SITE REPORT: Reaping the rewards
17 July 2013
Throughout the last few years of economic turmoil, Morocco has managed to maintain a steady path of growth. Even in 2009 when global GDP fell for the first time in generations, the Moroccan economy grew by almost +5%. It also escaped the disruption of the Arab Spring, which affected many of its neighbours in 2011.
This stability, and at times robust growth, has been good news for the country’s construction industry, stimulating investment by the private and public sectors alike. On the government side, a series of major motorway projects to link some of the country’s major cities, along with plans to improve rural roads, are providing a boost to the industry. Meanwhile, construction related to the tourist industry and real estate developments are significant drivers on the private side.
Both these are key factors in and around the historic city of Marrakech. Tractafric, Caterpillar’s dealer for Morocco and Central Africa has a branch in the city, and its head, Mohamed Lamlyah, said business was good.
The branch has about 300 customers in its 400 km2 territory, ten of which Mr Lamlyah describes as large – having fleets of 50 machines or more. He said that in total the dealership serves a population of some 800 machines, many of which are less than five years old.
Infrastructure work, including road building, water, sewerage, along with quarrying, are key activities and major projects in the region include the 400 km Safi to El Jadida coastal motorway and the 170 km Marrakech to Beni Mellal highway. In fact, although the new purpose-built Tartaric branch in Marrakech has only been open a year, business is such that the company may outgrow it.
“We are very optimistic. We think we’ll have to expand again in five years,” said Mr Lamlyah. “That is based on current projects and things that are coming up. There is a big programme of road building in rural areas for example. There are lots of opportunities in paving and road maintenance.”
One of Tractafric’s larger customers in the Marrakech area is Groupe Mojazine, which has five divisions active in the public works, construction materials, real estate, road building & bitumen products and pre-fabricated concrete products businesses.
The company was set up in 2001, and now owns a fleet of more than 200 pieces of construction equipment, about a third of which are Cat. These include the majority of its excavators – mostly 20 tonne class machines – as well as 80% of its 20-strong wheeled loader fleet, which goes up to 24 tonne 966H models.
The company also runs a fleet of more than 100 on-highway trucks, most of which are Volvos, but with a significant number of Scanias in the mix.
And it is a relatively young fleet. According to Adil Laaribi, head of Mojazine’s equipment department, most of the machines were bought five years ago or so. “We made a big investment in equipment in 2008 and 2009. It was a risk but it paid off,”
The modern and youthful fleet is something Mr Laaribi sees as a key success factor for the company, as is the working relationship that has developed between Mojazine and Tractafric. “The equipment is a strong point for us. A strong brand backed by a strong dealer helps us to be competitive. You need a long-term vision when you chose a partner, and we have had problems with other suppliers and their local dealers,” he said.
The company makes use of the Product Link telematics system offered by Caterpillar on its machines, a level of sophistication Mr Lamlyah said was unusual among the dealer’s customers. However, Mr Laaribi was enthusiastic about the benefits it offered.
“This is the solution offered by Caterpillar and Tractafric to follow equipment very closely. We use Product Link to manage the fleet and track the number of hours. We can plan the maintenance of the machines accurately. It also helps prevent breakdowns because it sends alerts. Basically it increases the up-time. It also helps us to monitor fuel consumption and prevent theft of fuel,” he said.
Mojazine operates four quarries around Marrakech to feed its own construction businesses. The extraction part of the operation is fairly straightforward, as the sites are dried river beds.
This means there is no need for any blasting or even ripping. The material is loose enough to be excavated by one of the company’s many 20 tonne class Cat tracked excavators.
The journey to the fixed crushing and screening plants is made using Mojazine’s on-highway trucks, as the ground conditions are firm enough and the gradients shallow enough that more expensive off-highway haulers are not required.
The crushing plants themselves are built around Metso crushers. Mojazine favours C110 jaw crushers for primary work and HP200 cone crushers for further reduction and to help produce aggregates that are as cubic in dimensions as possible.
This setup gives the company the flexibility to produce six individually sized products in various grades from 0 to 25 mm using the cone units as secondary and tertiary crushers. It can also produce a 0 to 31.5 mm grade direct from the jaw crusher.
This allows it to produce 200 tonnes of aggregates per hour at each facility if required, and it is the basis for production at all four of the company’s quarries.
The fact that the feed material is river gravel and sand means oversized boulders are not a huge problem for the crushing plants. However, the relatively high amount of fines means the company is looking into dust suppression systems for its conveyors as well as a cyclone washing system at the quarry near its headquarters in Sidi Ghanem for sand washing.
Further plans for this site include a pre-cast concrete plant to produce standard components such as pipes, blocks and paving slabs.
With the Moroccan economy expected to keep growing and Marrakech itself continuing to attract tourists, Mojazine’s investment in a modern fleet and its commitment to modern techniques to manage the machines should continue to stand it in good stead.