Komatsu takes on Bobcat
By Geoff Ashcroft
THOSE in the market for a skid-steer loader are now faced with even greater choices as construction equipment maker Komatsu brings its two latest models to the UKs agricultural market.
Designated the SK714-5 and SK815-5, the firm says these new Odessa 5 machines will go head to head with Bobcats 753 and 763 models in the popular 613-794kg capacity sector, as the Japanese construction giant signals its intention to gain a larger slice of the UK skid-steer market.
"The 613-794kg capacity sector accounts for almost half of the 1100 or so machines sold in the UK each year," says Richard Williams, general manager of Komatsus utility equipment division. "And with our new models, I expect this category alone to account for about 70% of our business."
Mr Williams says the introduction of these new models coincides with the completion of Komatsus UK dealer network, which now comprises 23 outlets. It includes agricultural machinery dealers such as Ernest Doe, Mona Tractor Company and Isle of Man Farmers, in addition to dedicated construction dealers.
"With the coverage our dealer network now affords, we are in a position to be more serious about selling skid-steers to agricultural customers," he adds.
Last year, the firm sold 365 skid steers into its traditional plant hire, demolition and construction markets. And with plans to sell over 500 machines in 2001, the firm recognises it must look to other markets.
"We are looking to fulfil customers expectations and be a reliable partner working with our suppliers, dealers and our customers in every market sector," he says.
Built at the firms utility equipment factory in Ester, Italy, the new machines bring innovative features to the market, including proportional joystick hand controls – one for machine movement, the other for loader functions. It is technology taken from the firms excavators.
A foot throttle, in addition to a hand throttle, simplifies machine control, while the combination of two hydraulic systems for loader and transmission functions allows simultaneous operation of all machine functions, regardless of working load and engine speed.
The SK714-5 replaces the SK07J-2 model. It offers a 650kg operating capacity and can achieve a load-over height of 2.85m. The 714-5 tips the scales at 2530kg and has an overall width of 1520mm.
The more muscular and heavier SK815-5 is a new addition to the range. It offers a 700kg operating capacity to a load-over height of 2.92m, and can squeeze through a 1650mm wide opening. Both skid-steers are powered by a Euro 2 compliant 46.5hp Komatsu diesel engine.
Compared with previous generation Komatsu models, the new machines feature heavily revised styling and improved visibility to the front, sides and rear of the machine. Safety features now include an automatic parking brake and a water-proofed instrument console that resides on the operators safety locking bar.
"With joystick controls, you do not need to be a fully skilled machine operator to drive these new skid-steers," says Mr Williams. "And this is an aspect that will appeal to agriculture, where the skid-steer is not driven by one dedicated operator." *
Komatsus SK714-5 and SK815-5 have been developed to challenge Bobcats dominance in the 613-794kg sector.
"With the coverage our dealer network now affords, we can be more serious about selling skid-steers to agricultural customers," says Komatsus Richard Williams.