Webbair has been a major player in machine control solutions in Australia for years, though focused mainly on supplying to OEMs. EEM finds out how the company is transitioning from behind the scenes to major player in the earthmoving technology space.
Founded in 1996, Webbair began its journey as a specialised company with a focus on meeting the unique needs of the earthmoving industry, primarily offering services in electrical and air conditioning repair for machinery.
The brainchild of Managing Director Chris Webb, Webbair’s reputation grew as the business evolved.
Over the years, with the advancement of technology and the rising emphasis on safety in the industry, Chris realised the inevitable changes that were approaching the sector and decided to adapt Webbair accordingly.
The company pivoted to meet the newer, technologically driven demands of the industry, focusing on innovative solutions to enhance machinery control and onsite safety. This transformation led to the establishment of Webbair Prolec in 2011, a dedicated branch focusing on machine control.
The paradigm shift
Chris says Webbair has distributed Prolec machine control products in Australia since 2008, but over the past few years, with rising prices exacerbated by COVID-19, he decided to reposition his business’ place in the industry. And so Webbair has evolved from solely a distributor of high-quality Prolec systems and service provider, to manufacturer of custom solutions and machine control products.
“We’ve taken all our experience, combined that with all the feedback we’ve had from our local customers, and we’ve designed our own machine control system: Intelligent Motion Control (IMC),” Chris says.
“It’s Australian designed and manufactured, easy to use, and offers the latest technology at a cheaper price.”
Webbair’s IMC system currently comprises two models: an entry-level height limiter only model with proportional hydraulic control and data logging; and a more comprehensive version that adds point-to-point slew limiting, virtual walls, dig depth, cab protection, max radius, and iVoice messaging features.
Additionally, Chris says Webbair’s relationship with Prolec continues to grow from strength to strength, with plans for Prolec to also reciprocate distribution of Webbair’s new products outside of Australia.
This shift in business strategy has also marked another key change for Webbair: from serving predominantly OEMs, to now also selling direct to customers. And with this, the new challenge of brand recognition.
But Chris says his business isn’t starting from scratch – Webbair’s years in the industry has yielded a long list of satisfied customers.
One long-time Webbair customer is Cain Cooper from Nasi Civil, a multifaceted Melbourne-based earthmoving contractor. Nasi Civil specialises in bulk earthworks, large pipelines, road construction, and plant hire, and has been recently involved in a range of major projects across Melbourne – including several Level Crossing Removal projects.
Cain says that Nasi Civil’s regular involvement on tight, urban worksites, getting the most out of smaller machinery is important. For this reason, he’s become a strong advocate for Webbair’s LMS (Load Management System), which is designed to maximise a machine’s lifting potential.
“Webbair’s LMS provides a significant benefit in limited access areas,” Cain says. “It gives us the same capability to lift heavier loads where a 30 or 40-ton machine might not be able to fit.
“It essentially increases our machine from 50 per cent of its potential lifting power to probably 80 to 90 per cent. So, with a 23-tonner, we might be able to lift 2.2 tonnes standard out of the factory, but when Webbair applies their LMS, it gives us five-tonne lifting ability.”
Furthermore, Cain says Webbair’s technology is very user friendly – a bonus for less experienced operators.
“You press a couple of buttons to start it, and that’s really the end of it,” he says. “It gives you peace of mind that operators won’t struggle with it.
Cain says the quality of Webbair’s products is also testament to Chris’ dedication to keeping in touch with the industry his business serves.
“Chris has a combination of understanding of the industry, smarts, knowledge, and his foresight is admirable too,” Cain says. “He can see what’s happening with the industry, putting him ahead of the game. As a result, he’s offering something at a decent price, making it available, and backing it up well too.”
For these reasons, Cain says every excavator he purchases now goes straight to Webbair by default.
“I think Webbair’s got the best system available right now,” he says. “For backup and availability, Chris’ support is second to none, and he has extensive knowledge of the product. I would 100 per cent recommend Webbair to anyone.
“It’s also great to be supporting an Australian business, and we like seeing someone like Chris doing so well in developing advanced and practical solutions for the industry.”
For more on Webbair, visit: www.webbair.com.au