“We have been continuously levelling,” Al Hammadi continues. “It started four years ago, and from that time we have levelling day and night, and we will be continuing for the next two or three years.”
The sheer pace of the excavation, loading and dumping required to level the dunes and fill in adjacent depressions is why the choice of tipper trucks was so critical. Downtime is not an option.
At the same time, in the cash-strapped economic climate, the RAK PWSD is constantly looking for ways to reduce its costs without cutting corners. Al Hammadi is driving change in the direction of higher productivity and performance and lower total cost of operation.
Pointing to some existing inefficiencies, he notes: “The old vehicles, the old trucks — some of them really you cannot find spare parts — that’s why we are now very selective. We are trying to unify our fleet and limit our selection to brands like Iveco, Caterpillar and Komatsu. Before, we would purchase 10 units at a time: Iveco, MAN, Scania, Daimler; now we are thinking differently.
Emphasising the pressure of parts supply, he adds: “It becomes too much. It is better to stick to two; not to keep one monopoly, but two. If you have maximum three, ok, but unifying is now the trend.”
The recent order with Iveco also represents the latest phase of a long-term relationship between RAK PWSD and both the Italian truck brand and its UAE distributor Saeed Mohammed Al Ghandi & Son (SMAG), of the Al Ghandi Auto Group, which first sold an order of Iveco vehicles to the authority more than 20 years ago.
Graham Turner, CEO of Al Ghandi Auto Group, who was also on-site in RAK, says of the relationship between the two parties: “Aftersales is where the whole long-term point comes in. We have to work together — even though RAK PWSD is doing its own maintenance —because everything is now so technological that we have train our customer’s teams. Iveco and Al Ghandi do that to make sure that the technology is being used properly.”
Al Hammadi responds: “Especially when you bring a new fleet or equipment really they (SMAG) are helpful — they come here, they sit here for a week or two weeks, they train our guys and they do whatever is needed. Also, they have their back-up here — they have their spare parts right here in the UAE. That’s not the case with some other brands.”
Turner adds: “It’s also a two-way street. We work closely with our customers, and they in turn don’t deal with the grey market — and that ultimately it benefits both of us. We have to be in partnership — if we just sold the trucks and ran away, it would be no good.”
Al Hammadi adds: “It is going well. Our people are managing and cooperating. It’s like a family business now,” Turner chimes in. “That’s the way I try and run the company — like you’ve joined the family!”
Another measure that Al Hammadi is working on to raise the overall productivity of his fleet is to sell his trucks and machines on after a few years where before RAK PWSD would retain units indefinitely.