Freeman Contracting Services
Standing the Test of Time
Jason Freeman, Managing Director of Freeman Contracting Services, recounts why he bought the first Kobelco excavator for his business 12 years ago, and why he has stuck with the brand as his business has expanded.
When Jason Freeman bought his first second-hand Kobelco excavator nearly 12 years ago, his contracting business was much smaller than it is today.
Starting from humble beginnings in the late 1990s, the family-owned Melbourne business has grown substantially to now own a fleet of over 30 excavators, including 12 Kobelco units ranging from the two tonne Kobelco mini excavator to the 52-tonne SK500LC.
Freeman said what has not changed during this time, though, is the fuel efficiency and the reliability he can expect from his Kobelco machines.
Based at Little River in Melbourne’s west, Freeman Contracting Services started business in 1998 supplying fitters and boiler makers to the quarrying industry for quarry maintenance and fabrication.
As the team grew and the business was able to hire more competent tradespeople, it eventually moved to providing project work and campaign crushing. Today, the business provides a full range of crushing, screening, maintenance, demolition and equipment services to major quarries in the state.
“Our business has grown quite substantially over the years. At the peak times of business, we can have all of our 30 or so machines out working at quarries,” Freeman said.
With the industry struggling to produce trained operators fast enough to meet the increasing demand on the quarries, Freeman said his business was no exception.
“We pride ourselves not only in the range, quality and late model machinery, but also in the experience, knowledge and skills of our operators,” said Freeman. “We would have expanded our fleet size even further, but we are currently limited by the availability of skilled people.”
EFFICIENT AND RELIABLE
Freeman’s fleet features a complete range of equipment, from mobile cone crushers and jaw crushers to mobile screens, loaders and excavators.
In its excavator range, an SK500LC Generation Nine, a 31-tonne SK300LC and two 36-tonne SK350LC Generation 10 machines, purchased through local Kobelco dealer Melbourne Tractors, are among the latest additions to the company’s fleet.
Freeman said fuel economy was a key aspect for him in choosing Kobelco.
These are fantastic machines and the best thing about them is that their fuel saving is excellent. Their reliability has been good, and the backup service is fantastic.Jason Freeman, Managing Director, told Quarry Magazine
One way that the Kobelco SK500LC minimises fuel consumption is through the use of an innovative Boom to Arm hydraulic regeneration system. When lowering the boom, this system uses the downward force generated by the boom’s weight as potential energy, redirecting pressurised fluid from the boom cylinder to the arm cylinder, which is used to extend the arm. This greatly reduces the need for the pump to supply oil to the arm cylinder during one phase of the dig cycle, thus saving fuel.
Kobelco’s ECO-mode control option helps further maximise the operating efficiency of the engine and other components to achieve much greater fuel efficiency. At the press of a button, the operator can choose the operation mode best suited to the task at hand and the working conditions, allowing the operator to choose between maximum productivity [H-mode], ideal balance [S-mode] or minimal fuel consumption [ECO-mode].
Using Kobelco’s GEOSCAN excavator remote monitoring system, data on fuel consumption and idling times can be monitored and used to indicate improvements in fuel consumption.
Cabin comfort was another parameter Freeman said he and his team appreciated in their Kobelco excavators.
“Our operators are happy with the machines. They are quite comfortable and easy to work with,” he said.
The Kobelco Generation 10 cab has falling object protection (FOPS Level 2) and its roomy dimensions make it comfortable for operators, as well as offering plenty of storage space. The cabin is mounted on long-travel viscous fluid filled isolation dampeners for minimal cab vibration and is pressurised to eliminate dust. This is in addition to excellent rear visibility thanks to the low engine cover and wide-angle rear-view camera that comes standard.
For hotter days, the large air-conditioner in the Generation 10 Kobelco has air vents on the back pillars that blow from behind and to the right and left of the operator’s seat. They can be adjusted to put a direct flow of cool/warm air on the operator, which means a more comfortable operating environment.
Freeman noted the ease of servicing and maintenance with Kobelco. The Generation 10 Kobelco machines are designed with ample space in the engine compartment for a mechanic to do maintenance work inside. The layout also allows for easy access from the ground for many daily checks and regular maintenance tasks.
With business booming and demand for quarrying contractors showing no sign of slowing down, Freeman said he considers more Kobelco machines in the future.
“These are fantastic machines. They do everything we need them to do, and I think we are going to see a lot more of them coming through,” he said.