With a view to maximise value for money, South Australia’s District Council of Franklin Harbour has taken the punt on a new LiuGong 4230D motor grader.
Adding a new brand of motor grader to its fleet for patrol grading of rural roads was a big step for the District Council of Franklin Harbour at Cowell on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. But according to Works Manager Darren Zechner, it is one the council would make again.
The council area stretches along the coastline from about 30km south to 40km north of Cowell, as well as about 50km inland, incorporating a 600km network of unsealed roads.
The motor grader fleet had been devoted exclusively to another major brand, but recently the council also invited Adelaide-based LiuGong dealer, Lewis Ag & Construction, to participate in a tender for a new grader to replace one of its existing machines.
Darren said the council team was aware LiuGong machines had gained increasing traction in the construction and mining industries, and they viewed a LiuGong roller and wheel loader in use locally for further insight, and were impressed with the build quality.
He said the LiuGong 4230D motor grader they had since acquired involved a significantly lower capital investment compared with other brands, and the trade-in offer on their existing machine also was highly attractive.
“We couldn’t afford not to take the punt and we have been pleasantly surprised,’’ says Darren, who has worked with the council for nearly a decade, following other local government stints at Tumby Bay and Coober Pedy.
“If you can keep $200,000 in the bank and still get the machine to do the job, it’s a win.’’
He says the 19-20t 4230D motor grader was a new model set to arrive in Australia at the time and, hence, they also didn’t get the opportunity to “kick the tyres’’ of the machine before putting it to work.
The council’s other 20 tonne grader, now about six years old, is used for constructing sealed roads and re-sheeting roads. The graders are replaced after about 10 years.
Darren says the LiuGong 4230D motor grader was a more simplified machine, but he appreciates that this also simplifies maintenance.
“It’s missing a few creature comforts and frills, and initially operators were reluctant to accept it over the old machine, but Lewis Ag & Construction has gone above and beyond,” he says.
“The gear ratio selection is the main difference between the LiuGong and the older grader, with the LiuGong having a six-speed transmission instead of 12 speeds.’’
Darren says earthmoving is about power and weight and the LiuGong 4230D features a 9-litre Cummins engine compared with a 7.2-litre motor in the older machine, while the blades and tyres on the machines are the same.
He says operator comfort with the LiuGong rig is also good – important given it will remain on roads for about nine months of the year, avoiding grain harvest and high fire danger periods.
Excellent support from Lewis Ag & Construction – which included the first service of the machine – has also continued to be valuable to the council.