Dealer Profile, Earthmoving Machinery, Equipment Specialists Australia

ESA: China syndrome making impression


Equipment Specialists Australia (ESA) Operations Manager Lawrence Perkins is on a mission to dispel the stigma attached to the long list of budget earthmoving equipment brands made in China.

While criticism has been justified in a number of cases, Lawrence said much of the country’s higher-end and technologically advanced machines are beginning to make a serious impression.

“Many of these China-manufactured products are becoming increasingly well- respected and trusted,” he said.

“Some of these are coming out with world- leading features, and built to the highest specification available – from hydrostatic transmission and differential lock, right through to electric drive.

“While the big name brands are starting to promote electric machines, China was selling these five years ago with hundreds of units used even in the harshest conditions of the Nepal ice- covered rock mountains.

“It’s like Japanese vehicles; when they were first brought in, the reputation wasn’t good, but now they’re regarded as the best.

“You could say that the time is arriving now where high class equipment from China has caught up and passed some of the big name brands in technology, performance, quality and certainly reliability.”

ESA has been the authorised distributor for Chinese-manufactured Lovol excavators and wheel loaders in Australia for the past few years, and always endeavoured to exclusively deal in higher-end machines from the company.

“This means we only import machines that we confident will be suitable for our customers and Australia’s harsh environments,” Lawrence said.

More recently, ESA has been bringing in the highly sophisticated ALFA range by Lovol.

“ALFA sits in the price gap in the market between budget low quality machines that don’t enjoy the level of backup support we offer, and the big name brand machines that are out of many people’s budgets,” Lawrence said.

“Our commitment has always been to provide only the best to our customers. This step ensures that the ALFA brand represents the highest quality at a reasonable price, distinguishing itself from other variants in the market.”

ESA’s journey with products from China has already seen an increase in quality, reliability and technology from the leading brands there, along with inclusions of renowned Italian and German manufacturers being brought out by the Chinese and implemented into their products.

“We solely concentrate on the high-spec models under the ALFA brand, which include loaders and excavators,” Lawrence said.

The recent visit of high-level management from ALFA’s parent company in China to Australia underscores the support for this new direction.

This commitment is further strengthened by plans to establish a substantial headquarters in Melbourne, enhancing its overall group line-up of Sinotruk, Shantui, Weichai, Lovol, Linde and more.

As an example of how the ALFA line-up is operating at the highest level in technology and quality, hydrostatic transmission drive (HST) machines are being placed in recycling centres handling concrete waste, stick raking in the harsh outback and in underground mining: proof of their toughness, reliability, performance, safety and trust.

“Excavators are also catching attention with their performance alongside big name brands – one owner even questioned its 33 tonne weight as it outperformed other big name brands of the same weight,” Lawrence said.

HST involves the transfer of engine power using hydraulic fluid. A big gain from an HST is the elimination of mechanical items with fixed gear ratios or slipping torque converters, giving operators infinite variable speed control or more direct output control without uncontrolled slippage.

“Therefore there is increased fuel efficiency as you have full torque driving at the wheels even at low RPM,” Lawrence said.

“You get 25 per cent fuel saving, 80 per cent brake lifesaving along with engine life savings, less tire wear, smoother operation and increased performance, and the biggest advantage is not paying for costly overheads and a sticker.

“Currently, about 70 per cent of loaders sold in Europe are now hydrostatic, with most of the big name brands releasing them for retail sale over there.

“But more recently, larger wheel loaders with HST has been developed, as operators begin to realise that the system makes machine operation easier, smoother and much faster with owners gaining the savings and increased production – a win-win.

“For wheel loaders, HST helps in operations such as precise pallet handling, operation in tighter areas, increased loading times and advantages in fuel, tyre and brake savings.”

A WL962K with the radiator and engine covers open.

Lawrence said what operators say they appreciate most when comparing an HST and a powershift transmission is how much easier it is to operate an HST machine.

“Operators gain more comfort in the smoother operation, precise control, no gear changes, increased performance without the need to operate it abusively and at high RPM to fill the bucket or higher speeds to try and fill the bucket – no time is lost on the job,” he said.

“The Euro 5 emission standard engine is selling well in Europe but we have pushed for Tier 3 emission engines in all our models, which has been done due to the high numbers we sell. All our machines come without AdBlue/DPF/ EGR, which can disable certain components of a diesel engine’s emissions control system.

“The mechanics of the machines are a Kubota engine in the smaller HST loaders, and a Linde HST system and Cummins with Danfoss HST system in the larger machines, or a combination of the highest quality products in wet brake axles from ZF and Meritor with Rexroth joy sticks. Only the highest quality and renowned products used in the ALFA range.

“There is a luxury sealed air-conditioned cabs, modern appearance and ergonomic controls layout at your fingertips. Inclusions of quick hitches such as ISO standard, various buckets, forks and other attachments to match every possible job required.”

The current ALFA HST loader range comprises of:

  • Alfa WL918K – 6t operating weight (2t rated)

“The WL918K is a machine that rivals the likes of a Cat 908/Komatsu WA70/100 and such, but nearly half the price,” Lawrence said.

“Those who have smaller yards, like garden centres, can’t justify spending $200,000 for a loader, and the only alternatives in the past were the cheap low-spec Chinese loaders with tiny wheels and less than desired performance, capabilities and comfort or used equipment that someone else doesn’t want anymore.”

  • Alfa WL948K – 16t (4.8t)

This compact design machine has a 16t operating weight, 4.8t safe operating load, radial L5 tires, quick hitch, and full hydraulic brakes so there is no need for an onboard air system.

“With a hydraulic reversible fan, diff lock and more – this is a machine that rivals the best and surpasses most,” Lawrence said.

“It is highly capable and suitable for all concrete batching plants, urban tighter spaces, feedlots and much more.”

  • Alfa WL962K – 20t (6t)

The Alfa WL962K is a high seller for all larger operations coming in at 20t operating weight with 6t-rated safe load capacity.

“It has quick hitch available as a factory option, which is a huge saving over costly attachment additions made in Australia,” Lawrence said.

“This machine has been proven to be unbeatable in stick raking work where full power to the ground is available at lower RPM over high RPM needed to drive slipping torque converters.

“The difference can be compared to driving an automatic car with the brakes half on – pushing trees or trying to fill a bucket requires full engine RPM while feathering the bucket or charging at it, but very limited action is taken place.

“Imagine filling the bucket or pushing over a tree with no more than 1⁄4 RPM – this is possible with HST. HST has full torque and drive all the way through the RPM range being as smooth as butter on a hot day.

“The effortlessness keeps the operator happy in the seat for longer hours and the machines increased performance gets the job done faster – the key to a happy workforce.

“And with reasonable pricing, lower operating costs, highest quality for more reliability than the big name brands with all there electronics – the return on investment can’t be beaten.”

  • Alfa WL982K – 27t (8.5t rated capacity)

Lawrence said that when loading trucks require one bucket fill, the popular Alfa WL982K has excelled with faster load cycle times than any of the competition.

“Loading trucks and coal trains alike without the need for braking, high engine RPM or multiple gear changes – nothing can beat the cycle time or performance of the HST WL982K in its range,” he said.

“And to keep the owner happy, the machine offers up to 25 per cent fuel savings and tire life, with 80 per cent-plus brake lifesaving, and a trusted and reliable Cummins engine and Danfoss HST drive with limited electronics and no AdBlue/ DPF/EGR.”

Lawrence said that without the huge overheads of using big name brands, business owners were standing up to take notice of the savings, including mining companies which have purchased multiple HST machines now and in talks about Electric drive loaders and excavators.

“Even underground mines, which demand the highest level in safety, quality and reliability – without a thought of dollar savings – choose ALFA,” Lawrence said.

The Alfa WL962K has been proven to be unbeatable in stick raking work where full power to the ground is available at lower RPM over high.

Passion for power

For those who do prefer powershifts, Alfa stocks the full range of powershift wheel loaders from 4t operating weight, 1t capacity to 30t operating weight and 10t capacity.

“We know some users are a little to hesitant to change up to HST – let alone electric! Sometimes the fear of the unknown is too much to overcome but as time goes on, HST will become more normal along with options of hydrogen and battery powered electric loaders,” Lawrence said.

“This is where the ALFA WL948K, WL968K and WL982K step a level above even the big names, with HST drive AND electric battery powered loaders currently in use – joining the 2 together is set the standard to a very high level.

“Conversions are done right here in Australia and distributed all over the country to mine sites, quarries and operations requiring low emissions and the best drive system available.”

Lawrence highlighted ESA’s commitment to exceptional after-sales service and warranty, akin to the standards seen in the Scania Truck Authorized Service Centres, also within the same ownership group.

“Our clients deserve the best in both product and support,” Lawrence said. “And they’re going to get the kind of warranty and support that goes well over and above what many of the big name brands will actually give customers, let alone the budget ones.”

For more information about the ALFA range – including excavators, tractors and telehandlers, or how to tick the green box with hydrogen or electric or just save on fuel costs, including full workshop and parts – get in touch with Equipment Specialists today at 1300 EquipU (378 478) or

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