Partnership for success

With the addition of BULL backhoe loaders and skid steers to its stable, Babcock has plugged a crucial gap in its product line-up. The range provides Babcock customers in the mining and quarrying value chain with a proven utility tool for housekeeping and other small-scale support functions on site. By Munesu Shoko.
The HD100 will be offered in two different versions – General Purpose and Multi-Purpose.

To offer a comprehensive ‘yellow metal’ equipment solution to its customers, Babcock has partnered with BULL to supply BULL backhoe and skid steer loaders in southern Africa. Announced in July this year, the partnership gives Babcock exclusive distributorship rights of the range in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana.

David Vaughan, MD of Babcock’s Equipment business, is thrilled to be adding the BULL backhoe loaders and skid steers to the company’s stable. Having previously supplied and supported several backhoe and skid steer brands in the local market, Vaughan is aware of the importance of this market segment in southern Africa.

Despite the competitive nature of the market, with more than 24 brands competing for market share, backhoe and skid steer loaders remain the ‘picks and shovels’ of the yellow metal equipment market in the region. To provide context, available industry figures show that the backhoe loader market ranges between 1 600 and 1 700 units per annum, with skid steer loaders in the region of 300-350 units per year, based on CONMESA figures for the past 12 months.

“The addition of BULL machines not only gives us a proven tool to compete in this important segment of the market, but, more importantly, complements our existing, extensive offering to become a true one-stop shop for our customers’ equipment needs,” says Vaughan. “We are now better equipped to offer a comprehensive solution across applications, including construction, plant hire, agriculture and waste management, among others.”

While backhoes and skid steers are the ultimate tools of choice for construction and plant hire markets, Vaughan says the BULL range will also find application in quarrying and mining environments. “While these are not production machines, they are an important utility tool for crucial jobs on mine and quarry sites, such as housekeeping, small-scale trenching, cleaning around processing plants and under space-constrained areas such as conveyors,” he explains.

Babcock will initially offer a single BULL skid steer model, the AV490.

Why BULL?

Commenting on the reasons behind choosing BULL, Vaughan says from the very first meeting with Guminder Singh Malik, President – International Business and Strategy at BULL, it was clear that the principles and ethos of the two businesses were very much aligned.

Both Babcock and BULL also share the same growth appetite. As a norm, Babcock has always distributed products at the top end of their market segment, which is one of the reasons BULL fits the bill for the company.

“Having first entered the backhoe market with the launch of what is said to be the world’s first 60 hp Hydrodynamic backhoe loader in November 2011, BULL is the youngest and fastest growing backhoe loader manufacturer in the global market,” says Malik.

“Within a span of a decade, BULL is now among the top three backhoe loader manufacturers in India. During the first four months of 2023, we clinched second position in our domestic market, ahead of some of the established global OEMs competing in this market segment,” adds Malik.

Owned by the longstanding AV Group, BULL currently has the capacity to manufacture 4 800 backhoe loaders per annum, catering for more than 62 countries in the world. The company, confirms Malik, is expanding its facilities, with plans to increase capacity to 6 000 backhoe loaders per annum by mid-2024.

Locally, the brand has been well received since its introduction into the South African market in 2017. Under the stewardship of Babcock, it is expected to gain more traction, leveraging Babcock’s widespread support infrastructure across the region, as well as an existing customer base in new markets such as quarrying and mining.

To maintain continuity and a seamless transition of the brand from its previous dealer into the Babcock fold, both Babcock and BULL have agreed to bring Mark Senyard on board as the product manager. Senyard, who brings a wealth of experience in the construction and mining equipment market, has been associated with the BULL brand since 2021.

“From the time of my first association with the BULL brand, I have been impressed with the continuous improvement of the products in a very short space of time. The company’s proactive approach to customer and dealer feedback and the commitment to research and development are key attributes driving the growth of the brand. Looking ahead, I anticipate an upward trajectory for the brand in southern Africa under the stewardship of Babcock,” says Senyard.

The AV490 skid steer comes in two variants – a typical canopy version and a fully enclosed cab with air conditioner.

The range

Babcock will bring in three backhoe loader models – the HD76, the HD 96 and the larger HD100 – in five different variants. The HD76 will be offered in a General Purpose (GP) configuration only. The HD96 and HD100, confirms Senyard, will be offered in two different versions – GP and Multi-Purpose (MP). The MP configuration will see the machine coming with a clamshell bucket, fold-over forks and an extended dipper.

Powered by a naturally aspirated Kiloskar engine delivering 56,7 kW of power at 2 200 rpm, the HD76 is said to offer 15% more bucket breakout force and 4% more backhoe bucket capacity than some of the closest competitors in its class size.

David Vaughan, MD Equipment, Babcock.

The HD96 is powered by a turbo-charged Kiloskar engine delivering 70,6 kW power at 2 200 rpm, while the larger HD100 is driven by a 74,5 kW Perkins engine. A key competitive edge of the range is represented by well-known components such as the Kiloskar and Perkins engines, as well as the Italian-made Carraro transmission and Casappa pumps. These are complemented by the reputable Danfoss braking system and AKG radiators. In addition, the machines come with standard hammer piping and air-conditioning, as well as ROPS and FOPS as standard – key requirements for the quarrying and mining industry.

In addition, Babcock will initially offer a single skid steer model, the AV490, in two variants – a typical canopy version and one with a fully enclosed cab and air conditioner.

Mark Senyard, product manager – Bull Equipment & SDLG, Babcock.

Support matters

Under Babcock, existing BULL customers will experience new levels of aftermarket support. Babcock is the exclusive regional distributor for other leading international brands and construction equipment including Volvo and SDLG construction equipment, Sennebogen cranes, and Winget concrete handling machinery.

Working closely with its customers, the company has a proud history of sales and servicing of construction equipment that spans more than six decades. Over the years Babcock has built its business on the back of its aftermarket offering, including parts as well as service and maintenance contracts. “A benefit of our service contracts is that they are flexible and tailored to meet individual customer needs. We will extend the same offering to our BULL customers,” concludes Vaughan.

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