Excavators, LiuGong, Western Australia

KMH not looking back after LiuGong jump

Karratha Machinery Hire's LiuGong 930E excavator

Adding a growing construction-equipment brand in Australia such as LiuGong to its heavy-industry fleet was not without risk for Karratha Machinery Hire (KMH), located in Western Australia’s rugged Pilbara region.

After a year of trouble-free operation working in some of the most isolated and inhospitable conditions in the country, KMH General Manager Steve Griffiths has nothing but praise for their new LiuGong machines.

“In the hire game, keeping customers happy is the main priority, so you can’t afford to have second-rate machinery, particularly in the north-west, where equipment is working in a very harsh environment,” Steve said.

“Some of the newer brands, for a variety of reasons, have a different reputation to the main players in heavy equipment, but the customers who have experienced the LiuGong machinery have been genuinely impressed.”

Built for purpose

Established in 1989 and recently acquired by SSH Group, KMH is today one of the largest plant-hire businesses in the Pilbara, with more than 140 machines available, from heavy earthmoving equipment through to trucks and trailers.

The most recent additions to the fleet are a 30-tonne LiuGong 930E excavator, a multi-wheel LiuGong 6520E roller and a LiuGong 6615E vibrating drum roller, all delivered in late 2021 by McIntosh & Son in Perth.

The purchases came off the back of a Dig, Ride and Drive Day at Perth’s Belmont Racecourse in October 2021, organised by McIntosh & Son to showcase the LiuGong range.

“McIntosh reached out and invited us to test out the three machines we were considering purchasing and it was just a great opportunity to physically see and experience the equipment,” Steve said.

It is the first time KMH has acquired the brand, but Steve is in no doubt LiuGong machines will again be under consideration as the company’s fleet continues to grow.

“We looked at LiuGong a few years ago without purchasing, but they have improved 10-fold in the last decade to the point where you’d be hard-pushed to pick the difference between a LiuGong and one of the major brands,” Steve said. “Their build quality and finish is now excellent, and you get a lot of value for money with those machines.”

Faultless

Another major factor influencing the decision to go with LiuGong was the immediate availability of the machines and the service and back-up guaranteed by the Perth McIntosh & Son team.

“We were keen to run with LiuGong and bring them up here, but we did want McIntosh (& Son) to fully back us should we have any warranty or maintenance issues, which they were happy to do,” Steve said.

“We were slightly concerned about possible breakages and downtime, but with the exception of a couple of minor teething problems initially with one of the rollers, which McIntosh (& Son) sorted out straight away, the machines have been faultless.’’

Everyone’s happy

The 30-tonne 930E excavator was immediately put to work 170km south-east of Karratha, working on the Rio Tinto Ti Tree Camp expansion project designed to support a workforce of more than 300.

Powered by a six-cylinder, 6.7-litre Cummins Stage III engine offering up to 227hp, the excavator has a bucket capacity of 1.6m3 and a useful digging reach of more than 10m.

“When we sent it out there over seven months ago, we said to the operator, ‘We want you to provide feedback on this bit of kit because it’s new to us and we’re testing it out to see if it’s going to work,’ Nothing but good comments have come back from them,” Steve said.

“It’s all rock out there and they have consistently worked it hard without any dramas or downtime. The operator reports it has plenty of breakout power, is very responsive and, importantly, when working through the hottest months of the year, cab comfort is first class, with outstanding air conditioning and excellent ergonomics.

“It compares really favourably with Caterpillar or Komatsu and, although I think given a choice the operator wouldn’t have initially chosen the LiuGong, he was genuinely surprised just how good it was once he started operating it.”

Reaction from KMH customers to the LiuGong rollers has been equally positive and Steve said both had performed well, with no issues.

The rollers, both powered by turbocharged Cummins Stage III engines, have been used on a variety of projects from civil construction on mine sites to road maintenance.

“As is the case with the excavator, the LiuGong rollers offer outstanding performance and value for money,” Steve said. “For example, the drum roller comes standard with the ability to dial-in specific compaction rates, which is a definite plus and something that is an additional cost with other brands.”

More LiuGong on the way

Having successfully ‘tested the water’ with LiuGong and now secure in the knowledge KMH can rely on McIntosh & Son’s excellent back-up and support, Steve is extremely confident the LiuGong brand has a bigger part to play as the hire fleet continues to expand.

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