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Building activity has continued to drive demand for site dumpers.

Doosan Bobcat reports that demand from regional and national hirers have resulted in an increase of 24% in its mini sales in the 12 months to August 2017. Its 1, 1.5 and 2.5-tonne models are said to be the most popular with hirers

Increased interest in loaders

Bobcat also reports a stable skid steer loader market, with sales of compact tracked loaders plateauing after something of a boom in recent years owing to solar farm construction activity. The manufacturer says there has also been increasing interest in tracked loaders that

Bobcat says demand has increased for tracked loaders with landscaping attachments.

can be used in conjunction with 2D and 3D laser grading equipment, and for forestry and landscaping applications.

Similarly, JCB’s Dan Thompstone reports growing interest from hirers in skid steer loaders. “Hirers are looking to find further opportunities to differentiate themselves from the traditional hire products. The machines are very versatile, useful in more industry sectors and applications, and, with the right attachments, offer a very good return on investment.” He adds that JCB’s Hydradig wheeled loader has received “a fabulous response from the market. It is aimed at contractors in all sectors of the construction industry, and it is the contractors that will encourage hirers to offer it.”

The demand for minis and loaders has been matched by sales of compact dumpers. “Demand from hirers remains encouraging and we have had positive year,” said Ian Brown, MD of Thwaites. “Sales are largely being driven by the building industry which is doing well at the moment. This is creating demand across the board, from 9-tonne dumpers for general construction work, down to 1-tonne machines for house renovations and extensions, with many people improving their homes rather than moving. We have also noticed demand for machines with cabs, such as our new versions of our 9-tonne forward tip, 6-tonne forward tip and 6-tonne power swivel models we announced at Plantworx.

“The national media paint a conflicting picture. Some talk of the property market overheating and possibly slowing down in London and other cities, while others report that regions like the East and West Midlands are the place to be. Overall, however, there is still plenty of infrastructure work taking place – visit any UK airport and you will see some form of construction activity going on, and there


are large on-going projects like HS2 and Hinkley Point. There is also talk of local authorities being encouraged to release land for the development of affordable housing.

A positive market is also reported by JCB, which two years ago added site dumpers by sourcing badge-engineered machines from Terex in Coventry. Last year, this part of Terex was bought by Mecalac, and at Plantworx JCB announced its intention to design and produce its own dumper range. Dan Thompstone says that “the ratio of retails in 2017 has been fairly evenly split throughout the different weight categories. However, we have found increasing demand for 3-tonne swivel tip models with hydrostatic drive, as opposed to manual, and 6-tonne swivel tip models. Since announcing our intention to manufacture a range of site dumpers, feedback has been extremely positive, with the 7-tonne Hi-Viz model receiving the bulk of the attention, with hirers and end-users seeing the potential solution the model offers for safety concerns in the industry today.” He adds that, at the other end of the spectrum, the company’s HTD5 compact tracked dumper remains popular with hirers.

We began this article by referring to the uncertain political backdrop in 2017, and this looks sets to continue with the on-going discussions regarding the UK’s planned exit from the EC by March 2019. Takeuchi’s Tomonori Tamaru says that “the low pound has seen hire companies making the most of a busy export market for second hand machines” and investing in new. JCB’s Dan Thompstone suggests that Brexit will have no impact on the market, positive or negative. Also, Thwaites’ Ian Brown says that, “Our export markets vary from country to country especially in Europe I think a lot of people have misconceptions about Brexit. Europe never really has been a single market. It might be from a political or administrative viewpoint, but not from a technological one: like other manufacturers, we have to adapt machines for different countries’ regulations and requirements.”

JCB says its HD5 compact tracked dumper is proving popular with hirers.

Despite the political uncertainty, perhaps the most likely scenario for the next 12 months is a continuation of the recent steady, if not spectacular growth, given suppliers’ positive comments above. And that is infinitely preferable to the pre-recession boom-and-bust cycle.

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