Interview with Milan Wamsteker – Marketing Manager Hyundai Heavy Industries Europe

J.C. Jung, Managing Director of Hyundai Heavy Industries Europe

J.C. Jung, Managing Director of Hyundai Heavy Industries Europe, with the new wheel loader HL 955


On its stand at Intermat, Hyundai Heayy Industries Europe (HHIE) exhibited many new highlights this year and clearly demonstrated its intention to expand Hyundai’s presence in Europe. MachineryZone had the chance to meet J.C. Jung, Managing Director of HHIE, and Milan Wamsteker, the company’s Director of Marketing.

In an exclusive interview for MachineryZone, Milan Wamsteker gave us some insights on why Europe is a strategic continent for the Korean manufacturer and what are the company’s most important technical innovations for the equipment market.

What is Hyundai’s main focus for the development of new machines?

Milan Wamsteker: We worked on moving from Stage IIIB/Tier 4 Interim to Stage IV/ Tier 4 engines. What we did this time is not only renewing the engines. Most of the engines are provided by the same well-known suppliers and used by everybody in the industry: Perkins, Cummins, Scania… Scania is in fact a new engine supplier for us. And we focused on delivering more energy-saving and therefore fuel-efficient machinery.

Now what does this mean exactly? Let’s take a wheel loader – a wheel loader has the combustion engine and the combustion engine does two things: it delivers power to the drive train so that the driver can drive; and you have of course the hydraulic circuit. Now what is important for us is, if you don’t need power or less power for the drive train but mainly for the hydraulic circuit, we want to be sure that the engine is not delivering excessive and unnecessary power to both of the systems. The idea is to be able to switch it so that we can adjust the engine to the system that has priority, either the drive train or the hydraulics. If one is less needed, we switch that part off or reduce it and therefore the engine can deliver less power.

This is why we moved to Scania for the bigger machines. Based on our tests, we determined that Scania engines were delivering the best optimum power output with low rpm’s. Such output is especially important if you take loaders or excavators… With the excavator for example, you have the hydraulic pump which is supplied by the engine and distributes the power to the different components that are the tracks, the boom or the attachments. And if the excavator is standing still, turning and digging only, then the tracks will require very little hydraulic energy. Since the tracks do not need that much power, the engine can rev down.

If you have to deliver overall reduced power, this means that the engine can reduce its output, and as a result, this saves energy. You just don’t save energy by making more fuel-efficient engines, but also by managing the power output in a smarter way.

Milan Wamsteker at Intermat

Milan Wamsteker at Intermat

What are the main differences between the European and the Asian market? What are Hyundai’s strategic objectives in Europe?

Milan Wamsteker: The differences between the European and Asian markets are quite significant. One of the main differences is that the operating times are much longer in Asia. Since the machines are relatively expensive for Asian standards, machines are often kept longer in operation. This means that if an operator has finished his work, the machine is often further used by another operator. Therefore, the daily operating time of a machine is much higher in Asia than in Europe.

In addition to that, the European market is much more demanding in terms of precision work. In Europe, machines should be able to work very accurately due to tight conditions in urban areas. In Asia, this is less important because the finishing touch of some construction works can still be done manually.

Another point: since the hourly wages are higher in Europe, work should be done in as little time as possible. For this reason, the demand for quick couplers and tiltrotators comes primarily from Europe, as they speed up the work. Mini excavators are also more popular in Europe than in Asia. The work of such small machines with small capacity is relatively expensive for Asian standards and can be replaced manually by several workers.

So for us, the European market is, let’s say, driving. If we can meet the demands of the European customers, we can for sure meet the demands of the Asian customers today and the ones they will have in 5 years from now on.

And how do you see the economic situation in the Construction sector in Europe?

Milan Wamsteker: We’re still in the financial crisis. Therefore, the biggest problem is that our end users have difficulties in financing their machines. Banks are actually very reluctant to grant loans to companies that wish to renew their fleet. This is especially true for small and medium-sized companies.

In addition to that, the economic differences between the various European countries have increased. An example is the Benelux countries. Last year, construction equipment market performed very well in Belgium, while the Netherlands had problems. This is unusual because this is two small and bordering countries and the situation is so different. The German market seems quite good, whereas the French market encounters some difficulties this year and last year primarily due to a lack of economic reforms. And there are large differences even between the Scandinavian countries. In Sweden and Finland the situation is more complicated, while it looks like a little better in Norway. And among the Scandinavian countries, Denmark provides the best market performance.

Because of these differences, it is difficult to assess for us as a company where we should invest and how we can best support our dealers. In Southern Europe, namely Spain, Italy and Portugal, it is a matter of survival for our dealers at the moment. We are not trying to sell a lot more machines, but make decent deals with our buyers. And this could mean a delayed payment or other payment conditions. We also help our dealers by buying their unsold stock in order to reduce their capital expenditures.

While there are some initial signs of improvement in the economic situation, this is still too early to make specific predictions.

Thank you for this interview!

Steve Rhine

About Steve Rhine

Community Manager at MachineryZone USA - All latest construction news on MachineryZone Mag!