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Up close and personal: An interview with a Pilot Crushtec employee

1. What do you do at Pilot Crushtec?

I am Pilot Crushtec’s Africa Sales Manager

2. How long have you been employed by Pilot Crushtec?

7 years

3. What is your area of expertise?

I’ve worked in various industries over the last 20 years, always focused on marketing and supporting equipment on the market north of Limpopo province. I’ve also had the privilege of experiencing southern, eastern and western Africa over the years. Over the past 7 years I’ve focused on gaining experience in crushing and screening applications through training provided by Pilot Crushtec and our partners.

4. What are your responsibilities at Pilot Crushtec?

I have a number of specific countries where I’m focused on providing support and developing sales. Our support starts when we handle an initial enquiry and we try to understand the clients’ process requirements, i.e. what is the feed material and what specifications the final product needs to be. We also try to understand the operational requirements and problems. Does the client require a fully mobile, semi-mobile or static solution? What are the benefits of each type of plant, and how does it benefit the client? Are capital costs a concern, or are low operating costs the priority?

Operations in Africa present more questions and challenges than most ‘local’ plants, so a part of specifying the correct equipment lies in understanding where our clients operate. Are there restrictions on the size or weight we can ship? As an extreme example, we’ve had clients who’ve had to build up to 600km of capped sand roads through jungles and mountain passes to open a route to the mine. Our equipment was needed on site before the road was complete, meaning all the equipment had to be shipped on 20’ containers or smaller, as the existing roads couldn’t handle larger loads. Pilot Crushtec is in a somewhat unique position, and even more so with our new Metso distribution agreement, where we can offer the same crusher or screen on various platforms, mobile, semi-mobile or static to suit our client’s requirements.

The only way to properly understand our client’s operational conditions is to travel to these territories and get first-hand experience on sites. So 20% to 30% of my time is spent traveling in my territories.

Furthermore, I’m responsible for co-ordinating and assisting our sales and support into the sub-Sahara market.


5. What do you think are the current pressures facing mining in South Africa?

I’m very focused on the market north of the RSA border, so I’m perhaps not in the best position to answer this question. That said, I’d opinion that the (never ending) drive to push down costs is more important than when there was a lot more positivity in the air. This hasn’t helped with the volatility in exchange rates, which makes it extremely hard to plan, be it for capital or operating expenses. Currently, many of our clients in both the mining and construction industry are faced with a difficult choice between up-grading or replacing equipment versus improving maintenance and extending the life of equipment. Pilot Crushtec is on a drive to work with clients to understand where increased efficiencies are possible by replacing older equipment and what the financial implications are. A 3-5% increase in average production can have a significant knock-on effect on overall profitability by reducing operating costs.

6. Does a person need a licence to operate the heavy machines?

All our equipment should be operated by well-trained personnel but no license is required.

7. Which equipment are Pilot Crushtec’s top sellers?

If I had to pick one single product it would be our VSI (Vertical Shaft Impact Crushers) range, which we supply from a tame 20tph skid-mounted unit to the latest beast, the track mounted mobile TwisterTrac VS350, capable of production rates from 250-400tph dependant on the configuration and operating conditions. The TwisterTrac is a range we’ve exported worldwide, and we have high hopes that the latest model will be even more successful than the previous TwisterTrac AC210 model. Not only is it larger and capable of higher production, fuel consumption is down 30-40%, maintenance is simpler and we’ve stripped out all the bells and whistles to offer a much simpler and robust machine.

I’m positive our new range of Metso Mobile crushers salesmen will have something to say about which is our best selling products, so next year my answer may be a little different!

8. Is there a maintenance plan in place for machines that are sold?

All our equipment is supplied with operating manuals that clearly highlight maintenance procedures and provide checklists for daily, weekly, monthly maintenance. Reviewing these manuals and maintenance procedures is a significant part of our commissioning procedure.

9. How are the machines transported to the mines once they’re purchased?

Transportation will vary depending on the site and the type of equipment. Our mobile equipment is shipped on low-bed trucks and RoRo Vessels to clients in Tanzania, Namibia, Australia, and Europe. Modular equipment is shipped either on tri-axles or containers. We always pre-assemble equipment that leaves our factory, and try to ship it as complete as possible to ensure we minimize time on site for installation.

10. Can Pilot Crushtec’s machines be operated on all types of terrains?

It is critical that any crushing and screening equipment is operating on level ground with minimal inclines. You can operate on split levels (i.e. some equipment on a higher level than others) in the correct circumstances, but the individual equipment must be on a level surface. That said, we generally advise on, but don’t require, concrete slabs for our modular equipment.  Dependant on the plant, a tipping wall would be required but the concrete slabs are more a function of plant cleanliness as well as easier, safer operation and maintenance.

11. What is the one machine that you could recommend to do heavy lifting on a consruction site?

Without a doubt a crane is extremely important to ensure onsite safety for both person and equipment.

12. Which machines are Pilot Crushtec’s top sellers?

We have a number of very good sellers, my three personal favourites would have to be, the Pilot Modular BRO605, an entry level impact crusher that’s been used for re-cycling, mining and construction. It’s simple to use and pretty much bulletproof. The BRO605’s larger mobile cousins, the RubbleMaster range, which we distribute is another firm favourite for re-cycling or smaller quarry operations. The engineering that went into the range is impressive and cost effective to operate. Lastly, the Metso LT120 Mobile Jaw Crusher is historically the best seller in the southern African market in its range, and I’m personally looking forward to ensuring more of our clients get to appreciate just how good this unit is.

13. Can we expect any new machines from Pilot Crushtec this year?

We have no plans at the moment to introduce new equipment aside from the Metso range, which includes the mobile tracked, wheeled and skid mounted equipment. Our clients can now choose the equipment that best suits each project but have the peace of mind that regardless of whether it’s tracked, wheeled or skid mounted, you are getting the same reliable robust crusher. This is a huge benefit to both ourselves and our clients in terms of training, operation and spares stock holding. A maintenance team trained on the LT106 Mobile Jaw Crusher will be 95% proficient when working on a NW106 skid mounted unit as the vibrating feeder and jaw crusher are common across the models.

Our technical and design department is however extremely busy in further developing and refining most of our range, with some standout projects being the DoppiaTrac, a tracked mobile double roll crusher designed specifically for the coal industry and our Modular Compact Wash plant, a rugged skid mounted washing system for the construction and sand industry.

14. Finally, do you have advice for those looking to purchase mining equipment or construction machines?

The equipment you buy is only as good as the back-up and support you receive. Whether you are in mining or construction, the cost of ownership of your equipment is significantly influenced by your average production. Make sure that your supplier, or in the case of second-hand equipment, the brand you choose, takes responsibility and invests in the spare parts, technical support and training to ensure you minimise your equipment dow