Aldert Nieuwoudt, founding director of Advance projects, standing in front of a Komatsu PC200-8MO excavator.
An enduring partnership that has thrived for a quarter of a century best describes the relationship between Komatsu and South African-based earthworks and civils contractor Advance Projects.
Based in Mooiplaats, east of Pretoria in South Africa, Advance Projects has used Komatsu products from the outset, starting out with second-hand equipment and gradually growing the size of its fleet with the addition of new machines.
“We are very happy with our products and our fleet of dozers and excavators is literally 99% Komatsu,” says founding director Aldert Nieuwoudt, who points out that the older machines are still earning their keep more than two decades down the line.
The Advance Projects story began in 1992 when Nieuwoudt – together with his brother MC and friend Kobus du Toit – set up their fledgling earthworks business. Starting out with only a handful of people but plenty of ambition, hard work and a careful choice of capital equipment, has seen the business mature and expand as a force in its field. It’s also worth mentioning that it now employs about 500 people.
Advance Projects’ fleet of dozers and excavators is literally 99% Komatsu.
The company’s faith in the power and reliability of Komatsu was demonstrated during the first few months of 2016, when it took delivery of four new PC200-8MO excavators, three PC300-8 excavators and a single D65EX-16 dozer.
The new additions have been taken on board not only to replace existing equipment, but specifically for use in the development of new projects, and the total size of the Komatsu fleet now stands at 30 units.
“Business conditions are definitely tight, margins have shrunk and we need to be very enthusiastic when we tender. Despite this, there are some very good reasons to be positive as we have consistently achieved year-on-year growth of 20% over the past three years. We have done this by staying competitive in the marketplace and keeping a very careful eye on operating costs,” says Nieuwoudt.
Operating costs are being further addressed with Komtrax – Komatsu’s technologically advanced remote equipment and fleet monitoring system, which is currently being activated across all of the company’s more recent acquisitions.
Aldert believes that taking the advice of his dedicated Komatsu representative, Karen van der Walt, to utilise this comprehensive plant monitoring system can only be beneficial, as it provides immediate reference to essential indicators like hours worked, fuel consumption, operator performance and the exact location of a machine.
“It is a very handy tool, not only for developers like ourselves, but also for plant hire operators. We operate all over the country and this gives us an immediate reference to what’s going on and where. We need to keep up to date with this type of technology to run our business in today’s conditions.”
Advance Projects’ total size of the Komatsu fleet now stands at 30 units.
Sticking to basics
A factor that has enabled Advance Projects not only to survive but to prosper in challenging conditions is to stay with the basics.
“We’re sticking to what we know best. Over the years we have built up strong relationships with good developers who specialise in projects within the private sector,” says Nieuwoudt, whose background in the construction, civils and bulk earthmoving industries, ensures that he knows every aspect of the business from the ground up. He also makes the point that the company has to work to very closely controlled deadlines.
Looking ahead, he has a positive outlook for the future. “If the people in power do what they say they are going to do the economy will pick up, money will be spent through the right channels and there will be a lot of work. We started from very small beginnings and worked late nights and, in a way, nothing has changed.”
Equipment Africa says: This is another great instance of the crucial role careful selection of reliable equipment plays in the success of contractors. In a cutthroat trading environment where margins continue to shrink the way they are doing, it is vital that project execution doesn’t encounter any form of downtime. This is exactly the growth formula for Advance Projects. It has stuck to a tried and tested brand which continues to deliver from all fronts, be it machine reliability, technological advancements or more importantly backup support.