company, Dellner Brakes and Italian company Rima. Between them they offer an enviable array of crane and industrial braking solutions and components.
Joel has been witness to many changes in the lifting industry, “ I’ve seen a change in the way technology has been adopted. From contactor controls and resistors and eddy current brake controls to the evolution of frequency drives. There was some good thinking and good mindsets in the past, but kudos to the people that came up with ideas for different ways of stopping cranes I am glad to have been part of the evolution in braking technology that we’ve had in the company – it’s exciting when the lightbulb goes on and we find a revolutionary way to do things.”
The latest revolution is a change to way Dellner Bubenzer interacts with customers. In order to present the product range to customers in a more cohesive way the company has been investing in a new website and branding. “We are a leader in braking technology and have so much to offer,” says Joel, “ and we want to show it off.”
“We’ve been working on it for about four months and are excited to launch in the next month,” says Joel. “It will be completely new website, new logos and a new marketing approach for the whole group all under one umbrella. Users will be able to navigate a user-friendly website around multiple industries, with a complete line-up of all the products.” Previously customers would interact with each brand separately.
“What people will see is our companywide representation in every corner of the world – in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai. With the new logos and marketing scheme it doesn’t feel like divisions anymore. We are one company now.”
Sales and support which used to operate under different brands are now also being combined. “I am most excited about the full offering of parts and more stock,” says Joel. Manufacturing has also changed, with all the divisions now using the same operating systems to speed time to market. “Customers will now have a single contact for products across the group,” explains Joel. “It will give us greater outreach across North and South America – people looking at the new website will really notice a difference.”
Disseminating information is a passion of Joel’s, “ Together with the engineering and sales teams we put a lot of effort into explaining to the industry what can be achieved with the right pieces of equipment,” he says. “I feel we have done a really good job with the consultants in the industry, at crane symposiums and with white papers.
“Most of my staff have come from cranes, mining, steel and other industries so we can address niche issue and see common trends.
“For example, I am currently working on a white paper about what to do if a failure happens – how to safely lift or lower the load whether that’s a hot ladle or a critical item that must get to the floor. I am always working on ways to share knowledge.”
Joel has some warning words about safety and how vital it is to keep it front and centre of all lifting activities.
“Safety had a trend a few years ago and, from what I’m seeing, focus has fallen way slightly. With the automation of processes, people think that safety will come automatically – that technology will make it safe. I think it takes the people, the staff and the technicians to ensure safety measures are followed. It seems that very few companies take the extra steps to train people the way that people like me were trained in the past. There is a need for that – a need for the safety focus to rise up.
“That’s what we’ve tried to do: remind people that the safety factors that we engineer into product have a certain safety allowance, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is safe. You still have to upkeep the maintenance and monitor things closely.
“Just recently Covid has been a real eye opener. Lower staffing levels and lower budgets for maintenance and safety has caused things to be overlooked. Also, equipment may have been sitting idle and now it is going back to business without checks – accidents happen when you’re in a rush.”
Joel isn’t opposed to the use of new technology, far from it, but emphasises the need to use it and interpret data properly. “Automation can allow detailed safety monitoring but if the data is not being used or being watched it is valueless. You need the right inputs for the full picture and the right actions to maintain safety.”
Like many companies Pintsch Bubenzer made good use of new technologies during the pandemic. “We were able to use virtual reality for training and maintenance it’s a nice feature especially if the customer is in a remote location or there are travel restrictions.
Joel is also looking forward to employing cameras in the near future where customers want a visual, yet remote view of equipment for monitoring purposes.
State of the art technology is also well used in product development. Pintsch Bubenzer’s facility can really put a product through the most demanding tests.
“There is a big focus on testing for even the most extreme environments so that we can sleep better, and our customers can sleep better,” says Joel. “Knowing that a product has been subjected to the most gruelling application or scenario gives us confidence when recommending it to a customer particularly where another brand might have failed.
“Our climate chamber testing for example can replicate very hot or very cold environments. Some OEMs have really put us to the test, and we come out with flying colours, but we also learn something too. We also have customers who will help with the installations of new technology in final, on the job, proof tests.”.
Joel has a strong belief in the future of lifting but advocates for stronger safety standards. He, like so many, has noticed a mass exodus of talent from the industry as people retire without the young people to replace them. “I feel it is really up to lifting companies to attract and train people to work in the industry.” he says.
The high-tech industrial process that might attract a younger workforce are in evidence at Pintsch Bubenzer should they care to look. On the day we spoke Joel had been admiring the 3D printed parts of a developing product.
“We’ve got a couple of things we are working on in the background now,” he says. “Game changers – never-before seen – so I’m looking forward to the next year or so.
Although Joel was keeping the wraps on the developments he would say, “They are a springboard for company – lofty goals but achievable. I am personally working on three brake technology designs with electric overhead cranes being the main focus. I am looking forward to unveiling that.”
Joel is extremely upbeat about the future of the business, “From start to finish my whole life has been about cranes and controls and the things that make up cranes – I fell in love with the braking aspect and even today enjoy helping customers with difficult applications and issues – switching them over to our brand – it’s a fun business to be a part of.”