Jeff Gray is the International Sales Director of Superior Industries, which is renowned worldwide for its conveying, washing and material handling solutions. He tells Quarry about the constraints of navigating COVID-19 abroad and the company’s enthusiasm to promote its washing, crushing and screen product lines in the Australian market.
How has Superior Industries performed during the global pandemic?
For most of 2020 there were constraints on spending in the industry by the end users, and dealers were cautious about taking new inventory. But there was a strong push for new machinery as we entered 2021, and as the markets in North America and overseas began to open, we’ve seen optimism growing for products in 2022.
Has the pandemic changed the way Superior does business with its customers?
I think Superior, like many OEMs, has reinvented its interaction with customers. Supporting customers globally is a different business today. It takes more pre-planning and you have to understand the constraints of different countries, eg an international plant start-up that might have taken four to five days now may have wholly different constraints ahead of time.
What are Superior’s most popular products in the extractive industries? Have these products been of interest in Australia?
Superior’s legacy is in material handling and conveying equipment but we’ve really focused on the addition of our crushing, screening and washing product lines. The specific products we want to promote in the Australian market are our cone and jaw crushers, and horizontal screens.
You have a couple of distributors down under. How are they faring?
They’ve been with us shy of a year but Tricon Equipment in eastern Australia has had success in the highly engineered conveyor stackers and our low water washers. On the west coast, 888 Crushing & Screening Equipment has had success in the conveying and material handling product lines.
Does Superior offer programs and services beyond its key plant and equipment?
We use our product line managers in different ways, including customer training on machine applications. That’s mainly in North America but we can partner with our dealers around the world and offer end user training in equipment application and utilisation, and improved efficiencies and maintenance, which we can tailor to a region’s need.
What innovations are your products adopting to save producers money and time and conserve energy?
The common thread between Superior and many OEMs is picking one automation platform and applying it to multiple product lines. So, on jaw, cone and impact crushers, the interfaces look alike but they are tailored to specific machine parameters. That’s an emphasis for Superior going forward but you’ll also see it across the industry.
What is Superior’s position on electric and alternate power engines?
The predominant use for diesel power in our products would be on the conveying/handling side of the business. Superior doesn’t supply diesel-powered tracked or portable crushers and screens. Even on wheel-mounted chassis, they are mostly electric-powered. An electric crushing plant would be connected to a diesel generator or commercial power.
What will be the quarrying industry’s major challenges in the next three years?
The challenge, like in any country, is to attract young people to our industry, making them aware that they can receive a good salary and create a good living. People don’t understand that as they drive on our roads and enjoy our infrastructure. They don’t realise that it’s possible to work for a long time for one company in the aggregates business. It’s disappointing that so many educators in our pre-college education system don’t talk about the opportunities and the lifestyles the quarrying industry offers. Many educators consider the industry as a fall back position to college when it should be viewed as an equal career choice.
How can Superior Industries best assist quarries with meeting these challenges?
We need to help our end users share the technology on our equipment in the classrooms to catch young people’s eyes, to see the independent, stand-alone automation systems and the touchscreens we use in not only our crushing, screening and washing equipment, but in our loading fleets and trucks. The technology is impressive and would appeal to young people.
Will Superior be working with its dealers on campaigns in Australia in 2022 to raise the profile of its product lines?
Going into 2022, we more than doubled our stock order intake from previous highs of our crushing/screening and washing product lines in North America. We’re keen to take that enthusiasm and success to other parts of the world.
We’ve been itching to visit Australia to get the word out about our crushing and screening products. Our partners do a great job on the washing, material handling and conveying launches but we need to work with them to visit as many customers as possible to share the word about Superior’s crushing and screening products. We are chomping at the bit to be face to face with the customer base in Australia.
For more information about Superior Industries’ product lines, visit superior-ind.com