Smith Capital Equipment (SCE) designs and manufactures superlift aerial platforms (known as cherry pickers) and also hotline drilling rigs for various drilling requirements.
The company’s roots stretch back almost four decades, and over these years it has undergone several mergers and acquisitions, until 2005 when the business was moved into an independent company, named Smith Capital Equipment (Pty) Ltd. The major internal changes that SCE has gone through have brought new and experienced employees into the business and as a result the company is stronger in management and skills than it has ever been. It is now geared to offer world-class products to all its clients, from its base in South Africa.
An important component of the business is the relationship it has established with South Africa’s national electrical utility Eskom. About a decade ago, supplying insulated truck-mounted access equipment to Eskom for the live line maintenance of its vital overhead grid became the main part of SCE’s business. In addition, three main model lines have evolved in conjunction with Eskom Distribution to satisfy its specific but varied needs. Over more recent years, SCE has been accredited to ISO:9001 to satisfy Eskom and other clients requirements. As part of this procedure a new advanced spray booth was installed to its facility to improve quality and environmental standards.
In April 2011, following several enquiries from Eskom and other potential customers about telescopic platforms that can reach difficult areas, and also truck mounted cranes, SCE signed distribution agreements with two new Italian suppliers – PM Cranes and its subsidiary Oil & Steel, with a view to importing a select range of key machines that the company believes will suit the local market. The new products are being marketed and sold in Smith’s existing customer sectors as well as new sectors and they will adapted by SCE to South African standards and conditions.
As evidenced above, SCE places great value on listening to its clients in order to help anticipate what their upcoming needs may be. Over its history in platforms and also drilling rigs, it has accrued years of experience in local applications and what the market might do next. It was this dialogue that helped SCE pick up on the trend for telescopic non-insulated aerial platforms.
Alongside these new machines, SCE has also maintained the fabrication of its own platforms and drills. Indeed drilling rigs are another area of expertise for SCE, and it has manufactured them for over 30 years. Its products are usually mounted onto either trucks or tractors but it has also built them onto other carriers as required by customers.
When it comes to exploration rigs, SCE is geared to supply various types - whether it is reverse circulation, rotary air core or diamond coring. Most of these are commonly used for exploration applications using RC air hammers and also for versatile grade control applications.
SCE’s range of Hotline waterwell equipment is designed for simplicity yet covers every size, style and carrier, allowing the company to tailor the product to a specific need. The drilling solutions are designed to ensure maximum profitability with the least amount of required capital and running costs.
Another advantage of listening to the market has recently come to the fore, as SCE now believes that in the future there will be a greater need for maintenance and servicing of existing units, rather than the sale of new ones. Therefore it is investing in growing its service side, focusing on service work, repairs, load testing and certification of aerial platforms. SCE already offers other complementary services, ranging from design and product development to training and commissioning. When it comes to training, up to ten operators are given familiarisation training for free on each new unit that is delivered within South African borders.
For decades SCE has been working with various clients, assisting and advising the correct equipment to handle their specific and often special requirements. This experience, combined with a dedication to quality and reliability, means that the company is now a respected contributor to the aerial platform and drilling rig market. SCE will continue to meet the needs of existing clients, as well as following the extension of the business into the crane market with its new agreement with PM Cranes. It aims to become a respected name in truck-mounted cranes, as it already is in drilling rigs and aerial platforms.
The future looks set to be busy for SCE, with its new products to market and prove to clients, new equipment at its facilities to improve products and processes and new demands from clients on a daily basis. However, it has placed itself in the ideal position to move ahead on all these areas, from the board where the company founder still sits, all the way down to the new additions to the workforce. These factors will enable SCE to grow its position as the ‘aerial platform expert’ in Africa.