“We want to build the best machines that we can. Something that will last in the field for many years. To do that, we have to start off with the best components,” says David Eggins of Roberts Machinery, a family-owned company in Alstonville, New South Wales, best known as the manufacturer behind the Robmac macadamia nut harvester machines.

David’s father, Robert Eggins, built his first peanut harvester and bagging machine back in 1959 when he was just 19 years old. In 1962, he started the business of Roberts Machinery, which has been designing, building and repairing farm machinery for over 59 years. 

With the growth of the macadamia industry in Alstonville, Roberts Machinery became heavily involved in the macadamia industry and 23 years ago, introduced the Robmac harvester, a lightweight stand-alone harvester with the ability to operate efficiently in wet and dry conditions with very low soil compaction. 

Today, there are over 240 Robmac harvesters in the field, and service and support of these units has become an important part of the business for Roberts Machinery. The team also runs a production pipeline with three or six harvester units under production at any given time, building an average of 12 to 15 Robmac units each year.

This level of production, in addition to Roberts Machinery’s repair business, requires access to quality components and steady supplies – something the company manages in collaboration with industrial parts supplier, BSC.

“When it comes to selecting components for our machines, we are not looking to cut costs by using cheaper components. There’s no point in manufacturing a harvesting machine that’s say $500 cheaper but will break down in the field as opposed to a machine that will easily work for 10 years or more,” says David. 

Since designing the very first Robmac harvester unit over 20 years ago, David says he and Robert have worked closely with Gary Livotto, Branch Manager at BSC Lismore, to pick the most reliable components for their machines. David says the Fenner brand was selected as the brand of choice for sprockets, taper lock bushes and chains in the Robmac machines and augers.

 “We use Fenner sprockets, taper lock bushes and chains because they are the best quality that we can get. When you are harvesting nuts, you don’t want to stop mid harvest, so we need reliability. Going with Fenner has been money well spent because we’ve never had any problems with a Fenner product. They’ve been
great actually.”

With father and son both owning macadamia properties in Alstonville, David says the duo have been using their own harvesting machines and improving the design year after year, to the point where it has become the most popular macadamia harvester among local farmers.

“This is an advantage that a lot of manufactures don’t have. Using our own machine to harvest macadamia for six months of the year over the weekends helps us pick up any aspect of the design that could be improved. In over two decades, this has helped us develop a trouble-free and easy-to-operate machine with maximum nut harvesting efficiency.” 

Looking back at the success Roberts Machinery has achieved, David says he’s proud to be able to serve the macadamia industry.

“The farming community is very tightly knit so if a machine is good, farmers will recognise this and recommend it to each other. That’s why we have never had to advertise that much. Our orders mostly come through word of mouth. But it’s not been an easy ride. It has taken great effort to reach a point where we can stand fully behind our product. Today, we are very proud of our product and we are planning to expand and upgrade our production capabilities further.”