Plant equipment sales during the third quarter of 2018 remained largely unchanged, recording a decline of just 21 units over last year’s figure of 1 455 machines sold.

Equipment sales remain under pressureConstruction and Mining Equipment Suppliers Association (CONMESA) chairman, Lawrence Peters, says there is little growth and the industry needs stimulus. Despite the flatline trend of the last few years he says that the industry is still buoyant and working hard to support the construction and mining industries which it serves.

“The economy is battling, and consumers are hard-pressed to continue selling at a sustainable pace. Throughout the market we are finding that it is an ‘up-and-down affair’ with localised growth and sectors within each industry that are doing better or worse than others,” says Peters.

 “Looking at the work out there and at future projects, it seems that this year will be similarly flat with a possible upturn later in the year following the country’s elections. Considering the industry does not respond immediately to market conditions due to long planning and tendering processes any upturn will only be felt towards the end of the year. Added to this, weakening and fluctuating exchange rates are making pricing difficult and makes competitiveness in terms of pricing difficult to predict,” adds Peters.

Along with other executive members of the association, who are elected from member companies within the association, Peters represents ELB Equipment, which has exposure in nearly all sectors of the mining and construction industries and has experienced similar ups-and-downs. Overall however, the company has seen an improvement in sales in the mining sector while construction industry sales have trended slightly downwards.

Dale Oldridge, representing Bell Equipment, says overall the company has experienced steady sales with a slight drop-off in some sectors which has been buoyed by better-than-expected sales in the mining sector. “We are not sure what this year has lined-up for the industry and are taking a conservative approach. As a result, we are quite risk averse and we not sitting on massive stock of equipment.”

Jacqueline Aitken, representing Bobcat South Africa, says the company is still doing well in the skidsteer range although there has been a decline in cash deals. Simultaneously, finance for equipment over R800 000 is becoming more difficult and although the company has a healthy order book, it is subject to obtaining finance. As a result, she says the company is having to deal with more finance institutions to ensure customers have a fair chance of obtaining credit based on their financial record with their own banks. “For us the demand is there, but finance is not readily available.”

Calvin Fennell, representing Wirtgen South Africa, says sales have been slightly better than last year. With its focus almost exclusively on road technology and compaction, sales have been constrained due to fewer road building projects taking place, but steady. “With no big projects on the cards we predict this year will be similarly tough. Also, smaller construction firms are coming to the fore and which means that their capacity to finance equipment is based on existing contracts constrained which means their capacity to finance equipment for big projects is mostly constrained. This will be a challenge to overcome in the future,” he says.

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Crown Publications, one of South Africa’s largest business-to-business publishing houses, came into existence in 1986. Since then, the company has grown from producing a single magazine, Electricity SA (renamed Electricity+Control), to publishing six monthly magazines, three quarterlies, and a number of engineering handbooks.