Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  28 Jul 2009

MATERIALS HANDLING: Newcomer Making Most Of Recession


Recent Western Cape Business News

McCarthy Heavy Equipment’s materials handling division has discovered that although the economic recession has caused a general tightening of belts, certain areas such as rental and maintenance have seen a marked increase in popularity in the materials handling sector.

Pierre Etsebeth, regional sales manager (Western Cape) for McCarthy Heavy Equipment’s materials handling division, tells Cape Business News that there has been a marked trend in industry for companies to contain their capital spend by subjecting their current materials handling fleet to stringent maintenance programmes in order to prolong the machines’ viable lifespan. “We have written up a number of planned maintenance programmes for customers and have rented a much larger number of machines to customers for a number of reasons.”

These reasons vary from those companies whose machines have been sent to McCarthy Heavy Equipment for maintenance purposes; completely new customers who are not in the market to purchase machines; and companies that wish to supplement their current fleets instead of purchasing new product.

Etsebeth says being part of both the Bidvest Group and McCarthy Limited is a major advantage and allows the company to participate actively in both the long and short term rental market. “We are able to offer rentals as part of both our short and long term solutions approach. Rental machines are generally available across the board and not restricted to any size or class of machine.”

Major advantages of rental are that daily issues and ongoing maintenance are the responsibility of the service provider. “Rental machines are returned after a five year period and replaced with a newer generation model. There are no costs at the end of the term and maintenance contracts cap any expense as far as operating the machine is concerned,” Etsebeth says. “We also provide machines on a casual rental basis whereby they may be used for as little as one day up to a six month medium term period by, for example, the fruit farmers.

Our customer base in the Western Cape is somewhat different to that of Gauteng,” Etsebeth points out. “We supply 60% of all materials handling machines to the agricultural sector and so, even though sales in the first quarter were not as great as we would have liked, we anticipate a surge in interest as harvest time for fruit crops approaches in August.”

Industrial and warehousing materials handling equipment accounts for the other 40% of McCarthy’s fleet of Nissan forklift trucks, pallet handlers and reach trucks, so while the agricultural market is more seasonal, the industrial sector keeps the flag flying throughout the year.

Nissan is an established brand in South Africa, having been a cost effective materials handling option of choice for over 30 years,” Etsebeth says. “We currently supply the entire range of products from 1 to 7 ton forklifts in diesel, gas and electric configura-tions. In addition, the full range of Fantuzzi side loaders, reach stackers, empty container handlers, full container handlers and heavy duty forklifts is available from us.”

Etsebeth points out that what has made the Nissan forklift so popular is its robust construction coupled with the operator friendly engineering and design. “Add to that the fact that these machines are extremely cost competitive and we clearly have a winner on our hands. Another benefit for customers is the inherent safety of the machines with lift-lock and tilt-lock as standard features. This means that unless the operator’s bottom is firmly on the seat, the machine’s hydraulics and transmission are rendered non-functioning.”

Internationally, products have become more sophisticated and this is not necessarily the best option for the often harsh operating conditions in South Africa. We took cognisance of this in the supplier selection process and we can therefore guarantee that Nissan and Fantuzzi products are easy to operate and simple to maintain,” Etsebeth says.

He says that lead time on products which are held at the Johannesburg head office is typically 5 to 10 working days, with the lead time on imported products being between 12 and 16 weeks.

We have a strong after market support system in place which underpins our belief that we need to be the customer’s first choice in terms of product supply, service and value for money.”

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