Buying a heavy mining-class dozer is a considerable capital investment, particularly when the machine is required to earn an income in the plant hire business. Having bought several of these dozers in the past ten years since establishing Burma Plant Hire, Theuns Burger is all too aware of the requirements and which machines are able to run most profitably.

When it comes to dozers, Theuns’ first choice is Komatsu. He knows that Komatsu machine availability is unmatched in the industry and they remain reliable for many years as long as they are properly cared for and maintained. He extends the same buying preference to other new plant equipment in his 400-strong fleet ranging from dozers to excavators, dump trucks, loaders, graders and more.

The company’s latest purchase of a Komatsu D375-6 dozer to service the mining industry underscores the company’s trust in Komatsu products and the support that can be expected from specialist service and maintenance staff at Komatsu South Africa, as well as business manager who understand the plant hire business and know how important uptime and constant availability are to a plant hire company such as Burma Plant Hire.

Diesel in the veins

“For me this business is all about passion. I was trained and grew up surrounded by earthmoving machines and still love them – and still have a passion for them. I know the details of each machine in my fleet and make a point of keeping track of every detail of its performance and availability throughout its lifespan.

“Similarly I get to know each operator and try to understand them and know what makes them perform and stay motivated. By remaining on top of things I am best able to make the right decisions and service my own clients with the machines they need when they need them. I also try to instill this same passion in my staff and truly believe I have done so successfully judging by our track record.

“Our round-the-clock work ethics also brings me to believe that we are hardest working plant hire company in the country. This is what our customers expect from us and similarly this is what we expect from our key suppliers like Komatsu,” says Theuns.

Starting slowly

He continues that the company had bought most of its machines from another manufacturer until Jimmy Smith and Francois Griessel of Komatsu in Cape Town convinced him otherwise. Although initially reluctant to venture out of his comfort zone, he did eventually opt to buy a Komatsu PC200 excavator and was pleased with its overall performance and durability. As a result more machines were purchased and the relationship has been growing ever since.

“It’s not only about the machines, we find that the human factor is great at Komatsu. They are involved in our operation and I truly feel they have a stake in my business and they care about what happens. In terms of the service, the strength of our relationship means that they are effectively partners in my business and have my best interests at heart.

“As we expand beyond our core business of supplying equipment to the road building and construction industry, we have also come to rely on Komatsu to provide us with the right machines for new operations in mining, load and haul and related projects. Our business has also expanded its footprint from the Western Cape to having full branches with workshop and other necessary facilities in Port Elizabeth, Gauteng, Kathu, Postmasburg, Steelpoort and we are setting up branches in KwaZuluNatal and Namibia.”

All about availability

Speaking about Burma’s success, Theuns says the main determination of the success of any plant hire operation is utilization. Ideally all machines should be utilized all the time, but this cannot possibly be maintained due natural lags in business as a result of climate etc. “We feel we are doing well with a utilization that we maintain in the mid-ninety percent range and believe this is why our business is thriving.

“We don’t buy machines to park them! In terms of productivity and utilization, the more uptime we have, the better for us. Komatsu machines give us what we need and we have found that after about 8000 hours the results speak for themselves and the Komatsu’s are our very top performers.

“Our cost per hour on Komatsu machines is superb and has contributed further to the success and growth of our company even through tough economic times. Safety and environment are also serious considerations of ours and we find that Komatsu machines are purpose built with high levels of safety features built in.

Looking ahead

“As for the future, it is difficult to predict which way the market will go. We are however confident that we will keep growing and continue supplying machines according to the demand of the market. That will also guide us to the type of machines we buy and what we need.

“We want to grow, but not necessarily to be the biggest, rather to have the best service and best machines available. That is how we will grow and maintain the right balance of service, equipment, staff etc.  After all, buying yellow equipment is a large capital investment and it is important that the right decisions are made upfront.

“When we buy Komatsu machines we know that we are buying quality. We also know that if we need something in a hurry we can pick up the phone to Komatsu and it will be attended to. This kind of certainty is what I want when buying a machine and this is the reason why I keep buying Komatsu,” concludes Theuns.

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