July 2016

Supplying graders for Africa

In Africa, we need graders that have enough power to work in tough, rocky and sometimes very dry conditions. Most importantly they need to be tough and durable enough to last out in the middle-of-nowhere for years on end with minimal support.

For years Africa’s road builders have relied on one grader brand – Mitsubishi - to build roads, even in far-flung places, reliably and accurately. Now, Africa’s most famous grader brand has been acquired by new stakeholders with ambitious plans. Under the new banner of Hidromek, the stalwart machines are set to become still more popular due to ongoing improvements to make them even more efficient and reliable than they already are. 

While processes and procedures at the factory have remained largely unchanged, the new leadership based in Europe has brought about fresher, more modern thinking that is driving the machines to become up-to-date with modern requirements. Without changing the immensely successful design and construction of the machines, the factory is rather evolving and adding features that build on the original design and add extra value for fleet owners.

On African soil the rugged simplicity and raw power of the machines has made them legendary and led to the machines gaining a strong following from users who require machines that can work reliably for extended periods, in rough terrain, with minimal support. Where lesser machines have battled and broken, the big Mitsubishi / Hidromek machines have excelled and soldiered on in the face of adverse conditions. 

Africa tough

Peter Kaliszka of ELB Equipment, the long-standing distributor of Mitsubishi / Hidromek graders in southern Africa, says for decades Mitsubishi graders have made their mark in Africa where they have been used to prepare some of the most desolate and remote roads on the continent. Out in the bush they perform without hassles and with very little requirement for maintenance.

This has earned them a reputation for toughness and reliability that is unsurpassed in the industry and is a driving force behind ever rising sales amid fierce competition. Their popularity is due in part to the sheer simplicity of the machines which lack fancy electronics and potentially troublesome gadgetry which has become common-place on other leading brands. Instead, the Hidromeks’ have been cleverly designed to be near indestructible, using the best Japanese materials and designs to develop a machine with the least possible chance of failure. Likewise, instead of searching for efficiency through smaller high-tech engines, the Mitsubishi / Hidromek is equipped with a bigger engine that is hardly taxed when grading at low revs. 

“The end result of this is a grader that is more economical than small engine competitors in hard working environments. Similarly, the engine is not strained and as a result is more reliable with less chance of breakdowns. That is why in over 25 years since the first machines went into operation in southern Africa, we have only ever replaced two engines (one as a result of drowning in a flooded river, the other as a result of misuse),” says Peter.  

He adds that contractors also prefer the simplicity of the machines with fewer things to go wrong and no need for out-of-town technicians in the event of a fault. This applies to all models from the Hidromek MG 460 18 ton to the Hidromek MG 431 16-ton and Hidromek MG 330 14-ton machines depending on the size of the roads required in particular areas. Fuel savings also help to keep the machines out in the field for longer where the size of the diesel bowser may decide how far the grader may venture into the bush to clear roads.