International Construction magazine's annual Yellow Table ranking of the world's top construction equipment manufacturers provides interesting insight into the ups and downs in the construction industry and the global economy.1 The biggest winner in the 2014 Yellow Table was Liebherr, a Germany-based company that first experienced success with its mobile, easy-to-assemble and affordable tower cranes. Liebherr moved into the number 5 position on the survey after Sany, a Chinese multinational heavy machinery manufacturing company, dropped to the number 8 position.
Compared to 2012 revenues, the world's top 50 construction equipment manufacturers experienced a 10% decrease, or a more than US$20 billion collective hit, to their combined revenues in 2013, according to the 2014 Yellow Table ranking survey.1
Despite the tough year, construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar held fast to the coveted number one position in the 2014 Yellow Table, while Japanese-based Komatsu held steady at number two. The two manufacturing giants alone were responsible for approximately US$48 million of equipment sold worldwide in 2013, or 30% of market share.
Here's a listing of the world's top 5 construction equipment manufacturers in 2013 as reported in the 2014 Yellow Table ranking survey:
1. Caterpillar (U.S.) – 2013 rank: #1
Even with an US$11 billion decrease in 2013 revenue, the well-known yellow giant still managed to hold on to the number one spot in the annual ranking survey. Heavily dependent on earthmoving equipment sales – specifically, excavators, loaders, bulldozers, crawler dozers, scrappers, and shovels - Caterpillar couldn't avoid the impact of a softening mining sector. Orders for mining equipment decreased worldwide as commodity prices fell yet again in 2013 and mine owners switched their focus from building infrastructure and opening new mines to increasing production in order to make up for the shortfall.2 The only good news for US-based Caterpillar came from back at home, where North American sales of Caterpillar equipment increased slightly over the previous year.
2. Komatsu (Japan) – 2013 rank: #2
As economic growth stagnated in China, so did sales for Komatsu construction equipment in one of Komatsu's biggest regional market. But a depreciating Yen helped Komatsu boost exports to other regional markets. Overall, Komatsu managed a slight +2.3% increase for the year, making it one of the year's biggest winners.3
3. Volvo Construction Equipment (Sweden) – 2013 rank: #4
In 2012, Volvo launched a two-year strategy aimed at “increasing the probability and market share of road equipment”.3 As part of this strategy, Volvo Construction Equipment purchased Terex Corporation. The acquisition added five models of rigid haulers and three articulated haulers to Volvo's line-up, giving the company a boost to the number 3 position and increasing its sales of equipment to the general construction, oil and gas, and road building sector.
4. Hitachi Construction Machinery (Japan) – 2013 rank: #3
As was the case with its fellow Japanese construction equipment manufacturer Komatsu, Hitachi's construction equipment sales revenue also increased thanks in part to a fluctuating yen and an increase in exports. Another helpful boost came from a continued strong demand for Hitachi hydraulic excavators in China and Japan during the third quarter of 2013.4 However, Hitachi's position could prove precarious as a drop-off in domestic demand, a continuing economic slump in China and slow mining equipment sales threaten any potential gains in 2014.5
5. Liebherr (Germany) – 2013 rank: #7
Despite a slight fall in construction machinery revenue – specifically for earthmoving, mobile cranes and tower crane sales – Liebherr managed to move from the number 7 spot on the Yellow Table to number 5, ousting Sany who dropped to 8th place. For 2014, Liebherr plans to grow its 4.6% market share through investments in a new logistics center in Germany; an expansion of its Adelaide, Australia location; and the addition of a new hydraulic production plant for hydraulic excavators, wheel loaders and material handling equipment in Dalian, China.6
Construction equipment outlook for 2014
For 2014, it seems that the fight for market share among the top 5 construction equipment manufacturers may get even tougher. Chris Sleight, Editor of International Construction's Yellow Table ranking survey, offered this advice to construction equipment manufacturers: “Clearly the global economy is not in a ‘normal' phase, so I don't think it is possible to say this is the situation we will be stuck with forever. At the same time, it will take time for a more robust and reliable cycle to reassert itself and there may be more bumps in the road ahead. So for equipment manufacturers, the key will be to stay flexible, and find ways to stay profitable in these uncertain times.”
View the complete 2014 Yellow Table, with a video analysis by Chris Sleight, on International Construction's website.
Looking for construction equipment to buy?
If tough conditions in 2013 held you back from buying heavy equipment, view used Caterpillar, Komatsu, Volvo, Hitachi and Liebherr construction equipment being sold at Ritchie Bros. auctions. Ritchie Bros. is the world's largest industrial auctioneer, selling US$3.8 billion of equipment and trucks in 2013.
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