IMIESA talks to Rocco Lehman, managing director of Ammann Construction Machinery South Africa, about expansion plans and new product launches in the asphalt and concrete segments.

How does Ammann view the construction market so far in 2017?

RL: The national and provincial roads market remains buoyant, with a number of long-term expansion and reconstruction projects under way on key national and provincial routes. Examples include the N1 through the Free State, where we have supplied latest-generation asphalt plants, namely the Ammann Prime 140 semi-mobile unit for key work packages.

We believe that the current Amman product offering will also prove to be a highly viable choice in meeting the requirements of public entities embarking on gravel-to-tar upgrades, as well as ongoing urban resurfacing projects.

The same applies to the two new models we introduced earlier this year, namely the Apollo ValueTec 80 batch plant, and the Apollo counterflow 90 continuous mixing plant, along with the Ammann Prime 140, which is available via the Asphalt Plant Rental Division.

We currently have two Apollo plants installed within the Gauteng region, with a third being set up in Mpumalanga to service the Limpopo and Mpumalanga markets. All three of these units have been acquired by emerging asphalt contractors. We are pleased to say that we have a good pipeline of Apollo plant orders signed and awaiting delivery, alongside the Apollo range.

What are the prospects for compaction?

RL: Ammann compaction solutions, which are supplied and supported locally by our dedicated dealer ELB Equipment, are gaining ground within Southern Africa. A great example is the Ammann 10 tonne ASC100 single-drum soil compactor. ELB has grown the market share for this product.

Our asphalt compactors are also doing well. Examples include the AP240 pneumatic roller (with an operating weight range of approximately 9 400 t to 24 000 t), and the ARX and AV series of tandem rollers in the 1.5 t to 13 t class. So we’re gaining positive ground in the road construction market.

Ammann is investing extensively in its Indian operations. What are the benefits for Southern Africa?

RL: We appreciate that many contractors in our market are becoming increasingly price sensitive when it comes to capital equipment purchases but that’s also a noticeable trend in other developing
and developed countries that are under cost pressures.

In response, the Ammann Group, headquartered in Switzerland, made a strategic move a few years back to invest in India in its quest to develop quality products that are highly competitive in terms of performance, but more affordable particularly for smaller and emerging construction companies.

This follows the acquisition of a major interest in the consolidated road construction equipment business of India’s Apollo Group during 2013 and the formation of Ammann Apollo India Private Ltd based in Ahmedabad. Apollo is an established leader in India.

Apollo products manufactured at the state-of-the-art facility in Ahmedabad include asphalt mixing plants, asphalt pavers, Apollo soil compactors and the newly launched Apollo ConcreteCenter 60 concrete mixing plant. Our new Apollo ValueTec 80 batch plant and the Apollo Counterflow 90 continuous mixing plant are both manufactured in Ahmedabad, as are a number of products that will be making their way to South Africa.

Could you provide examples of new paving product launches planned?

RL: In May 2017, Ammann will be introducing the Apollo AP600 paver following an in-depth study of the South African and Sub-Saharan Africa industry in response to local demand for an affordable but technically advanced machine. As with all our products, Ammann will provide in-depth operator and general maintenance training on the Apollo AP600. Apollo has an extensive paving train and most, if not all, of these units are well-suited for African conditions.

Ammann has always been a leader in concrete. How has the acquisition of Elba served to strengthen Ammann’s market segmentation?

RL: The 100% acquisition of Elba-Werk (Elba) in 2014, a leading German concrete mixing plant manufacturer, forms part of Ammann’s broader diversification. Elba’s acquisition further strengthens our research and development focus in the concrete technology sphere. Elba’s product lines have been relocated to specified Ammann factories worldwide, including the Ahmedabad plant.

Our first product launch locally is the CBS 105-150 S/T B Elba stationary concrete plant, which is now available  in South Africa, and we’re very excited about this development. The standard concrete output for this unit has a production range of 114 m³/hour to 161 m³/hour, so it’s well suited for most mainstream construction applications.

Features to highlight include a high production rate owing to the unit’s belt conveyor feeding system, a generously dimensioned mixing platform, significant dust reduction, foundation-free installation on steel frames as an option, and quick installation through preassembled modules.

And in closing?

RL: Ammann currently has manufacturing facilities in seven countries which, outside Europe and India, include China and Brazil. At all of these plants, the same rigorous quality-control standards are maintained, and the products are designed and built to meet the application. For highly price-sensitive markets like South Africa, there’s a viable choice between the Ammann and Apollo brands.

The enactment of the Preferential Procurement Regulations 2017 in January will now also serve as a positive impetus when it comes to bringing in additional entrants to the road and building market, particularly at the subcontractor level. A key purpose of the regulations is to empower targeted groups like SMMEs.

Given the South African government’s policy on transformation and its focus on assisting new start-ups, we are confident that our brand strategy is ideally positioned to lower barriers to entry in the market and to enable small-scale contractors to grow to their true potential.