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Babcock Going for gold

Babcock opens ultramodern yellow-metal facility in Middelburg

BabcockBabcock has opened the floor-to-ceiling semi-transparent stacking doors to its new, ultramodern bespoke sales, parts and service dealership in Middelburg. The purpose of the new premises is to offer responsive regional support and service across Babcock’s entire construction equipment product range.

The multi-national corporation is the exclusive regional distributor for leading international brands and equipment, including Volvo and SDLG construction equipment, Tadano mobile cranes and Winget concrete handling machinery.

It was also appointed the official distributor of Terex Trucks following the truck company’s acquisition by Volvo last year. With an extensive history in sales and servicing of construction equipment to the mining and construction sectors in South Africa, Babcock has had a presence in the Middelburg region for the last 16 years and has outgrown two previous premises in this period.

The new facility was purpose-built to assist and support customers in the region, and is expected to service the coal mining fields of Middelburg and surrounds for at least the next 20 years.

The estimated R100-million yellow- metal facility covers 30 000m² and features highly specialised and unique design elements, as well as modern, high-end finishes. Babcock’s Project Manager, Michael de Weijer, who was instrumental in managing the construction of the new facility, says that the ergonomic design was conceptualised around the flow of equipment, parts and people to ensure efficient operational and communication management. Accordingly, the administrative open-plan offices are located across two floors.

The primary workshop covers an area of nearly 2 000m² under roof and includes 12 nine-metre wide work bays in two adjoining rows of six bays, all serviced by overhead gantry cranes.

Babcock2The workshop offices on the first floor overlook the 12 work bays and service facilities area comprising the component workshop, spray booths, wash bays and boiler workshops.

All heavy equipment operation and parts are on a single level, enhancing safety when handling these machines and heavy parts. The primary workshop covers an area of nearly 2 000m² under roof and includes 12 nine-metre wide work bays in two adjoining rows of six bays, all serviced by overhead gantry cranes. All bays have a ceiling of 9m under hook, making it possible to service mega trucks.

All the workshop bays, component workshop, spray booths, wash bays and boiler shop bays drain into a common settling tank and oil separation facility before being discharged into the municipal waste system.

A further custom feature in the workshop is the railway tracks linking the wash bays to four workshop bays, specifically for tracked excavators and chain link front end loaders so that this equipment with high point loads does not damage the site hardstand.

The workshop parts requirements are served by the parts warehouse, connected by a 3m-wide east/west passage that runs along the entire length of the workshops and warehouse. The warehouse has increased from 280m² at the previous premises to 1 615m², accommodating an increase in inventory and stock lines.

With extra stacking space of up to 6m, larger volumes of each part number can be stored and there is also ample capacity for future expansion.

The workshop offers easy access to counter sales for smaller parts, while on the other side goods receiving and dispatch are serviced by a continuous loading ramp.

The workshop offers easy access to counter sales for smaller parts, while on the other side goods receiving and dispatch are serviced by a continuous loading ramp. The use of natural light has been maximised, with the northern side illuminated by a light box, which filters in indirect daylight without the heat load of direct north-facing polycarbonate sheeting, reducing the power requirements to achieve the Lux levels required in a warehouse.

A component workshop of 198m², situated adjacent to the workshop and sharing a common tool store, is serviced by a 10-ton overhead gantry equipped for engine, transmission and axle overhauls.

Peter Rogers, Chief Executive of the Babcock International Group; Dame Judith Macgregor, British High Commissioner to South Africa; Bill Tame, Chief Executive, International Division, Babcock International Group; Emma Wade-Smith, Regional Trade Director, southern Africa, UK Trade & Investment; and Roger O’Callaghan, CEO for Africa, Babcock International Group, at the opening of the new dealership.
Peter Rogers, Chief Executive of the Babcock International Group; Dame Judith Macgregor, British High Commissioner to South Africa; Bill Tame, Chief Executive, International Division, Babcock International Group; Emma Wade-Smith, Regional Trade Director, southern Africa, UK Trade & Investment; and Roger O’Callaghan, CEO for Africa, Babcock International Group, at the opening of the new dealership.

The room is positively pressurised by an evaporative cooling system to reduce ambient temperatures while acting as a dust filtration system. The architectural design also incorporates energy efficient and modern design philosophies.

The exterior overhang has a curved bullnose proportioned to prevent direct sunlight entering the building in the summer months, while permitting winter sunlight into the first few metres of the ground floor, and assisting with natural interior warmth via convection up the glass façade in the cooler winter months.

Floor-to-ceiling semi-transparent stacking doors serve as workshop doors instead of the standard industrial roller shutter doors, to take advantage of natural light and to facilitate heating in winter, as well as bringing organic elements into the work space for a more efficient and productive work environment.

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Tristan Wiggill
Seasoned writer, journalist, photographer, and editor.
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