Malcolm Bates has been to Spain to see one of the first revolutionary JCB ‘Hydradig’ machines at work with commercial waste contractor Escor.
It was one of the first Hydradig machines built, so twelve months on, how has it performed, working inside, in such a tough working environment?
The City of Vitoria in the Basque region of VitoriaGasteiz, Northern Spain, has several things going for it. It’s surrounded by some beautiful countryside and is in an area rich in history. But, I’m told that Vitoria has also regularly been voted the cleanest city in Spain, which gives my visit an added twist. Because I’m here to see how one of the most technically interesting – and newest – designs of hydraulic machine is doing, one year on from being delivered.
That machine is the revolutionary JCB Hydradig, and yes, you’re right, it was designed to be an agile, mid
sized 11-tonne ‘Wheely’ with near zero tailswing, aimed primarily at the construction and infrastructure maintenance sectors – not the waste and recycling industry. So my question is an obvious one – how come? How come Escor, a commercial waste contractor in
Northern Spain, has added a new Hydradig to the fleet of machines used at its waste recycling facility located on the main industrial park on the edge of the city? And following on from that, I guess the next question is, how is it performing after twelve months hard work in what by any measure is a tough working environment for any hydraulic machine?
To help me answer those questions, I’ve met up with Ignacio Lanzadera, the business development manager for JCB Espania. On the way to the Escor facility from the airport, Ignacio fills me in with some background information. Escor is one of the leading commercial waste specialists in Spain and currently, aside from a few conventional forklift trucks, operates a one hundred percent JCB f leet.
This includes a ‘86C’ compact tracked excavator, a pair of ‘Loadall’ telehandlers (a ‘528S’ and a ‘531.70’) and a ‘JS175W’ wheeled excavator. While some materials are processed outside, most of the waste recycling opera tions take place undercover inside a vast concrete building.
Escor doesn’t process domestic household refuse (garbage), but it does handle a wide range of other waste materials such as woodwaste, plastics, aluminium cans, paper and cardboard, so I am interested to see how the 11.5 tonne JCB Hydradig was being used. But before we arrive at the site, Ignatio explains a couple of aspects of his marketing philosophy and how JCB is doing in Spain.
IN A STRONG POSITION
Most of us have short memories, but we need to remember that Spain – along with Portugal and Greece – were hit especially hard by the global banking crisis. This devastated the local economy which is only now showing meaningful signs of recovery. I ask Ignacio how bad it was from his perspective and the figure of “10%” comes up in the conversation. Doesn’t sound too bad? Think again – he means the annual market for new machinery in Spain was reduced to around ten percent of what it was. That’s a reduction of ninety percent! As a result, Ignacio tells me, several competitive brands just packed up and pulled out of the Spanish market. JCB stayed and to help dealers stay in business, the emphasis was put on looking after existing customers with machine overhauls and replacement parts initiatives to ensure that the JCB machines working in Spain continued to work efficiently until the economy picked up again.
Now it has? JCB is now in a strong position. Only three other major brands continued to have a presence in Spain after the crisis, Ignatio explains – Caterpillar, Case and Volvo. Taking last year’s figures, JCB was market leader in terms of the number of machines sold in Spain, only just beaten in value terms by Caterpillar as a result of the CAT range containing more high-value models as used in mining and quarrying.
Part of the reason for the success of JCB, Ignacio reminds me, is the diverse product range – and the fact that JCB is equally strong in all sectors – construction, agriculture and ‘industrial’, which includes scrap, waste and recycling.
A LOADING SHOVEL-
Hang on a minute. I’ve just been looking at the list of JCB machines oper ated by Escor. There’s something missing.
"How come Escor doesn’t operate any wheeled loaders?", I ask Ignatio. Here comes another interesting piece of marketing philosophy.. “Rather than pitch directly against competitive brands and face a price-cutting war, our dealers are encouraged to use the diversity of the JCB range to find a more efficient solution to meet customers’ operational needs. So for example where a customer might run a competitor’s loading shovel, we might find that after an on-site demonstration, a Loadall telehandler might be faster, or be more versatile,” he explains.
“And with machines like the Teltruk as well, we can often offer our customers several solutions to the same problem,” he smiles.
While I’m thinking that through, we drive past the glossy dealership representing a competitive brand of machines. “We’re almost there,” Ignatio explains. “The Escor facility is at the end of this road.”
Now I get where Ignatio is coming from. The brand that dealership represents is well known for articulated loading shovels (wheeled loaders) and is located almost within sight of the Escor facility and yet... And yet Escor has no machines of that brand in service. And no loading shovels. Period. Conclusion? Ignacio Lanzadera’s marketing philosophy seems to be working!
WORKING AS A
Right, we’re at the Escor facility now and have met up with local JCB dealer representative Juan Carlos Andino. I’ve had an introductory discussion and a tour of the site. Now I’m in for another surprise.
I’m thinking that at 11.5 tonnes machine weight, the Hydradig is going to be employed on some lighter duty operation than the full-size JS175W and Loadalls. Like exclusively on plastics, or something.