Case Study, Equipment and Machinery, Excavators, Komatsu

A nose for quality: Sniffers Group and Komatsu

A Komatsu excavator with a Sniffers Group logo across the back

Managing Director Stephen Orchard tells EEM why Sniffers Group has relied on Komatsu machinery for more than 20 years.

Gold Coast-based civil construction hire company Sniffers Group has, over time, set about both strengthening and diversifying its portfolio of offerings, providing its client base an efficient and effective one-stop-shop service.

This innovative approach has also seen it branch out into new business areas, with its Earthfix sustainable smart farming initiative poised to make significant progress in 2023.

(L-R) ISU Chemical General Manager Jun-Pil Baek, Sniffers Group Managing Director Stephen Orchard, Hangaram Ponics President Hag-Sun Kim.

Managing Director Stephen Orchard founded Sniffers the better part of two-and-a-half decades ago, and has since presided over its steady growth, which has seen it evolve from a one-machine operation to now spanning a comprehensive modern fleet, offering a wide range of excavating, earthworks, and haulage services.

However, as Stephen, who draws on over 30 years of experience in the industry, told EEM, his decision to get involved in the earthmoving industry had at the time represented something of a sharp turn career-wise.

“I was actually a graphic designer to begin with,” he said. “I didn’t like it. I got a job in earthmoving and then never looked back. I bought my own machine, starting out with a little Bobcat excavator, and it just grew from there.

“Sniffers now has about 80 operating units, along with various other bits of equipment, including trailers and vehicles. And then there’s also Earthfix, which has its own equipment, including crushing and screening equipment, trommels, graders, dozers, and compactors.”

Sniffer’s broader wet and dry plant and equipment hire offering ranges from excavation and earthmoving equipment to heavy equipment transport, posi-tracks, backhoes, and tippers in various sizes.

It has built its reputation around providing its clients simple and cost-effective solutions, backed by extensive industry knowledge, with an overriding focus on not only meeting, but exceeding client expectations.

Sniffers has used Komatsu machinery for more than 20 years.

Earthfix smart farming a strong focus

In addition to this, Stephen said Sniffers’ Earthfix business – which is focused on the development of waste and farming solutions that will underpin a more sustainable future – has been growing rapidly.

Last year Earthfix signed a deal with the Korean Agriculture Technology Promotion Agency and ISU Group to bring the first Korean smart farm, developing sustainable solutions for food production, to Australia under a partnership with Griffith University.

“We’ve been focusing pretty heavily in that space,” Stephen said. “We’ll produce the energy, the water and the nutrients needed for the smart farm, and ultimately, we’ll produce really healthy food.

“We only use about five per cent of the water and about 5-8 per cent of the land equivalent to traditional farming. We use no pesticides or herbicides, and about 30 per cent of the fertiliser to the equivalent – and nothing gets wasted.”

The Earthfix site at Luscombe in the Gold Coast spans 69 acres, with its first smart farm expected to be up and running by December this year, producing a range of crops, including Korean strawberries, bok choy, and lettuce.

“We’re going to build an innovation valley,” Stephen said of the project. “We’ll be working with Griffith University for a minimum of five years, building an R&D facility, and we’ll be basically building the farms of tomorrow.”

Sniffers has added more than a dozen Komatsu machines to its fleet in the last year alone.

Komatsu’s durability and reliability

Stephen said he bought his first Komatsu machine around four years after starting Sniffers, and, as the business has grown and branched out into different areas, has been a Komatsu customer ever since.

In the last year alone, Sniffers has added around a dozen new pieces of Komatsu machinery to its fleet, with Stephen pointing in particular to machine durability and reliability as key benefits of Komatsu’s range.

“They’re great machines if you want something that’s not going to give you grief, and which is going to go forever,” he said. “They’ll just keep ticking over for 20,000 hours, no problem at all.

“They won’t give you any issues, they’re simple to work on, and they’re just good, reliable machines.”

Additionally, Stephen pointed to the advantages of Komatsu’s own local distribution network, saying this hands-on approach helps facilitate a greater understanding of Australian conditions and market requirements.

“They come out here and they look at what the Australian market needs, and they will tailor machines specifically for it,” he said.

“They’re a good company to deal with. It’s simply the ease which is important for us.”


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