"We are able to quantify our solution’s cost-saving and time-saving potential, something that has proven to be invaluable for our customers."
Can you give an overview of Eazi Access and the company’s history in Southern Africa?
Eazi Access started in 2003 as an equipment rental business. We have grown significantly and now provide a complete service offering in both work-at-height and material-handling equipment, including rental, sales, services and training. The company has 25 sites across Southern Africa and operations in Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Our close collaboration with key OEM brands has been an outstanding achievement. We are proud to have been appointed as Linde Material Handling’s exclusive distributor in South Africa. We are also the sole distributor of JLG in South Africa, a brand renowned for manufacturing great quality work-at-height equipment.
More recently, a significant portion of our capex has gone into our OEM brand, Magni. The Magni Telehandler has brought the right equipment solution for our mining and heavy industrial customers as it can be used for various applications from tyre changing, to picking and carrying materials on-site, through to working on the big draglines. We have seen significant growth in revenue by supplying innovative and safe solutions, mainly through the Magni range. We are able to quantify our solution’s cost-saving and time-saving potential, something that has proven to be invaluable for our customers.
How is Eazi Access capitalizing on the trends of automation and decarbonization?
In every solution we design, we ensure it enables productivity in the safest way. Each operator receives quality instruction and training with a focus on safety.
We recently introduced a digital fleet management offering under our Linde Material Handling OEM brand called Linde Connect. The product enables intelligent fleet management through a combination of Linde software and hardware. Industrial trucks generate enormous data that can provide insight into the vehicle’s condition and usage rates. Linde Connect collects this data and makes it available to fleet operators. Mine automation holds great potential in Southern Africa and is already seen by many mines as an essential element of their future productivity and commercial sustainability.
An increasing focus to reduce carbon emissions and improve worker safety is at the centre of the electrification revolution in the mining industry. Electric machines also have lower maintenance requirements and are typically cheaper to operate, and they also reduce the need for ventilation in underground working areas.
Eazi Access offers lithium-ion battery solutions that help with running a clean fleet as it contains the characteristics of an IC truck with no battery bay required and quick charging.
How did the pandemic impact the industry and Eazi Access’ business?
We implemented stringent initiatives to ensure a sustainable business, protect jobs and livelihoods, and focus on the safety of our people. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions caused significant disruptions to the South African economy. When lockdown restrictions were at their most stringent, economic output slumped to R652 billion.
Economic activity has increased since then, in line with easing lockdown restrictions, with real GDP rising to R761 billion in the first quarter of 2021. This level is roughly comparable to what the economy was producing in the first quarter of 2016 and is 2.7% down from the R782 billion recorded in Q1 of 2020.
Lockdown restrictions also impacted mining, but production increased by 116.5% in April 2021, with the most prominent contributors being PGMs, gold, manganese ore and iron ore. The pandemic economically impacted Eazi Access, but the continued growth in the mining sector bodes well as this sector has been earmarked as a growth opportunity for the business. The South African economy still operates within an uncertain environment and requires businesses to be resilient to survive within short to medium term.
There are still significant potential prospects in Southern Africa, and governments are keen to engage foreign multinationals on commercial terms. In most countries, negotiated concessions and investment incentives outweigh the perceived negative of giving away equity, so we should see additional mines opening up.
How would you describe the current state of mining activity across Southern Africa?
Africa always had logistical, political and skill challenges but has fortunately been blessed with abundant minerals. With the increased demand for copper and other minerals, I believe the Southern African mining industry will benefit greatly.