Gardner Engineering Australia prides itself on its Australian-made earthmoving attachment range, which can be tailor-made for just about any application.
The company was started as Peter Gardner Engineering in 1994. Peter’s son, Michael, worked with his father from when he finished school – later purchasing the company upon his father’s retirement in 2017 and changing the name to Gardner Engineering Australia.
A qualified boilermaker by trade, Michael continues to run Gardner Engineering Australia as a true family business with a dedicated team of local staff.
Gardner Engineering specialises in making custom-built attachments that are “Stronger, Safer, and More Reliable”, operating out of its facilities in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. With the benefit of 30 years of industry experience and knowledge, the team is committed to building quality custom products to suit the needs of individual customers, backed up by local support.
Gardner Engineering’s catalogue includes a wide range of buckets, rippers, rakes, grader blades, grabs, thumbs, hitches, and more.
“We build tilting quick hitches here in Brisbane, which are becoming quite a big part of our business,” Michael says. “We also have rotating grapples, and four-in-one buckets are getting pretty popular too.”
Even a cursory browse of the Gardner Engineering Australia website will reveal the impressive depth of the company’s range. But for Michael and his team, their commitment to quality local manufacturing is what sets them apart.
“Today, most attachments on the market are imported, but 80 per cent of our products are Australian made – right here in Brisbane,” Michael says.
For a handful of specialised products, the business sources high-quality parts from Germany, South Korea, and the Netherlands.
“We build our own tilting quick hitch, for example,” Michael says. “But we source our actuators from HKS in Germany. They offer a superior quality rotating unit that ensures trouble-free operation.
“We import a range of rotating demolition grapples from Dehaco in the Netherlands, as well as five-fingered rotating and fixed grapples from Daehan Heavy Industry in South Korea. These are companies we’ve been working with for 10 and 20 years respectively.
“These relationships also mean we can expand our product list to better serve our customers, while still maintaining the relatively small footprint of our workshops.”
Gardner Engineering Australia’s range is comprehensive, but Michael points to hydraulic thumbs as a particular area of speciality for the company.
“Not many manufacturers in Australia do hydraulic thumbs, so that’s a real point of difference for us,” he says. “We custom make our thumbs for our customers, and they can be quite tricky. But we’re building them almost every day of the week – so we have plenty of experience with them.”
Hydraulic thumbs function like a human thumb in conjunction with an excavator’s bucket.
The primary purpose of these attachments is to provide increased versatility and gripping power to an excavator, enabling it to grasp, hold, and move objects that would otherwise be challenging to manage with just a bucket alone. Michael says hydraulic thumbs are especially popular with contractors who specialise in building rock walls, but any operator can benefit from them.
“Having a thumb attachment is very convenient,” he says. “You can just flick a switch and your machine turns into a grab – they’re very handy.”
Gardner Engineering offers two main types of hydraulic thumbs: the hitch pivot and bracket pivot styles. The hitch pivot style thumb pivots on the dipper arm pin, which allows the thumb to follow the same curl radius as the bucket it’s paired with.
This style is better suited to applications where work needs to be done in closer to the machine, such as rock wall builders. The bracket pivot style is a general purpose thumb which is welded onto the base plate, meaning the dipper pin doesn’t need to be removed for installation. Bracket pivot style thumbs are mounted higher on the arm, offering a slightly different range of motion.
All of Gardner Engineering’s thumbs are built with high tensile steel and heavy-duty Australian-made hydraulic cylinders. Models can be tailored to suit all types of excavators, with custom-fit sizes from 1.5 to 50 tonnes, and are backed by a 12-month warranty.
According to Michael, Gardner Engineering Australia’s small team offers a combination of knowledge, skills, and technological expertise that means they can deliver high-quality products to its growing client base – whatever the application.
“The team consists of boilermakers, welders, a fitter and turner, a spray painter, as well as engineering and admin staff,” he says.
This close-knit team works together to ensure products are tailored to the needs of the customer and their application.
“Take our hydraulic thumb process for example,” Michael says. “We’ll talk things through with our customer, send them a few drawings to help gather the dimensions of the machine and bucket that the thumb will match up with. Then we’ll pass that to our engineer, who puts those details into his design software and models the thumb with the dipper arm and the boom, and makes sure it will all line up perfectly. We are then able to manufacture a thumb to exactly suit the customer’s needs.”
Michael says Gardner’s products are built tough enough that they rarely see any warranty issues at all. But customers can be assured that if any issues do arise, his team will get it sorted quickly and without issue. Happy customers from Tasmania to Perth to the Torres Strait Islands – and everywhere in between – are testament to this reliability.
“We’ve also started exporting products in recent years,” Michael adds. “We’ve sent products over to New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, and to the United States.
“I think that says a lot about the reputation for quality that we’ve worked hard to develop.”
To learn more, visit: www.gardnerengineering.com.au, Gardner Engineering Australia’s Instagram page at: @gardner_engineering_australia, or Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/gardnerengineering