Are dumpers losing traction in Africa?

Local contractors seem to be steering more towards telehandlers because of the better reach than a standard site dumper.

In Europe, equipment manufacturers maintain that compact wheel dumpers are replacing smaller trucks on many construction sites. Due to their compact size, they are now the preferred solution to transport material in particularly difficult terrain and where space is at a premium.

But, Justin Nicoll, MD of Force 8, the local supplier of the Thwaites range of dumpers, tells Equipment Africa that the situation is different in Africa. “Unlike in Europe, the demand for dumpers here has actually tapered off strangely. Contractors seem to be steering more towards telehandlers because of the better reach than a standard site dumper,” says Nicoll.

Nicoll notes that the market for new units has shrunk quite significantly, but with a reasonable movement of used machines. “The hostile pricing on new machines has been an issue of late. The dumper market’s saving grace would be if the local contractors adopted the ‘British formula’ for small to medium earthworks of shuttling two mid-sized units, 6 t for example, being loaded by an 8 t excavator. This combination is a common feature on most sites in England and works well in confined spaces. Locally we have a contractor who has taken delivery of two units from us and very successfully applies this formula on his Western Cape sites,” says Nicoll.

Force 8 entered the South African market with its Thwaites range in 2007 with a 3 t hydrostatic dumper that was truly a runaway product. The company moved about 25 units in two years and the market slowed down afterwards.

“Sadly the Rand has been very poorly positioned against the British Pound for a while now, bearing in mind that this is a UK-made product, and it renders it expensive. But, the build quality is exceptional and it is good value for money. We are seeing a movement away from dedicated concrete dumpers towards telehandlers though.”

Equipment Africa says: Larger dumpers are used extensively in the UK for small to medium earthworks. We believe there is a huge potential for growth even in local sites if local contractors could adopt the same approach. Earthworks is probably the most relevant of applications to sustain the site dumper market as demand in concrete-related specifications is nowhere near where it was in the good old days.

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