SIP produces the world’s largest mower outfit – it has a cutting width of 15m, is in regular production and available to order, there is even a good chance of it coming to Ireland next year.
More interestingly still, rather than it being the product of one of the giants of agricultural machinery manufacture, it comes from a privately-owned factory in Slovenia.
Quality from the east
SIP was formed over 65 years ago and now employs 350 people producing and selling forage equipment into 35 countries worldwide.
SIP machinery is now imported by Farmec of Co. Meath and Gary Daly, sales director for the company, is keen to overcome the taint of sub-prime engineering which is never far from machines made outside of the western end of Europe.
His dealer customers appear to agree that the brand is competent and robust enough to be a serious contender in the Irish market, for many are well established retailers who are happy to stock the range alongside mainline tractor brands.
The quality of the engineering and materials used are not the whole story though. Other factors need to be present before any brand can enjoy success and Gary is quite satisfied that SIP has them all.
To produce a quality product, the company needs to be focused on the market segment it serves and the purpose for which it is intended.
Gary notes that 95% of the factory’s production is grassland machinery of one sort or another, the rest being a small number of manure spreaders.
Manufacturers also need integrity and willingness to respond to market demands; Farmec, which has had long experience in working with foreign suppliers, believes SIP has both, and this is part of its ongoing success.
SIP concentrates on implements that work to cut and preserve the grass crop, mowing, tedding and swathing it with a selection of machines that cater for a variety of requirements and budgets.
Two ranges of mowers are produced, the heavy duty Silvercut series and the lighter Alp machines, a name which indicates that they are designed with Alpine conditions in mind.
Silvercut disc mowers sit at the heavy duty end of the mower market; these are aimed at farmers and contractors who appreciate a good degree of strength and durability.
SIP provides purchase guidance
In helping the customer choose the right mower, SIP rises above many other companies by quoting not only the minimum recommended power required, but also an indication of work rate.
Thus, for its smallest 2.9m Silvercut model, it quotes a figure of 60hp which will cover 8.6ac in one hour, consuming 1.8L of diesel per acre in doing so.
These figures are the average of various performance tests and are quoted only as a guide with the usual disclaimers, but the fact that they are quoted at all, marks the company out from many others.
At the other end of the scale, the aforementioned 15m combination, consisting of a front mower and four, 3m units, attached to a central trailer, will need a minimum of 350hp, but its work rate is 55ac/hr, although fuel consumption is not quoted.
The lighter mowers are known as the Alp range and these are designed primarily to work on slopes, hence the attention to weight.
However, that does not mean that they are the cheap and cheerful sibling of the Silverdisc range, as care is still taken in the design and engineering, they are quite suited to less extreme conditions.
The cutter bar, for instance, is produced in-house and features discs that all rotate towards the centre, leaving a cut which is claimed to be consistent on hillside fields.
This attention to cutter bar design extends to ensuring that crop flow through the mower is as smooth and unimpeded as possible, saving fuel and increasing efficiency, features that would be beyond SIP’s control if they were purchased from a component supplier.
Tedders and rakes
The philosophy of creating a seamless flow is also evident in the approach to the matching of machines over the whole range.
The company suggests that the selection of a tedder is dependent on the choice of mower and it goes so far as to give a formula for deciding upon the optimal machine.
While there is not the room to look at it now, it once again indicates that the company is a serious player and has thought through the foraging process, integrating its models across the product range.
All the tedders and rakes incorporate design features which point to a company determined to succeed through a considered approach.
It is not alone in this by any means, and it goes to underline that there are definite advantages in choosing from a manufacturer which is focused on a particular segment of the farming cycle.
SIP on view at Punchestown
Farmec will have a selection of six SIP machines at the upcoming Farm Tractor Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA) Farm Machinery Show, two from each range.
This will include the Spider 1100/10 T tedder, which has a working width of 10.8m and 10 tines per rotor, which may be either of the straight or hooked type, the latter picking up the grass far more cleanly, SIP claims.
Gary also hopes to have the 15m mower unit over for next season, when it will be giving demonstrations throughout Ireland.