In today’s competitive business landscape, those who achieve success (no matter the industry) are those who are able to reduce their operating costs without compromising on quality and efficiency, writes Johan Erasmus, general manager Dealer and Product Support at Hitachi Construction Machinery Africa.
The global economic downturn that has shadowed the last decade of economic activity worldwide has triggered a huge shift in the industry, and South Africa is no different, with the prospect of further electricity disruptions and an unsure economic outlook over the country as a whole.
In the mining sector, rising input costs and lower commodity prices mean that businesses are under extreme pressure to perform faster and leaner – but they can only perform as well as their heavy machinery does.
Businesses have started making adjustments to business models, looking into all manner of inventive solutions to help their clients reduce costs and increase efficiencies, and Hitachi too, have helped set the pace for these advancements. The diverse business units represented under the Hitachi name have enabled us to adapt to the requirements of our clients and ensure that their machinery delivers the performance expected in the long term.
The rugged performance of our heavy machinery is now, in the digital age, matched by incredible advances in the technology within it. By utilising data analysis, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), cutting-edge technologies are brought to life by our own in-house Research and Development teams. The training Hitachi provides to its clients ensures that our efficiency-insights become a part of the way we design every piece of machinery, and the advantages are passed on to the customer. As the machine works, its owners are provided with data that allow continual strategic improvements, predictive upkeep, and other time-and-money saving insights.
It’s inevitable that autonomous solutions will become the norm in the not-too-distant future, and forward-thinking businesses are already exploring the possibilities and the value this technology can offer their clients. Hitachi, for example, has invested heavily in the development of Autonomous Haulage Solutions (AHS), and are working with many stakeholders in areas such as collision avoidance and remote control to ensure that the safety of operators and the preservation of assets remains paramount.
Technology is linking and merging different business disciplines in unexpected ways that deliver fantastic value if put to good use. Historically compartmentalised units within organisations are becoming integrated and are helping develop multi-skilled teams that are better able to satisfy the after-sales demands of clients, both on-site and remotely. Training departments, too, are getting heavily involved in upskilling staff to grow and develop the skills needed for the digital age.
When heavy machinery works smarter, faster, more efficiently and more reliably, both the manufacturer and the customer reap the advantages. In a world where uptime is everything, the future is sure to bring increased focus on predictive maintenance, smart parts, remote performance, and much more.
Businesses need to be aware of common bottlenecks and points of failure and identify strategies on how to use the technologies at their disposal to guarantee more uptime if they are to thrive in the modern business environment.