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Working across South Africa as well as Namibia in its niche construction, mining and industrial segments, Burma Plant Hire continues to modernise its earthmoving fleet, a recent addition being a Cat 826K landfill compactor now deployed on one of its longest serving contracts in the Western Cape.
Diversification has been a major success factor for Burma Plant Hire (Burma), a Cape Town based company that celebrates 12 years in business in 2015. Today Burma is one of the largest in its field within the Western Cape, and a growing force nationally and internationally, which since its establishment back in 2003 has seen progressive roll-outs with branches established in the Eastern Cape, the Northern Cape, Gauteng, and more recently Namibia in September 2014.
“From the onset, our focus has been on supplying specialist plant hire solutions to the industrial, mining and construction sectors,” says Theuns MA Burger, company founder, CEO and executive chairman, “combined with a strict adherence to health and safety practices. Safety is Burma’s number one priority in all areas of our business and more specifically in terms of plant utilisation, as well as operator proficiency training and certification.” In July 2011 Burma joined Raubex Group Limited, a company listed on the JSE.
There are now more than 600 units in Burma’s mixed hire fleet, a core component comprising Cat earthmoving machines supplied and supported by Caterpillar’s southern African dealer, Barloworld Equipment.
Historically, these machines have played a major role in expanding South Africa’s built environment and public infrastructure landscape. In its home province there are many Western Cape examples where Burma machines have been part of the construction mix. These include the Berg River Dam project; various developments at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront precinct; the extension to Hospital Bend in Cape Town: a two year road widening and reconstruction project; works at the Green Point Stadium, one of the official South African 2010 FIFA World Cup venues; the R300 route upgrade in Cape Town; the Hemel to Aarde Road project, interconnecting Hermanus with the Western Cape town of Caledon, a central wheat growing hub and also a major tourist attraction for various boutique wine estates; plus the Colesburg N1 interchange project; and the N7 interchange near Durbanville.
In more recent years, the Northern Cape mining segment has been a new growth market for Burma, which already has a long established presence in this and the neighbouring Western Cape region for dedicated plant hire solutions supplied to contractors working on upgrades and extensions to the Sishen to Saldanha rail line. This is a rail corridor for iron and manganese ore exports destined for worldwide shipment via the Port of Saldanha. Burma continues to supply plant for this ongoing project. New lines include connections from the Kolomela Mine near Postmasburg through to Sishen.
Since 2010, plant hire to construction companies operating in this Northern Cape region have run in parallel with a progressive extension of allied services to the mining sector following Burma’s opening of a branch and parts distribution centre in Postmasburg. Plant hire solutions in mining include the supply of earthmoving equipment for the loading and hauling of waste materials, as well as the maintenance and construction of haul roads.
The first two machines purchased by Burma were acquired in 2003: namely a Cat 320C hydraulic excavator and a Cat 938G wheel loader. The Cat 938G, which has now recorded more than 23 000 hours, is still on daily hire. Since then, Burma’s mixed earthmoving fleet has seen a progressive expansion in its Cat units to meet diverse market needs in general industry. This includes the acquisition of four latest generation Cat 938K wheel loaders during 2014 and the delivery in January 2015 of a Cat 826K landfill compactor, the first unit to see operation within southern Africa.
“We are actively expanding our landfill business nationwide,” explains Burger, “to meet rising demand from both the private and municipal markets for class-leading mechanised solutions, our latest Cat 826K acquisition being a prime example.”
This machine is now deployed at the Vissershok hazardous waste site, a privately owned landfill bordering the N7 some 30 km north of Cape Town central. The Cat 826K joins an older Cat 816H compactor on a site where Burma has been operational since inception in 2003.
Manufactured in the USA at Caterpillar’s Aurora plant in Illinois, the new Cat 826K landfill compactor is an advance on an enduring legacy, which builds on the first Cat 826 derivative introduced by Caterpillar back in 1978. Like most Cat units, it is designed with the inherent capability of a second and third life rebuild.
Succeeding the previous generation 826H model, the Cat 826K, powered by a Cat C15 ACERT™ engine, comes to market with advanced levels of efficiency, operator comfort, serviceability and safety: the cab – isolation-mounted to the frame – is pressurised with filtered air, and the selected temperature is maintained automatically.
“Machine performance features on the Cat 826K include increased operating weight (at 40 917 kg compared to the Cat 826H’s 36 976 kg), more power delivery, no-spin front and rear axles for better landfill traction, and a larger fuel tank for longer operation between refuelling,” explains Barloworld Equipment Bellville Cat sales professional, Clinton Carelse. “Additionally, higher ground clearance and a redesigned belly guard provide advanced protection.”
On the move, drive is delivered via a 2F/2R planetary power-shift transmission, lock-up torque converter, and heavy-duty planetary axles. For fuel saving performance, the 826K features an Eco Mode. When selected by the operator, this limits engine speed and allows the machine to function in an auto-shift mode when maximum torque is not required. Further fuel savings are achieved with the C15's Engine Idle Shutdown system.
For operator convenience, the left pedal serves as a brake, transmission neutraliser, and engine decelerator, which the operator can use to temporarily override the engine speed set with the throttle lock for safely manoeuvring around obstacles. Plus for optimum responsiveness and control, the 826K's STIC™ system allows single-lever steering and transmission control.
Hydraulically actuated engine and power-train guards shield components and resist debris build-up; front-frame guards further prevent waste build-up in the frames and add protection for hydraulic lines; axle-wrapping and seal guards reduce the prospect of material binding around the axles; a fine-mesh air-inlet screen prevents material from entering the engine compartment; an under-hood ventilation system resists waste intrusion; and striker bars and cleaner fingers help keep the wheels clean for optimum compaction effort. It is this sort of attention to detail that positions the Cat 826K as the landfill class leader.
“As with the Cat 826K, all our machine acquisitions are determined by detailed market research and once brought into the fleet are thereafter maintained to deliver high availability through rigorous maintenance programmes that adhere to OEM scheduled service intervals,” says Burger.
Optimum performance is maintained through Burma’s investment in the best after-market solutions. “We only use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, oils and hydraulic fluids,” he expands.
“Our administration systems are also being streamlined so that in the future Burma can work in a near paperless environment. In these and other areas, it’s all about business flexibility. In South Africa, as well as Namibia, this efficiency focus will be driven by our ongoing earthmoving fleet modernisation programmes to ensure that our customers have the safest, most fuel efficient and technologically advanced hire options available.”