When it comes to procurement of their mission-critical equipment, crushing contractors should always look at the bigger picture. While the spotlight is largely cast on the upfront capital cost, Francois Marais, sales & marketing director at Pilot Crushtec, tells Quarrying Africa that procurement decisions should look beyond the price and consider a range of other critical issues such as aftermarket support and uptime. By Munesu Shoko.
In many instances, price remains a key factor in many procurement decisions. For crushing contractors, whose success hinges on uptime, there is a need to take a comprehensive approach to buying decisions than just focusing on the capital cost. This is the view of Francois Marais, sales & marketing director at Pilot Crushtec, who believes that ‘cheaper’ offerings often turn out to be costly down the line, proving to be detrimental to contractors’ success.
Marais believes that there is often no cohesion in procurement decisions. For example, the decision criterion followed by the head of procurement is often different to that of a site manager. “The head of procurement is more concerned about reducing capital expenditure – it’s their job function. A site manager, however, is more driven by uptime, aftermarket support, spares availability and delivering on contractual obligations,” he says.
Marais says that in a tough economy, the final decision often favours the financial criteria, without necessarily taking a long-term view of the impact of the procurement decision on production and the actual results on site. He says while capital is always a question, crushing contractors should always have their eyes on the overall cost of production, rather than the upfront cost of equipment.
One of the key considerations, he says, should be equipment reliability. “If the equipment is going to break all the time, the contractor is probably not going to be able to deliver on their contract. It also impacts on their reputation, which makes it difficult to be considered for future jobs,” says Marais, adding that crushing African rock is no easy feat; crushing contractors should therefore consider proven and tough gear to get the job done.
The importance of aftermarket in purchasing decisions of capital equipment cannot be stressed enough, says Marais. Given its significance in ensuring that contractors execute their jobs timeously at a lower cost of ownership, Marais believes that reliable aftermarket support should constitute about 50% of the decision criteria.
“The reality is that crushing equipment is exposed to tough operating conditions. There is bound to be challenges to keep the equipment running optimally all the time. If aftermarket from the supplier is not up to scratch, then there are going to be rampant downtime issues,” he says.
“While our premium brand Metso Outotec brand is no stranger to the market and has proven itself, we believe that every piece of equipment is as good as its support. That is why we are not only concerned about delivering a piece of capital equipment but supporting it well beyond the 20 000-hour mark in the field,” he says.
To be able to execute a proper aftermarket strategy, a fundamental pre-requisite is to have the infrastructure that allows the supplier to respond to any service needs timeously. “One of our key strengths is the high volume of critical spares at our Jet Park facility, where we carry in excess of R230-million worth of critical spares and wear parts at any given time.”
Pilot Crushtec owns a 12 000 m² parts facility at its Jet Park head office, where critical spares and wear parts take most of the space. “We believe we are probably the biggest spare parts holding distributor for Metso Outotec around the world. Although many of these critical and wear parts do not necessarily turn quickly, we still believe that carrying them is in the best interests of our customers.”
The reputation of the supplier should also be a critical factor in making that buying decision. Marais says crushing contractors should be able to rely on the supplier to ensure their own business success. “Uptime is the difference between success and failure for contractors, so it’s important to buy from a reputable supplier,” he says.
The 2017 and 2019 Metso awards, adds Marais, are testimony to Pilot Crushtec’s ability to look after its customers. At Metso’s Distributor Days in 2017, Pilot Crushtec was named the Best New Services Distributor, barely 16 months after taking over as the Metso dealer in southern Africa. The 2017 accolade was followed by the Best Sales Award in 2019, ranking Pilot Crushtec among Metso’s global top four distributors.
Contrary to the belief that warranties are “not worth the paper they are written on”, Marais believes that a warranty is a valuable component to any capital equipment purchase, especially mission-critical and big-ticket purchases such as crushing equipment.
While different crushing products from different manufacturers may have different price tags, the length of warranties has traditionally been the same for years, pegged at 1-year/2 000 hours. Based on the understanding that the longer and more comprehensive the warranty is, the lower the overall cost of ownership for customers, Pilot Crushtec and Metso rolled out an industry-first, standard 5-year/10 000 hours warranty on all Metso crushers and screens in 2019.
“It is now well-documented that we carry a 5-year/10 000 hours Extended Protection Services warranty. This is in the best interests of the customer – a longer warranty gives customers extra coverage for their equipment, along with a little more peace of mind. It also says a lot about our confidence in our offering. As a supplier it also means that we want to be there for our customers for the long haul,” concludes Marais.