I think many browsers of this site have also wrestled with the time-old conundrum: is Africa a market for sophisticated machines with high-tech gadgetry or is it ideally suited to simpler technology?
This month’s launch of the remaining E-series articulated-dump trucks from a purely African original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) really motivates the school of thought that regions of the continent are definitely a market for advanced gear.
The launch of the sophisticated truck range, which even features the basis of autonomous hauling, mirrors the demands of Bell Equipment’s customers on the continent, in addition to those of its international developed and developing markets.
It reflects the fact that technology is an enabler, and will help overcome many of the immediate operating challenges the continent is facing.
In addition, it tests the notion that operating environments with limited technical skills and infrastructure rely on simple, but “robust” offerings.
Certainly, it is not Equipment Africa’s place to takes sides. It is our role to accurately reflect the opinions of respective experts in the field.
However, the launch of these “smart” trucks indicates that we certainly need tough machines, but they have to be super intelligent too.
This school of thought is also very much in line with the call of many mines on the continent, especially in South Africa, to introduce more autonomy into operations. This demand relies on innovation at the highest levels of the research and development agendas of OEMs and their customers.
These mines want safer operations that are also more productive. They demand machines that can help them with their pro-active maintenance regiments and skills shortages at operational and technical levels.
Only technology is able to meet these demands, and play a role in overcoming the many challenges that the continent is grappling with, at present, in terms of the effective operation of earthmoving fleets.
It is important that OEMs and dealers work hand-in-hand with their customers to devise sustainable long-terms solutions, as opposed to merely supplying a product that fulfils an immediate and short-term need.
In extenuating circumstances, regions of the continent have become unfortunate “dumping” grounds for out-dated technology that merely fulfils an immediate need, but certainly does not even begin to understand the unique traits of the market, or attempt to even offer a long-term answer.
Tough market conditions are seeing operators and owners of earthmoving fleets insist that their critical partners in the supply-chain help them find ways of operating better by increasing tonnages while lowering total operating costs.
This requirement plays into the hands of those who are able to innovate and drive “smart” machines onto mines, quarries, as well as construction and building sites!
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