Many mines are slashing their research and development budgets as a result of the challenging economic circumstances they find themselves in. However, this opens immense opportunities for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), as well as their agents and dealers, to fill this gap.
The fact is that bauma in Munich, Germany, is being held at a time when improving efficiencies and lowering total cost of ownership are more important than ever. Most mining operations on the continent have been brought to their knees due to the slump in the commodities cycle. Astute OEMs and their distributors are able to offer a solution.
OEMs and their agents are now the custodians of the important and constant innovation needed to improve productivity and lower total operating costs. In fact, they are now at the forefront of innovation and drivers of more efficient ways of operating. Equipment Africa believes that it is those OEMs and dealers who are strengthening their R&D capacities that will occupy a very strategic position when the markets recover – and they will!
Instead of being drivers of innovation, it is disappointing to learn that some OEMs and their distributors have cut on their R&D expenditure as a hasty way of surviving significant reductions in unit sales volumes to the ailing mining industry. Yet, this comes at a time when dealers and their principals are being relied upon by mines to help them overcome very challenging market conditions.
I believe that many African miners who are attending this year’s bauma will mirror this demand. Most, will be on the scout for a solutions partners that is able to offer more than just premium quality mining gear, and they will look beyond finding that “sweet spot” – a healthy balance between cost and quality. The latter has become a “buzz word” in the industry, but does it involve innovation?
The only aspect of their operation that the mines are able to control right now is efficiencies. OEMs and distributors who can provide exactly this at a lowest total cost are in poll position. While some mines will opt for cheaper and inferior solutions as a short-term solution to the crises, enterprising operations will make decisions based on more than just price. Despite challenging operating conditions, they may have to partner more costly OEMs and distributors because they have solutions that can boost tonnage and lower operating costs. These solutions are a result of OEM’s and their distributor’s ongoing investment into R&D.
Equipment Africa Operations Director