Opinion

There’s nothing like the real thing

For one reason or another, I failed to make a machinery auction in 2013 until the very last one held at Ritchie Bros.’ yard in Jebel Ali in December. I soon realised what I had been missing.

I sat as an avid viewer with my hands safely stowed by my sides on the sidelines watching the auction unfold. The action was loud and frantic as a series of loaders, graders and then giant rock trucks rolled past the crowd. As any goer or online visitor to the Canadian auction house sales know the scene is one the best spectacles you can experience as an avid purveyor of all things large and mechanical.

While online bidding has made the process of buying equipment a global marketplace, being there to witness the auction in full 3D technicolour made me realise that there really is no substitute for the real thing.

Obviously beyond the spectacle, auctions offer the opportunity for buyers to examine the equipment before making a bid and I wandered for an hour through the rows of kit watching how every nook and cranny is explored. While I am sure everyone has their own unique way of assessing their next excavator or compact crawler, almost every single person sat in the operator seat. Maybe machinery owners really do obsess over comfort as manufacturers like to tell us.

The benefit of trying before you buy applies to new machinery as much as used, and this is something that is a constant frustration for manufacturers wanting to sell their machines in the Middle East. Buyers here remain sceptical of kit that hasn’t yet earned its stripes in the dust bowls and extreme environment of the region.

The beginning of the year gives us two opportunities to sample some of the latest technology in the market with first InterMat Middle East in Abu Dhabi this month and the Construction Machinery Show in Dammam in February. Obviously I have a vested opportunity to promote the latter – I am happy to confirm that there will be a full programme of demonstrations at the event – but I would urge you to get to either or better both if you can.

There are signs that those that are willing to push product into the hands of buyers and operators are able to make headway in an often staid market.

We saw progress from JCB, CNH, Volvo and MAN Trucks last year, because they were willing, some may say forced, to allow contractors to get hands on with their their product. This can only be to the benefit of buyers.

The past half decade was been a chastening experience for everyone and I hope that as we continue to see a resurgence in construction activity that this lesson learned is not forgotten.

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