In my previous post, I noted the growing trend towards “one-stop shops” in the industrial equipment sector and how companies such as Shumani Industrial Equipment afford their customers the convenience of dealing with a single supplier for a whole range of equipment needs, translating into faster turnaround times for increased uptime. In today’s operating environment, uptime is a key operational parameter for every industrial equipment owner. In this post, I would like to reflect on the changing matters of importance for equipment owners as they seek to maximise usage of their mission critical assets.

Gone are the days when only established brand names meant more sales and reinforced market shares. We are way past the era when proven quality of a product alone did much to influence buying decisions of equipment owners. In today’s operating environment, quality and fame are not enough to influence buying decisions.

Aftermarket support comes first before the product. The old adage, sales sell the first machine, and service sells the next 100, is still relevant. In many instances, 90% of today’s buying decisions are solely influenced by aftermarket support capabilities of the supplier, and the remaining 10% revolves around all other conventional deliberations such as fuel efficiency and product quality, to mention a few. A so-called quality product is as good as its service. There is no point in having an expensive piece of machine that spends 50% of the time standing because the supplier cannot replace a filter or a broken hose on time, for example.

In a world where service has become the buzzword of every industry, it has come to epitomise a means of delivering hustle-free value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve. As everyone tries to grasp the fundamental concept of service, the industry has somehow idealised the “total service provider” model, known in some circles as the “complete offering”. But, what does this entail as service continues to take different forms and shapes?

In my view, fleet operators of today are concerned about the equipment supplier’s ability to maximise their uptime and production efficiency. Equipment sales are no longer just about the product, they are about the total value proposition, ranging from preventative maintenance and service agreements to uptime, fuel efficiency and training, among others.

We have built Shumani on the basis of being a service-centric business that provides unparalleled aftermarket service to our customers in areas that we operate in. We have also built a strong network of suppliers who are critical in ensuring that we deliver a consistent superior service at all times.

Shumani’s service department is a critical arm of our business. It is critical for customers’ operations – they are clear that downtime is out of question as far as their machinery is concerned. Over the past few years we have been in business, we have built a strong aftermarket department in order to provide flawless aftersales service to our clients. We now employ a total of 30 technicians to look after our customers’ machines.

This is complemented by several branches in all the major industrial hubs, including Durban, Upington, Port Elizabeth, East London, Johannesburg, Polokwane, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. Our vision is to grow the footprint significantly in the next few years to be a true national industrial equipment supplier.

In the three years of existence, Shumani has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the South African industrial equipment space. Testimony to this is a long list of some major blue chip clients, including Coca Cola South Africa, AB In-Bev, Bell Equipment, Maxion Wheels, EnviroServ, Imperial, Transnet, Mechanical Assembly Product South Africa, Famous Brands, Bevcan, Multotec, American Embassy, Mpact Operations and GRE Investment, among others.

In conclusion, let me reiterate that service has been increasing in importance over the years. In part, I believe it’s because equipment owners are getting more and more sophisticated in managing their equipment and operating costs, as well as the significance of total cost of ownership over the life of equipment. In addition, cost pressures keep on increasing and equipment owners should be more sensitive to the cost of downtime and low productivity.