The compacts are coming

With more buildings to maintain and increasingly confined spaces to work in, the small equipment sector in the region is getting larger

One of the paradoxes observed globally in the field of construction equipment is that as an economy becomes bigger and matures, the smaller equipment class keeps gaining importance and market share. It’s been seen in the North American, European and Japanese markets, and now the trend seems to have come to the GCC region.

The simple explanation for this is explained by Gaby Rhayem, the Middle East head of compact equipment specialist Bobcat. “Bobcat spotted some trends early. Now you already see a lot of buildings in the region. And there are green spaces being created as well. When landscaping, doing maintenance in a built-up community or making a swimming pool in a villa, you won’t take a 20t excavator into these places. You need smaller equipment,” he explains.

Having spotted the trend, Bobcat approached it strategically, he adds. “We needed a product for the prevailing applications. Early in 2016 we set a target for ourselves – to become the No.1 in the overall compact equipment business for ME and Africa. We met internally, brainstormed, and set this goal for ourselves.

“We needed to keep our position in the segments that we were already leading in, such as in the skid-steer loaders, while we needed to increase our market share in the mini-excavator and telehandler areas. We’ve cornered the compact track loader market with a near 100% market share this year. We’ve retained the leading positon we had last year in the mini excavator segment, while in the skid-steer loader segment, which we traditionally dominate, our market share has gone up from around 47% to 55%, a gain of around eight percentage points,” Rhayem reveals.

“So, according to AEM figures, we are at about 34.7% share of the entire compact segment, up from 29% at the same time last year. However, the biggest news is elsewhere – in the backhoe loaders. Our market share this year has jumped to 17.9% from 4.73% at the end of last year. This is, of course, a huge gain – and it’s way beyond the 10% goal we were thinking of when we launched it last year. Our share of the mini excavator segment has also grown to 16.6%, we had 7.3% of the telehandler market in the region and in skid-steers we continued riding rough shod over the competition with a 55% market share.

“If you take the total of 1,568 pieces of compact equipment sold so far this year, 572 of them have been Bobcat. We are at 36% market share, compared to 29% at the same time last year, gaining 7% of total share. Between us and the No.2 in the market, we have a difference of more than 11% in market share, making us the runaway leaders in the compact equipment segment at the moment,” he points out.

The customer’s main priority with these compact machines, as with all others, is their quality and reliability, Rhayem explains. They must also be simple and easy to operate smoothly on the site by a wide range of operators. The small machines perform a wide variety of tasks, from general carrying functions, grading and landscaping to digging and loading materials.

With all these uses in mind, another manufacturer that is putting a range of compact equipment in place is Case construction equipment. Franco Invernizzi, Case’s head of Middle East operations, tells CMME that while the overall picture for all markets in the Middle East is that they are under significant downward pressure, the compact machine market is less affected than the higher value, heavy line products. Case is one of the major players in the compact segment globally, and offers a comprehensive line-up of skid-steer and compact tracked loaders, mini excavators and backhoe loaders.

Speaking about how Case products are doing in the regional market Invernizzi says: “The Case SR130 and SR150 compact skid steer loaders are among the most popular machines across the Middle East. These products ideally match the requirements of the customer base, offering high machine uptime at competitive price levels. There is also a growing segment for the mid-range skid steers, such as the Case SR220. These give higher payload capability but also offer high auxiliary flow to power larger attachments such as the rocksaw. This attachment is used extensively on projects for utility cabling.”

Coming to the mini excavators, he says this is the new emergent class in the region and realising its importance here and future potential, Case is launching a new range of machines in the 1.5t to 4t sector. “Designed to provide exceptional performance these machines offer the ideal solution to the Middle East market. The machines’ compact size yet strong digging performance ensure maximum productivity for our customers,” he explains.

“Our strategy is to provide our high-quality products, with competitive finance packages along with excellent parts and service backup across the region. And the launch of our new mini excavators offers the chance to penetrate and attack the growing mini market.

“We continue to invest in our products and services to offer the best value proposals to our customers. Over the last year we have invested significantly in the Case support in the region, doubling the size of our regional office in Dubai and also opening our new Middle East parts distribution centre in Jebel Ali. We will continue to invest with our distribution network to continuously improve our products and service offerings,” says Invernizzi.

Like Case, Wacker Neuson also invests in its products and services. The German manufacturer, which specialises in mini and compact equipment, is arguably the best-known brand in its sector worldwide. While not as visible in the Middle East as it is Europe or other advanced markets, the company has probably the most extensive line-up of products in the category, including those that will benefit customers in this region.

Alexander Greschner, chief sales officer, Wacker Neuson, feels that a new alliance will go a long way in increasing penetration in the Middle East as well as in other areas where the brand needs more visibility.

“We have just recently announced a strategic alliance with John Deere. The agreement covers the sale of Kramer-branded compact equipment, known as the “green line”. This range is developed and manufactured at the Kramer site in Pfullendorf, Germany, and includes all-wheel steered wheel loaders, telescopic wheel loaders and telehandlers, which John Deere will recommend to its strong network of dealers. The collaboration will initially focus on Europe, expanding later to the CIS countries, North Africa and the Middle East,” he says.

A special aspect about Wacker Neuson is its keen interest and track record in developing electric-powered machines. Commenting on the state of the electric equipment market, Greschner says: “Electric drives are becoming increasingly important, also because they are increasingly demanded by the markets. These solutions represent an interesting addition to products with combustion engines, especially for rental companies. The sales figures of our ‘zero emission’ solutions are noticeably rising. The ‘zero emission’ series currently includes two battery-powered rammers, the dual power excavator, an electrically operated track dumper, an articulated electric wheel loader and the first all-wheel-steered wheel loader with an electric drive from Kramer.

“Our aim is to offer a real alternative as an emission-free solution in every product group in the foreseeable future. The battery-operated wheel loader WL20e has been available with a high-quality AGM battery since the start of the year. Wacker Neuson will focus on electric drives in the future as well and continue to develop the existing series.”


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