For Brisbane-based Caterpillar dealer Hastings Deering, 2017 has seen a rise in enquiries for new equipment, bolstered by the returned confidence in the mining sector.
Hastings Deering executive manager for mining sales, Jason Smith, said the company has seen an improvement in equipment sales, particularly over the past four to six months, due to improved commodity prices toward the end of 2016.
However, he said that companies are still cautious about their purchase decisions.
“Companies are cautious after what we’ve been through with the industry downturn,” he told Australian Mining, “So they want to be sure that there is going to be a sustained improvement in the market before they really commit to any major capital spends.”
Upgrades and updates
Established in 1932, Hastings Deering sells, rents and provides support for Caterpillar parts and equipment for use in the mining, oil and gas, construction, transport and marine industries.
Smith said Caterpillar constantly updates and upgrades its products to improve operator functionality and increase productivity on site.
He highlighted upgrades to a range of equipment such as the K Series wheel loaders which have both fuel and productivity improvements over former models.
“Some of our larger diggers also come with operator assist which wouldn’t have been standard practise previously,” he said.
When it comes to delivering the latest mining technologies, Smith emphasised the importance of the scaling and upsizing of equipment.
He said technology plays a key role in how the mining industry improves productivity, with both the size of the equipment and its constant improvements funnelling into the overall performance of a mining project.
Moreover, Smith said Hastings Deering is seeing a growing demand in automated parts, with Caterpillar equipment able to be retrofitted with these technology systems for improved use.
“We’re seeing significant automation in fleets in other geographical areas and at some stage we’ll see that flow into our region around Queensland and the Northern Territory as well,” he said.
Smith added that with around 100 people working in Hastings Deering’s technology function, the company has the skills and expertise to provide support for existing machines and for any technology attached to it.
Apart from delivering equipment, parts and services, Hastings Deering also provides training through its three Learning Centres in Central Queensland, Brisbane and Port Moresby. These centres cover basic and advanced operator, maintenance and technology training for the mining industry.
The company also has Centres of Excellence (COE) in Mackay, Toowoomba, Rockhampton and Mt Isa which all have specific specialities to address the needs of mining operators. Each centre specialises in a particular area such as component repair, gas powered engines, hydraulic cylinders, underground vehicles, undercarriage and longwalls.
“The intent behind these centres is to have in house operational and engineering experts in our business, so we’ve increased resources in those key areas,” Smith said.
Success now and into the future
Smith said that the company has achieved success in the underground sector, particularly in its maintenance support of the North Goonyella mine, where it achieved successful collaboration with its client.
He also said they have been working with a customer that is about to embark on the commercialisation of the semi-autonomous tractor system (SATS) trial, with the system able to run multiple machines at once.
“We’ve been heavily involved with that customer and Caterpillar to bring that system to realisation and commercialise it in the Queensland markets,” Smith said, “So, it’s a very exciting time to have that coming in.”
With these successes, the company has an added boost to its growth plans, both in the mining industry and in sectors it does not play a part in yet.
“We’re certainly hoping that we’ll get some growth through the improvement in market conditions,” Smith said.
“We’ve got opportunities to grow our share in markets that we’re not currently participating in and to retain our market share in those that we are.”