Business feature: JRB AG Services moves to Hidromek

By: Steve Atkinson, Photography by: Luke Field

One of the latest customers to receive a Hidromek HMK140LC excavator is John Shand, who runs the well-known agricultural contracting business JRB Ag Services Ltd

Based in northern Waikato, John’s business JRB Ag Services Ltd was established in 2009 and along with a team of eight staff works an area from North Auckland through to Taupo.

John started in what was to become his business as the employee of a long-time contractor.

"It was just me and another guy and I worked for him for about 10 years, before buying the business when he retired," says John.

From there the hard work he is accustomed to has opened the expanded business up to a wide skill set, enabling a varied job lot: general earthworks, council contracts, dairy conversions, farm races, muck spreading, erosion prevention, water systems, all the way through to environmental activities, such as, willow planting and other restoration works.

"To get the work done, we’ve got five diggers, some trucks and a few tractors – there’s always something happening," says John in his understated way.

"All our diggers have long sticks, which is our requirement for the type of rural jobs we work on, and the new Hidromek is fitted with a hydraulic thumb."

Earthmoving 101

The Hidromek is a step away from the company’s usual brand

On the evening I catch up with him, earthmoving 101 has been on the job sheet and he has just completed a day-long stint on the latest company acquisition, having taken over from operator Marty earlier.

While it is only the beginning stages of work on a Mangatawhiri subdivision, John says it was a good opportunity to spend time behind the controls of the new 14.8 tonne Hidromek HMK140LC and he came away impressed with its performance.

"The work was fairly easy, so the machine wasn’t taxed too much. It’s very operator friendly and smooth to operate. What I do like is some of the things that come standard with the Hidromek I would usually have had to pay extra with the previous brand I was with," John says.

The move to Hidromek

The day’s work was on a Mangatawhiri subdivision

The main reason for the move to Hidromek from his old brand was primarily driven by John’s issues with diesel exhaust fluids used in his machinery with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology – or AdBlue as it is more commonly known.

"The stuff is very corrosive on sensors and it was just driving me around the bend. One day I had four of my five diggers broken down with issues linked to that fluid," says John.

Founder and director of Magnum Equipment Liam Field says that all Hidromek machinery is Tier 3 emission rated, so there is no requirement for any diesel exhaust fuel additive.

"Another reason I moved to Hidromek were supply issues," says John.

He goes on the say that Magnum Equipment was able to sort the machine he needed quickly, and delivery was undertaken in the space of a couple of weeks.

"Magnum [Equipment] even sent a machine down to use while they prepared the new one to our specs," says John. "I can’t think of any other supplier who would go to the bother of doing that – it’s awesome service if you ask me."

Liam responds: "We always try our best to ensure a customer can keep their business running efficiently while we’re preparing the new machine for delivery. As the owner of the business, I guess it’s easier for me to make those kinds of decisions, as went don’t have numerous management layers to hinder any approval processes."

Fuel usage

With a standard arm, max reach at ground level for the HMK140LC is 8070mm

A big benefit John has seen from the Hidromek HMK140LC is the dramatic reduction in diesel usage, saying the European-made excavator is using under half the amount, compared to his old brand. With the price of diesel predicted to retail close to four dollars per litre by the end of 2022, any fuel savings are the easiest money any fossil-fueled machine will make.

"Our old brand machine was using 200 litres for 16 hours work, and [in comparison] the Hidromek is burning 200 litres for around 35-40 hours work – and that is measured on very similar work," says John.

"I’m quite certain on these figures and I know it sounds ridiculous, but that is what it is doing – it’s a serious amount of money," he says.

Positive sum up

Magnum Equipment provided a digger until the new machine arrived

John’s purchase experience is summed up positively, although he’s quick to admit that things are not always straightforward when machinery is involved.

"I’m impressed with the customer service from Magnum Equipment. The only issue we had was the machine was delivered with a hitch that didn’t fit my other brand’s buckets, although the oversight was corrected quickly and without fuss," he says.

"We’re happy with the purchase and I’ll be keeping a close eye how it performs into the future but so far it’s working out as I expected."

Hidromek HMK140LC specifications

Operating weight (std) 14,800kg
Engine Isuzu AJ-4JJ1X
Power 98hp(73kW) @2000rpm
Max torque 385Nm @1600rpm
Main pump Double variable displacement axial piston pumps
Max flow 2 x 130L/min
Pilot pump 20L/min

Max reach
(std arm 2.6m)

Max dig reach at ground level 8250mm
Max dig depth 5660mm
Max dump height 6150mm

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