Industry experts from JSC, Bedrock Attachments and BULLSTERN speak to Plant & Equipment about current levels of demand within Africa’s attachments market.
The machinery attachment market has firmly established itself as a crucial component of the construction equipment sector, and the importance of these tools continues to grow year after year.
It’s little wonder, therefore, that this market segment is enjoying steady growth across multiple regions – especially in African markets, where many contractors are looking to shift away from traditional manual labour by harnessing the safety and productivity gains provided by attachments.
According to analysis from Mordor Intelligence, the overall value of Africa’s construction market is estimated to be in the region of $380.5 billion. What’s more, the sector looks set to achieve a healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% during the period 2019-28, despite global macroeconomic challenges.
In light of such figures, it seems likely that the tools supplied by attachment manufacturers will continue to be in high demand among African fleet owners for the foreseeable future. While Hwang-Pyo Chun, Senior Executive Director of South Korea’s JSC Co., Ltd, admits there is room for improvement in the current market, he seems satisfied with the upward trajectory his company is witnessing.
“JSC has experienced mixed performance in Africa over the past 12 months,” he tells Domenica Smithies. “We have primarily focused on the markets in South Africa, Kenya and Egypt, where we have seen positive growth. The demand for our attachments in the South African market has been steadily increasing, especially after establishing partnerships with reliable local distributors. As part of our growth strategy, we are actively seeking partnerships in other regions to expand our presence in that market.
“Overall, while it has been a good year for us in South Africa, we recognise the need to continue our efforts to penetrate other African markets and overcome the specific challenges they present,” Chun continues. “We remain committed to providing high-quality attachments and excellent service to our customers across this continent.”
Mo Baldizon, Salesperson for International Attachments at US-headquartered Bedrock Attachments, says his employer has been working to supply customers in Africa through its established European distribution network. “Over the past year, we have primarily focused on our biggest markets, which are North America and Europe,” he explains. “Our sales efforts have been directed towards European dealers who, in turn, distribute our attachments to customers in Africa.
“While this strategy has allowed us to serve the African market indirectly, our direct presence and strength in Africa may be considered limited,” Baldizon admits. “However, I’m pleased to report that Bedrock Attachments recognises the potential of the African market and has plans to focus more on this region in the coming months. This strategic shift signifies our intention to expand our operations and establish a stronger presence in Africa, in addition to our existing strong markets in North America and Europe. To achieve this, we will be exploring opportunities to engage with African dealers and customers directly, ensuring that our attachments meet the specific needs and requirements of this market.’’
International brands are acutely aware that Africa is home to a wide range of industries that rely on equipment attachments, from construction and infrastructure to quarrying and mining, and everything in between.
Kim Keunhyeok, the individual responsible for Sales Development at South Korean manufacturer BULLSTERN, Kim Keunhyeok, the individual responsible for Sales Development at South Korean manufacturer BULLSTERN, comments: “Our best sellers are the VIBRO RIPPER among mining operators, and the VIBRO HAMMER for foundation-related applications.
“Our VIBRO HAMMER can also be used as a sheet pile driver,” he explains. “Due to its high centrifugal force and durability, this unit offers superior performance compared to our competitors. BULLSTERN is also able to deliver a range of solutions to match the length of the sheet pile our customers are working with.
“BULLSTERN’s vibro attachments can be mounted onto any brand of excavator with an operating weight between 20 and 70 tonnes,” Kim continues. “Thanks to their eco-friendly features, such as low operating costs and fuel economy, these units are widely utilised in urban and residential areas where noise complaints are frequent.”
When it comes to African markets, JSC’s Chun says he and his colleagues are concentrating on one specific attachment segment. “At present, hydraulic breakers represent our primary focus,” he explains. “While we do offer other demolition attachments, such as crushers, pulverisers and grapples, we have made the strategic decision to outsource these attachments via a trusted partner in Korea. This is due to lower levels of demand for these specific attachments among customers in Africa.
“Hydraulic breakers are designed to excel in specific applications, such as rock breaking, road building, construction, utilities, landscaping and trenching,” Chun adds. “By concentrating our efforts on this particular market segment, we can ensure the highest standards of quality and performance.”
So, what is the remainder of 2023 likely to bring for this market? While short-term predictions among manufacturers are mixed, there certainly appear to be opportunities on the horizon. Commenting on a slowdown in demand driven by the wider macroeconomic landscape, BULLSTERN’s Kim says: “Due to the global economic downturn, demand for construction equipment is not expected to recover in the second half of 2023. However, it is expected to gradually return as early as the first quarter of next year, thanks to the base effect of accumulated potential demand during the recession.”
Baldizon seems somewhat more optimistic about Bedrock Attachments’ short-term prospects in Africa. “In 2024, this region’s attachments sector is expected to experience a gradual growth trajectory,” he remarks. “However, it is important to note that activity within this segment may vary across different countries and regions due to variations in economic conditions, infrastructure development and industry landscapes. Challenges such as access to financing, technical skills and maintenance support may also influence the rate of growth.”
“As a company focused primarily on hydraulic breakers, our knowledge of the specific characteristics and dynamics of each African country is somewhat limited,” concedes JSC’s Chun. “Currently, our local presence and activities in this region are not as active as we would like.
“However, we remain open to exploring opportunities and establishing new partnerships with companies that are interested in partnering with us across Africa,” he concludes. “Through collaboration and local expertise, we believe we can gain a deeper understanding of market characteristics and predict the continent’s future attachment-related trends and demand more effectively.”
Better worksites for all
Attachments have long since appealed to equipment owners due to their ability to transform already-versatile machines, such as skid-steer loaders and excavators, into veritable Swiss Army knives. However, more and more, these tools are also being used to optimise on-sight operations across Africa.
Baldizon explains: “Attachments for heavy machinery are contributing to a shift away from manual labour in this region. The introduction of increasingly innovative tools, such as those supplied by Bedrock Attachments, has the potential to increase efficiency, productivity and safety within various industries.
“This trend will also play an important role in skills enhancement, as the operation of heavy machines fitted with attachments typically requires specialised training,” he continues. “By investing in educational programmes for operators, companies can develop skilled workforces that can efficiently utilise these tools.
“In turn, this will allow for a transition from manual labour to operating and maintaining advanced equipment,” Baldizon adds.