Africa increasingly sees value in compact gear

Africa increasingly sees value in compact gear

We have often heard how African equipment users are fast following in the footsteps of their European counterparts in the uptake of compact gear. Bauma 2016 also showcased this very same trend. From the conversations we had with the various original equipment manufacturers, it was apparent that the next big thing globally is compact gear, but one of the markets fast grasping the value of this small tool is Africa, especially anchored by South Africa, which, according to industry experts, has gone down the compact route way ahead of its peers.

Martin Weissburg, president of Volvo Construction Equipment, reiterated the importance of the compact segment to the Swedish original equipment manufacturer. The company’s several new launches in this market segment at bauma 2016 reiterated the importance of this gear to the company’s future focus. Tomas Kuta, president of Volvo CE’s EMEA sales region, also echoed the same views as Weissburg. He said the trend towards compact gear continues to grow, especially in mature markets, but it is also interesting to see how developing markets such as South Africa are fast catching up on the significance of the smaller tool.

In developed markets, compact equipment represents almost 70% of all total unit sales in the “yellow” metal equipment sector. It is actually bigger than general construction size class of machines. In Africa, it is a direct opposite, with only 30% of unit sales being compact equipment.

The skid steer and the backhoe loader have forever been the “fan favourites” in Africa. In South Africa alone, between the two, they represent 50% of total unit sales. However, the compact excavators, and the compact loaders, to some extent, are fast challenging the status quo. This can be supported by the influx of new players in this market segment. In recent times, Kubota joined the ranks with its compact excavator, while the likes of CSF MultiOne and Avant have also arrived with their compact loader solution.

The quick uptake of their gear shows that contractors are opening up to newer ways of doing things. Avant, for example, is already looking at increasing its sub-Saharan dealer footprint to further grow its market shares. It is convinced that the future for compact solutions in Africa is very healthy.

As cities grow, compact equipment will further grow as space at construction sites will continue to be a major factor for its preference. As Kuta outlined at bauma 2016, for every serious player in the “yellow” metal equipment space, the strategic place to be right now is raising the compact bar.

For the equipment user, Equipment Africa believes it is worthwhile to analyse these solutions and pick the right one for a right application. The TLB, as it famously known here, may be the trusted tool, but there is no harm in trying a compact excavator where it offers better productivity and lower costs. The same goes for a skid steer, another trusted solution here. The compact loader may be ideal for some applications than a skid steer, and the choice shouldn’t always be biased on what is favoured most, but what works better, easier and quicker in a particular application.

Thina Bhebhe
Publishing Director

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