Local lifting equipment manu- facturer, SA Vertical Lifting, was appointed last month as a South African representative for Canada-based global loading dock and materials handling equipment manufacturer Blue Giant.
The Germiston-based company manufactures and distributes goods access hoists, dumbwaiters, residential lifts, lifts for the disabled, scissors lifts, dock levellers and other docking equipment, as well as materials handling equipment.
“Having opened in 2009, we are a fairly young company. We have been successful so far and have been looking for opportunities to expand our business further into Africa.
“This appointment has provided us with the opportunity to make that happen,” says SA Vertical Lifting sales and marketing director Allen Lotter.
He notes that Blue Giant was well established in South Africa more than 15 years ago, but that the Canadian company has not been active in the country over the past ten years.
The market for solutions to satisfy distribution centres and warehousing is growing in South Africa and it now makes sense to have an alternative to the existing service providers, says Lotter.
“Through the appointment, we want to re-establish the Blue Giant brand across all related industries in the country,” says Lotter.
He notes that the appointment also provides SA Vertical Lifting with a large portfolio of products that are made according to international standards.
“These products are being manufactured locally, but are not up to international standards. Up to now, there has been only one other company that imports these types of products.
“This appointment gives us a chance to compete against our competition, with products of the same international quality. The market needs options and we are now able to provide them,” states Lotter.
He notes that there has already been interest from potential customers in Nigeria and Mauritius.
SA Vertical Lifting technical director Hilton Varcoe says the company can now provide products and services covering the entire materials handling process – from the truck arriving on site, to getting the materials into the warehouse and then out into the market.
“Basically, we can now cover the whole back end of the warehouse, including the supply of doors, dock levellers, loading and offloading equip-ment, scissor lifts and vehicle restraints.
“We even have climate-control and weather-protection products, which are important for some of our retail clients,” says Lotter.
The company provides products and services to the retail industry, the manufacturing industry and the domestic market.
Varcoe notes that the appointment will improve and expand the company’s service offering to these industries, benefiting the company’s clients and the industries at large.
Lotter will begin to train all company staff, including representative companies, in the next few weeks.
“I will train them on the new portfolio of products that Blue Giant has introduced to us, as well as on-site safety. We want to ensure all our representatives are fully trained and informed because they will eventually be appointed as distributors of Blue Giant equipment,” he says.
SA Vertical Lifting has sales and marketing offices at the Rand Airport, in Gauteng, and a manufacturing facility in Klerksdorp, in the North West.
The company also has representatives and subcontractors in Durban and Bloemfontein, as well as a representative in Cape Town.
“Given the enormity of this deal with Blue Giant, we are considering the appointment of a qualified agent for our company in Cape Town, similar to what we have in Durban and Bloemfontein,” says Lotter.
Varcoe adds that the company is also in talks with potential representatives in Namibia, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana.
“That covers our immediate neighbours, which will assist us in expanding further into sub-Saharan Africa,” he says.
Lotter notes, however, that the appointment has not been without its challenges.
“The challenge that we currently face is to re-introduce the Blue Giant brand to the market,” he states.
Nevertheless, Lotter and Varcoe are optimistic about the appointment and its potential impact on South African industry.
Meanwhile, Varcoe says the company plans to expand its service and maintenance network, as this has become an important part of the business.
“Most of the industries we serve demand good quality service and maintenance.”
He explains that most companies prefer to upgrade or replace their lifts after 10 to 12 years, instead of the 30-year average in the past.
Varcoe states that, even if sales on new equipment are down, there are always maintenance and service contracts that contribute to revenue.
Further, he points out that standards related to goods access hoists, lifts, escalators and passenger conveyors have driven improved maintenance and the replacement of equipment in recent years.
The SANS 1545 part 5 on goods access hoists was put into effect in December 2010.
The standard applies to all new installation, and Varcoe notes that existing goods access hoist installations will need to be upgraded over a period of time to comply with the standard.
“The requirement for companies to upgrade or replace their equipment to comply with the standards has resulted in significant opportunities for companies like ours.
“The standards dictate how a goods hoist should be installed and operated and what safety applications must be implemented,” says Varcoe.
He adds that companies are also required to register with the Department of Labour, which has to ensure that regular inspections are conducted by registered inspectors on all lifting equipment.
Lotter notes that the company plans to launch a range of dynamic products, which are new to South Africa, in the near future.
“These products include a patented air cylinder dock leveller, the U series mechanical dock leveller with patented clutch mechanism and various insulated sectional and high-speed doors, as well as a new residential home lift and paraplegic lifting platform kit,” he says.
The company is responding to the growing market trend of greener products and technologies by developing greener products of its own.
“We have developed and will soon launch our own green product. “It is green in the sense that we eliminated the product’s power consumption and have used greener and corrosion-free materials to manufacture the product.
“It is being patented and will be launched once that is complete,” says Lotter.