Officially opened on 27th August 2014, Barloworld Equipment Zambia’s new Kitwe facility represents an investment of approximately US$14 million and underscores Barloworld’s commitment and confidence in the region’s buoyant mining, construction, agricultural and allied industrial sectors.

The year 2014 also marks Barloworld Equipment’s 20th anniversary as Caterpillar’s earthmoving and power systems dealer for Zambia, with its head office based in Lusaka. Barloworld Equipment in turn celebrates 87 years as Caterpillar’s southern African dealer in 2014.

The new Kitwe facility, which replaces an older building on an adjacent site, houses modern workshops; a machine and component rebuild centre that includes a dyno  testing bay for engines up to 2 000 horsepower; a latest generation hydraulic test bench; a 2 200m² parts warehouse; and a technical training centre. A Cat generator station provides standby and prime power, ensuring uninterrupted operations.

“We have experienced rapid growth in our Cat machine population in recent years, particularly in the Copperbelt region, which is one of the world’s major copper and cobalt producers, and our new state-of-the-art administration, parts and service centre in Kitwe has been purpose-built to keep pace with current and future demand,” says Deon Heyns, managing director for Barloworld Equipment Zambia. “This will ensure that we consistently deliver safe and sustainable world class sales and after-sales support to our customers.”

From a health and safety perspective, Barloworld Equipment Zambia recorded a zero LTFR (Lost Time Frequency Rate) over the past 12 months. During 2014 this includes work on complex infield machine assemblies such as Kalumbila Minerals’ Sentinel copper mine green field development, situated around 140 km west of Solwezi. Here some 145 000 injury free hours have been achieved by Barloworld Equipment Zambia personnel during the assembly of Cat 7495 electric rope shovels, and Cat MD6640 rotary blast hole drills.

These are very large machines. The Cat 7495, for example, has an operating weight of approximately 1 388 000 kg and a payload capacity of 109 tonnes, and is designed to be a three pass loading match for ultra sized off-highway trucks. Meanwhile, the Cat MD6640 has a working weight of around 172 365 kg and is capable of drilling to a multi-pass depth up to 42,7 m at a hole diameter of up to 406 mm.

To support these and other technological rollouts, Barloworld Equipment Zambia places major emphasis on technical skills development for its construction, surface mining and underground service teams. This includes the provision of operator and technical training to customers.

“We need to ensure that our personnel in Zambia are globally competitive and to this end we select candidates from surrounding communities for our Barloworld Equipment earthmoving mechanic apprenticeships. This is a three year programme leading to a South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 3 qualification,” Heyns expands. Students rotate to Barloworld Equipment’s Technical Training Centre in Johannesburg for specified practical and theoretical modules.

Other technical services provided from Johannesburg include the Barloworld Conditioning Monitoring Centre, which incorporates the Cat SOSSM Services laboratory.

Also housed at the Barloworld Condition Monitoring Centre is the Equipment Management (EM) Solutions Bureau, which connects via either GSM cellular or satellite to registered machines across southern Africa, including Zambia. EM Solutions packages are offered in five levels and enable customers to remotely monitor and receive information that includes machine location and mechanical diagnostics via the Cat VisionLink™ internet portal.

“Essentially, in all other respects our Kitwe branch is designed to be self-sufficient, which includes our ability to rebuild Cat engines, power train and hydraulic components to original Caterpillar specifications,” says Heyns.

Alongside comprehensive parts and technical capabilities, Barloworld Equipment Zambia is also delivering services aimed at fostering both micro and macro economic growth.

These include Cat Financial Services, and the rollout of the Cat Rental Store at the Kitwe facility. Previously, the Cat Rental Store only operated from the Lusaka branch.

The Cat Rental Store provides off balance sheet options for companies ranging from Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) to listed multi-nationals seeking to rent construction and mining equipment for periods ranging from three months and extending up to two years. Options include ROP or ‘Rental with Option to Purchase’ agreements, which are proving increasingly popular as a number of key infrastructure initiatives, like the Link Zambia 8 000 Project, spur unprecedented demand for earthmoving equipment. The Link Zambia 8 000 project sets out to upgrade 8 000 km of national road, and is creating new opportunities for SME entrants.

Africa’s largest copper producer, Zambia is surrounded by eight countries and is strategically positioned to become a major regional trade hub, backed by Gross Domestic Product projections of up to 8% annually over the next five years.

Rather than being landlocked, initiatives like Zambia’s Link 8000 project intend to make the nation ‘land linked’, in the process stimulating the free-flowing movement of goods, as well as materials to and from mines in the country and neighbouring regions.

“Barloworld Equipment’s investment in Kitwe is there to ensure that Cat customers in the Copperbelt region meet theirs and the country’s growth targets,” adds Heyns.

Top Stories:

Peak Resources receives US$1 m for Ngualla rare earth project
Orbis Gold rejects A$162m Canadian miner SEMAFO bid

South African women embrace mining, in spite of its challenges