28 March 2014

Matriarch Equipment has expanded its partnership with Bell Equipment whereby Bell will distribute and support Matriarch's newly launched cane Slew Loader. This agreement comes in time for Bell to present the new addition to its agricultural offering at NAMPO 2014 in May.

Bell Equipment's Product Marketing Manager: Sugar, Forestry and Agriculture, Tim Beningfield says: "The partnership is a great opportunity for Bell as the machine complements our existing agricultural offering and provides the market with the first ever competitive and economical, lightweight slew loader. Other slew loaders on the market have been larger machines with a higher spec, only affordable to larger sugar estates.
Some farmers modify tractors with a slewing crane attachment but this often results in an unstable machine, but Matriarch Equipment offers a purpose-built slew loader with a similar level of simplicity, functionality and durability as our Bell Tri-Wheeler."

Powered by a JCB 63kW water-cooled engine, the drive of the Matriarch Slew Loader is controlled by foot pedals while the crane and grapple have separate joystick controls in the standard excavator pattern.

Continues Beningfield: "The advantage of the Matriarch Slew Loader is that operator cab slews with the boom so that the operator has his eyes on the grab at all times. Feedback from operators is that they are impressed with the visibility and comfort and this is hugely positive for productivity."

The Slew Loader is ideally suited to operations seeking a 'controlled traffic' approach to the loading of whole stalk cane to reap the benefits of reduced in-field compaction and significantly lower damage to the cane stools. Depending on row spacing, the track of the Slew Loader can be made wider with spacers that are bolted onto the rigid front axle.

The Slew Loader has the option of two grapple configurations, either the same concept as the Bell Tri-Wheeler with a wide grapple with tilt functionality enabling the machine to work on slopes, or a narrower, free-swinging grapple with a push-piler.

From a productivity point of view, the Slew Loader averages between 35t and 40t per hour. Matriarch Equipment's Ashley Bell explains: "Productivity is largely dependent on cane quality and how it is presented to the machine. In ideal conditions we have achieved 50t/hr."

The Slew Loader is fitted with a 100 litre diesel tank and consumption averages between 3,5 and 3,8l/hr. For this reason the Matriarch Slew Loader has been named Ulteco, short for 'ultimate economy'.

Two of the 5,4 ton models, the Ulteco 5 Slew Loader, were in operation during the 2013 cane season. Due to the success of these units the company plans to manufacture 14 units for the 2014 of which six will be for the South African market and the balance for export.

Matriarch Equipment is also at an advanced stage with an 8 ton model, the Ulteco 8. Geared towards larger sugar estates, this will be a 4x4 unit with an air-conditioned cab and Bell expects a prototype to be running mid-2014.