Breaking Ground: The Evolution of Menzi Muck’s Spider Excavators

Unrivalled performance

Through a process of innovation, Menzi Muck’s unique spider excavators continue to deliver unrivalled performance to an ever-growing market

Starting life as the invention of Ernst Menzi in 1966, the Menzi Muck range of spider excavators has forged out a significant and unique segment of the market. Displaying a four-legged spider chassis, the Menzi Muck excavators possess the ability to perform in extreme terrains inaccessible by conventional excavator platforms. “A remarkably high degree of motorisation and unique stability results in a machine that can be used on difficult terrain like steep mountains, swamps, and places where the ground is unstable,” explains Menzi’s Managing Director, Hansjörg Lipp. “This is major differentiator from other machines on the market and is used across our markets for a range of applications in the forestry, construction, civil engineering and water industries.”

The company currently markets two lines, the M3 and heavier M5 range, which are each available with a number of customisable choices to suit individual applications. “There are several options to choose from in terms of chassis, drive configurations and so on,” notes Hansjörg. “In spite of a low machine weight of only around 12 tonnes the Menzi Muck excavators have a hydraulic and engine performance comparable with conventional 24 tonne machines. This provides the ability to cope with extreme terrain demands and has also lead to our newest configuration, the Menzi Master M515. It uses a well engineered caterpillar chassis alongside the established Menzi Muck cabin and power unit. A low weight of only 14.5 tonnes and the superior performance transforms the Master M515 into a more capable and robust machine.”

Over the last five decades, Ernst Menzi’s invention has undergone a process of continuous development to improve its offering to the market. “Originally, there were only mechanical possibilities to adapt the machine to different applications,” highlights Hansjörg. “However, now we have a lot of hydraulic possibilities and our machine has about 19 hydrauliccylinders compared to about three or four on a normal excavator.” To continue this drive for innovation the company’s base in Switzerland employs a team of dedicated development engineers responsible for workingclosely with the customers to meet the growing demands in the market. “Every six or seven years we bring out a complete new line or version but we are constantly bringing out small developments and innovations in the intervening period,” outlines Hansjörg. “Often the contacts we work with at our customers’ are technical experts as well, so we actively look for discussions and ideas together with them. They bring their ideas of what the machine could and should do, and we take these and develop them into our product. This is often a very practical process with a lot of prototyping and testing.”

A highlight of Menzi’s development process is the triennial Bauma show in Munich, the world’s leading trade fair for construction and civil engineering machinery. “This is where we launch all of our major developments and we will be introducing our new product in Spring 2016 here,” says Hansjörg. “This is going to be a much lighter, smaller machine that can be transported in a few pieces by helicopter so that it can reach higher mountains and moreremote areas.”

Enhancing Menzi’s market offering is its stamp of Swiss quality and the company runs a strict quality assurance programme to ensure that this standard is met. “Quality is more important to us than low cost,” says Hansjörg. “We have quite a strong quality department that checks every machine before it leaves our facility. We also carry out robust checks on our suppliers and partners, and have established some strong, collaborative relationships with them. We only work with the best as we bring in hydraulic pumps, motors, valves and other components from all over Europe and hence assemble with the best components.” As for its steel requirements, Menzi has a 100 per cent owned subsidiary based in Slovakia that undertakes everything to do with the steel work. “This way we can ensure the quality of the steel components,but in a more cost effective way than manufacturing them in our home facility. All assembly, software, testing, adjusting andfinishing takes place here in Switzerland,” he adds.

The market for Menzi at the moment is positive, as Hansjörg points out there are still many potential market opportunities to take advantage of, particularly in new regions such as North America, Scandinavia and East Asia where the company’s presence is not as well felt as in other markets. “One challenge we are finding at the moment, however, is finding the right operators,” he says. “The machines are not the easiest to drive and they require some experience to take onto difficult terrains safely. Therefore, if we enter new markets we have to find the operators and the skilled people who can service them. We do offer training, and will be running seminars and training weeks to support this further, but it still requires some extended experience to use the Menzi Muck on more difficult and rough terrain, which could involve dangerous situations. So it can take a bit longer to break into these new markets.”

However, with exports currently only accounting for half of Menzi’s revenue, the company is confident that the market opportunities exist and exploiting these will be its focus as it moves forward. “The next year or so will be about building up dealerships across these markets to establish sales and service centres and introduce potential clients to our products,” Hansjörg concludes. “We will of course also be focusing on bringing our new product to market in 2016.”

Menzi Muck

Services: Manufactures mobile spider excavators