Merlin Excavation Invest in a SK28SR-6E Kobelco Excavator

May 28, 2022

Whilst many excavator manufacturers and dealers will tell you their mini excavator brands are far better than anyone else’s, the fact is, there is very little difference in them.

Engines are sourced from just a few manufacturers, hydraulic systems the same as are many undercarriage components. There will however be a difference in build quality between the different mini excavator makers but the biggest difference and often the selling point for many companies is the dealer back-up.

For many of the smaller end mini excavator users who may be developers or builders who have limited mechanical experience, that dealer back up and build quality of an excavator machine can make or break a deal and ultimate long-term relationship for an end user. Yorkshire based Merlin Excavation is one company who has seen the build quality of what their preferred brand of mini excavators was, drop over the last few years and this has prompted a change in their purchasing choice.

Simon Tomlinson runs Merlin Excavations who, over the past few years have grown their business undertaking development projects, general plant hire and contract work across the Yorkshire region. “We run excavators up to 20t at the moment.” Simon explains “This is changing as we look at the way we operate.” Despite being very successful, Simon has been getting disillusioned with the general hire industry and some of the issues it has given him. “It’s hard to get good, reliable operators these days and that impacts on how you can deliver a service to your clients. General hire also brings its own problems with rates and damages.” Simon explains “We are looking at servicing some of our development partners and starting our own development projects which is why we have invested in a new excavator.”

The mini excavator in question is a new SK28SR-6E Kobelco Excavator complete with SMP ST4 tilt rotator and represents the path the company is looking at taking. “This combination allows us to undertake almost any job on a small development project.” 

SK28SR-6E Kobelco excavator
SK28SR-6E Kobelco Excavator

Download the SK28SR-6E Kobelco Excavator brochure here.

The SK28 is one of 11 mini excavators in the Kobelco excavator line up supplied across the UK by Molson Equipment, the small excavators and equipment specialist division of Molson Group

The decision to take a step away from his usual supplier was one Simon believes is apathy. “They are seen as the brand everyone wants and I was one of them at one point.” He explains “But if you look at the quality of the components and the reliability of the equipment, its either they have stopped going forward or other manufacturers have really stepped up their game.” 

This sounds as if Simon isn’t happy with his original purchases. Far from it, but when he is investing a large chunk of his hard-earned money into a machine, he says he wants to get the best his money can buy in terms of build quality, reliability and residuals as well as the ever-important back-up and this is what he is expecting he will get from Molson Equipment and their large range of Kobelco excavators.

We caught up with Simon on the outskirts of Doncaster where he was working on his own project of building a new workshop for his own business. “We’ve been really busy of late and have to fit in our own work around delivering customer’s projects.” Simon joked. The steel framed building had been erected leaving Simon and the Kobelco excavator to work under cover. It was immediate that the size of this mini excavator was ideal for this type of project as it fitted neatly into the building. Using an Engcon selector grab to move some large decorative stone out of the way, Simon tracked the excavator into the shed before dropping off the grab and picking up the Scandi-style bucket. Despite only having the machine a for a week or so and it being his first tilt rotator experience, Simon was very much at home with the concept. “I think it’s all about your thought process when it comes to operating it.” He explains sitting the Kobelco in the middle of the shed, Simon proceeds to move a mile of clean stone from one side to the other so that he can excavate a footing in between the steel stanchions of the shed. Making the operation look effortless is testament to Simon’s operating skills. Carefully taking the stone away and piling it to one side he deftly spins the bucket around to clean up to each column. With the material removed and ready for shuttering, we get a closer look at the compact excavator.

The same build quality on the larger Kobelco excavators is carried down the range to the small excavator machines manufactured in the same Japanese factory in Itsukaichi. These compact excavators come with a very high standard specification, something Simon was very impressed with. “I looked at almost everything on the market in this weight range.” Simon commented “And whilst some machines looked very good, the whole package from Molson just tipped the scale for me.” When asked the question as to why he opted for a tilt rotator on the new machine Simon was very positive about the whole market for these attachments; “If you take away the cost of adding a tilt rotator to an excavator and just look at the benefits it can give you, it’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. I’m not getting any older and if it makes life easier for me when I’m out on site, then I’m up for it.”

The benefit of the tilt rotator came to the fore as we moved into Simon’s adjoining field where he keeps his two donkeys, Thunder and Lightning. Simon had been busy putting up some donkey proof fencing and required a short piece of land drain to be installed to finish off the project. Using the SMP Scandi bucket Simon showed off the benefits of the tilty and quickly dug out the short length of trench in a V-pattern. Backfilling the trench was again an easy task and all completed with very little tracking back and forth. Another item purchased in the deal from Matt Wilson, Molson’s Sales Manager was a BMC land rake. “It’s all about having the right attachments for the job.” Simon explains “It’s all about having the right attachments for the job.” Simon explains “I wanted the land rake to be able to clear scrub material from sites before we strip them. It helps to keep materials separate and cut costs of disposal down to a minimum.”

As Simon is restructuring both his business and his fleet, we ask him if he will look at Kobelco machinery for future purchases. “I can’t see why not.” He explains “They have been very professional in the way they have gone about this deal. The machine has been supplied with all of the extras I have asked for; it was delivered on time and the standard three-year warranty they give certainly gives me the peace of mind I want when I invest in new kit.

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