Reflections on the industry from PMV Middle East’s editor of the last two years, as he moves on seemingly just as the winds of change sweep the segment
Almost two-and-a-half years since I began my role as editor of PMV Middle East, it is time to say goodbye to the magazine, as I prepare for editorial challenges that will see me pan away from the Gulf to the broader MENA region and step back from those front lines of the plant, machinery and vehicles industry. But what an experience it has been.
Meeting the technically learned individuals that work in the equipment segment — from the engineers behind the design process for a truck or crane, to the project managers and fleet operators that direct the operations of those machines — has been quite a journey.
I have had the privilege of travelling to the production lines of several of the world’s top equipment manufacturers, and to operate heavy earthmoving equipment and trucks that I am in no way qualified to even go near. I was also lucky enough to visit the Bauma exhibition in Germany — an event that is quite simply the greatest equipment show in earth.
I have learnt a great deal during that time, and run out of time to learn plenty of other things, because PMV Middle East covers an industry that is in reality as broad and deep as an ocean. But I am truly grateful for the opportunity to explore this industry, and for the patience of all the individuals who have persevered through my exhaustive questions about the minutiae of their professions.
I am certain that I have emerged from the experience as a more knowledgeable person, but, as with learning a language, it feels like there is still just as much that I don’t know.
Over 29 issues of the magazine I have covered trends that have been both rapid and painstakingly slowly. My very first editor’s letter optimistically opined about the rise of algae-based biofuels, but in the years since, there has been scant progress in the segment from the perspective of commercial scalability.
On the other hand, other green trends, such as the electrification of both vehicles and heavy equipment, have come about staggeringly fast.
Several years ago, the region’s prioritisation of capital expenditure over the total cost of ownership seemed like it was a behavioural pattern that would never change. But it is now clear that the long years of austerity in the construction sector are indeed affecting this.
In this, my last month, I have heard more involved discussions about fuel efficiency and its importance to fleet customers than I previously did in my first twelve months on the job. Three years ago, fuel consumption remained a non-issue; today, in the wake of the dip in oil prices and slackening subsidies, it is a burning issue.
In the September cover feature, ‘March of the Apps’, I also wrote about the slew of service aggregation apps now taking the truck industry by storm and promising to stir things up.
For whoever enters this role to take my place, there is plenty to look forward to, and much to be optimistic about, not least the ever rising tide of autonomy. Exciting times lay ahead.