Kelly Engineering’s export success
The first Australian tillage system built in Germany for the European market has been delivered to a farmer in Estonia
South Australia’s Kelly Engineering has begun contract manufacturing its Diamond Harrow tillage machines in Stolpen, Germany to meet growing European demand.
The company has been selling its Australian-made tillage machines in Europe for several years but managing director Shane Kelly says building the systems in Australia and shipping them half way around the world resulted in long lead times and other inefficiencies as volumes grew.
“So we revised the business model to source a supply chain locally while still running our IP and management out of Booleroo,” he says. “For instance, the majority of what we sell in the US is now made there and we manage the supply chain from Australia.
“That model then is replicable for Europe because it’s a much lighter load on working capital and lead times. It works well over there because the machines have to be European-specific models – the road transport width has to be under three metres and they have to have brakes and other things that aren’t required in other markets.”
An initial six German-built machines were completed last month with the first delivered to Estonia on May 19. The manufacture of a further four machines is under way.
Kelly Engineering, which still manufactures in Booleroo for the Australian market, has its products manufactured under contract in the US, where it has sold almost 2,000 systems since 2010. In Europe, the company has sold the Diamond Harrow in Estonia, Germany, Austria and the UK and is preparing for trials in Ukraine, Russia and Bulgaria later in the year.
The Diamond Harrow’s unique design offers a wide array of benefits, including residue management, weed control, soil improvements and moisture management, all engineered in a cost-effective, single-pass system.
The patented design uses four chains lined up in a diamond formation to allow the machine to prepare the seedbed in rough fields. Each chain is fitted with a crop-specific row of metal discs that rotate and penetrate the soil. The design also allows the machine to work the soil, attack crop residue, manage weeds and initiate better microbial action in the soil by decomposing residue in the top layer, allowing access to more sunlight.
Kelly says the systems can be configured for a variety of soil and crop types. He says they’ve proven to reduce blackgrass infestations in the UK and corn borer numbers in Germany.
Kelly Engineering has sold its tillage systems in more than 25 countries, with the US accounting for about 60 per cent of its orders. Kelly says having more machines on the ground in Europe will likely have a snowball effect on sales.
“Farming is still a very conservative industry in a lot of places so people want to be confident, especially with a new product or a new concept like our Diamond Harrow,” he says.
Kelly Engineering’s (from left) Jo and Shane Kelly with CEO Calvin Stead and Kelly’s Estonian agent Argo Kukk of Agri Partner