LiuGong, the Liuzhou, China-headquartered global off-highway machine maker, has created a new international team to develop its quarry and aggregates business.
Headed by John Calder as director – Quarry and Aggregates, the vastly experienced team is part of LiuGong’s increased focus on customer segments.
An Australian national, Calder has worked with LiuGong for the last two years in product support and brings extensive industry knowledge. After university, where he studied economics and business, Calder worked at International Harvester in Australia for five years. He then joined Caterpillar in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986, where he held various senior international positions in marketing, sales and dealer development over a 30-year career.
Calder’s new team will focus on ‘Back to Basics’, lowering quarry and aggregate customers’ costs and making them more productive and more profitable.
“Based on feedback from many customers, the competition seems to be doing it the other way around, so we see great potential to grow internationally. Whereas a lot of the competition are suffering from cost creep and a focus on their shareholders, our strategy is simple and based on going back to four basic critical success factors: people, product, parts and service, and price,” said Calder.
“Our team is initially targeting a few countries that have large quarry and aggregates industries and knowledgeable dealers for this customer segment already in place. Half the team are also developing training packages for LiuGong field and product support representatives, along with the company’s dealers, focused on earthmoving, and quarrying and aggregates haulers, wheeled loaders and excavators.
“The industry is changing. Some of our competitors have got a little bit complacent. There’s an opportunity for us to relook at customer support seminars, operator training, site assessments with a focus on haul roads and loader platforms. It’s basic stuff to ensure an efficient and well-run quarry or aggregates job site.”
Calder is developing a truly international team that has over 250 years of experience in the quarry, aggregates and mining industries. Containing some of Calder’s former Caterpillar management colleagues and longstanding dealer associates, the team members are multicultural, speaks 10 different languages and are all deep subject-matter experts with sales, marketing, product development, product support, rental and used, finance and dealer development backgrounds. Their primary role will be to work side by side with global dealers to ensure their teams are well trained and focused on the specific needs of quarry and aggregates customers.
LiuGong is well covered product-wise with a well-balanced range that includes large wheeled loaders, 50, 70 and 90-tonne excavators and rigid-frame and wide-bodied trucks. More products and services are also under development.
“We have built a strong portfolio of quarry wheeled loaders and excavators. We have had a lot of positive feedback from customers about the 856H wheeled loader. It’s a good machine around stockpiles and if a customer needs to mix stockpiled material, it’s got enough power to do that. Its fuel burn is reduced due to its new Cummins-powered engine and ZF axles. It’s our flagship wheeled loader,” explained Calder.
“Our 50-tonne and 70-tonne crawler excavators are also performing very well; with quite a lot of units running at 10,000 hours and beyond. We’d like to improve our crawler excavator range even further, and, as part of that, a 90-tonne LiuGong crawler excavator will be launched in certain markets in the coming months. We are also working on new crawler excavator rock buckets and an extension to our dozer and motor grader product lines. This continuous product development means that for most quarry load and carry and stockpile applications, we will in 2020 be able to offer a pretty full range of machines.”
The third critical success factor within LiuGong’s ‘Back to Basics’ approach within the quarry and aggregates customer sector is parts and service. Machines working in quarries are in tough environments with tough materials, so speedy parts replacement and engineering service backup is essential. LiuGong has eight regional parts distribution centres (PDCs) with local support and is committed to world-class parts availability of 95% within 48 hours.
Calder continued: “In the quarrying and aggregates industry there is always something that’s going to go wrong due to the material or the vibration, so having parts availability is the biggest concern among customers. We’ve just appointed a Global Parts Operations director, a new Global Service director, and a Global Rental & Used director.
“We are not there yet [on achieving our parts availability target]. The challenge is making sure you have the knowledge and experience to identify what are the recommended parts that should be stocked by the dealer, the fast-moving and maintenance parts; what parts should be stocked by the regional PDCs, the fast- and medium-moving parts for some major and more minor repairs, and the headquarter PDC stocking fast-, medium- and slow-moving parts, covering all kinds of repairs and maintenance needs. For example, if you have a catastrophic machine failure due to a fire, you can still get replacement parts. It’s in the areas of slower-moving parts at the headquarter PDC and the medium-moving parts at regional PDCs that we’ve still got work to do. We are focusing a lot of attention on these areas and are making good progress.”
Calder said the continuing success of LiuGong’s joint ventures were an important part of establishing the firm as a premium global player in all its customer segments, including quarrying and aggregates.
“Our joint venture with Metso in China is going particularly well, and I believe we were on track to make a big impact in the country’s tracked mobile crusher market in 2019. We have other successful joint ventures with high-quality global brands such as Cummins (engines), producing something like 35,000 engines last year in China. Then there’s the 20-year joint venture with ZF axles. We try to have all our products fitted with world-class components. It illustrates to quarry and aggregates customers globally how much emphasis we place on quality machine parts. We also have a wonderful engineering team that are hugely responsive.”
Calder also highlighted how LiuGong’s state-of-the-art Global R&D Centre in Liuzhou has been at the forefront of research on lowering machine emissions. “We are very keen on being good corporate citizens,” he stressed.
LiuGong sees lower costs and higher profits for customers as the final keys to its success within the quarry and aggregates customer sector. Through high-performance machines using lower manufacturing costs, lower fuel and operating costs and lower parts and service costs through its dealers, LiuGong says it is committed to providing the lowest possible total cost of ownership for its customers.
“I believe our aftermarket costs for our customers are lower than our major competitors,” emphasised Calder. “We are going to be doing more local [parts and service] sourcing in regions to get the best source cost. Chinese companies in general don’t have the same short-term shareholder pressure as some of our major rivals.
“Our obligation is to ensure that this industry stays extremely viable. We need to not become a major disruptor, but at the same time offer fair value and consistent performance. This will enable our credibility to continue to grow, slowly and surely.
“Our goal is to be a world-class international player. We think we’ve got world-class products, and we think we’re getting world-class international people in to help us reach our goal. We should be regarded as an international player rather than just a Chinese one.”
Commenting on LiuGong’s new international Quarry and Aggregates team, Kevin Thieneman, vice president, LiuGong Machinery, who worked with Calder at Caterpillar China from 1996 to 1999, said: “By focusing on the unique requirements of our quarry & aggregates customers, we want to develop enduring partnerships. John and his team are a great addition to LiuGong and are well placed to help LiuGong develop and maintain long-term relationships in this industry segment.”