A personal testimony from Caesar Waganagwa, the Lead Consultant.
I have had the pleasure to work with various machines from different manufacturers including locally assembled machines. The choice of the machine you decide to buy will largely depend on the cost, nature of the stone you intend to cut, availability of power source carefully balanced with the reputation of similar machines currently in use by other industry players.
Majority of start-ups end up blaming the manufacturers of machines because of frequent breakdowns without giving regards to the fact that they might be subjecting the machine to the wrong rock type. There are Volcanic rocks typically found in a number of places up-country including Ndarugu, Athi River, Ngong, Kericho, Meru and Coral blocks typically found within Kilifi and Kwale counties. Diesel machines tend to perform well on Volcanic rocks than Coral rocks, whereas Electric machines tend to do better on Coral rocks.
Based on my personal experience and having worked with many types of machines, including engaging the manufacturers to great details, I am more comfortable recommending Damico Industrie Ltd a company based in Italy and has been in the business of manufacturing Stone cutting machines for over 100 years. Due to their vast experience and economies of scale, their machines are much more affordable yet robust to withstand any of the two rock types in Kenya. Moreover, they specialize in both Electric and Diesel machines. You will find their Diesel machines doing very well in areas with Volcanic rocks whereas their Electric machines tend to do well on both Volcanic and Coral rocks.
Cheap can be very expensive in the long run. I have seen quotations from competitors trying to lure customers with cheap prices. Some quote for V6 diesel engines when in essence they feature less powerful 6-cylinder-in-line engines. If you are not conversant with the usage of the accessories that come with the machine, you might not realize the implication of having only 5 large blades, 5 small blades and 5 rails. Small quantities of accessories have a significant impact on production capacity. Damico standards for any machine is 10 big blades, 10 small blades and 10 rails. They understand the negative impact less accessories will have on business.
All machines are prone to occasional breakdowns. I however find the level of support from Damico to be more responsive, timely and effective. One of the biggest challenges in this business is machine down time. You can not afford to have your machine down for long. A well organized quarry with an efficient single diesel machine is capable of giving a turnover of KES 70,000 per hour during production. Once you do your math, you will realize that you can not afford to have the machine down for long. Most minor breakdowns can be mitigated locally but then for major parts, the efficiency of the manufacturer becomes a narrative in your business plan. Again, this is my own opinion based on my own experience.
Finally, Damico are very receptive to customer feedback unlike some suppliers who, instead of using the feedback to improve on their technology, end up blaming customers and accusing them of incompetence in machine operation. This explains why Damico has been able to make in-roads in Kenya in the last five years or so especially on Diesel machines.