Capital Equipment News

Construction, by its nature, is very challenging. Managing the sequencing of the multi-disciplined applications, even in the smallest of projects, is no mean feat. Consequently, when it comes to construction vehicles, dealing with a supplier that can address any problem statement optimally and service construction vehicle needs across board is more critical than ever. With that in mind, Scania South Africa used bauma CONEXPO AFRICA 2018 to exhibit its wide application approach to construction with a range of vehicles that caters for the different needs of the market, writes Munesu Shoko.

Maximum uptime is the goal for every construction crew. It allows construction companies to execute their jobs within the often stringent timelines, giving them the ability to bid for the next job, take more work and earn more profit. A wide variety of construction vehicles running between applications is often a common scene on construction sites

Scania Meeting constructions multiple needs

However, managing an array of construction vehicle suppliers can often pull construction site managers’ attention away from their core duties on site. Therefore, single source alliances when it comes to the procurement of construction vehicles – where one firm services all the application needs – can help construction firms gain a competitive and cost advantage.

With its wide range of vehicles that can cater for a broad range of construction applications, Scania South Africa used bauma CONEXPO AFRICA – the continent’s largest trade fair for construction machinery, building material machines, mining machines and construction vehicles – to showcase its integrated and wide application approach to offer optimal solutions for construction companies.

“In light of the economic comeback and a positive market feeling in southern Africa, bauma CONEXPO AFRICA presented a perfect platform for Scania South Africa to showcase our solution-based construction and mining vehicles,” says Theuns Naude, Segment Manager, Construction/Public and Special at Scania South Africa.

“We have a big application approach to cater for the different needs of the construction segment, all the way from tippers and concrete mixers, to brick and crane carriers,” explains Raimo Lehtiö, MD of Scania South Africa.

At bauma CONEXPO AFRICA, which took place at the Johannesburg Expo Centre from March 13 to 16, Scania exhibited a line-up of six vehicles, which represents only about a third of its total 15-vehicle offering in this market segment. Anchored by the flagship Scania G460CB8x4EHZ twin-cylinder mining tipper, the line-up also included the Scania P410CB8x4MHZ brick carrier with a crane; the Scania P410CB8x4MHZ 15 m³ construction tipper; the Scania P360CB6x4EHZ 12 m³ semi-rock tipper; the Scania P360CB6x4EHZ 16 000 l water tanker; and the Scania P310CB6x4MSZ 6 m³ drum mixer.

Important sector

According to Naude, the construction segment has always been an important sector for Scania, but was never a key focus area locally. However, since the reintroduction of a dedicated Construction Division in 2015 to specifically look after its construction vehicle range locally, Scania South Africa reports an impressive growth in this segment.

“Since the reintroduction of the Scania Construction range back in 2015, we have been growing 50% year-on-year. We aim to double our market share in 2018,” says Naude.

While its wide product offering is obviously one of the success factors, Naude reasons that the ability to offer the best possible vehicle tailored to an individual customer’s needs is Scania’s key competitive edge. “Although sales numbers are the traditional measure of success, for us it’s more about customer satisfaction. It is that ability to know our customers’ businesses and operations that counts, and being able to provide a tailor-made solution to meet their specific operational needs,” he says.

Lehtiö concurs that construction, by its very nature, is a demanding sector, and the flexibility to address the wide range of customer needs is a key requirement for an OEM to be regarded as a market leader in this market segment. “You must be able to meet the short delivery lead times because most of the construction work is project-based and customers ought to place their vehicle orders when they are awarded the contracts. They ought to place those orders with an expectation to take delivery of the vehicles immediately to start their jobs,” reasons Lehtiö.

He adds that it is very important to have a strong network of bodybuilding partners who are ready to invest in readily-available vehicles, especially for those standard specifications such as tippers and concrete mixers. This allows the supplier to meet the often short and strict lead times for construction customers. “The OEM, together with its network of bodybuilding partners, must have the flexibility and ability to invest in a standing inventory of ready vehicles,” says Lehtiö.

Lehtiö argues that only OEMs with that sort of capability ought to be preferred suppliers in the construction industry. “Construction is a no-go area, especially when a company doesn’t have that sort of financial strength and resilience to build up the much-needed service structure for such an uptime-driven sector,” says Letio.

Strong cooperation 

Scania offers a broad range of construction vehicles, including tippers, readymix concrete mixers and water tankers, as well as a wide offering of special vehicles such as brick carriers and mobile crane carriers.

Lehtiö says it is in the special applications where the OEM has embarked on creating strong partnerships with a network of established and professional body builders to be able to tailor the products to meet the specific needs of customers.

Regarding its readily-available vehicles programme, which is still under consideration and aimed at those common specifications in the industry, such as tippers and mixers, Scania is looking at working with a team of body builders who are eager to partner the OEM in this approach.

“We are looking at partnering a couple of bodybuilders for our readily-made construction vehicles approach. Time is money in construction and we believe this approach will significantly help our customers with quick delivery times once the order is placed,” says Letio.

Positive outlook 

With several key indicators pointing towards a favourable business climate, including the new political developments in a number of southern African countries (South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola), improved mining activity and renewed business confidence, Naude is optimistic that governments will make massive investments in infrastructure projects this year, and Scania is ready to offer its customers the solutions they need.

“The outlook for construction looks positive in South Africa and southern Africa at large. Drought conditions have put a damper on construction projects in some regions, such as the Western Cape, but a greater focus on water infrastructure projects, such as dams, purifying plants and water reservoirs, has opened up a different leg of construction activity,” says Naude. “With an election coming up next year in South Africa, the government is also seemingly intending to spend a bit more money on infrastructure development projects. There is already talk of a new highway in Gauteng, not to mention the maintenance and upgrades to existing road infrastructure.”

The Scania team recently travelled to Zimbabwe, and both Lehtiö and Naude are encouraged by the new political dispensation. The new government has identified infrastructure development as a key enabler for economic growth, and renewed efforts to kick-start the dualisation of the Beit Bridge-Harare highway is testimony to the key focus on implementing the planned construction projects.

Lehtiö also reasons that due to the challenging economic conditions in the past few years, construction contractors have stalled their fleet replacement programmes, choosing to sweat existing assets. With a bit of positivity and better business confidence, buoyed by the projected steady flow of some construction work, construction companies may be encouraged to embark on the much-needed fleet replacement programmes this year. “The political side of things is very important for renewed business confidence, and this will likely play a major role in companies investing in new assets again,” concludes Lehtiö.

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