More contractors resorting to compact gear in South Africa

MultiOne is one of the latest launches of compact gear into southern Africa

While the backhoe loader remains the preferred piece of equipment in South Africa, more and more contractors are opting for other solutions such as compact wheel loaders and mini excavators. “This has been in vogue globally for many years and South Africa is only now in sync,” says Stefan Otto, chairman of Construction and Mining Equipment Suppliers’ Association (Conmesa).

Dr Jim Rankin, secretary of the Conmesa agrees, saying while backhoe loaders and skid steer loaders remain the kingpins of the equipment market in South Africa, “there is also a big shift towards the compact wheel loader and compact excavator”.

While compact gear successfully keeps unit sales up, the same cannot be said about the overall turnover. “The usual picks and shovels are keeping numbers up, but perhaps not the overall turnover,” says Rankin, adding that, for example, one skid steer loader is one-tenth of an excavator pricewise. “The numbers are holding up but I don’t think overall turnover is holding up,” says Rankin.

One key trend to note is the growing sales into plant hire companies. The plant hire sector continues to grow, according to figures from Conmesa. The sector was recipient to 22,8% of total unit sales in 2005, a figure that significantly leaped to 30,5% in 2014.  “Plant hire companies are big movers of the equipment as it stands as many companies are going into plant hire,” says Otto.

Equipment Africa  says: That compact gear is increasing in popularity in the local market is apparent. These units can do more for less due to their smaller size, and can manoeuvre through tight working areas where space is at a premium.

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