Over the past decade, there has been an influx of Chinese-built loaders, telescopic handlers and mini diggers distributed into Ireland and across Europe.

With some of these units, it’s not unusual to see the same mechanical machine, painted in different colours with different stickers. Some brands have disappeared almost as quickly as they landed, while others seem to be standing the test of time.

One Limerick company that is going from strength to strength with Chinese-built loaders is Adare Hire. Having first imported wheel loaders from China in 2017, the firm has since retailed a sizeable 285 machines throughout the country. In fact, they have seven large dairy farmers running two machines each.

The company first started importing Chinese machines in 2017. Initially, they purchased machines through a Polish company named Schmidt. The first loaders were acquired for its hire fleet, but it said that based on customer feed-back, they saw a market in Ireland to retail these machines, mainly for work such as feeding livestock.

Today, they still deal with Schmidt, but also required larger loaders. They began to deal with HaiHong in China in 2019. “We imported the first machines from HaiHong at the end of 2019. In 2021, we began dealing with the Chinese company which produce all the mini loaders which we previously retailed as the Schmidt brand and are now sold under our own Adare brand,” said the company.

Hire option

Due to the nature of Adare Hire’s core business, they also hire these loaders to farmers. Over the course of the winter-feeding season, they hire around 10 machines on long term, and another 10-12 machines on shorter term hire. The firm charges €1,050 plus VAT per month for a new ZL 160 and €1,500 plus VAT per month for a new CTX 200. A ZL 160 is a 4t, 60hp loader with a 1.5t lifting capacity, while the CTX 200 is a 5.5t, 80hp machine with a 2t lifting capacity.

On a new machine, the minimum hire is four months, with the company supplying shear grabs if required. To date, the firm have only been hiring in Limerick and the neighbouring counties due to availability. It plans on expanding on this next year through its six dealers around the country.

Parts and reliability

When it comes to Chinese loaders, people generally ask about three things; parts, resale value and reliability. We put these same questions to Adare Hire. They explained that they carry a comprehensive range of spare parts and to date have never run into difficulty, but have the option of flying in parts directly from the factory in China, if need be.

In terms of reliability, Adare Hire say that they carry out a comprehensive pre-delivery inspection and modification regime on all loaders. It says this includes alterations which improve the operation of the machines.

With most machines out on farms feeding livestock, Adare Hire says its farmer clients are putting up 350 to 500 hours per year. It says its highest hours’ loader has just over 3,000 hours on the clock.

The range

The Adare range is made up of six models. It starts at 37hp and tops out at 50hp. Lift capacities range from 480kg to 1,500kg. It uses Kubota and Yanmar engines and hydrostatic transmissions.

The HaiHong range is larger, and comprises of five models. The range starts at 60hp and goes up to 150hp. It uses both Chinese and Cummins engines. Lift capacities with this range start at 1,500kg and go up to 3,000kg.

A new HaiHong CTX 200 would retail at €36,500 plus VAT, while Adare Hire says a typical engine service kit (engine, oil and air filters) costs €86.46 plus VAT.

The HaiHong range uses both Chinese and Cummins engines.

The HaiHong range starts at 60hp and goes up to 150hp.

Adare Hire charge €1,050 plus VAT per month for a new ZL 160 and €1,500 plus VAT per month for a new CTX 200.

"The only optional extra we fitted was a dump valve to relieve any pressure in the hydraulic line”, said Hugh.

Neilus and Peter Irwin, Kilmeedy, Co Limerick

The Irwin brothers have been hiring a HaiHong loader from Adare Hire for the past five years. The duo generally take delivery at the start of November, and hire it for four to five months.

“We have been expanding cow numbers and have invested in sheds and a new rotary, so hiring rather than buying a loader has suited our business.

“We’re milking 450 cows and aside from the winter months, would have very little work for a loader. We use it for feeding and cleaning out sheds, and use it three to four hours daily, clocking 400-500 hours over the winter period. The machine is simple.

Neilus and Peter Erwin.

“The only negatives we have is that the cab is a bit on the smaller side. Other than that, it’s easy to use, light on fuel and does the job for us. We like the fixed cost system and will probably stay hiring for the foreseeable future,” explained Neilus.

Hugh Massey, Rathkeale, Co Limerick

Hugh bought a new HaiHong CTX 200 in November 2022. Previously running a 1998 JCB 414S, followed by a 2005 Merlo telehandler, he wanted to upgrade to a fresher machine with more reliability. Hugh milks 350 cows and the loader’s duties are mainly feeding silage, cleaning out sheds and loading fertiliser. He initially looked at several used machines, before settling on the new HaiHong loader. His decision was based on local farmers giving good feedback, proximity to the dealer and sheer “value for money”.

Hugh Massey bought a new HaiHong CTX 200.

“The CTX 200 is a simple machine, it’s easy to use, easy to access and works well. There’s very little electrics on it, and all main components are easy to access. It has clocked up 500 hours without giving any hassle. The only optional extra we fitted was a dump valve to relieve any pressure in the hydraulic line. I’m very happy with the machine to date,” said Hugh.

Machine spec

Make: HaiHong

Model: CTX 200 Hi Reach model

Engine: Cummins or Xinchai

Horsepower: 80hp

Loading height: 13.5-foot

Tyres: BKT 440/65-24 tubeless

Road speed: 35km/h road speed.

Warranty: 12 months

Price: €36,500 plus VAT