Owing to lower commodity prices and higher input costs, construction equipment supplier Hitachi Construction Machinery Africa’s diverse business units have enabled it to adapt to the huge shift by the construction and mining industry to assist customers. This was achieved by reducing operating costs to increase profits.
“Combining the resources of Hitachi Construction Machinery group enables us to respond to the challenges by using data analysis, the Internet of Things (IoT), information and communication technology (ICT), cutting-edge technology and in-house research and development (R&D),” says Hitachi Construction Machinery Africa product and dealer support GM Johan Erasmus.
Solution Linkage is an IoT solution that incorporates ICT in construction, and data report service ConSite and software company Wenco’s – a subsidiary of Hitachi Construction Machinery group – fleet management system. Erasmus explains that using the Solution Linkage improves safety, reduces life-cycle costs and increases productivity.
He adds that Hitachi Construction Machinery Africa is using fuel optimisation technology for mining and construction equipment.
The company also uses ConSite Oil – a bolt-on value-add service – which has enabled Hitachi to address lubricant degradation issues. This service uses historical data and live machine data to analyse, through complex algorithms, the extent of degradation and what process should be followed to rectify or repair it.
The Hitachi Construction Machinery group R&D division uses feedback from the field and global operations to continuously improve existing models. This includes structural performance and component-life analyses, as well as requests for improvements – which are developed, tested and introduced to further extend the life of the machines – from clients and service dealers.
Erasmus highlights that, while most of the divisions were historically compartmentalised, the company is now becoming more integrated, which has resulted in multiskilled individuals who are equipped to meet the market demand.
Training departments are becoming increasingly important to develop employees. Hitachi Construction Machinery Africa recently established the Hitachi Construction Machinery Africa Training Academy, in Boksburg, Gauteng.
“This introduction has brought together the operator and technical training elements, which used to operate separately. The adoption of virtual reality and augmented reality is being developed to enhance user experience while encouraging the development of a very high-calibre employee,” explains Erasmus.
He notes that Hitachi Construction Machinery Africa uses training simulators for operator and technical training: “The Hitachi Construction Machinery Africa regional headquarters is also rolling out the new e-learning platform to satisfy the current demand for training.”
Upskilling is key because, if technicians are being upskilled to understand the sales process, they can identify potential business leads and relay the necessary information to the appropriate personnel, in addition to performing repairs.
“Over time, this creates a more professional individual and, in turn, results in a more satisfied client. Moreover, sales staff can identify possible technical issues during a visit and inform the technical support division to investigate.”
Erasmus notes that the company also provides training for clients’ operators, with a heavy focus on safety procedures.
He adds that, although there are multiple independent training companies, Hitachi Construction Machinery Africa remains the “specialists in following the safest operational procedures with regard to the machines”.
Erasmus concludes that constant reassessment of the training approach ensures that the company remains at the forefront of efficient operator and technical training.