Kobelco, a long-standing leader in the construction equipment industry, has made its mark by producing powerful, high- quality, robust machines. But in many ways the blue giant also strives to make less of an impact with its technological, environmentally-conscious, budget-saving, customer-driven approach; less fuel, less mess, less noise, less maintenance, less time wasted – no worries.
Kobelco is owned by, and essentially started off as, Kobe Steel Group, a titanic Japanese company founded way back in 1905, which in addition to manufacturing steel, aluminium and other metals, also produces machines and components across numerous sectors, including construction, automotive, energy and even medical industries. By 1930 Kobe Steel released their first domestically produced construction machine, the 50K electric mining shovel, and Kobelco was born.
The Kobe Steel juggernaut currently employs around 40,000 people globally, approximately 7000 of which work in their Kobelco Construction Machinery division.
Kobelco has a long and successful history of supplying the Australian market with world-class excavators. Dealers sprouted up in the early 1980s and the popularity of the brand and products Down Under saw Kobelco Construction Machinery Australia form in 2013 with many loyal dealers staying on under the new distribution model. This important network of national dealers is made up of independent, family-owned businesses, employing over 600 people around Australia. Kobelco sees each one as being crucial to the brand – they are personally invested in the success of the business and satisfaction of customers.
Kobelco Construction Machinery Australia’s headquarters is based in Eastern Creek, Sydney. Also home to their national parts and distribution centre, this is the nerve-centre of the national operation. Here you will find General Manager of Marketing
Direct Sales, Chris Wolf, who can testify to the soul of the company, which resonates from its ancestral origins and all the way through to every facet of the localised business.
“The culture in Japan,” said Chris, “really values personal accountability and pride in one’s workmanship and in the company. These values are not just rhetoric, but they actually come through in the quality and reliability of our machines. I would say that working for Kobelco in Australia, as a sales and service company, we try to embody the same values of pride in workmanship that are endemic to our parent company in Japan, which allows us to deliver a high level of service for our customers. I would describe Kobelco’s culture as one that is very approachable and encourages independent thinking and open communication without the bureaucracy that can sometimes exist in large organisations. Our dealers exhibit a similar culture – friendly, approachable, down to earth, and service oriented.”
The result of decades of high-level research, development, workmanship and focus has led to some truly innovative machines coming out of the Kobelco doors. It can now boast being one of the most successful brands of excavators by sales in the Australian market today, with a reputation not only for power, strength and reliability, but also for their state-of-the-art technical prowess, low fuel consumption and creature comforts.
Chris ran through some of the standout features of their excavators in more detail:
“Kobelco continues to develop the most fuel-efficient excavators in the industry, which allows us to provide a lower carbon footprint and ultimately a greener environment. Our heavy excavators feature an advanced Intelligent Total Control System, which is our exclusive mechatronic pump control system that has been developed over decades to provide exceptional performance while burning minimal fuel.”
Noise And Dust Reduction
“Our compact radius machines feature the exclusive iNDr (Integrated Noise and Dust Reduction) system, which is designed to reduce operating noise and to prevent dust and debris from entering the cooling system. The low operating noise has proven to be very popular with operators and a welcome addition on crowded worksites, while the cooling system protection means that they are able to work efficiently in tough Australian environments.”
Advanced Monitoring And Reporting
“All Kobelco heavy excavators come standard with a five-year subscription to Kobelco’s advanced machine telematics reporting system, GEOSCAN, a system that provides GPS and machine operation data to equipment owners and fleet managers. The system monitors key operational data such as on-off time, work mode, operation type, fuel efficiency, location data and maintenance information, plus notifies owners of upcoming services and machine faults.
The latest generation of GEOSCAN also incorporates a function called K-SCAN and K-Assist. These systems monitor the realtime health of the machine and allow Kobelco technicians to run a complete remote hydraulic and engine diagnostic.”
“Kobelco machines are also regarded as having some of the most comfortable operator stations available in the industry with wide, spacious cabins across the range, including compact and short-radius machines. Most models come standard with two auxiliary circuits, with proportional hand controls offering low lever effort that allows easy, all-day operation and provides precision hydraulic control, even while multi-functioning. We have a reputation for building one of the quietest cabs in the industry as well, with sealed and pressurised cabins, automatic climate control and air suspension seats all standard on many models,” said Chris.
Kobelco’s Australian product range includes machines from 800kg all the way up to 50 tonne. Their most popular model in the mini excavator range is the SK17SR, which is one of the top selling models in the popular 1.7T segment. Their most popular model in the heavy excavator range is the SK135SR-5. Kobelco is actually the number one selling manufacturer in this popular 13-16T class in Australia.
Kobelco is also one of the only brands in the industry that offers its latest global machines with both Tier 3 and Tier 4 Final emissions. All of Kobelco’s Generation 10 machines, which were launched in 2017, are available in either engine configuration.
As previously mentioned, the other standout is Kobelco’s customer sales and aftermarket support through their dedicated and passionate dealer network. “There’s a reason Kobelco has such a high rate of repeat customers,” confirmed Chris, “and our dealer’s excellent service is a big part of our success.”
Most local dealers offer fixed-price servicing on every Kobelco machine they sell and provide a comprehensive range of Kobelco spare parts, having access to the national parts distribution centre in Sydney, which provides a 97 per cent fill rate off the shelf, with over 10,000 lines of inventory in stock at a value of $15m.
“We have every type of customer,” concluded Chris, “ranging from the owner/ operator of an earthmoving business, who may own only one or two compact machines, up to large rental companies and multi-national civil construction firms. The one thing in common between them all is that each and every customer of Kobelco is more than just a number – when you buy a Kobelco, you join the Kobelco family.”
For more information on Kobelco’s amazing range of excavator products, their features, service support and dealers Down Under, see www.kobelco.com.au