Compact digs new African depths
Force 8, a local Yanmar compact excavator dealer sees an apparent ongoing preference for smaller gear on African construction sites.
Justin Nicoll, owner of Force 8 CC, the dealer for Atlas Weyhausen and Yanmar in South Africa, tells Equipment Africa that compact equipment’s capabilities are often underestimated, although there is an apparent ongoing preference for smaller gear on African construction sites.
“The capabilities of compact gear are too often underestimated. Compact equipment is increasing in popularity and we are seeing certain products moving well. Business is reasonable,” says Nicoll.
He believes the compact excavator is a fast developing tool locally. Armed with Yanmar, one of the most recognised makers of compact excavators globally, Force 8 CC reports increased sales across South Africa, as well as into Namibia, Mauritius and even Tristan da Cunha. “We target the ‘little guy’ who doesn’t realise that he can actually afford to buy it,” says Nicoll.
As far as the sales volumes go, Nicoll estimates that between 100 and 150 compact excavators are sold per year across South Africa alone for units in the 1 tonne (t) to 8t category. “We have been staunch compact equipment campaigners for the past 35 years, having always seen the potential and versatility of smaller machines,” says Nicoll.
He admits that developed markets have a better understanding of the technology than their African counterparts. For example, years back, in the 1990s probably, the ratio in Europe was about 20 compact units for every 20t excavator sold. Africa was the opposite, with a ratio of 20 units of 20t excavators to every single compact excavator. “Clearly that trend is being turned around, but we are still scratching the surface of the potential of the compact tool. I definitely foresee ongoing growth,” says Nicoll.
The main users of the compact excavator in the local market are a three-way split between rental, contractors and agriculture.
Equipment Africa says: Space is at a premium on sites and the efficiency of a smaller tool is getting realised. With rapid urbanisation and change of applications, contractors will further see the value of the smaller gear.