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26 June 2018

Babcock ready to roll out Volvo rigid haulers in southern Africa

First published22/06/2018
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The new Volvo 100-t R100E rigid hauler has already undergone extensive product testing in South Africa

Following Volvo Construction Equipment’s recent international launch of its Volvo CE-branded range of rigid haulers in April this year, Babcock has largely completed the necessary legwork for the rollout of the new rigid dump trucks into southern Africa’s mining and quarrying sectors.

David Vaughan, MD – Equipment at Babcock, says the first units are expected to arrive in South Africa during the last quarter of this year. “Ahead of the launch, we have completed the three legs of preparation – comprising investments into facilities to cater for the big-sized range, stocking of the necessary parts and components, as well as the technical training,” says Vaughan.

The first leg of Babcock’s preparation to become a rigid hauler distributor dates as far back as 2015 following the commissioning of its purpose-built sales, parts and service dealership facility in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa, which was officially unveiled in February 2016. The design of the facility allows for handling of space-hungry items such as larger rigid trucks and the relevant componentry.

“The flagship facility in Middelburg was conceptualised with handling of large pieces of earthmoving gear such as the 100-tonne rigid hauler in mind. The size of the workshop bays, the cranage in the workshop and the entrances into these facilities, among other things, were all designed to handle large pieces of equipment with ease,” says Vaughan.

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Babcock's flagship facility in Middelburg, officially launched in 2016, is designed to handle large pieces of earthmoving gear, such as the 100-tonne rigid trucks

The estimated R100 million facility covers 30 000 m². The primary workshop covers an area of nearly 2 000 m² under roof and includes 12 x 9 m-wide work bays with two adjoining rows of six bays, all serviced by overhead gantry cranes. All bays have a ceiling of 9 m under hook, making it possible to service mega trucks, such as the 100 tonne rigid, bucket up. Ben Buys, technical director – Equipment at Babcock, says the width and height of the workshop can handle a dump truck of up to 300 tonnes and a crawler excavator of up to 250 tonnes.

Buys says the Middelburg facility’s component workshop, purpose-built to cater for heavy items, will house the majority of the bigger componentry. “The bulk of the sizeable components of the rigid hauler range will be distributed from here into the rest of southern Africa,” says Buys. The component workshop is a 198 m² facility situated adjacent to the workshop and the two facilities share a common tool store. It is serviced by a 10 t overhead gantry, making it ideal for engine, transmission and axle overhauls. 

The second leg of preparation for the rollout of the rigid range centred on in-depth technical training to allow the technical team to adapt from the Terex Trucks range to the new Volvo product. Bear in mind that the development of the new range relied heavily on the longstanding rigid hauler expertise of Volvo CE’s subsidiary, Terex Trucks, and will replace the latter’s current TR-Series.

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David Vaughan, MD – Equipment at Babcock

The Babcock team attended a two-week training session in Scotland to acquaint themselves with the technical nitty-gritties of the new range. The two-week training was not only meant for technicians, but also catered for product specialists and trainers, who will replicate the training across southern Africa.

“Because it’s a completely new product in our stable, we also brought in Volvo rigid hauler trainers here for a two-week period,” explains Buys. “We have already trained branch personnel, initially around areas where the majority of the truck population will reside, such as Northern Cape, Gauteng and Middelburg.”

Buys says the all-new 100-tonne R100E comes with two major components that are new to the Babcock team: the Cummins electronic engine and the shift-protected Allison transmission. Babcock has already undergone the necessary training and accreditation to be able to support the two components. Following facility and business inspections by both Cummins and Allison, Babcock has been appointed as an authorised service agent for the two items.    

Vaughan is particularly excited about the arrival of the Volvo CE rigid hauler range, which he believes gives Babcock advanced tech to wrestle for a larger share of the southern African rigid hauler market. Bear in mind that southern Africa is regarded as one of the significant RDT markets globally due to its large-scale mining. Testimony to this is that Volvo CE recently chose South Africa as a testing site for the new R100E. The flagship hauler has already completed stringent product testing in local South African conditions over the past year on selected sites.

Vaughan is also encouraged by the timing of the launch of the new rigid hauler range, especially considering the improving mining sector and better business confidence in South Africa. Industry figures show that the rigid hauler market in South Africa was in the 150-unit region back in 2015, and due to tough market conditions, the market lost half of its value in 2016, which was a very tough year for the local capital equipment sector at large.

In 2017, the market made a strong comeback to reach the 2015 levels. “Q1 2018 figures show a positive rebound of the market, and if the rest of the year continues in line with the performance of the first quarter, this year’s figures should exceed the 2017 total,” concludes Vaughan.

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