- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Victor Martins
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Rob Rosen, CEO of NAI Cranes (NAI), says the Massachusetts-based overhead crane designer and manufacturer loves discovering problems, because there’s nothing the team enjoys more than finding a solution. NAI has been designing, manufacturing and installing class-D overhead crane systems for nearly 45 years, engineering a custom-fit solution for every challenging scenario.
“We actually love customer problems, because we can solve them,” explains Rosen. In order to solve such issues, NAI offers a wide range of smarter, cost-saving overhead crane products, including gantry cranes, bridge cranes, monorails, jib cranes and custom engineered systems with capacities up to 200 tons.
In addition, the company also offers crane parts, hoists, inspections, maintenance, repairs, training and load tests. NAI has emerged as a leader in innovation and excellence with growing worldwide sales, service and repair centers across the U.S. and experience in a variety of industries from aerospace to military operations.
NAI’s story originates in 1969 with the Levenson family. “NAI started as North American Industries, a small distributor of crane parts,” reveals Rosen. “In the 1970s, the company began designing and manufacturing, as well, because it was a natural extension of vertical integration. By the mid-2000s, the ownership transitioned completely. Now, we offer all facets of crane design, manufacturing and installation while maintaining a robust parts and aftermarket services division.”
Although NAI remains based in Woburn, Mass., the company has grown by leaps and bounds since inception. “We operate out of a 50,000-square-foot facility in Massachusetts, serving all 50 states, but we also have an international presence,” details Rosen. “NAI has a sister company in Latin America. We’ve delivered hundreds of cranes to customers in Latin America, such as an 11-crane order for a shipbuilder in Argentina, and we’re continuing to expand into this area significantly.”
The company has even traveled to Japan for military operations. “We generally don’t go outside of the Western Hemisphere, but if there is a customer who knows us and has a specific inquiry, it’s always possible,” Rosen continues.
Just as NAI strives to be an industry leader in innovation by entering new markets and thinking outside of the box, so does the company’s critical suppliers. “STAHL CraneSystems (STAHL) has a rich 130-year history of supplying overhead crane and hoist equipment. Our drive for engineering innovation and development has decisively influenced the progress of industry in many fields. Through NAI, we have taken great pride for many years in partnering as a key supplier of hoists and components. Together, our corporation has successfully completed many projects up to 100-ton capacity.” -STAHL’s website reads.
In a Class All Their Own
Partnering with key suppliers while reaching beyond the U.S., NAI also steps outside of industry norms, delivering anything but cookie-cutter solutions. “Every crane is uniquely designed for the application it’s being used for,” explains Rosen. “We employ an experienced engineering group and trained salespeople that are adept at looking at applications and equipment that works for that application. Every dimension is different. Our competitors like to use standard equipment but we look for what the need is in the envelope provided.”
Rosen is proud of what NAI has become. “We don’t limit our customers,” he continues. “We’re very flexible. We can supply entire crane systems or kits so the options are open.”
The company manufactures all kinds of specialized overhead cranes; however, Rosen says NAI’s are in a class all their own. “There are six classes of cranes – A through F, F being a crane that’s in constant use – based on duty cycle,” he notes. “Most of the industry deals with strictly class-C cranes, but we’re one of the only companies that manufacture class-D. Class-D cranes can operate 30 percent more often the class-C crane. We’re also a member of the Crane Manufacturers Association of America [CMAA], an invitation-only organization that develops the standards for the industry.”
NAI continues to set the bar high, going above and beyond industry standards and delivering cost-effective solutions along the way. “Class-D cranes have more robust components, so they can handle more work, more often, which translates to less downtime and less maintenance,” remarks Rosen. “We regularly work with general contractors and they want accurate estimating and competent project management with no headaches. Our project managers can answer all questions; they’re like the quarterback of any crane project.”
In regards to bridge construction and repair projects, NAI is well-equipped. NAI delivers a wide range of cranes for a full spectrum of applications, but when it comes to real cost-saving, time-saving solutions, Rosen says it’s often a gantry crane for the win. Popular in Europe for many years, gantry cranes have steadily become a widely accepted alternative to overhead bridge cranes, available in spans up to 250 feet and capacities of 200 tons.
Gantry cranes ride on the ground rather than an overhead runway. “They don’t require a runway structure, nor do they usually require concrete foundations. Their installation is fast and simple. Depending on the environment and application, gantry cranes can sometimes provide the same material handling capabilities as a comparable bridge crane system, but with a significant cost savings.” -NAI’s website reads.
“Because a gantry crane is on a fixed track, it allows traffic to flow unobstructed, and they are even safer because they don’t require highly trained operators,” adds Rosen. “They’re less noisy and present no on-site pollution so gantries can help achieve green or LEED-certified project requirements. Also, they require far less remobilization and demobilization time than crawler cranes, helping jobsite efficiency.”
Case in point: the construction of the Sandy River Bridge in Oregon. “Due to environmental impact and fear of changing the flow of the river, the general contractor was told he couldn’t use a barge-mounted crawler crane on this project,” notes Rosen. “We’ve provided two large gantry crane systems on outrigger tracks to do the job instead.”
NAI continues to deliver effective, efficient crane implementation solutions around the country. “We just won a bid on a major bridge re-decking project in New York and we have a farm equipment manufacturer in the Midwest we’re supporting,” reveals Rosen.
But NAI wouldn’t be able to pull any of it off without a trusted team to thank at the end of the day. “We have a great group of people who are all committed to making customers happy and building the best cranes available,” adds Rosen. “We don’t deliver a crane until we’re completely satisfied with it and are confident it can get the job done right.” For 45 years, NAI Cranes has been building more than crane systems, but also comprehensive solutions, custom-fit to any application.
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