With silage season sweeping across the country in recent weeks, sightings of loading shovels trundling across the countryside have become increasingly common. The majority of these loaders are the usual brands - namely JCB, Volvo and other familiar names.
However, there is an abundance of other loading shovel brands around the world - not least in China. LiuGong is a Chinese manufacturer that recently sold its 350,000th wheel loader; it has a growing customer base all over the globe.
To celebrate the achievement, LiuGong recently held a ceremony with over 300 people in attendance at Liuzhou, Guangxi, China. Prominent attendees included representatives from the Chinese government and industry associates, founding members of LiuGong, customers of the company's first-generation products and, of course, dealers.
LiuGong claims to have been the first Chinese manufacturer to produce a "modernized" wheel loader. LiuGong also manufactures the biggest Chinese-built wheel loader - the 8128H.
Qi Jun, President of China Construction Machinery Industry Association, said that LiuGong has been "integral in China’s modernization and infrastructure development".
Well-established in the loading shovel business, the machinery giant built its first wheel loader, the Z435, in 1966. This was also the first 'certified modern wheel loader' in China, according to LiuGong.
The ZL50C was LiuGong’s key machine for the following three decades; it was the first Chinese-made wheel loader that was exported in large volumes to overseas markets.
One customer at the event praised the durability of the machines, stating: “We have had our oldest wheel loader - a 50C - for more than 30 years and it is still working.”
Today, the 856, 856H, 8128H and the ZLG50G are the headline models of LiuGong’s current line-up - which are now third and fourth-generation machines. Late last year, LiuGong launched its "revolutionary" vertical-lift wheel loader - the VL70A.
Categorised into three sections of compact, medium and large wheel loaders, LiuGong offers machines from 63.9hp right up to 318hp. While predominantly used for construction and quarry-type work, LiuGong loaders are also used in agriculture.
The company also manufactures other plant and construction equipment including, for example, backhoe loaders.
The company has dealerships in 23 European countries, including the UK, but has yet to venture as far as Ireland. However, if its ongoing growth continues, it could well join the ranks of JCB, Volvo, Komatsu, Caterpillar and so on - and its loaders might well be seen zipping about the Irish countryside as silage 'fever' takes hold in the years to come.