Cover story: Patoa Farms

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Randall Johnston

The robust and powerful Hyundai wheel loader fleet is offering the busy Patoa Farms staff reliability and flexibility in equal measure

There’s nothing small in scale about Patoa Farms’ North Canterbury operation. The family-owned piggery is huge—the South Island’s biggest in fact. With around 50 permanent staff on-site, there’s plenty of work to be done.

Patoa Farms is the dominant supplier of pork to a national supermarket chain, among a host of other clients. Well-regarded for the quality produce they deliver, Steve Sterne and his team are busy from dawn ‘til dusk. And to ensure the entire operation runs as efficiently as needed, there are several reliable Hyundai wheel loaders working on the property.

Hyundai power

Patoa Farms’ large pig crates require forks to lift, meaning the Hyundai HL740-9TMs both feature quick hitches

Patoa Farms’ wheel loader fleet consists of two Hyundai HL740-9TMs and a Hyundai HL770-9.

"I like to keep machinery in the same family where I can," says Steve. "It just makes everything less complex. That uniformity means our team gets to know the machines and we can expect consistent performance out of them. Also, if anything goes wrong or we need some advice on something, we just have one number to call in order to get an answer."

Being a farm, there are plenty of conventional agricultural machines in use on the property, which is about 90km north of Christchurch. When it came to wheel loaders, Steve says he first trialled Hyundai machinery some years ago and was impressed from the outset.

"The loaders offer us good, reliable performance and they are good value for money, too. I have no quibbles with them at all, and when we needed to expand the machine fleet recently, I didn’t have any hesitation in purchasing another Hyundai."

Steve Sterne from Patoa Farms

Patoa Farms’ most recent machinery addition is a second Hyundai HL740-9TM.

With the suffix in the 12-tonne wheel loader’s nameplate standing for ‘Tool Master’, the Hyundai HL740-9TMs are tasked with moving pig crates, as well as loading compost into truck and trailers. These two very different roles mean that the machines are fitted with quick hitches, which allow them to move between using conventional buckets for compost processing or forks with which to raise and lower the large, specialised pig crates.

While the daily work required of the wheel loaders varies, the machines offer Steve consistency under the hood. Both feature powerful and reliable Tier-III Cummins six-cylinder high pressure common rail turbodiesel engines boasting peak power of 145hp (108kW).

Armed with a self-diagnostic system, the wheel loaders can be operated with three different engine modes. Depending upon what the task at hand requires, the operator can rotate through Power, Standard, or Economy modes to either maximise grunt or minimise fuel burn as required. This system is supported by Hyundai’s fully automatic transmission with Variable Shift Control, which works to protect the transmission depending upon whether the wheel loader is tasked with heavy or light duties.

Steve had no hesitation in adding to his wheel loader fleet with another Hyundai

Steve’s two Hyundai HL740-9TMs are also fitted with enhanced axles, which improve operator comfort and performance when driving over rougher ground. Self-adjusting brakes automatically regulate disc clearance, improving brake reliability, and performance, while Hyundai’s load-sensing hydraulic system with its variable volume piston pump, provides efficient hydraulic power regardless of what attachment is on the end of the arms.

The Hyundai wheel loaders’ cabs boast a wide field of vision and plenty of operator comfort. The entire operator space was designed to provide a clean, open interior with plenty of visibility and an ergonomic seat and operator controls.

Because the North Canterbury climate can be extreme at certain times of the year, the fully automatic climate control systems in both Hyundai HL740-9TMs, as well as Patoa Farms’ Hyundai HL770-9 all feature 11 air vents and increased cooling and heating capacity for optimum temperature control. At this time of the year though, it’s the defroster vents and the PTC (Electric Pre-Heater) that make working in cold weather more hospitable for Steve’s team.

At your service   

Situated in North Canterbury, Patoa Farms is the biggest piggery in the South Island

While Patoa Farms has a dedicated mechanic on staff, Steve says he gets his Hyundai equipment serviced on-site at the property with the help of Hyundai machinery distributor Porter Equipment’s field service support team.

"[Porter Equipment] provide us with a particularly good back-up support service, which includes scheduled servicing of our wheel loaders. They come up from the Christchurch branch and always work in with our operation, so we’re never taking a machine off frontline duties when it is otherwise needed.

"Things are always very busy for us, so being able to rely on wheel loaders that are backed-up by a top-quality machinery supplier gives us the ability to just get on with things," Steve concludes.

"We are in a good position with some great clients who in turn rely on us to provide them with what they need on a national scale. We need the entire operation to run smoothly, and Porter Equipment’s service and the machines they sell help ensure that."

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