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CDE's Global Vision with Local Focus

Continually bringing new technology to market, CDE aim to become the leading wet-processing solutions provider in every country in the world. Dan Gilkes spoke to managing director Brendan McGurgan about the company’s growth, development and vision for the future 

CDE, the leading specialist manufacturers of wet-processing equipment solutions for the quarrying, mining, construction and waste industries, continue to go from strength to strength, with growth in many territories around the world. The company, formed in 1992 in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, recently moved into an impressive new head office and global Centre of Excellence within the town. It is also building an enviable network of locally focused businesses on a global scale.

‘We register a business in every strategic region in which we are active, so that we can be local,’ said managing director Brendan McGurgan.

While the UK and Ireland remain CDE’s home markets, the company is now present throughout North America, with offices in Texas and North Carolina. In Latin America CDE have a business in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, while the Asian market is served by offices in Kolkata, India. An office in Ormeau, Australia, looks after customers across Australasia and a business in Dubai serves the Middle East and North African markets. Mainland European customers can call upon CDE’s experienced staff in a new centre in Graz, Austria, and the company currently has a team based in sub-Saharan Africa, to provide sales and back-up to customers in that region. In all, the global market is served through eight defined strategic regions.

‘We sell direct to the end customer. What we do doesn’t lend itself to selling through dealers, so we set about having offices in all of these strategic regions,’ explained Mr McGurgan.

CDE’s relationship with the customer starts with technical pre-sales, where a collaborative approach leads to a definition of the exact requirements of the site and the best solutions available. A project manager (ProMan) then becomes the single point of contact for the customer, until the project is delivered and commissioned, at which point the customer is introduced to CDE’s CustomCare team.

As the company has established this network of offices around the world, so its staff levels have increased to more than 700 globally, with growing numbers of locally sourced international employees, as well as those from its base in Northern Ireland. This is also influencing the mix of staff at the Cookstown headquarters, with a broad mix of nationalities present.

‘The aim is that people based locally are selling to our customers,’ said Mr McGurgan. ‘But it is critical to embed CDE experience and culture into those operations.’

He admits that it has not always been this way; CDE relied upon a network of dealers for a time in 2012–2015, but soon realized that they needed a closer, direct relationship with customers to be able to better meet their individual requirements. 

‘We have more than 2,000 turnkey applications working across the world and each one has some individual element,’ said Mr McGurgan. ‘The language spoken for construction and demolition businesses will be very different to aggregates or mining, but the core technology and learning can be applied across industry sectors.’

Forward focus

CDE are currently working towards the end of a five-year plan, namely their 2020 Vision, though the company is already looking well ahead to the next stage of development.

‘We’re largely on track in terms of what we set out to achieve within our 2020 Vision. That vision is to become the number one solutions provider of wet-processing equipment in every country in the world. We were number one by total revenue by the end of our 2015 plan, but there were lots of countries that we were still not present in,’ said Mr McGurgan.

‘In North America we had only dipped our toe in, now we have a technical Centre of Excellence in Texas. That region has significant potential for us. The UK and Ireland were very strong at that time too, as were the Middle East and Asia. But in Russia and mainland Europe, we were only just getting started.’

The company is not simply expanding geographically, however. Its product offering continues to grow and diversify, as new industry sectors realize the potential of CDE’s wet-processing equipment. Traditionally aimed at quarrying and mining operations, CDE’s product offering now encompasses the construction and recycling industries, along with the industrial sands and environmental sectors. 

Construction and demolition (C&D) waste recycling, in particular, has become an important area for the firm, with its ability to maximize the value of recycled materials. Indeed, Mr McGurgan is a passionate believer in the company’s sustainability credentials, particularly in the C&D waste arena.

‘We pioneered wet processing of construction and demolition waste in the UK and the UK has led that on a global basis. This has been largely due to the Aggregates Levy and positive legislation, along with initiatives such as WRAP, to support customers in investing in technology,’ he said.

‘There is a lot of potential for us in mainland Europe, again in construction and demolition waste processing. Our purpose is championing sustainability to create a ‘New World of Resource’. We feel that we can play a significant part in creating products that will enable the processing of alternatives to natural sand and aggregates, thus championing the preserve of what is a finite resource.

‘We can also play a role in educating markets such as North America. In the interests of creating a circular economy, we would like to see construction and demolition ‘waste’ used as a construction company’s first choice, and in time we will see a shift as processors become more conscious of the need to protect and preserve our natural resources.’

CDE are currently working on their first major construction and demolition waste facility in the US, situated in Long Island, New York.

‘We have also lobbied for government to install reception centres for C&D waste in India,’ said Mr McGurgan. ‘We are certainly supporting the sustainability agenda and are increasingly excited about the role we can play.

‘For us, every market that we enter, we are challenged to deal with a more difficult material. Every three to six months we are challenged with another material that is contaminated with something else. For us, the challenge will be dealing with more heavily contaminated materials and we have chemists within our Environmental business supporting research into the processing of that waste. We have developed significantly mechanical separation techniques, now we are looking more at chemical separation techniques to complement those.’

That is not to say that the firm has moved away from its traditional customer base, far from it. The focus is very much on increasing productivity and maximizing resource in all industry sectors, including for mineral extraction businesses.

‘Quarrying is dominated by a small number of key players who all have a commitment to sustainability,’ said Mr McGurgan. ‘We have the technology to process crusher fines to produce sands, which lends itself perfectly for concrete production. That is dealing with something that is seen as a waste product at present. It could preserve the life of the quarry, a significant asset, by using more of the product.’

New technologies

CDE also continue to develop new lines of equipment while improving the various modules that can be used to create a complete wet-processing solution. The launch of the Combo all-in-one processing system at this year’s bauma exhibition was driven by success with the product in the Indian market. Bringing together feeding, sizing, sand washing, stockpiling and integrated water  management into a single unit, Combo will be available in range of sizes to meet varying production capacities. 

‘CDE pioneered the modular approach. Our M2500 was the first modular plant in the industry and it has become the format for the industry,’ added Mr McGurgan.

The new Combo unit offers rapid start-up on site and can be processing materials within days of arrival, reducing costs for the customer. Combo also provides almost total independence of water supply, with up to 90% recycling of process water for immediate re-use within the system. With a high demand for building sand in particular, being able to produce washed and graded manufactured sand will help to supplement natural materials, particularly in those parts of the world experiencing massive infrastructure growth.

Providing market-leading customer support remains an equally vital aspect of the company’s business and, as with any other sector of the equipment market, technology is playing an increasingly important role. Along with training and certification of their customers’ operators, CDE provide a suite of customer care options, including pre-emptive diagnostics through telematic connection to equipment around the world.

‘We have a modem in every single plant and we can install sensors on everything,’ said Mr McGurgan. ‘It’s easy for the customer to monitor uptime and material throughput.’

CDE launched a range of smart technologies at bauma this year, including CORE – an intelligent plant monitoring and automation system that has the potential to boost productivity by up to 40% in some operations. This encompasses the OptiMax system, which uses a series of belt-weighers to accurately establish the amount of material entering the plant. By determining the ratio of sand, aggregate and silt output, the system can prevent material overloading, boosting productivity and reducing costly downtime.

‘The more the plant can pre-empt issues, whether a bearing is going to fail for instance, the better,’ said Mr McGurgan.

With many of the CDE installations set to work for decades at a time, durability and reliability are seen as key attributes that will keep customers coming back for more.

‘We have a ‘Customer for Life’ model,’ said Mr McGurgan. ‘Ultimately, it’s in our interest to see that the plant does exactly what is required of it.’

Continued growth

So, what of the future? As mentioned, the 2020 Vision is on track, or surpassed in many cases, which leaves CDE looking forward to further expansion in all markets.

‘Our 2020 Vision was an ambitious growth plan and we are largely on track with that. New opportunities have emerged, plus we are more competitive in export markets because of the weakness of sterling,’ said Mr McGurgan.

‘More than 75% of our production is exported outside the UK and Ireland. The highest potential at present is in the US, where the majority of production is currently through screw classifiers. With our technology, we can capture valuable material that would be wasted or double handled.’

With a dedicated team of engineers working in the company’s state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence in Cookstown, plus the wealth of industry knowledge now present throughout CDE’s businesses across the globe, it will be interesting to see how the company’s vision shapes up for 2025.

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