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Manitou SA February 10 www. bus- ex. com 51 operation poses a unique set of challenges," he explains. " What makes our work in this industry so exciting is that we are prepared to meet with site personnel to discuss in depth what their requirements really are. Only then is it possible to come up with an optimum solution. Often we will first build a prototype and then let a customer work with it for three or six months before we make a final recommendation," he says. The Manitou machines are manufactured in France and standard equipment is shipped to South Africa. However, that is when local engineers work their alchemy and where required, equipment is customised to meet carefully drawn-up specifications. Whether machines are required for hard rock or soft rock mining, the end result might be the same but every mining operation will require a different specification of machinery and different attachments. " Our willingness to accommodate the requirements and specifications of the mining companies and the underground mining act sets Manitou apart from our competitors," he states. Spring applied hydraulic release braking on all four wheels is essential in underground mining applications. One of the most difficult assignments undertaken to date involved reducing the overall height of a telescopic machine from 2.2 metres down to 1.5 metres to meet the needs of a low- profile environment. " We have also worked in a similar way to modify machines for roof bolting, scaling and face drilling," Shankland adds. The company is constantly looking out for new ways to add value to customers' operations. " For example, we have recently added new attachments to our telescopic handlers for changing tyres, cable reel handling, cylinder handling, handling of wheel motors on large dump trucks and charge- up units. The tyres on underground vehicles can weigh in excess of a tonne and manoeuvring them underground in tight spaces can be very difficult and time consuming, so we have come up with new attachments that make the process much faster and easier," he says. When the company established a direct presence in the South African marketplace 10 years ago, a principal objective was to offer better levels of service and after- sales support. " Our technicians are available on a 24/ 7 reaction basis and in the event of a problem we will generally have a response unit on its way within two hours. The availability of parts is a very significant plus factor and moreover, we increasingly design and engineer from a common platform which means that there is compatibility of parts across different machines and attachments. All our parts are air freighted in and the availability across the counter is very high- should a part be ordered twice in a year, the part is then carried in stock. Because of the nature of the mining industry " In particular, we specialise in supporting underground operations and if there is one particular product category for which we are renowned, it would have to be our underground telescopic handling equipment. It is an extremely versatile piece of handling equipment that comes with an array of attachments which transform it into a multi- utility vehicle," he comments. A single Manitou Telescopic can lift up to heights of 30 metres; load and unload; clean; scoop; tow; change tyres; remove engines and components; lift people up in a personal cage to do maintenance, secure vent piping or cables, fit roof bolts etc; and carry items weighing as much as 35 tonnes. It comes with no fewer than 38 standard attachments and critically, Manitou believes it can carry out the tasks of two to four similar machines in a fraction of the time. Thanks to the four- wheel- drive, four wheel and crab steer, the machine can also be manoeuvred into the smallest and most awkward spaces. All of Manitou's equipment is built to last and to minimise downtime in the harshest of operating environments. Shankland believes that a key factor which sets Manitou apart is the company's ability to customise machines to cater for specific applications and requirements. " Every mining