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Used heavy machinery is in hot demand across the civil sector, drawing 15-20 per cent more at auction than around the same time last year, Australian auction house Pickles says.

Parts ‘donor’ machines and second-hand components for mining fleet are also drawing huge interest as companies refurbish assets in the face of reduced capex budgets and global disruptions in the supply of new machines due to the COVID pandemic.

A 16-year-old ‘parts only’ Cat 793 rigid dump truck (pictured below) sold for almost $500,000 at auction in Nebo this week, for example, Pickles Mining general manager Steve Wall said.

“Anything that’s a parts donor machine very strong this year,” Mr Wall said.

Online machinery marketplace Machines4U.com.au has reported unprecedented growth throughout 2020.

“Demand for earthmoving and construction, metalworking, and woodworking machinery reached all-time highs in 2020, while demand for agriculture equipment and generators more than doubled, and demand for trucks grew by 142 per cent from April to June,” Machines4U.com.au chief executive officer Steve Krebs said.

Mr Krebs said demand for used equipment was expected to skyrocket in 2021, with stock of new machinery expected to dwindle in the coming months.

“The supply of new equipment will be few and far between, which will drive up the demand and price of used equipment,” he said.

“In some cases, sellers are moving into the hire game to maintain cash flow, a shift that is likely to become more common the longer shipping delays continue.”

Mr Wall said the COVID pandemic had seen overseas OEMs shut down for periods and disrupted global supply chains, causing a blow-out in lead times for new equipment that was likely to flow into at least the first part of 2021.

Everything from heavy equipment from manufacturers like Liebherr and Caterpillar down to smaller Japanese-made excavators and ride-on mowers had been affected, he said.

On the other side of the coin, demand in the civil sector in Australia in particular was strong, Mr Wall said.

“(The market for) late-model, low-hour equipment has been exceptional in the second half of the year,” he said.

“The prices are 15 to 20 per cent more for the same assets as this time last year.”

Infrastructure spending as part of post-COVID stimulus programs being rolled out around Australia and the $150,000 instant asset write-off facility had helped stoke demand in the civil sector, he said.

Rigid dump trucks in the 200-tonne range and older Caterpillar 16H graders have been among the hot tickets at auction this year.

But some cases of soaring auction prices are simply a matter of customer preference.

Mr Wall said Toyota’s recent shift to V6 turbo engines in its LandCruisers had driven up the price of the older V8 models.

Two auction lots of 2018 Sahara LandCruisers with 50-60,000km on the clock had recently sold for $120,000 each plus buyer’s fees – 50 per cent more than similar sales last year and above the price paid when new, Mr Wall said.

While many sales were forced online during the peak of COVID restrictions, Mr Wall said auction houses were noticing increased clearance rates as on-site events returned.

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