Jeff Gray is the Director of International Sales and Mining at Superior Industries, which is renowned worldwide for its crushing, screening, washing and conveying solutions. He sits down with Quarry to discuss the latest in the world of bulk handling and equipment processing, and what the company has planned for this year.
How did Superior Industries perform in 2022? Were there any highlights you’d like to share?
It was a great year, we saw near record levels of revenue, and we’ve seen the bottom line start to work its way back up after the prices of raw materials stabilised, which led to some stability in the business.We are also very excited that we will be launching two new product lines for cone crushing this year. We’ve had a cone crusher in our portfolio, but with the two new lines, we are leaping into sectors that we couldn’t play in before. This gives us the opportunity to fulfil some application specific needs, as well as the needs of customers that have preferences for certain styles of cone crushers.The new products will be introduced at CONEXPO in March 2023 and first launched in North America, followed by a launch in the Australian market within six to twelve months, if not sooner.
Which Superior Industries’ products are most popular within Australia’s quarrying sector?
Our conveying, washing and screening product lines all have a very good penetration in the Australian market. Australia is among our top five markets globally.
What innovations in your products can help quarries become more sustainable?
The main thing that ties into sustainability is our activity in the steel slag processing market, as well as the concrete and asphalt recycling markets.The slag market is one where we’ve become very active in, and we’ll expand globally. Some of our customers in the US also service the slag industry in Australia as far as processing steel slag.
From an efficiency point of view, are there common pinch points in quarries that your products can address?
The most common thing that we see in aggregate processing plants is that they’ve been asked to produce more of certain products and you always want to have your crushers maximised and fully utilised, but as we try to push the productivity of the plants, a lot of times the screen area limits our finished product output. So, as we push our plants to higher and higher tonnes per hour rates, we need to make sure that we look after our screening area. That’s a cautionary tale.
How has Superior Industries adapted to the challenges around supply chain for timely product delivery?
For many years, it was not uncommon to be able to complete any piece of equipment in 16 to 20 weeks or less and ship it. Today, the lead times are double or in some cases longer. For our manufacturing operations, one thing that we looked at was that we have six manufacturing locations around the world. Some locations have a larger pool of potential workers, so we’ve looked to see who has the best access to adding capacity and that’s where we’ve moved our investments in facilities to help us grow.From our distributors’ standpoint, it’s kept them more on point as far as looking at their inventory of equipment and making sure they are replenished on time. I think our distributors, that is Tricon on the EastCoast and 888CSE on the west coast for conveying equipment, have done a good job of trying to stay ahead with the availability of the most popular product sizes. We are in a position now that we need to partner with our dealers to ensure that they have the inventory at their facilities to service the installs for Australia. We are doing this by putting in resources in Superior Industries to help our dealers achieve that, to make sure they have the right parts in place, at the right time.
What do you foresee to be a key challenge for the Australian extractive industry in the short term?
I think for Australia, the economy, where the government is trying to curtail the rate of inflation through interest rate hikes, could be a challenge for the sector. That’s always a fine line to walk for any economy. If those [rate changes] are enacted too quickly, it can bring some things to a halt, specifically for the commercial and municipal construction and road projects.That’s a potential challenge that we’ll keep an eye on.
In 2023, what are Superior Industries’ primary goals?
Significant expansion of our manufacturing capacity, for both equipment and for conveyor components. Those are two areas where we saw demand outpacing our ability to maintain what we feel are reasonable lead times, so that’s a big effort and one that we are working through with our plants. Another goal this year is to add a stocking and servicing dealer in Western Australian for our crushing and screening equipment, as well as for our washing equipment. In the east coast, we want to enhance our crushing inventory with our dealer Tricon.
For more information about Superior Industries product line, visit: www.superior-ind.com