Regional general manager for the Northern and Western Cape region Marius Steenkamp says the Scania Construction Day is based around product awareness. “We have been actively marketing and selling our vehicles and in the last ten years the focus has shifted from us being a niche supplier in the long haul segment to diversifying into other segments. We have our entire team here today not only from a sales perspective but people from the parts department, service, rentals and finance to talk to customers about what we consider to be a unique solution.
The Reimer Mobile Volumetric Concrete Mixer allows for cost-effective on-site production of concrete and is uniquely different to the conventional drum-type transit mixer. All the components needed to engineer concrete on-site – sand, stone, cement, water and admixtures – are loaded into separate compartments on the mobile batching plant.
“The most important thing about a day such as this is that customers can see our products and experience them first hand. This is an opportunity to showcase more than one application within the construction sector,” Steenkamp says.
“If one looks at total volume, the bulk of construction vehicles sold is still the tipper and mixer applications. However, there are so many more applications on offer. Today is focused on some existing customers and also on prospective customers who we want to target.”
Scania South Africa’s general manager for products and marketing Alexander Taftman agrees. “Although Scania started its foundation in South Africa with long haul vehicles, we have actively expanded into other applications and segments particularly with our construction vehicles. Our early success with our long haul vehicles is a known fact, and now with our construction solutions starting to take off, this is the reason why we run events like our Construction Day to target the construction market.”
The company has a local assembly plant, with 95% of the vehicles coming into the country in kit form. The remaining five percent are fire trucks and special purpose vehicles which are manufactured in Sweden.
Malcolm Olivier, regional sales manager for Scania Cape Town describes some of the applications for the construction sector: “You have your normal tipping range of 10 and 15 cubic metres, the compactor which is the waste removal, the brick carrier which is proving to be very successful, the cement mixer and the water tanker.”
He says Scania hosted a similar day last year to create awareness. “At that stage we only had five vehicles on display and today we have nine, which makes us very proud.”
Western Cape growth
Discussing annual volumes in the construction sector, he says around 200 vehicles are sold annually in the construction sector and of that 80% is normally either the tipper or mixer application. “Then, of course, the water tankers, brick carriers, road sweepers, and compactors – all of which make up the remaining 20%. During 2016, we saw quite a big move towards the 8 x 4 tipper versus the normal 6 x 4, which historically has been the bigger mover.”
“It’s an important segment for us to compete in,” Taftman points out. “Because 200 vehicles of our total volume (which is around 2 000 vehicles annually), is still a big portion. We managed to sell our first vehicle in 2015, and in 2016 we sold 24 vehicles, bringing us into second position in the market behind our biggest competitor. This year, there are lot of opportunities in the tipper market but we are also focusing a lot of attention on the mixer segment, together with the other applications which make up the remaining 20%. We are very excited about prospects going forward.”
Steenkamp says it is worth mentioning that it is not an average Joe Soap that can sell into the construction arena. “It is far more than just a vehicle; one is selling the body as well, all of which is part of the solution offered to the customer. Our sales team has been in the industry for many years; they have the knowledge, experience and understanding of the industry and the customer’s specific needs.”
A driver training solution is offered with every new vehicle sold. Scania offers many solutions from a training perspective including instructor-led training in the classroom to on-the-road training in various facilities.
“There is information shared with the driver within the cab itself indicating his driving patterns and habits, and we also do a lot of data downloading from the vehicle which is proactively shared with the driver,” Steenkamp explains.
The Scania-developed in-house fleet management system consists of the entry package which is free of charge and there is an additional performance packages aimed at increasing the productivity of the fleet. All that is required is a communicator unit installed in the vehicle and an email address for automatic reports.
Looking at the construction industry from a vehicle perspective, Taftman says the South African commercial vehicle market is based on four segments: light commercial, medium, heavy and extra heavy. “The extra heavy starts at 16,5 tonnes and upwards and this is the vehicle and the load; in other words the weight of the complete vehicle as it stands on the ground.
“There are three segments in the extra heavy category. These are long haul, distribution and construction,” he tells Modern Quarrying. “Of these segments, if the market is healthy we should be able to sell more than the 12 000 units sold to date. Right now, the market has been in a decline for the last few years and we are down to about 11 000 which is more than a 10% drop. If you look at the split between long haul, distribution and construction, you can normally say that long haul is 70% of the market, construction 15%, and distribution 15%. In the latest statistics, long haul is down to 65%, and construction and distribution is up from 15% to 18%. So it is clear that we are growing our market share as far as construction and distribution is concerned.
“Trucking is a tool to make money, and the vehicle that can generate the highest profit back from the investment is the winner.” He believes it’s a numbers game.
“It is slightly different in terms of a construction vehicle,” Steenkamp asserts, “because the driving factors are different. Payload is crucial with uptime also being important.”
The fact that payload is crucial is confirmed by Christiaan Fourie from Fourie Sands who has just purchased his first new Scania 8x4. The man is modest and says the machine has been operating for the last three weeks and is doing phenomenally. He has second-hand Scania horses which have more than proven their worth. “I have one operation where I use my sliding bins but where they can only manage five loads, I am now able to do about nine or 10 loads with my new Twinsteer. My turnaround time is much faster.”
Asked about the general feeling in the industry in terms of Twinsteers, he says “everyone is going for the twins with the trailer. One can move about 40 tonnes where one can only move 30 tonnes with the sliding bins. The new machine is a lot lighter on fuel and guarantees a higher payload with minimal cost. There is also a lot less wear and tear than with the larger sliding bins.”
A second happy customer is Chris Tait from Haw & Inglis who has purchased eight Twinsteers and two Conemixers from Scania. “When our tender department working on the tender for Kalbaskraal (a tender on the N7 close to the Melkbos intersection), they wanted something with more carrying capacity to haul aggregates as well as premix to site.
“So while doing some homework it came to our attention that some of our competitors working in the Free State were using the type of equipment that we were looking for. With that in mind, we started negotiations with Dippenaar Smith from Scania Cape Town, and ordered our first four units. Due to very good fuel consumption and that we were fortunate to get more work in the Birah (between Port Alfred and East London), and we bought our second batch of four units.”
He says the mixers ordered with a TFM mixer combination were purely a decision to compare fuel consumption with the rest of a competitive fleet.
Tait confirms that the construction in the Western Cape has always been a tough one, and hence the decision 30 years ago to go where the work is throughout South Africa, Africa and globally. “We are in the business of building new roads and bridges, rehab and resurfacing of existing road infrastructure and are proud of our many flagship contracts.”
Discussing some of the challenges in the industry, he sees challenges as part of the day to day activity. “We just sort it out and work with it. As a construction company we are well adapted to challenges and changes in the construction sector. Some of our competitors complain about expertise and finding the right people as a challenge. For us, people are our most valued asset and we spend lots of time and effort on safety and training.”
On a more serious note, however, Tait says the current water shortage in the Western Cape is becoming a concern and “something that we need to give urgent attention to.”
Theuns Naude, key accounts manager for construction, is very upbeat about the construction industry in the Western Cape in particular. “We have really grown over the last two years; we have very loyal customers and our product is good. Uptime is crucial and this is the same in the readymix industry.
“Chris Tate at Haw & Inglis says he is saving about R30 000 a month on fuel with the two Conemixers. This has blown me out of the water,” Naude says, “Scania has always been known for its fuel consumption and it is fantastic to have our customers coming back to us with positive feedback.”
He says there is a buzz in the air. “Providing unique solutions for our customers is just a formality; there is nothing we can’t do. We are out there, we are supplying and I believe things are turning around in the Western Cape.”
Judging from the many people attending the Construction Day and eves-dropping on some of their comments, Scania is well on its way to becoming a formidable force in the construction equipment market.
Report and photographs by Dale Kelly