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Volume 19 Number 06 DEC/JAN 2020 ISSN 1832-6080
FEATURES AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT Full steam ahead for automotive aftermarket manufacturers Rae-Line selects SYSPRO MaxiTRANS: Seamless data transfer via DataSuite Volgren celebrates 5,000th bus out of Dandenong Electric utility truck launched in Australia Improving functionality in 3D printed automotive parts
44 48 50 51 52 54
FORMING & FABRICATION Integra Systems: Evolution with Salvagnini Smart manufacturing with TECHNI Waterjet Yawei provides growth opportunities for JC Butko
58 60 62
CUTTING TOOLS High-speed machining & importance of tool accuracy Trends in tool development Reliable, cost-effective production of turbochargers
64 68 70
STATE SPOTLIGHT – NSW New Doosan machining centre creates new possibilities Brent & Warburton – Choosing the best machine for the job LaserBond expands machine shop
72 74 76
COMPRESSORS & AIR TECHNOLOGY Compressed air maintenance for Christmas-shutdown
ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION A precision transformation It’s not easy to give a robot a sense of touch Assembler robots make large structures from little pieces
84 86 88
AGRICULTURE, FOOD & BEVERAGES Aussie fruit-grading tech delivers massive savings De Bortoli Wines optimises with QAD Tube processing for agricultural engineering
90 92 94
MATERIAL REMOVAL Med tech - A sector undergoing constant change Prendergast Fastners invests in future
WELDING Making the case for metal-cored wire
PLASTICS Cut To Size sees growth for engineering plastics
REGULARS From the CEO From the Ministry From the Industry From the Union
12 14 16 18
INDUSTRY NEWS Current news from the Industry
VOICEBOX Opinions from across the manufacturing industry
PRODUCT NEWS Our selection of new and interesting products
ONE ON ONE Dr Bronwyn Evans - CEO of Engineers Australia
COMPANY FOCUS Harrington Industries hits 100 years
AMTIL INSIDE The latest news from AMTIL
MANUFACTURING HISTORY – A look back in time
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
44 Full steam ahead for automotive aftermarket manufacturers Despite years of bad news about the Australian automotive industry, there is positivity in the aftermarket sector, with $640m in export revenues and further increases expected.
56 One on One with Dr Bronwyn Evans Dr Bronwyn Evans was recently appointed as the new CEO of Engineers Australia. Marking 100 years as the peak body for engineering in Australia, Bronwyn spoke to AMT about her plans for the organisation
72 Lehane Centrifugal Clutches – New Doosan machining centre creates new possibilities Lehane CC manufactures almost entirely in-house, exporting all around the world. It has returned to using Australian-made castings and has upgraded via a Doosan HC500 HMC from Hare & Forbes.
78 From hurricane lamps to Olympic torches – Harrington Industries hits 100 Australia has a long and proud history of manufacturing. Harrington Industries is one company that helped build a fledgling Australia, and after a century in business, it’s still going strong today!
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FROM THE EDITOR WILLIAM POOLE
Editor William Poole firstname.lastname@example.org
And so another year draws to an end. By the time this magazine reaches its readers, we’ll be well into December and getting ready to wind down for the holidays and a well-earned rest. For most of us, the lead-up to Christmas and the New Year is a time to come together and celebrate the year just past, but it’s always worth remembering those who might be struggling over the coming weeks. For people suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, this time of year can be a time of heightened difficulty and stress. New South Wales’s social insurer, icare has seen a 34% increase in mental health claims since 2015, and the manufacturing sector accounted for a disproportionate share. In 2017, 8% of mental health and psychological claims came from manufacturing, with 200 claims made by employees working in our industry. “Our data is showing us that mental health claims in the workplace are on the rise in general across all sectors,” says Jennifer Cameron, Injury Prevention Manager at icare. “The manufacturing industry sits in fourth place compared to other industries, with only health and community services, property and business services and retail trade coming in ahead.” While most distressing for those affected and their loved ones, mental health issues also impact the businesses where those individuals are employed. According to icare, the average claimant in 2017 required 139 days off work and costing approximately $74,500. The cost of mental health claims is on average three times more expensive than physical claims. This is partly due to the extended time off work many claimants endure, as mental health claims take, on average, almost four times longer for claimants to return to work compared to physical claims. The Productivity Commission recently released a report revealing lost productivity from mental ill health and suicide is costing Australia up to $18bn a year. Cameron adds that icare has been working to streamline its processes to get help to those who need it quickly: “As an organisation we’ve recognised that mental health is proving to be a rising challenge in the workplace. And therefore a primary focus for icare has been transforming our claims system to put patient treatment ahead of process. This enables us to generate better patient outcomes, helping people to get back to work quickly and safely.” icare has created a range of useful initiatives aimed at providing businesses with techniques to support employees. It recently started a new pilot workshop with employers to help them identify workplace risks that could lead to cases of poor mental health. Meanwhile, Cameron stresses the need for workplaces to meet the changing needs of their employees. “We know there is still more work to be done in this area,” she says. “But raising awareness of the challenges of mental health in the workplace, opening lines of communication between employees and employers, and providing tailored programs is definitely a step in the right direction.” Sounds like a fine resolution for the new decade. *** As this is the final edition of AMT Magazine for 2019, I’d like to round things off by thanking our readers, contributors and advertisers for their support throughout the year. On behalf of myself, Anne, Gabriele and Franco, I’d like to wish all our readers and everyone involved in our industry a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2020.
Contributors Carole Goldsmith Head of Partnerships & Sales Anne Samuelsson email@example.com Publications Co-ordinator Gabriele Richter firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher Shane Infanti email@example.com Designer Franco Schena firstname.lastname@example.org Prepress & Print Printgraphics Australia AMT Magazine is printed in Australia using FSC® mix of paper from responsible sources FSC® C007821 Contact Details AMT Magazine AMTIL: Suite 1, 673 Boronia Rd Wantirna VIC 3152 AUSTRALIA T 03 9800 3666 • F 03 9800 3436 E email@example.com • W www.amtil.com.au Copyright © Australian Manufacturing Technology (AMT). All rights reserved. AMT Magazine may not be copied or reproduced in whole or part thereof without written permission from the publisher. Contained specifications and claims are those supplied by the manufacturer (contributor)
Disclaimer The opinions expressed within AMT Magazine from editorial staff, contributors or advertisers are not necessarily those of AMTIL. The publisher reserves the right to amend the listed editorial features published in the AMT Magazine Media Kit for content or production purposes. AMT Magazine is dedicated to Australia’s machining, tooling and sheet-metal working industries and is published bi-monthly. Subscription to AMT Magazine (and other benefits) is available through AMTIL Associate Membership at $175 (ex GST) per annum. Contact AMTIL on 03 9800 3666 for further information.
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FROM THE CEO SHANE INFANTI – Chief Executive Officer AMTIL
Electric vehicle production impacting on global machine tool sales I recently attended the EMO exhibition in Hannover, Germany and during this event went along to a number of presentations and meetings where global machine tool production and consumption were discussed. The advent of e-mobility and the expected acceleration in electric vehicle (EV) sales has certainly raised questions about the impact hat these changes will have on traditional automotive suppliers. According to Oxford Economics, which has just released a report on this subject, current estimates of electric vehicle market penetration over the next decade is expected to have a negative impact on machine tool demand, but not catastrophic. Those countries that have made a significant push towards e-mobility impacted the most. The importance of the automotive industry to machine tool manufacturers is highlighted by the fact that the automotive and automotive supplier industries made up 48.2% of German machine tool demand in 2015. The remaining demand is made up from a range of industries, such as metal products, precision & optical instruments and aerospace. In the US, although only 4% of machine tool demand comes directly from the automotive sector, 14% of demand comes from machine shops and nuts & bolts manufacturers with considerable secondary demand likely from sectors such as metal products, which in turn service the automotive industry. Anecdotal evidence suggests that machine tool demand from the automotive industry is just as important in many other countries. This is, in large part, because the components of a powertrain, such as valves, pistons and cylinders require a considerable amount of machining. In contrast, EVs generally require many fewer machined parts than vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines. According to data from LMC Automotive, 98% of cars sold in 2018 had an internal combustion engine (ICE), of which 4% were hybrids. However, the share of hybrid sales is predicted to rise considerably over the forecast period to 31% by 2030, partially offsetting the fall in sales of vehicles that contain only ICEs. In fact, the share of hybrid vehicle sales is expected to be larger than pure EVs, which is predicted to be 15% of the automotive market by 2030. Furthermore, the rise in hybrids will likely lead to manufacturers investing in ways to make their models more efficient, for example, by developing more wear-resistant components when switching between the electric drive and ICE at higher speeds, which will require new types of machine tools. Overall, rising demand for hybrid vehicles will help to soften the impact for machine tool producers as they lose out from declines in sales of conventional ICE vehicles. Although the transition to EVs is expected to be negative for machine tool producers, the pick-up in EV demand is expected to be slow as a number of constraints need to be addressed. This is the core reason why vehicles with ICEs are likely to keep a considerable share of the automotive market by 2030. This is corroborated by other studies. The IEA’s Global EV Outlook 2019 predicts that EVs will make up approximately 15% of global car sales by 2030, based on announced policy decisions. The IEA study also suggests
considerable divergence between countries, with China leading the way. Research by JP Morgan predicts that the share of vehicles with only ICEs will fall to 41% in 2030 as the share of hybrids and pure EVs increases to 41% and 18%, respectively. One of the largest barriers is related to ‘range anxiety’, the fear that an EV has insufficient range to meet its destination. Even though the past couple of years has seen improvements in battery technology and an associated increase in driving range, a degree of concern remains, given the lack of charging infrastructure across countries, which creates logistical problems for longer journeys. Oxford Economics analysed the impact of rising EV penetration across 26 countries by comparing machine tool consumption in our baseline against a scenario that assumes zero penetration of EVs and, hence, zero impact of EVs on the machine tool demand. At a global level, the reduction in demand for machined parts, due to the rise in EVs, means that machine tool demand in our baseline is 2.1% below 2023 levels in which zero penetration of EVs is assumed. This gap is expected to continue rising into the second half of the decade as EV penetration accelerates. So overall, the negative sentiment I experienced in Germany recently has some merit, with most countries expecting differing levels of impact on machine tool sales from the automotive and automotive supplier sectors. I will watch this space with interest.
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FROM THE MINISTRY THE HON KAREN ANDREWS MP – Minister for Industry, Science and Technology
Putting science at the centre of our industrial development For Australian industries to remain competitive in this age of technological change, it is essential to keep up to date with the latest developments. To really prosper we must not only keep up, we must lead in creating new industrial opportunities. Scientific research is critical to this. Successful scientific research can transform the world. It also paves the way for successful businesses, more and better paying jobs and higher living standards. This is true for advanced manufacturing, as it is for all our industries. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Government supports our scientists in renowned organisations such as CSIRO and through a range of funding initiatives that invest in science at universities and research institutions. Much of this funding is specifically targeted towards commercialisation – helping turn innovative science into enterprise and industry. Not only is it important to fund scientific research and commercialisation, we also need to acknowledge those individual scientists who have made important contributions. One way the Government does this is through the annual Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. This year’s event, held in October at Parliament House in Canberra, marked 20 years of the prizes and honoured scientists, innovators and science teachers. Their work has advanced Australia’s scientific and commercialisation capabilities, and inspired the next generation of students. As I said in my speech on the night, there are two things that keep me awake at night: ensuring we have enough people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills for industries of the future, and the need to increase collaboration between science and industry. We need to encourage more students, particularly women and girls, to study STEM subjects and pursue STEM careers. STEM subjects are vital to the future prosperity of the nation. Knowledge and skills in these subjects are associated with 75% of the fastest-growing and highest paid jobs. To strengthen collaboration between science and industry, the Government is particularly focused on getting businesses and researchers to work together to build smart, high-value, export-fit industries, particularly in advanced manufacturing. The value of STEM skills across industry sectors was really on display at this year’s science prizes. The Prime Minister’s Prize for Science was awarded to Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger from Western Australia for her work in pure and applied mathematics. We all recognise that the security of digital communications is fundamental to the modern economy. Everything from banking transactions to confidential interactions with businesses and governments relies on digital security. But few people understand the importance of mathematics in creating the systems that provide this security. Professor Praeger’s work explains the complex mathematics required for applications such as secure digital communication, encryption for the web, and retrieving information efficiently using search engines. In our rapidly expanding digital world, such work has implications across all industries, including advanced manufacturing, which is becoming increasingly integrated with digital technology. The prizes don’t just recognise outstanding scientific research and research-based innovation but also outstanding teaching in science, mathematics and technology.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister Karen Andrews with the female recipients of the annual Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. From left: Professor Elizabeth New; Dr Samantha Moyle; Mrs Sarah Finney; Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger; Minister Andrews; and Associate Professor Laura Mackay.
As I’ve always said, outstanding teaching in STEM fields is of great value to the nation. It is the start of the STEM pipeline and I want to acknowledge the teachers recognised in this year’s awards: Mrs Sarah Finney, who won the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools; and Dr Samantha Moyle for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools. Both women teach in South Australia. Teachers like Sarah and Samantha foster the next generation of scientists and researchers. It was great to see more women being nominated for the prizes this year. For Australia to achieve its full potential we need all Australians to get involved. Women receiving prizes for scientific research provide examples and motivation for other women and girls to strive to do the same. I hope seeing this year’s recipients inspires future generations. The challenge we face is to nurture and encourage our scientists, to increase levels of research & development, to commercialise new technologies and deliver practical outcomes for the benefit of all Australians. To invest in our future, we are building capability in artificial intelligence, in genomics, and in the digital economy. There is also the tremendous industrial potential offered by our recent announcement, that we will invest $150m in Australian businesses, so they can join the international supply chains to be created by NASA’s quest to return to moon by 2024 and to then travel onward to Mars. We are also involved in the transformation of existing industries through initiatives such as the $160m Manufacturing Modernisation Fund to help our manufacturers adopt new technologies and new business models. We are investing more than $10bn for science, research and innovation in the current financial year, $7.6bn of this directly toward research & development and to fund national institutions such as the CSIRO. The Government can help lay the groundwork, but in the end it is up to Australian businesses, including our advanced manufacturers, to build relationships with researchers and scientific institutions, to drive growth and create the jobs of the future.
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FROM THE INDUSTRY INNES WILLOX – Chief Executive Australian Industry Group
The future of Australian manufacturing: Traditional? Advanced? Or both? A growing number of Australian manufacturers either self-identify or would be identified as “advanced manufacturers”. There are varying concepts as to what this means, but they all seem to have several aspects in common. In short: high value-add, often servicing niche markets; knowledge intensity, with considerable IP and automated processes; close workforce engagement; innovation and R&D investment; and a global outlook. But rather than discuss the abstract, I’d like to offer a couple of examples. Viewco is a family-owned and -operated door and window fabricator in Wagga Wagga. It has around 40 employees and is focused on its local market and Canberra, with an eye to the growing opportunities in Western Sydney. Ai Group was invited to a presentation by Viewco at a recent networking event. Over the past few years Viewco has been on what many would call an Industry 4.0 journey. As is often the case, Viewco was not aware of Industry 4.0 or the Internet of Things until the latter part of that journey, but it nevertheless went about building data systems and connecting them as part of its broader transformation. The application of digital technologies and data analytics at Viewco has been, and continues to be, a onestep-at-a-time process. Its transformation has also included coming up to speed with international developments in like industries; investigating opportunities for research collaboration; and tapping into the insights and knowledge of its workforce. In relation to the latter, a feature of Viewco’s presentation was the number of times we heard “and this idea came from the floor”. My second example is Brisbane-based Watkins Steel. Des Watkins Snr – originally a fitter by trade – began work under his house in 1968 specialising in making handrails for residential buildings. By 1978 Watkins Steel had built its first factory at Northgate and became more involved with structural steel. By 1988 it had doubled in size, only to double again, decade upon decade, under the Managing Directorship of Des Watkins Jnr. There were tough times in the steel industry in the post-GFC environment and with the dollar high they found themselves competing with less expensive, if variable quality, Chinese structural steel. Not content to take this lying down, Watkins Steel committed to a program of business transformation and in 2014 commissioned its first Voortman advanced robotic line, introducing automation into the business. Today Watkins Steel identifies its point of difference as its combination of the latest 3D technology and advanced robotics to produce small structural steel, metalwork, urban artscapes, architectural structures, and refurbishments – a long way from Des Snr’s handrails. Neither Viewco nor Watkins Steel operate in manufacturing industries typically identified as ‘advanced’ – such as specialist machinery, medical appliances and pharmaceuticals. In contrast, they are very much in the ‘traditional manufacturing’ camp. I could just as readily have drawn examples from the food-processing, cosmetics and even textile industries. For some time, I have been keen to break down the demarcation many draw between “advanced” and “traditional” manufacturing. To my mind we should get rid of it because there is a strong temptation to view external forces as ringing the death knell on many of Australia’s traditional manufacturing industries. It is just a short step from this position to rename the categories as ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’ industries and to concentrate our business efforts and government policies on developing a narrower range of competitive advantage. That’s a path that relies too heavily on
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the wisdom of well-meaning public officials and the foresight of management consultants, and does not leave enough room for the unique and the serendipitous. Surely a better path is to inspire all manufacturers to become advanced manufacturers. Governments do have a role to play in facilitating this direction – first, they need to get the fundamentals right. Sustainable budgets; efficient taxation; strong and responsive education and training systems; competitive markets; selective and high-impact infrastructure; best-practice regulation; and trade agreements that remove obstacles for our exporters and investors. These are the raw ingredients for businesses to invest, to employ and to create value. If governments did all this well and nothing more, our manufacturing industries would thrive in the rising tide of economic growth and community prosperity. Productivity, incomes, job satisfaction, opportunities and broader living standards would all rise. Certainly, it would be wrong to think progress is not being made in many of these areas: budgets are strengthening; there are welcome noises in education and training; an appetite for investment in infrastructure has been rediscovered; and there is ongoing progress in our trade agreements. In other areas – particularly energy policy – we are not making anywhere near the progress needed both in terms of our climate change commitments and in bringing down energy costs that are still far too high. In addition to getting the fundamentals right, there is a range of areas for proactive government industry policy. As far as innovation goes, we have been making considerable headway in building more substantial links between our excellent research capabilities and our business community. At the same time, however, we have undermined the effectiveness of backing for business R&D expenditure with what I see as tight-fisted tinkering with the R&D Tax Incentive. In recent years we have been making progress in assisting businesses to lift their capabilities, and have also built networks that bring businesses together and help inform them of a greater range of opportunities. I’m thinking of the various Growth Centres and the Industry 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing Forum, for example. Not everyone is comfortable with these sorts of interventions – and they are certainly not favoured by some of the central agencies. But my own view is that we need more and not less of them. There is clearly a very strong case to say that the attention paid to the fundamentals by governments from the 1980s into the early years of this century bore fruit in the form of 28 years of uninterrupted economic growth. But more recently we have seen – from around the globe – plenty of reasons to believe there are clear risks to economic and social outcomes if we just stop there and leave all the adjustments to the market. We have not seen the worst of it in Australia, but nor have we been inoculated from the fallout of economic and social transformation. Among the takeouts from this experience, there is a very important role for more proactive industry policy. It can build resilience and it can accelerate the development of business and workforce capabilities. It can lift productivity, incomes and competitiveness. And done well, proactive industry policy can avoid the hazards of picking winners (and, by implication, of relegating losers), and it can do this in ways that leave room for the serendipitous nature of so much business success.
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FROM THE UNION PAUL BASTIAN – National Secretary Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
Protecting workers’ entitlements benefits everyone Back in 2000, the National Entitlement Security Trust (NEST) was established to secure workers’ entitlements in a way that benefitted workers and employers, particularly those in the manufacturing industry. Over nearly 20 years, NEST has secured entitlements for thousands of workers. NEST is one of a number of not-for-profit workers’ entitlement funds (WEFs) that exist across Australia to ensure that workers’ entitlements are guaranteed and available when they need them. Businesses that contribute to the fund to reduce risk also benefit from improved balance sheets and increased retention rates. That all sounds great – but why am I talking about it today? Because this scheme, and many others just like it are under threat. Under amendments currently before Parliament, a well-regulated, well-administered and well-regarded fund like NEST and other not-for-profit WEFs could be undermined by unregulated “singleemployer funds” and lead to an increase in for-profit commercial funds seeking to extract exorbitant fees while delivering poorer outcomes for workers. WEFs are designed to make it easier to secure employee entitlements and to provide certainty to workers and their families. As the nature of work has changed, the need for WEFs has only increased. This is because workers’ entitlements can follow them from one job to the next, where both employers are contributors to the scheme. This is particularly important given the increasing number of precarious workers (contract, project, labour hire, and so on) who would miss out on the full suite of their entitlements. This is likely to increase in the future as the nature of work continues to change. Every worker deserves leave to spend time with their family and friends when they’re sick or caring for someone who is. Sadly, these basic rights are being undermined as precarious employment becomes more common. Many WEFs allow for portability of entitlements between jobs, which is just one way that we can ensure that all workers receive the same rights and entitlements. The Government should be actively encouraging portability of worker entitlements rather than undermining one of the few ways that that can be achieved. Portability of entitlements is something we will be talking about over the next few years as we seek to ensure that the workplace rights built up over generations continue to apply to the working people who need them. NEST was designed to appeal to employers as much as employees, and they deliver a number of tangible benefits to their businesses. Due to the structure of the trust, contributions to NEST are tax-free and fringe benefits tax (FBT)-exempt. This means that employers are able to improve their balance sheets by removing liabilities (in the form of accrued employee entitlements) and manage them in a cost-effective manner. This also helps them to manage the risk that unfunded liabilities can present. NEST pays excess investment returns to contributing employers if not determined by the enterprise bargaining agreement. This helps to keep the fund affordable for employers as the surplus is used to subsidise actual entitlements providing a saving for employers, while ensuring that employees have their entitlements secured. This was a decision taken by NEST from its inception and it has served the employers and employees who are part of the fund well. In addition, NEST plays an important social role. This is particularly acute when considering the impact of phoenixing and corporate collapses on workers and their families. By securing workers’ entitlements in a trust which is removed from the corporation in receivership, workers and their families have confidence that they will have prompt access to the money they are owed.
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This also means that NEST reduces the need to rely on the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) and ensures that workers’ entitlements are paid by their employer, not the taxpayer. The FEG costs the Commonwealth Government more than $1bn between 2012-13 and 2015-16. Having an enterprise agreement that requires an employer to contribute to NEST is the best way to ensure that a worker receives all of their entitlements – paid for by their employer, rather than the taxpayer. Rather than improving the operation of the established WEFs that have proved fit for purpose, the changes sought by the Government will only undermine those funds and invite unregulated rogue operators, while tying down current funds with red tape. The current regulation has proved fit for purpose as WEFs have delivered benefits to workers, employers and industry without any hint of the impropriety that has been rampant in other parts of the finance sector. The biggest risk from these changes is the creation of singleemployer funds. These funds will be entirely unregulated and will be exempt from a range of penalties set out in the Bill. In essence, the Bill will allow the creation of unregulated, unmonitored funds which will have no accountability. It is also unclear how single-employer funds will be able to separate from the other parts of the corporation in cases of insolvency. This may lead to cases where workers’ entitlements are not paid in a timely manner when a company goes into administration or receivership and may see an even greater reliance on the FEG. NEST, the manufacturing industry’s workers’ entitlement fund, is working. It is creating real, tangible benefits to workers and employers in our industry. The proposed legislation will undermine it and many other funds like it, without any suggestion that the changes will improve outcomes for workers or employers.
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Australia falls in Global Competitiveness Rankings Australia has the 16th most competitive business environment globally in 2019, according to the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report, down two places from 2018 (14th). The fall was largely due to improvements in other countries with Australia’s score largely unchanged in 2019 at 78.7 points out of a possible 100 points in 2019, compared with 78.8 points in 2018. The Australian Industry Group partnered with the WEF in collecting the business data in Australia.
‘pillars’ that make up the WEF Global Competitiveness Index. These were ‘macroeconomic stability’ and ‘product markets’. Australia shared the top score for ‘macroeconomic stability’ with 33 other countries. Australia also obtained high scores for the breadth, depth and stability of our financial system.
The Top Ten continues to be dominated by large, highly advanced economies including Singapore, the US, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Sweden, the UK and Denmark. Singapore was ranked number one in 2019 for the competitiveness of its business environment, overtaking the US for top spot. The US experienced the second largest fall of any nation (-2.0 points, only behind the Congo with -2.1 points) due to increased uncertainty amongst business leaders and a lower score for domestic competition and trade openness.
Australia’s weakest ‘pillars’ were for the ‘labour market’ and for ‘innovation capability’. The average score across the 141 countries was 60.7 points, measured on a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is the maximum or “frontier” score.
“This year’s WEF results indicate no improvement in Australia’s competitiveness,” said Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox. “Australia strengths remain our macroeconomic stability, a developed financial system and a highly skilled population. Australia ranked inside the top 10 in only two of the twelve
“Despite a small improvement in 2019, Australia’s lowest rankings are in infrastructure and ICT adoption, where we trail both China and Russia,” Willox added. “This indicates the current focus on building out our national infrastructure (in transport, telecomms and skills) is the right path. But it also indicates we need to sharpen our ICT infrastructure and develop our digital skills to ensure Australia can take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution. Maintaining and improving these aspects of our global competitiveness is crucial for lifting productivity and ensuring prosperity for all.”
Businesses to benefit from Australia’s first flow chemistry lab Small businesses will have more opportunities to enter and innovate industries like hydrogen energy, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture with the opening of Australia’s first flow chemistry facility in Melbourne. CSIRO officially opened its FloWorks Centre for Industrial Flow Chemistry in October, in the presence of Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel and representatives from a number of small and medium business partners. Located in the heart of the Australian Manufacturing and Materials Precinct in Clayton, Victoria, FloWorks provides cutting edge research into flow chemistry capability, making it more accessible to the chemical manufacturing industry and solving challenges associated with developing Australia’s future industries and jobs.
cut costs and reduce waste. “Our worldclass researchers at FloWorks can work with partners to update their current chemical processes, including from laboratory discovery to continuous flow production scale; from inefficient batch procedures to continuous processes; and offer in-house training for industrial collaborators on our state-of-the-art flow chemistry equipment.”
Flow chemistry is a form of chemical manufacturing that is cleaner, smarter and more efficient. The benefits of using the flow process include reduced reaction times and plant space, which equate to less energy cost, more efficient processes, reduced waste and a much safer environment. The smaller set-up used in flow chemistry reduces barriers to entry for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in what would otherwise be capital-intensive industries.
Dr Finkel said the FloWorks Centre will allow Australian-based researchers to use its capabilities to support emerging renewable hydrogen technology development: “One of our greatest challenges is to move to a decarbonised economy, and hydrogen has the potential to play an important role in this transition. Maximising the efficiency in both production and use of hydrogen is crucially important. Improvements depend largely on the efficiency of the catalysis. Flow chemistry could be used to improve efficiency, and FloWorks has developed its own catalysis processes in pursuit of this goal.”
Dr Christian Hornung, a senior research scientist with CSIRO and Director of the new centre, said FloWorks provides a world-leading research facility and innovation centre for chemistry: “FloWorks develops scalable and safe chemical processes using an emerging technology called continuous flow chemistry. The Centre provides a collaborative space at the cutting edge of modern chemistry, where we can work with Australian businesses to improve their processes,
Since 2009, CSIRO has worked with SMEs through to multinationals using flow chemistry to manufacture innovative new materials like RAFT and other high-performance polymers, Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs), pharmaceuticals and various fine chemicals and specialty materials. FloWorks is open to businesses of all sizes interested in working with CSIRO’s world-class experts to create value using flow chemistry.
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Two-thirds of Australia’s manufacturing SMEs are confident about business prospects The latest Sensis Business Index has revealed that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in manufacturing are the third most likely (66%) – compared to other industries – to feel confident about their business prospects in the next 12 months. About half of manufacturing SMEs (48%) say they expect to grow moderately over the next 12 months. Only 1% feel their business will become smaller by this time next year. This is despite the fact that manufacturing SMEs are also the most likely (43%) in Australia to say the nation’s economy will be worse 12 months from now – 7% above the national average of 36%. The Index also found that 42% of manufacturing SME owners would opt for bank loans to finance their business in the next six months, though almost three in four haven’t tried to access finance in the past six months. More than two in five (44%) manufacturing SMEs believe that Australia is in a period of economic standstill, against a national average of 48%. Manufacturing SMEs are the most likely (37%) to believe that the Federal Government’s current policies are supportive of small business – above the national average of 29% – while 40% of manufacturing SMEs believe that ‘red tape’ is hindering their business. Across all sectors, the November 2019 Sensis Business Index revealed that more than one in four (26%) Australian SMEs think current Federal Government policies are working against them – an increase of 3% from last quarter. Sensis CEO John Allan said this was the first time the Index has seen an upward trend in the number of SME owners who believe Federal Government policies are working against them. “Over the years we have seen a growing perception among SMBs that Federal Government policies do not affect them. This change in sentiment may be small but is a significant trend,” said Allan. The sentiment comes as SME confidence in the Australian economy has dropped 5% quarter on quarter, with 39% of SME owners now believing the economy is in slowdown, compared with 34% in the last period. Compared with the previous quarter, fewer SME owners now believe the economy is growing (3% drop to 13%). While 36% believed the nation’s economy will be worse in 12 months’ time, compared to 30% last quarter, only 16% said it would be better a year from now, down from 22% last quarter. SMEs that export goods and services say they have been exporting less in the last three months and that it has become more difficult to export in this period. Reflecting on the last quarter, more SME owners have seen a decrease (23%) in the amount of goods exported, than an increase (18%). Moreover, 7% believed that it has become more difficult to export goods out of Australia over the last three months. “Global growth continues to be sluggish, particularly as China’s trade war with the US has slowed Chinese growth and this in turn has delivered a blow to the global economy,” said Allan. “Unfortunately, we’re now starting to see the trickledown effects of this among Australian SMEs.”
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Manufacturing sector maintains growth amid skills shortage, challenging market conditions Manufacturing business growth has continued to rise over the past year, but at a much slower rate than the previous 12 months, according to the annual Global Growth Index from Epicor. Despite challenging market conditions and the difficulty in recruiting and retaining skilled staff, there has been a marginal 1% rise in the number of businesses reporting growth. For Australian companies that have experienced growth, maintaining it hasn’t been easy over the past year. More than one third (36%) admit it has been challenging, while a further 18% have found it stressful. Of the Australian manufacturing businesses surveyed, 35% cited market conditions as having a negative impact on growth, and 32% felt that staff skills and experience have also played a detrimental part in maintaining growth. Political volatility and uncertainty continue to be a common cause for concern across the globe. Among Australian respondents, 28% cited the China-US trade dispute as likely to have a negative impact on future business growth. Almost a quarter of businesses (23%) stated that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit was also still a big threat. “The manufacturing industry plays an integral role in our global economy and people forget that it is responsible for delivering important products we use every day,” said Steve Murphy, CEO of Epicor. “As such, the health of the manufacturing industry is something we should all be concerned about. While it’s good news to see that growth in this industry is still taking place, we need to keep a close eye on what factors are contributing to this
growth and what factors are causing a lag. The information in the Global Growth Index empowers businesses so they can make strategic plans that will best position them for the future.” Now in its third year, the Epicor Global Growth Index is designed to measure the state of worldwide business growth within the manufacturing industry. The Index tracks the performance of businesses – year on year – within 13 territories across a number of key indicators, including turnover, profits, headcount, and product range. Compared to last year’s results, the Growth Index rose by 1%. This is down from the 3.7% in the previous 12-month period. “Australian organisations are reporting growth across each of the key indicators and, in some cases, the growth is significant,” said Greg O’Loan, Regional Vice-President – ANZ for Epicor. “Of particular note is the increase in profits and the increase in exports and overseas sales compared with 2018. This is particularly pleasing to see, given that growth was more moderate from 2017 to 2018 and, in some key indicators, actually went backwards. Australian manufacturing organisations are clearly finding ways to overcome skills shortages and challenging conditions, continuing the sector’s long history of resilience and innovation.”
Australian Made welcomes Small Business Mentoring Service as campaign associate The Small Business Mentoring Service (SBMS) is partnering with the Australian Made Campaign (AMCL) to support the growth of Australian small businesses. An independent, not-for-profit association, SBMS works with small businesses to provide low-cost advice through their comprehensive business mentoring programs. Founded in 1986 by retired business leaders, SBMS has grown to more than 180 experienced business mentors providing over 5,000 mentoring sessions a year and supporting an ever-growing number of small business owners, including Australian manufacturers and producers. According to SBMS, the cumulative benefit of the businesses supported has delivered more than $12.5bn to the Australian economy. David Gregory, Chief Executive Officer and Director of SBMS, said: “You don’t get big business without medium-sized businesses and you don’t get medium without small. SBMS helps small businesses deal with any issues that they need help with, including management, finance, marketing, social media, OH&S, or even starting a new business. We are proud to partner with the Australian Made Campaign to highlight great Australian small businesses, manufacturers and their products.” Ben Lazzaro, Chief Executive of Australian Made, added: “Manufacturers and growers are key contributors to Australia’s small business community and are fundamental to our economic
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Ben Lazzaro (left), Australian Made Chief Executive, with David Gregory, Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Small Business Mentoring Service (SBMS).
success. They create jobs and are often leaders of innovation, creating Aussie products of the highest quality, sought after here and in overseas markets.”
Headland Machinery: Migrant-built manufacturing leader turns 70 In October, Headland Machinery celebrated its 70th anniversary as a mainstay of Australian manufacturing, as part of its annual Oktoberfest celebration. The anniversary event was well attended by those in the manufacturing industry as well as politicians from local, state and federal government, including Mayor Bill Bennett and Gladys Liu, the federal member for Chisholm. Guests were taken through the amazing story of Headland’s journey from a modest parts and machinery operation when the Kloe family first acquired it, to the leading-edge technology solutions company it has become today. Manufacturing and migration are enmeshed in Australian history. Waves of migrants flocking to Australia after World War II joined the country’s then-thriving manufacturing sector. After Peter Kloe finished his toolmaker apprenticeship in 1956, he left Kassel in Germany and in 1957 he arrived on these shores. There was no inkling that 60-plus years later, Peter would have gone from shopfloor to CEO, to leader in Australian manufacturing, or that the business he built with his wife Di would then be inherited by his children, Richard and Annaliese. After arriving in Australia, Peter spent seven weeks at Dhurringile internment camp learning English, before landing his first job as a tool-maker on the factory floor at Astor Corporation. The workplace culture then was not exactly to Peter’s taste, notably how the lunchbreaks were sometimes spent.
arose to put that into practice in 1979 when Ted Headland was looking to sell the machinery and small parts business that he owned: Headland Machinery. Headland would become one of the first manufacturing outlets to bring in CNC machines, with Di writing paper tape to feed into them to cut metal to shape.
“When lunchtime came along, a lot of the guys went to the pub and started drinking. Some guys were having six pots,” said Peter. “I went there with them once, but that was enough. I wanted to concentrate on getting ahead.” Peter set his sights on moving into production engineering, and started going to night school. Two years later he went from the factory floor to the office floor. After meeting and marrying Di in 1963, the couple headed overseas and hitch-hiked across Europe, before settling in Germany for three years where Peter found work as a product engineer at Siemens. They then moved to North America for six years, with Peter working as a production manager at Ford and Boeing.
Today, Headland sits at the leading edge of machine technology solutions, servicing such Australian and global giants as Siemens, Qantas, and Cochlear. More recently, under the stewardship of Peter and Di’s children Richard and Annaliese, the company has added information technology to its suite of products and undergone a significant growth phase. Headland is very much a local product operating in a global environment: its service engineers are sent overseas for training, and return with full knowledge of the products and their capacities; a key component of Headland’s success.
Planning on building a family, the Kloes decided to return to Australia. In the back of Peter’s mind was the idea to bring European and American manufacturing technology to Australia. An opportunity
The tradition of successful, multi-generational, migrant business families in Australia has some rich heritage. While the Kloes might not quite have the profile of a Myer or Smorgon family, their role in the manufacturing supply chain is significant and only appears set to grow.
Konica Minolta partners with Markforged Konica Minolta Australia has announced a partnership with Markforged, a leading provider of atomic diffusion metal printers and composite carbon fibre 3D printers. Markforged offers an end-to-end 3D printing system with a wide range of manufacturing-ready materials. The Markforged solution rivals traditional manufacturing processes in speed, quality, and cost, and expand the applications for additive manufacturing with purpose-built industrial technologies. The new partnership rounds out a diverse portfolio that lets Konica Minolta address any industry application requirements and budget. In today’s global market, Australian manufacturers and designers are rapidly becoming leaders with the next generation of additive technologies. They’re bringing composite and metal materials to market that are easy to implement and operate and are backed up by uncompromising service and support. “There is now a real shift in the industry from prototyping to end-use applications,”
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said Eric Holtsmark, General Manager – Strategy, Transformation & Technology at Konica Minolta Australia. “With Markforged 3D printers the ability to produce affordable, strong parts in a range of exciting new materials will accelerate manufacturers speedto-market in way never seen before, giving them a massive competitive advantage.” “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Konica Minolta to provide Australian manufacturers with the essential tools to unlock their manufacturing potential and to help build the factory of the future,” said Ved Narayan, Vice-President – APAC at Markforged. “Konica Minolta has the experience and skills to help Markforged provide unprecedented levels of access and support to the world’s leading manufacturing providers.”
Naval shipbuilding employers sign historic workforce agreement
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The Federal Government’s long term strategic plan and $90bn investment in the nation’s naval shipbuilding industry has been the catalyst for this unprecedented collaboration. The plan has been implemented following ongoing collaboration between the Naval Shipbuilding College and five naval shipbuilding Primes: ASC, BAE Systems Australia/ASC Shipbuilding, Lockheed Martin Australia, Luerssen Australia, Naval Group Australia and SAAB Australia.
“Industry recognises it is stronger and will be more successful when operating collaboratively, in terms of workforce development in Australia,” said Irving. “It is very much a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. All the companies involved have skin in the game and are committed to working co-operatively to create a sovereign, naval shipbuilding workforce capability for Australia for generations to come.” The Plan outlines the commitment of all signatories to develop a cost-effective Australian naval shipbuilding workforce capable of delivering current and future maritime acquisition and sustainment programs, including the Attack Class, Hunter Class and Arafura Class Programs. This groundbreaking agreement will give employers, from global shipbuilding companies to Australian supply chain and sustainment businesses, confidence they will benefit from their investment in developing and retaining a cost-effective, skilled workforce. “The initiative is critical to successfully building, integrating and sustaining a national shipbuilding workforce for the future and Australia,”speed said the Naval Shipbuilding Primes. “Our with very low operating Withbetterment its extremeofaccuracy, and consistency of cut, combined collaborative partnership engenders an enterprise approach, costs, the new Yawei HLF fiber laser is the perfect way to take your business to the next level. ensuring the success of a highly capable national maritime workforce.” Dollar for dollar, the new HLF is in a league of its own, opening up possibilities for companies all across the laserpartner cuttingcontinues sector; from start-ups through to full production, 3-shift Each industry to provide the Naval Shipbuilding environments. College with workforce demand and skill set data. This will provide World class performance without the price tag. industry demand profiles outlining the needs of industry throughout With a quality German built Precitec auto-focus cutting head, IPG laser source, Siemens the life of each Program. This insight will enable the Naval 840DSL controller and a fabricated, stress-relieved fully annealed frame it really is a cut above Shipbuilding College to develop and implement supply solutions for the rest. each priority skills area. As competition in the market continues to intensify the Naval Shipbuilding College and industry will strengthen their engagement For more with information: training and education providers in every state and territory to Call: 03 9706 8066 naval shipbuilding skills growth and assist vocational help promote Email: email@example.com and tertiary sectors to respond to the rapid pace of changing Visit: www.appliedmachinery.com.au technology across the industry.
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Hazer signs new partnership with Innovative Manufacturing CRC Hazer Group has partnered with the Innovative Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC) to progress its research in advanced carbon materials (ACM) applications. The IMCRC is a not-for-profit, independent cooperative research centre that helps Australian companies increase their global relevance through researchled innovation in manufacturing products, processes and services. Hazer has been awarded matching IMCRC funding of $800,000 to support its ongoing successful R&D collaboration with the University of Sydney’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Over the next two years, researchers will be investigating the use of graphite ACM derived from Hazer’s novel manufacturing process – the Hazer Process, focusing on applications including Li-ion batteries, water purification, and additives for lubrication products. Previous R&D projects have indicated promising results in these three product sectors, as well as potential to be used as an additive in advanced building materials and cement. “This program will study and further
develop our knowledge of the processes and conditions needed to produce high value graphite ACM including the processing and upgrading of such materials into high-value finished products.” said Hazer CTO and cofounder Dr Andrew Cornejo. “The project will optimise and test ACMs at both laboratory and pilot plant scale in collaboration with specialist carbon processors and users, to identify and secure a range of markets for graphite ACM produced from future industrial-sized Hazer plants.” Hazer Managing Director Geoff Ward added: “We are delighted to have partnered with the IMCRC and to have secured their support for our R&D program with the University of Sydney. CRCs are an important part of the Australian industry and research landscape, contributing significantly to industrial development in Australia. This enhanced collaboration platform will provide us with greater access to scientific and industrial resources, while reducing costs,
as we further develop the Hazer Process and Hazer graphite ACMs.” Professor Yuan Chen from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Sydney said: “Our research team has been working with Hazer on several research projects for the last two years. Our co-operation has delivered useful research outcomes, which have played an essential role in securing this new funding from IMCRC. This project is an excellent opportunity to convert the currently unutilised carbon materials produced in the Hazer process into highvalue carbon products.” David Chuter, CEO and Managing Director of the IMCRC, remarked: “Advanced materials, particularly advanced carbon and carbon composites that can deliver significant advantages over more traditional materials such as steel and aluminium, are key technology enablers for Australian manufacturers.”
HP 3D printing solutions drives GoProto ANZ expansion GoProto has announced the expansion of its Melbourne prototyping and additive manufacturing facility, doubling its capacity for HP Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D-printed nylon parts, to keep up with market demand for increasingly more sophisticated manufactured goods. Partnering with HP’s Multi-Jet Fusion 3D printing technology, GoProto is the first service bureau in Asia Pacific to provide this ground-breaking, innovative and affordable on-demand solution. “We’ve invested significantly in leading-edge manufacturing technology and intend to stay ahead of the competition by partnering with HP to deliver MJF 3D printed parts to the market at affordable pricing,” said Leon Gairns, General Manager of GoProto ANZ. GoProto’s additive manufacturing technology provides access to smooth, functional IP67-rated parts. This feature is especially desirable for designs where equal strength and reliability are required along all axes and throughout the whole part. “There’s certainly been an increase in demand for complex, isotropic parts for oneoff prototypes and smaller run components of 1,000 units,” Gairns added. “We predict that this trend will continue to surge and our expansion allows for considerable growth in volume and capacity well into the future.”
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Parish Engineering marks 75 years in manufacturing Based in Moorabbin, Victoria, Parish Engineering has just celebrated three quarters of a century since its establishment as a limited company in 1944. When Bill Parish formed Parish Engineering as a limited company 75 years ago, the Second World War was still raging. The fledgling company was contracted by the Australian Government to supply the allies with vital munitions components. Over the next four years following Parish Engineering’s establishment, the world changed dramatically. The Axis Powers were defeated, the Cold War began, and in 1948 the first Holden – the famous FX Holden – was produced in Australia, promising a new era of mobility to ordinary Australians. The post-war period was an economic golden age, particularly for Australian manufacturing, and Parish Engineering was an integral part of that boom, becoming a regional supplier of component parts to Holden. But it wasn’t just Holden that the company supplied components to over the past 75 years. Ford, Toyota, Harvester Trucks, Sidchrome/Stanley, and Sutton Tools are just some of the manufacturing brands Parish Engineering has worked with. In 1968 Bill decided to sell the company. Graeme Sinclair had been employed as an Engineer at Parish Engineering since the 1970s, and with a partner he purchased the company in 1980. After Graeme’s daughter Nicole Sinclair joined the business as an engineer in 2006, and Graeme’s business partner sold his shares to the Sinclair family in 2008, Parish Engineering once again became a truly family-owned business. Over its 75 years, Parish Engineering has endured - witnessing plenty of ups and downs in Australian manufacturing. According to Nicole, now the company’s CEO, with the industry currently employing close to a million people in Australia, rumours of the death of Australian manufacturing have been greatly exaggerated. “When automotive manufacturers like Holden and Toyota closed their facilities in 2017, it seemed to many people like the last gasp of manufacturing in Australia,” says Nicole. “It looked like everything was being offshored, and that the age of good jobs and certainty was over, but that’s not the case. The reality is that not only did Australian manufacturing survive, it has changed, as have global production chains. Today, manufacturing is returning to industrialised nations like Australia.”
Graeme and Nicole Sinclair in Parish Engineering’s Moorabbin workshop.
With rising global wages and the increasingly sophisticated nature of modern manufacturing, manufacturers are looking for nations to have an advanced IT infrastructure, highly educated workers to operate the machinery, and to produce goods in close access to the markets in which those goods are sold. As part of that manufacturing resurgence, Parish Engineering is expanding too, purchasing truck air brake fittings manufacturer Longworth Engineering, in 2016. Moreover there are plans afoot for this Australian manufacturing and engineering institution to expand its influence in the future. Parish Engineering’s growth will be based on continuing to invest heavily in staff and machines, suggests Nicole. “We want to ensure the company looks to the future with the same innovative spirit and enthusiasm that Graeme Sinclair and Bill Parish have demonstrated over the past 75 years in the industry,” she explains. “And that’s very much in line with the vibrant future for Australian manufacturing more broadly. “Australian manufacturing is already world-leading in many areas, such as aeronautics and advanced medical technology. What we need people to understand is how vibrant that future is, and how much better it can be with government support in education and training, investment, research and development, and trade opportunities.”
EVOK3D announces partnership with Currie Group AMTIL member EVOK3D has completed a partnership equity agreement with Currie Group, the leading end-to-end service supplier to the graphic arts industry in Australia and New Zealand that specialises in providing and servicing high-quality print equipment. Currie Group, celebrating 70 years in business, works with a variety of world class suppliers such as HP Indigo to provide fully integrated, end-to-end print solutions for the general commercial printing and labels and packaging sector. EVOK3D’s core business is supplying and supporting professional and production 3D printing solutions which includes machinery, consumables and software. Now in its seventh year of operation, and as the HP 3D Production Specialist Partner for Australia, EVOK3D is at the forefront of industry adoption of additive manufacturing. Combined with EVOK3D’s deep specialisation in 3D printing solutions, the new partnership will accelerate the ongoing growth in EVOK3D’s sales and support capability while leveraging Currie Group’s management experience and Australian and New Zealand footprint.
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“3D printing has moved beyond just prototyping and is now a viable direct manufacturing technology,” said Joe Carmody, Managing Director of EVOK3D. “To meet the growing demand for these technologies we needed to scale the business, and Currie Group is ideally positioned having pioneered digital disruption of the 2D print industry over the last 20 years. For our clients across education, design, industry and healthcare it means they can continue to invest with confidence.” David Currie, Executive Chairman of Currie Group, added: “The strategic partnership represents exciting business opportunities in new markets for both companies and our customers. Currie Group brings a wealth of industry knowledge and experience relevant to the current industrial adoption of 3D printing and additive manufacturing.”
Government urged to back grapheneenabled advanced manufacturing industry The Chairman of the Australian Graphene Industry Association on 19 November called for government action to ensure Australia reaps the benefits of graphene, during the AGIA Graphene + Enabled Smart Cities Conference in Melbourne. Chris Gilbey OAM said Australia could be a global innovation hub for graphene-enhanced materials, which will be an intrinsic part of future ‘smart-cities’ thanks to properties such as strength and electrical and thermal conductivity. Graphene is a super-material made from carbon that experts claim will help Australia meet emissions targets and allow advanced manufacturers to become leaders worldwide “Australia has the potential to become a global powerhouse in developing revolutionary products that are made possible by graphene,” Gilbey said. “We have here in Australia an amazing resource, the leading graphene scientists in the world, but we are in danger of losing our leadership position if state and federal governments don’t step up and incentivise the industries that are prepared to commercialise graphene. “Industry is already acting to develop graphene-enabled products, but it needs to be incentivised to develop the value-add activities and therefore jobs associated with this emerging local sector. It’s incumbent on our policymakers to support the creation of market conditions that encourage the proliferation of our graphene innovation into global supply chains.” A recent Acumen Research and Consulting report estimated graphene’s market value will surpass US$552.6m by 2026, representing an average annual growth rate of 38.2% from 2019 to 2026, underscoring the importance of Australia maintaining its leadership position in the sector. However, graphene often
only needs to have a one or two percent presence by volume in a composite material to transform that material’s capabilities. Graphene’s economic impact is therefore many orders of magnitude greater than its tradeable value in and of itself. “Graphene can be the panacea to deliver the ‘jobs and growth’ mantra we hear from politicians,” said Gilbey. “We care about our Aussie sportspeople punching above their weight and winning gold; however our graphene scientists have been doing precisely this for some years. We need to move their stories into the mainstream because they are the heroes of our time. Their work will do more than garner gold medals. It will generate billion-dollar revenues for Australia and make our economy great again.” Gilbey reiterated the need for Commonwealth and state governments to support unlocking graphene’s potential to reduce carbon emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change. “While the practical applications for graphene are varied and almost limitless, its potential to slash carbon dioxide emissions on an industrial scale is what could soon make it the globe’s hottest commodity,” he said. “This will be achieved by decoupling existing supply chains and restructuring them to include low-cost graphene. New supply chains are where the job creation will be, and jobs will go to jurisdictions that understand this. The industries and businesses that recognise this first will reap the rewards.”
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Manufacturing Academy to support Aussie manufacturers The Federal Government has launched a new online resource designed to help Australia’s manufacturers to innovate, grow and create new jobs. The Manufacturing Academy is an initiative of the Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC). Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the new resource is just one way the Morrison Government is boosting the capability and competitiveness of Australia’s manufacturing sector. “Australia’s manufacturing industry is a key driver of our economy and the Morrison Government is committed to improving the competitive advantage of our businesses so they can thrive in global markets and create more high skill jobs,” Minister Andrews said. “The online Manufacturing Academy offers free education to all manufacturers anywhere, anytime and on any device. It is delivered by manufacturers for manufacturers. “This tool recognises that small and medium-sized businesses often don’t have the capacity or money to spend on developing their business. There are six targeted training modules focused on
NSW launches network to reduce waste and improve sustainability The New South Wales State Government has launched the new Circular Economy Innovation Network, hosted at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the Network, known as NSW Circular, will help boost manufacturing jobs in regional NSW as the State moves away from the traditional ‘take, make and dispose’ model. “With China no longer accepting our recycled waste, our manufacturing industry must evolve,” he said. “This is our chance to bring more jobs back to our own backyard, particularly in the Special Activation Precincts in regional NSW. This isn’t just the right thing to do for the environment; it makes good economic sense – there are significant jobs and growth opportunities for existing and new businesses across NSW. “Pilot projects are already underway through the Network that aim to create new supply chains, turn trash into valuable products and materials for manufacturing and divert waste from landfill.” The Network, funded through the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, brings together industry, government, local councils, researchers and the community, and is led by Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at UNSW Sydney. Professor Veena said: “We have a number of pilot projects underway which are aimed at helping to divert waste from landfill and examine ways to create new supply chains so recycled resources can be reformed into valuable products and materials for manufacturing. By working with and bringing together the many groups wanting better waste and recycling outcomes, which importantly includes those involved in materials recycling science, we are creating new solutions and a circular economy where we reuse and keep materials in use for as long as possible.”
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competitiveness, resilience, workforce, product value, exports and state of manufacturing.” The Manufacturing Academy provides free education, guidance and leadership for Australian manufacturers seeking advancement, competitiveness and growth. The six training modules offer tailored content filled with research, stories and insights from Australia’s most informed and successful manufacturing minds, from manufacturing businesses such as ANCA, Sutton Tools and iOrthotics. Established by the Federal Government in 2015, the AMGC has been set up to connect local manufacturers to global supply chains, lift managerial and workforce skills and improve sector-wide collaboration. It is implementing more than 40 collaborative projects with a total value of more than $33m to demonstrate best practice for new manufacturing technologies and processes. www.manufacturingacademy.org.au
Melbourne named Australia’s most innovative city Melbourne has been named as Australia’s most innovative city, leapfrogging Sydney to 11th place overall in the annual 2thinknow Innovation Cities Global Index. Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade, Martin Pakula, welcomed the release of the index: “It’s fantastic to see Melbourne continue its rise up the ranks of the world’s most innovative cities and we’re backing ground-breaking companies to continue to do amazing things in Victoria. We know that Melbourne is the home of innovation in Australia and while titles are nice, the real rewards are the growing number of jobs that our cutting-edge companies deliver for Victorians.” Now in its 12th year, the 2thinknow Innovation Cities Global Index ranked 500 cities across the world. Melbourne jumped from 16th place in 2018 to its new position just outside the world’s top 10, strengthening Victoria’s reputation as a leading tech hub in the Asia-Pacific. Melbourne’s reputation is built on a blooming start-up ecosystem, vibrant creative industries and world-leading enterprise in fields ranging from medtech and pharma to advanced manufacturing, foods, fibre and sport. Melbourne’s booming innovation ecosystem features numerous $1bn-plus valuation companies including Culture Amp, REA Group, MYOB, CarSales.com.au, Aconex, Envato, PolyNovo, Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals, Airwallex and Latitude Financial. Melbourne is also home to long-established global innovators such as biotech giant CSL, which this year announced it would move its Royal Park headquarters to a purpose-built facility in the heart of the nation’s premier biomedical precinct at Parkville.
Every business has different needs. Business Management To run a successful business, it’s not enough to have a great product or service. You need to understand your challenges and continually identify and leverage growth opportunities. The Entrepreneurs’ Programme (EP) is a Commonwealth Government flagship initiative focused on raising the competitiveness and productivity of eligible companies at an individual level. The Business Management element of EP will provide practical support to help your businesses improve and grow through sustainable management strategies and process capability enhancement. EP’s Business Management element offers: •
On-site support from a highly credentialed industry specialist adviser or facilitator.
Funding through matched grants of up to $20,000.
Access to business networks, government services, and specialist assistance.
To find out what the Entrepreneurs’ Programme can do for you, contact Greg Chalker 03 9800 3666 or email email@example.com
www.amtil.com.au Commonwealth Government Entrepreneurs’ Programme partnering with AMTIL
John Lochery (Cert Strategic Planning & Implementation, Cert Food Service Operation) Entrepreneurs’ Programme Business Adviser
VOICE BOX OPINIONS FROM ACROSS THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
STEM education in Australia – A student’s perspective. It is widely accepted that skills in science, technology, engineering & mathematics (STEM) are critically important for Australia’s future competitiveness and prosperity. But what needs to be done within the education system to support this? Gemma Wildermuth, a 14-year-old student from south-east Melbourne, offers an end-user’s perspective. Since the age of five when my grandfather took me to my first science event, I have had a keen interest in STEM and I always wanted to make a difference. When I was younger I often found myself looking for ways to get involved in STEM programs outside of school. Unfortunately, due to a lack of options in Australia, I often find myself looking for opportunities outside of the country, particularly in the USA. Since there are fewer options in Australia, this creates a gap. This gap describes people knowing less about this area and all its potential. That’s why programs like FIRST are so important. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international organisation with the aim to inspire young people to be science and technology innovators by engaging them in competitions. FIRST is such an amazing competition – it takes place in more than 100 countries around the world. But it is not promoted or supported enough in Australia. FIRST teaches many different skills that aren’t commonly taught in a class environment. In our schools there is a lack of education in the STEM area, which means we are losing the interest of the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. By participating in FIRST-related competitions, research has shown that 87% of students have an increased interest in doing well in school, 80% wanted to go into a job that involved science and technology, and 98% had a greater awareness of STEM. My first exposure to FIRST was with FIRST Lego League (FLL). It was amazing because, unlike other programs, it wasn’t just about building a robot. Instead it incorporated a research project based upon that year’s theme and encouraged a set of core values: Discovery, Innovation, Impact, Inclusion, Teamwork, Fun. After competing at international level I decided that I was ready to continue on to the next level FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). However, this level wasn’t available because there were no teams in Victoria. Moreover, there were only three teams for the highest level, FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC), and the jump from FLL to FRC is huge. As a result, many FLL students would lose interest in robotics, feeling they don’t have the knowledge to go to such a high level, or simply don’t have anywhere else to go. The outcome is that a lot of young kids would lose interest in STEM at a young age – a time when they should be being encouraged. To bridge this gap I decided to start a team to compete in FTC, the intermediate level between FLL and FRC. Currently we are the only FTC team in Victoria, along with more than 150 FLL teams and three FRC teams. We have done this with no corporate backing, though we do desperately need support. At the moment we don’t have enough funding or resources to fully operate and grow teams in these types of programs and raise awareness of their existence in Victorian schools. The support we are in need of could be mentorship, or it could be financial investment. Together we can make a difference and help aspiring STEM leaders and innovators. Supporters of all sizes can help grow this competition. Contributions do not need to be massive, and every little bit helps to grow and multiply local talent so that we can compete on an international stage. Competitions and programs like FIRST empower and encourage younger generations to get involved in STEM and gives them
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a stepping stone for their future. We have seen how these programs work internationally. At the moment the statistics show that internationally 89% of FIRST alumni subsequently declare a focus area in STEM at college, compared with 59% of their comparison group; among female alumni, 59% declare a focus area in engineering or computer science, compared to 12% of their comparison group. Participating in this program also gave me the confidence to stand up on a stage at the Global Table conference in Melbourne in September, where I spoke in front of two thousand people including world leaders in food innovation about my invention and how I want to help change the world. My school and FIRST have encouraged me to think outside the box, and my invention has attracted a lot of interest, which one day will hopefully see it change the way that we farm in Australia and will aid farmers to sustain their livestock during drought. After going to international events with my FTC team and experiencing it first-hand, the level of STEM education even in developing countries was astonishing. We want to provide the same program to our local talents to encourage them to pursue and excel in the study of STEM-related topics. To make these numbers higher we need to grow the FTC community in Australia. We’ve seen how these events and programs have been successful and created so much impact for the younger generation across the globe, often with the support of industry sponsors. I’m hoping someone reading this article might extend the same support here in Australia, so that we can increase the interest in STEM among younger generations – because we are the future. If you would like to find out more about ways you can get involved in helping Gemma and her team in building up FTC and getting the word out to schools, please contact Gemma at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the team website: www.teamdangerousminds.com
VOICE BOX OPINIONS FROM ACROSS THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
Want more jobs in Australia? Cut our ore exports and make more metals at home Australia could create tens of thousands of new jobs and generate many billions of dollars in export revenues if it turned more to manufacturing metals rather than exporting ore to other countries, according to a new report released by the Energy Transition Hub. Michael Lord explains. As international climate action accelerates, there is a need to produce goods without the carbon emissions. The report, From Mining to Making, describes opportunities for Australia to use its exceptional wind and solar resources to make zero-emissions metals.
The need for metal Demand for metals is set to grow, not least because of their importance in nearly all renewable energy technologies. Wind turbines are made from steel, copper and rarer metals such as cobalt and neodymium. Solar panels and batteries use metals including silicon, lithium, manganese, nickel and titanium. As the global economy tries to reduce carbon emissions we must change the way metals are made. Metal production is energyintensive and accounts for around 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Herein lies Australia’s opportunity. Australia is already a major source of the world’s metal. It is among the top three exporters of iron ore, bauxite, lithium, manganese and rare earth metals. A small proportion of these metals are refined domestically, but most are shipped overseas in their raw mineral form. For example, we found Australia converts less than 1% of its iron ore into steel. By exporting raw ores, Australia is selling non-renewable resources at the lowest point of the value chain. Processed metal is worth much more than ore.
Metal needs energy Many metals are made through electrically-driven processes so we can reduce carbon emissions by switching to cheaper renewable electricity. One example for this approach is Sun Metals, near Townsville in Queensland. The company built a 125MW solar farm to supply a third of the energy required by its zinc refinery. It is now considering adding wind power and battery storage. Similar opportunities exist with the production of other metals such as manganese, copper, nickel and rare earths. Another angle for Australia is to make specialised metal products with higher profit margins. Element 25, in Western Australia, plans to produce high-value manganese metal using an energy-efficient process developed with CSIRO. The company says a 90% renewable energy mix could lower production costs and help it compete with Chinese producers. Renewable energy could even relieve Australia’s ailing aluminium industry. The owners of three of Australia’s existing aluminium smelters said they were “not sustainable” with current electricity prices. Could cheap wind and solar energy provide a lifeline? The usual objection is that aluminium smelters need a steady power input, not variable solar and wind energy. But new technologies enable more flexible operation, allowing smelters to react to market conditions, while relieving pressure on the grid during peaks in demand. Steel production presents a different kind of problem. It uses so much coal that it accounts for 7% of global emissions. But new steel can be made without coal. Many steelmakers around the world use an alternative process, called direct reduction, fuelled
by natural gas. This technique reduces emissions by about 40% and can be modified to run on pure renewable hydrogen, enabling production of near-zero emissions steel. At least five companies in Europe are actively pursuing hydrogenbased steel production as part of their efforts to eliminate emissions. So far there are no similar plans in Australia despite this country’s unrivalled wealth of iron ore and renewable resources.
The jobs boom Zero-emissions metals could become a major export industry. Our report explores a scenario in which Australia could double the value of its iron and steel exports to $150bn by converting just 18% of currently mined iron ore into steel using renewable hydrogen. This would be a welcome boost for the national balance of trade, counteracting any reduction in coal exports due to climate and energy policies among Australia’s trading partners. Making this amount of zero-emissions steel requires a huge amount of renewable electricity – almost double the total electricity generated in Australia in 2018. But this demand for renewable energy is part of the point – Australia CAN do this; most of our competitors cannot, due to their greater energy demand relative to land suitable for generating renewable energy. A successful zero emissions metal industry would bring many thousands of steady jobs, often in regional areas with higher unemployment. It could also support towns such as Portland in Victoria, and Gladstone in Queensland, where metal producers are already the chief employer. The market for zero-emissions metals is likely to be enormous. Until recently, emissions embodied in materials have been neglected. But this is changing, as hundreds of the world’s largest companies commit to reducing the emissions of their supply chains. For example, carmakers Volkswagen and Toyota are aiming for zero-carbon production. In September the World Green Building Council challenged the global construction sector to ensure all new buildings have net-zero embodied carbon by 2050. Such public commitments are a strong signal to manufacturers everywhere.
Make it happen Zero-emissions metals could be one of Australia’s most significant new industries of the 21st century. To make it happen, our report recommends governments acknowledge this opportunity by creating a National Zero-Emissions Metals strategy, committing serious resources to ensure it succeeds. This strategy should identify and evaluate Australia’s best opportunities within the metals sector. If we don’t do something then, as South Australian Senator Rex Patrick puts it, we’ll just continue to “export rocks” and let others reap the benefits from developing technologies to process them. Michael Lord is a researcher at the Energy Transition Hub at the University of Melbourne. This article was originally published by The Conversation. www.unimelb.edu.au www.energy-transition-hub.org www.theconversation.com
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VOICE BOX OPINIONS FROM ACROSS THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
Financial Leadership in Manufacturing: Five things a CFO should be thinking about Traditionally in manufacturing, the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) provided businesses with insight into the financial translation from inventory to revenue, all the way to profit, and how time to market could be the difference between a profit and a loss. Today, CFOs are expected to take a broader view of the enterprise. A report by Sage, CFO 3.0 - digital transformation beyond financial management on the evolving role of the finance function, highlights that 93% of finance professionals believe their role has changed in the past five years, with 67% now seeing themselves as strategic advisers rather than leaders responsible for compliance and accounting. Over half attributed this to the digitalisation of the industry fuelling customer expectations. While cloud adoption is high in Australia, CFOs are not fully leveraging the capabilities of financial management technology. Facing a more automated future, CFOs have an opportunity to propel digital transformation into the wider business. Becoming an agent of change is a big leap from the traditional role of the CFO. But as the world becomes smaller and customer demands become bigger, becoming the CEO’s strategic partner isn’t a bad place to be. Here are five things to bear in mind:
Impact of globalisation Globalisation has brought many benefits to manufacturers. From access to new markets to the ability to scout for the best resources and components from across the world. Free-trade agreements allow companies in different nations to establish lucrative deals with each other without government interference. However, as good as these benefits are for manufacturers, they pose interesting challenges when it comes to financial reporting standards. There are, of course, universally recognised processes such as the International Financial Reporting Standards and International Standards on Auditing, but these are not mandated across the world – notably in the US. As a result, CFOs and their teams are challenged to understand not only the regulations in their own countries but those of every country they do business with, or at least make provision for the differences. Working with affiliates in local markets who have a native understanding of regulation will help mitigate against these risks. These affiliates can take the burden of managing regulation to identify differences, freeing the CFO to focus on providing advice and positioning the business for growth.
Driving investments It can be easy to get distracted by vanity projects that add little to the manufacturing process and the bottom line, but the CFO’s knowledge and pragmatism can be an effective guard against this. CFOs can use their insight into operating spend to guide investments in a way that boosts profits. As gatekeepers to investment, CFOs can ensure manufacturers prioritise opportunities that provide tangible benefits to the business. Not only will this bring the value added by the CFO to the fore, it will also foster an environment of mutually beneficial work and foster collaboration across the business.
Improving processes While chief operating officers might be seen as the standard bearers for process management, CFOs also have a lot to contribute to improving processes. It is here that having access to data and a knowledge of cross-company processes will help dramatically. For example, time to market is critical for manufacturers because of its impact on profitability and customer satisfaction. Any support CFOs can provide to remove production bottlenecks will go a long way to reducing costs and improving return on investment. Of course, there
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is a short-term impact of removing bottlenecks but in the longer term it will mean a healthier profit, loyal customers and wider job security.
The real value of going digital From improving compliance and reducing red tape to addressing customer demands, moving from disparate legacy systems to digital services not only saves money but also ensures systems are up to date and secure. In compliance, ‘going digital’ allows the CFO to turn their discipline into a competitive advantage. Traditionally, compliance is often seen as a matter of defensive discipline, but going digital allows CFOs to handle compliance on the front foot. It puts them in a better position to prioritise based on the level of work involved in addressing each issue, as well as emphasising aspects that provide the biggest advantage. Digitalisation also enables every department to share the same information at the same time, so they can leverage each other’s insights. A tiered approach is probably the best way to embrace digital transformation. This will enable CFOs to balance CAPEX against OPEX, while ensuring new systems up for procurement are most suitable for the company.
To automate or not to automate Automation is nothing new in manufacturing. But the rise of smart software and AI means future automation is likely to be as disruptive to the industry as the robotic assembly line was. While the idea of fully autonomous factories might be appealing to productivityoriented CEOs, the reality is that AI systems and robots still need significant human input, oversight and maintenance, which requires the right skills. Balancing the cost saving and productivity gains against ethics is a challenge we will see gaining prevalence, as the temptation to replace humans with robotic colleagues increases. Although tempting, when reviewed against the bottom line, there are costs associated that aren’t always financial. Finding this equilibrium will be the role of the CFO and their peers. Bringing AI into the CFO’s office can offer huge benefits, working in the background to identify and flag anomalies that might otherwise go undetected. Imagine if your finance system could send you a workflow message as you were about to accidentally pay a supplier twice, or if an employee was spending outside their remit. Having this support from a machine can free up the CFO and their team to get more involved in becoming agents for change – using the time saved to steer the business towards profit, efficiency and the future. Automation might be viewed as something that threatens manufacturing jobs, but CFOs should be mindful of its potential to augment the work of human staff rather than replace them. The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving and the pressures on CFOs in this space will only increase over time. Viewing change as an opportunity will provide CFOs with a competitive advantage. Being proactive and moving the business towards longer-term challenges will not only ensure their department is viewed as an agent of change but can also help their company hits the high notes in a challenging and competitive industry. Gary Katzeff is General Manager – ERP for Sage Australia and New Zealand www.sage.com
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USA: Composite metal foam outperforms aluminium for aircraft wings The hybrid material is called ‘infused CMF.’ While it is about the same weight as aluminium, it is tougher and has other characteristics that make it more appealing for flight performance, safety and fuel efficiency. The researchers used steel-steel CMF (both the spheres and the matrix were made of steel). The infused CMF is made by immersing the steel-steel CMF in a hydrophobic epoxy resin and using vacuum forces to pull the resin into both the hollow spheres and into much smaller pores found in the steel matrix itself. This results in about 88% of the CMF’s pores being filled with epoxy resin. The researchers found that infused CMF had a wing-contact angle (how well water beads up on a surface) 130% higher than aluminium and the material outperformed aluminium by 60% in insect adhesion. For wear and tear simulation, infused CMF again out-performed aluminium.
the print-vat. It is the first printer that can handle large batches and large parts as well as small parts. Printers on the scale of HARP often produce parts that must be sanded or machined down to their final geometry, but HARP achieves ready-to-use parts without extensive post-processing.
North Carolina State University
HARP prints in a honeycombstyle structure
UK/USA/China: Drone-mounted scanner sees through walls
Australia: Bio-materials open new chapter in Australian auto manufacturing Researchers are developing a new generation of sustainable composite materials designed specifically for electric vehicles. The Australian Clean Energy Electric Vehicle Group (ACE-EV) – a selffunded start-up - launched its electric van in August and is working to ensure it is designed and built onshore, with the help of University of Queensland’s bioengineering and nanotechnology research. There is great potential in replacing non-renewable traditional composite and polymers with bio-based materials and the UQ would use its expertise in developing bioplastics and composites to help the ACE-EV incorporate these sustainable materials. It is hoped that the assembling of the ACE-EV vehicles will take place in regional Queensland in the future. University of Queensland
USA: Big and fast 3D printer: The future of manufacturing Researchers have developed a new 3D printer that can print an object the size of an adult in two hours. Called HARP (high-area rapid printing), the new technology enables continually printed parts on demand whose pieces are hard, elastic or ceramic. HARP uses a new version of stereolithography and prints vertically using projected UV light to cure the liquid resins into mechanically robust parts. A limiting factor for current 3D printers is heat - causing printed parts to crack and deform. This technology bypasses this problem with a nonstick liquid that behaves like liquid Teflon. HARP projects light to solidify resin, removing heat and then circulates it through a cooling unit. This increases the printer’s speed by a hundredfold because the parts do not have to be repeatedly cleaved from the bottom of
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A prototype drone-mounted scanner called WideSee uses longrange radio waves to scan deep into a building and has considerable advantages over existing wireless systems which use heat-seeking cameras which cannot differentiate between a fire and the heat being emitted from a human body. Researchers adapted a commercial wireless radio system called LoRa and designed an antenna to address interference. Like radar, signals sent from the drone pass into the building and rebound off objects. The rebound signal is picked up by a receiver on the drone. Information from the drone is remotely sent back to a computer. Whilst the technology is currently only capable of locating one target at a time, the ultimate aim is to identify multiple humans in different rooms at the same time. The Engineer
USA: Improving ductility of ceramics Something as simple as an electric field could soon make wartime missiles or drinking mugs easier to produce and more fractureresilient. Researchers have developed a new process to help overcome the brittle nature of ceramics. Named “flash sintering,” an electric field is added to the conventional sintering process. Surprisingly, the ceramics deform plastically before fracture when compressed. Applying an electric field to the formation of ceramics makes the material almost as easily reshaped as metal at room temperature. Improved plasticity for ceramics means more mechanical durability during operation at relatively low temperatures. The sample withstood almost as much compression strain as some metals do before cracks started to appear. Purdue University
TECH HEADING NEWS
USA: World first – Premium, sustainable AM metal powders US company 6K has introduced premium metal additive manufacturing powders made from sustainable sources. Their technology (UniMelt) transforms certified chemistry machined millings, turnings and other recycled feedstock into premium AM powder. Used for applications in the aerospace, medical and automotive industries, the system is the world’s only microwave production-scale plasma and can produce powders not only for AM, but also for advanced batteries, phosphors and more. The innovative technology produces powders that are highly uniform, with high sphericity, zero porosity as well as high flowability and tap density. Any alloy that is machined has the potential to become AM powder and new powders A rocket Nozzle 3D can be created which were printed by Castheon with sustainable previously not possible. 3D Printing Media
powder from 6K.
USA: Unsinkable metal Researchers have created a metallic structure that is so waterrepellent, it refuses to sink, despite force or damage. The groundbreaking technique uses femtosecond bursts of lasers to “etch” the surfaces of metals with intricate micro and nanoscale patterns that trap air and make the surfaces superhydrophobic (SH). The researchers found, however, that after being immersed in water over time, the surfaces start to lose their hydrophobic properties. Inspired by spiders and fire ants, which can survive long periods under water by trapping air in an enclosed area, the researchers created a structure in which the treated surfaces on two parallel aluminium plates face inward, not outward (ie enclosed, with no external wear and abrasion). The surfaces are separated by just the right distance to trap and hold enough air to keep the structure floating. This could lead to unsinkable ships, flotation devices that continue to float after being punctured, or long-term electronic monitoring devices.
USA: World’s strongest silver A team has created a metal that breaks decades-old theoretical limita, promising a new class of super-strong and conducting materials - and technological advances from lighter airplanes to better solar panels. At 42% stronger than the previous world record, this discovery (at the nanoscale) allows the creation of metals which are much stronger while not losing electrical conductivity. By mixing a trace amount of copper into the silver, it allowed the transformation of two types of inherent nanoscale defects. The copper “doping”, by controlling the behaviour of defects in silver, turned the defects to advantage, using them to both strengthen the metal and maintain its electrical conductivity. The copper atoms, slightly smaller than the atoms of silver, move into defects in the boundaries, inhibiting the defects from moving, and allowing the creation of the new super-strong form of silver. It is believed that this approach can be applied to many other metals. University of Vermont
Germany: Bending flat glass around corners Researchers have developed a new process that can bend sheets of glass to produce angular corners while not impairing the optical properties of the glass. Machinery for bending glass already exists but current technology is incapable of producing narrow curvatures or a clean-edged bend of 90° and the optical properties of the glass are often impaired during the process. By developing their own kiln, these problems have been solved. Instead of heating the entire sheet of glass, only the area of the glass where the actual bending is to take place is heated via lasers and mirrors. Since only the line of the bend is heated, there are no imprints created where the sheet rests on the support and the glass remains perfectly smooth. The process can also be used to bend a series of glass sheets to specific, graduated radii so as to produce sandwich structures and sheets of laminated, safety and insulating glass. Fraunhofer
University of Rochester
USA: 3D printing advances – precisely creating droplets Although both 3D printers and traditional manufacturers already use droplets to carefully add material to their products, the new jet method offers greater flexibility and precision - precisely creating droplets using a jet of liquid. The new jet method offers greater flexibility and precision than standard techniques. Calibrated droplets of glycerine were able to be injected into a liquid polymer to demonstrate placement over three dimensions. By curing the polymer, the researchers were able to affix the droplets in desired locations. The method will work with a wide variety of substances. The jets can be controlled to disperse drops in lines or in sinusoidal wave patterns, creating flexibility in manufactured forms. The technique could be applied to applications including the creation of biomedical scaffolding, acoustic materials and bioreactors as well as standard 3D manufacturing. The method also relieves designers of the need to constantly adjust and fine-tune their machines to create varied shapes and sizes. Princeton University, Engineering School
A double-glazed corner element produced with the new glass-bending process
“Prof Szlufarska has opened up an entirely new area of exploration for structural materials processing and design” – Michael Bakas, Program Manager, US Army Research Office. The material samarium cobalt (an intermetallic) — surprisingly, bent easily, even though its ‘dislocations’ were locked in place. Instead, bending samarium cobalt caused narrow bands to form inside the crystal lattice, where molecules assumed a free-form amorphous configuration instead of the regular, gridlike structure in the rest of the metal. Those amorphous bands allowed the metal to bend. The researchers plan to search for other materials that might also bend in this peculiar manner.
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Mitee-Bite’s Heavy Duty T-Slot Clamp eliminates need for separate fixture Designed to be used in the T-slots of machine tables, Mitee-Bite’s new versatile HD T-Slot Clamp is capable of generating an impressive 88kN of down force. This, coupled with a very low gripping profile, helps to reduce material costs and the number of machining operations required. The T-Slot Clamp bolts straight down onto the machine table eliminating the need for a separate fixture. Set-up time is accordingly reduced, making the machining operation quicker and more efficient. The hardened steel clamping element has both a smooth surface for machined workpieces and a serrated clamping surface for rougher work. The HD T-Slot Clamp is designed specifically for use with Pitbull and OK-Vise clamps, which can be used on the same base in a variety of configurations, ensuring plenty of holding force. Another benefit is that both Pitbull and OK-Vise clamps can be reused saving time and money. The Pitbull Fixture Clamp is well known for its low profile and positive down force and is now available as a modular clamp in two styles. The Slotted Modular version with a step offers increased versatility through its unique riser design. It supports the workpiece off the machine table for through milling and drilling. The hardened and ground clamps are designed for use on work cubes, as well as machined tables with tapped holes or T-slot configurations. The Compact Modular version is ideal for clamping workpieces in series by using the back surface of a clamp to locate the next workpiece. The back of the clamp is ground square to the bottom for precise location of parts. The height of the clamp can be adjusted by the depth of the milled slot used to locate the clamp.
Both versions are produced in two sizes with holding forces of 16kN and 26kN. The popular Pitbull Clamp is also available in a machinable version with additional material on the clamping face to allow for machining a radius or profile. Due to the low-profile design of OK-VISE clamps, it is possible to execute flexible three-directional machining of workpieces with one fastening. This ability to machine a workpiece in three planes means improved accuracy. Mitee-Bite Products began in 1986 with the original Mitee-Bite hex clamp, created to save time on a re-occurring production job, and grew to become the innovator of compact, low-profile edge clamps for CNC machining. Fast forward more than 30 years later and they continue to develop new products that provide customers with a wide assortment of high-density low profile clamping solutions. “Mitee-Bite’s new HD T-Slot Clamp is one of the strongest lowest profile clamps available and has the added benefit of eliminating the need for a separate fixture,” said Dimac Managing Director Paul Fowler. “The fact that both Pitbull and OK-Vise clamps can be used on the same base will ensure that no matter what your job, you’ll be guaranteed more than enough gripping force.” www.dimac.com.au
Latest Shark tap provides high security Dormer Pramet has expanded its range of Shark Line taps with a new assortment for high strength steels and titanium alloys. Available in spiral point (E334) and spiral flute (E335) geometries for through and blind hole threading respectively, the new taps provide high performance and process security in hardened and tempered materials below 45 HRC. Immediately identifiable due to the black ring on their shank, the new taps incorporate a robust geometry which significantly increases cutting edge strength and supports problem-free, high quality thread production. In addition, both feature a TIAlN-Top coating and are manufactured from a unique powder metallurgy tool steel for toughness, longer tool life and increased performance at higher operating temperatures. “With our Black Shark range we offer customers the opportunity to machine high strength, high value work-piece materials, with a strong level of reliability,’ said Johan Bodin, Product Manager – Threading at Dormer Pramet. “Imagine threading an expensive component in the final stages of a complex machining process
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and either the tool breaks or worse, the resulting thread is out of tolerance. Our Black Shark taps provide the user with the process security needed to ensure this does not happen. This introduction further strengthens the Shark Line’s position as one of the world’s leading assortments of HSS performance taps.” The E334 spiral point tap provides through-hole threading up to 2.5xD with a low rake angle for good chip control and edge strength. With a balanced higher relief on the chamfer and lower relief on the guidance threads, the E335 spiral flute tap supports blind hole threading up to 1.5xD. Each tap within Dormer Pramet’s Shark Line assortment features a color ring denoting material suitability, promoting quick and easy tool selection. Other material types covered in the range include red ring for alloy steels, yellow for structural, carbon and low alloy steels, blue for stainless steel, green ring for aluminum and white for cast iron. www.dormerpramet.com
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ANCA Motion multi-axis servo slashes energy wastage ANCA Motion’s multi-axis servo system conserves up to 96% of energy wastage in highly demanding CNC operations, slashing operating costs, writes Heng Luo, ANCA Motion Product Manager. In a servo motor system, regenerative energy is the energy that returns to a drive when a motor decelerates, and the amount of regenerative energy depends on the deceleration speed and load inertia. In laser cutting machines, the regenerative energy is typically large owing to their fast acceleration/ deceleration and heavy mechanical structures. Energy returned to drives is absorbed by the capacitors on the drive’s DC bus. A multi-axis servo drive system does have a big advantage when handling the regenerative energy; the shared DC bus allows more bus capacitance to absorb and store more energy, which can be used in the following acceleration cycles. However, when regenerative energy is too high to be absorbed by the capacitors on DC bus, the excessive energy needs to be managed otherwise it can cause servo drive system failures. Normally the excess energy is burned off via brake resistors connecting to the drive’s DC bus. This dissipates (and effectively wastes the energy), creating heat in the process. An alternative solution is to use capacitor modules in the system. This offers a way to slash operating costs, particularly in energy-intensive machine applications involving a lot of deceleration, such as laser cutting. Both solutions are supported by ANCA Motion’s AMD5x multi-axis servo drive system. The system uses a bussed system architecture, and its power supply unit converts three-phase mains electricity to a DC supply to all bussed drives. The AMD5x system is highly flexible and is suited to highly demanding CNC applications such as laser
cutting. It is suitable for accommodating multiple capacitor modules as well as servo drives. A frequently asked question about using capacitor modules focuses on its return on investment (ROI). The potential of capacitor modules to save machine operators’ energy costs was explored recently, indicating a surprisingly short payback period. For the analysis, a laser cutting machine operating at full load in China on a two-shifts-per-day scenario was created, assuming an electricity price of 0.66 yuan ($0.14) per kilowatt hour, and an air conditioner (used to cool the control cabinet) energy efficiency ratio of three. The performance of a machine with two capacitor modules in this scenario was compared to that of a machine with a brake resistor only. The difference in wasted power was unsurprisingly stark. The figures stood at 4,500W of wastage for the system with no capacitor modules, compared to 180W with capacitor modules. This translated into wasted energy per month of more than 2,200 kilowatt hours, worth more than 2,200 yuan ($293), versus 90 kilowatt hours, worth about 60 yuan ($12.50). Operating costs – including the initial investment – drew level at around eight months, with these becoming significantly cheaper overall for the system using capacitor modules after that point. With factories under unprecedented pressure to run to tighter margins and to get smarter with their power use, harnessing and reusing energy rather than burning it up and wasting it is an attractive proposition. motion.anca.com
Tungaloy adds self-centering drill heads to DrillMeister line The Tungaloy range of DrillMeister indexable head drills has now been extended to include the latest DMC style drill head. The new DrillMeister DMC features a self-centering chisel edge profile with a new coating grade that has been designed to boost indexable drilling performance. The new drilling platform permits fast drill head indexing, thanks to an innovative self-clamping mechanism that eliminates the need to remove the drill body from the spindle for tool changeovers or the re-adjustment of the tool overhang. The fast indexing with high repeatability capabilities of the DrillMeister DMC significantly improve machine uptime and productivity. The new DMC drill head incorporates a centre-point chisel edge geometry that self-centres to provide accurate hole diameter and circularity. In addition, it features a double margin design that stabilises the drill during the drilling processes, improving hole surface finish, straightness and precision levels. The DrillMeister DMC is available with Tungaloy’s AH9130 insert grade, which incorporates a next generation coating that has been specifically engineered for drilling applications. The AH9130 insert grade features a nanoscale-structure multi-layered coating that is
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applied with three primary layers. This new coating technology provides an optimal combination of resistance to physical and chemical stresses such as wear, fracture, oxidation, built-up edges and de-lamination. By eradicating these common issues, the DrillMeister DMC guarantees exceptionally long and consistent tool life under the most challenging of applications. The ingenious new DrillMeister DMC drill head is available in diameters from 10mm to 19.9mm in increments of 0.1mm whilst its double margin drill head geometry ensures improved surface finish and precision levels without the need for pre-spotting or pecking cycles. The self-centering geometry of the DMC ensures that the expansive DrillMeister line can outperform competitor drilling products when conducting holemaking operations up to 12xD. With a total of 100 items to be added to this series, the comprehensive holemaking range from Tungaloy is certainly worth investigating. www.tungaloy.com
Ultimaker expands S-line product family with Ultimaker S3 Ultimaker has unveiled the Ultimaker S3, the latest addition to its S-line product family of 3D printers. The Ultimaker S3 offers turnkey production capacity for anyone to achieve high-quality results. The affordable desktop 3D printer has composite-ready performance and an efficiently small footprint to fit easily on any desktop. Packed with the latest technology, the Ultimaker S3 offers disruptive businesses a cost-effective way to adopt and drive in-house 3D printing. The new Ultimaker S3 seamlessly integrates into Ultimaker’s open ecosystem. The feeder wheels are made of hardened steel and together with the CC print core, users can print with almost any 2.85mm filament – such as PLA, ABS, Nylon, third-party materials and abrasive materials. Engineers can design, test, and produce models and custom enduse parts with the widest range of materials for their manufacturing needs. The wider nozzle coverage ensures that no space is wasted, which offers an increased build-volume-to-size ratio. The Ultimaker S3 contains an award-winning touch interface and predefined print settings that facilitate more precise 3D printing as part of any workflow. A heated build plate, advanced active levelling, a stiffer build platform and accurate stepper drivers result in the highest print quality of a machine in this form factor. The dual filament flow sensors can detect empty filament spools in the Ultimaker S3 and will automatically pause print jobs so that users can immediately replenish materials and keep the machine running seamlessly.
“I am proud that we managed to pack all the latest breakthrough technology into a machine with the form-factor of the Ultimaker 3,” said Paul Heiden, Senior Vice-President – Product Management at Ultimaker. “The accessible Ultimaker S3 is capable of reliably manufacturing smaller parts and models at a price-point that removes the barrier to entry for entrepreneurs and SMEs to adopt 3D printing. Now, anyone who wants to start leveraging Ultimaker’s flexible, powerful 3D printing system can do so and make full use of all materials with print profiles available in the Marketplace in Ultimaker Cura. “We passionately believe that the ability for more businesses to affordably disrupt markets with rapidly developed, locally manufactured parts and models, makes the Ultimaker S3 a no-brainer. And we’re excited to see how our customers take advantage of this new opportunity.” The Ultimaker S3 is available through Ultimaker’s network of global partners. Ultimaker has also launched its Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle, offering manufacturers a full automated 3D printing workflow tested for unattended use and 24/7 3D print capacity. www.ultimaker.com
MTI PE200 SWING DOORS The most robust solution for food industry, retail and logistics The new PE200 HDPE double acting impact traffic door, exclusively available from MTI See-Thru, offers the perfect solution for insulation, functionality and durability. Benefits of the MTI PE200 Swing Door; • Made of solid polyethylene – non breakable • Hygienic (EU/FDA approved) • Maintenance-free • Made to measure • Short production time • Easy installation • Long service life • PVC finger protection • 10 year guarantee on door leaves • Stainless steel hinges
MTI PE200 AMT_HalfPage.indd 1
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Epicor ERP – Supporting talent retention, automation and customer responsiveness Epicor has announced the 10.2.500 release of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. The new Epicor ERP release delivers on customer growth objectives with new capabilities to support cloud adoption, improve the user experience and ensure global readiness by helping companies address pressing market challenges such as the changing workforce. “The need to attract and retain talent is more important than ever – with more people currently leaving the manufacturing industry than joining,” said Terri Hiskey, Vice-President, Product Marketing, Manufacturing at Epicor. “Offering a modern toolset for next-generation workers, which is more familiar and reminiscent of how they already interact with mobile applications, will help give them the experience they anticipate. We’re offering our customers the ability to choose their update path with tools and solutions that allow them to get where they want, however they want – via cloud environments or on-premise.” The new release advancements help companies grow their business with technology solutions that are purpose-built and leverage cloud capabilities, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. With greater access to ERP data and the automation of redundant tasks, organisations gain greater visibility into their processes that translates to new levels of business efficiency and responsiveness. The latest innovations with Epicor ERP include: • Epicor Collaborate – A cloud-based solution that simplifies collaboration and interaction processes, and drives employee engagement by leveraging social media concepts to easily exchange information.
• Epicor Virtual Agent (EVA) – The AI-powered virtual agent provides a new set of skills to modernise the experience for everyday functions such as purchase order approvals and supplier order processes. • Epicor Service Pro – This provides field service and mobile capabilities with time-saving automation tools that streamline service calls, schedule and dispatch, quote, work order management, service contracts, asset tracking, and more. • Epicor Functions – The next evolution of Epicor BPM, with new levels of flexibility that solve orchestration and integration challenges for cloud and on-premises customers. • New cloud data centres – Global cloud data centres in Australia and Canada have been introduced to better support more solutions built for cloud. “Small to mid-sized companies are looking to ERP vendors to democratise the advancements that big companies are making and keep pace with innovation – helping them understand how cloud environments as well as tech advancements like AI and IoT can be integrated within their business portfolios and drive bottom-line profitability,” said Ray Wang, Principal Analyst and Founder of Constellation Research. “Epicor is addressing this by offering ways for companies to start to leverage the power of Industry 4.0 technologies at an affordable price and with a clear path for growth.” www.epicor.com
Konica Minolta introduces the AIRe Lens wearable tech Konica Minolta announces a new wearable augmented reality (AR) solution, the AIRe Lens. This smart glasses device is designed to enhance training and knowledge sharing in traditionally skilled manual labour and industrial environments. Developed for a range of applications, the AIRe Lens offers the durability, comfort and high optical quality required for all-day use. With its head-mounted functionality, end users can receive information and step-by-step guidance through work processes, such as assembly, maintenance or quality assurance tasks, while maintaining mobility, keeping hands free, and reducing workplace accidents. Konica Minolta designed the software with a deep understanding of those requirements and tested the product’s application with partners, such as Siemens, with positive results. Testing the AIRe Lens at the Siemens facility in Mülheim, Germany, Julian Melsbach, Project Lead for Smart Glasses, said: “The feedback from the operators was very positive, with regard to the mobility and light weight nature of the solution, but also concerning the unhindered vision compared to other smart glasses, thanks to the high transparency and position of the lens.” Shane Blandford, Director Of Marketing and Innovation, Konica Minolta, said, “As education, training and industry generally move
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towards more digital handling of information, the challenge is how the individual ingests the information. With so much documentation being paper-based, students and workers need a new way to complete complex tasks without losing time, money, and quality. This is where the AIRe Lens comes in.” With the AIRe Lens, organisations can leverage wearable technology to address concerns including high staff training costs, tracking work productivity, finding skilled industrial workers, long downtimes, or employee inefficiencies. According to Gartner, companies are increasingly experimenting with immersive technologies, but real deployments are few, and projects could be expensive and complex to deliver. “What this means is that organisations looking to leverage AR should choose proven technology providers and trusted partners to deliver and provide support for this technology,” said Blandford. www.konicaminolta.com.au
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ADVANCED DIAGNOSTICS SYSTEM
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AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT
FOR AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET MANUFACTURERS Despite years of bad news about the Australian automotive industry, there are actually some 40 more manufacturers operating in the sector today than there were in 2015. With $640m in export revenues, and further increases expected, a mood of positive business sentiment is helping to drive our automotive aftermarket manufacturers forward, with product innovation flourishing. By Carole Goldsmith. It’s been two years since the last of the major car manufacturers ceased vehicle production in Australia, when GM Holden followed in the footsteps of Ford and Toyota and closed its manufacturing operations here. The automotive aftermarket manufacturing sector has consequently had to move with the changing market, and the signs are currently very positive. In June, the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) published research conducted with ACA Research to evaluate the state of the market. It reveals that 300 automotive manufacturing companies operate in Australia, up from 260 in 2015 (when the AAAA last surveyed the sector). Although the sector’s combined annual revenue has dropped from $5.2bn to $4bn and employment is down from 21,000 to 9,800, the research also shows that 93% of the automotive manufacturers surveyed expect revenue to grow, and 82% expect export volumes to increase. Lesley Yates is the AAAA’s Director – Advocacy, Marketing & Research, and Convenor for the AAAA’s Automotive Products Manufacturers and Exporter Council (APMEC). She is very enthusiastic about the sector’s growth and the study’s positive outlook.
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“It is very important to realise that this is the first research we have done since the withdrawal of the car assemblers,” she explains. “The increase in the number of automotive manufacturers is very encouraging. The other great thing about the research is how optimistic and globally focussed our automotive manufacturers are. There’s reinvention, new ventures and innovation driving the increase in the number of auto manufacturers in Australia.” Yates adds that while Australia remains the core customer base for most manufacturers, 70% of these companies are exporting their products. The combined export revenue within the sector currently sits at $640m, with the US remaining the key export market, ahead of Europe, NZ and the Middle East. The AAAA is an independent national industry association with 2,500 member companies in all categories of the Australian automotive aftermarket. These include manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers of automotive parts and accessories, tools and equipment, as well as providers of vehicle service, repair and modification services in Australia.
“It has been a challenging time for us following Ford, Holden and Toyota leaving Australia, but this landmark research has now shed an important light on the steady growth in the number of companies and the increase in product innovation in our industry,” says Yates proudly. “We are still here, and we are encouraged by the increase in exports and business confidence. These findings are a catalyst for further optimism and growth within automotive manufacturing.” Yates and her colleagues are currently very excited about the AAAA’s new Auto Innovation Centre (AIC), due to open in Mulgrave, southeast Melbourne by the end of 2019. The AIC is a joint initiative to support the development of new automotive aftermarket products by Australian advanced manufacturing businesses, with the Federal Government contributing $3.6m and the Victorian Government $600,000. Businesses using the AIC for R&D activities may also be eligible for various State and Federal Government grants aimed at further stimulating innovation in the sector. “They will have access to services and machines including base OEM (original equipment manufacturer) vehicle data and measurements, 3D scanning and printing, measuring sessions, technology transfer and rapid prototyping,” says Yates. “New vehicles will be on site for manufacturers to design and build prototype products for it, by using the equipment in the AIC.”
Milford Industries – Award-winning designs Milford Industries’ Ult1Mate Next Gen Towbar is a 2019 Good Design Award winner in the automotive and transport product category. Good Design describes the Ult1Mate Next Gen as the new gold standard in towing. Milford won the award for its patented HitchHush end cap, which when coupled with a high-tech, precision-made three-piece design, provides maximum strength, silent operation and failsafe durability. It’s a product of advanced design and manufacture. “This Good Design Award is a great honour for Milford in recognition of our skilled team’s commitment to outstanding design and innovation,” says Greg Spooner, General Manager at Milford Industries. “This adds to Milford’s collection for also winning the Most Innovative Product for the Ult1Mate Next Gen Towbar at this year’s AAAA Auto Aftermarket Expo. We are now looking at the Award’s benefits since the October launch of the Next Gen Towbar to market.” Continued next page
Greg Spooner, General Manager, and Huey Lam, Product Development Manager, at the controls of Milford’s DynaLoad™ testing equipment at Milford Industries.
AMT spoke to two member companies of the AAAA and the APMEC who have been achieving an impressive level of success manufacturing products for the automotive aftermarket: Milford Industries and Harrop Engineering. Lesley Yates, Director – Advocacy, Marketing & Research at the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), and Convenor for the Automotive Products Manufacturers and Exporter Council (APMEC).
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AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT
Milford is best known for its world-renowned Milford Cargo Barrier range. Continued from previous page
Spooner has been at the helm at Milford for the past decade after 30 years in auto retail and wholesale sales and distribution. The company was founded by John Milford Rees 50 years ago and John’s family are still involved in the business as directors and executives. With more than 70 employees within the Milford group, focus is applied to design, testing, manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution. Based in the Adelaide suburb of Camden Park, Milford operates a national network of distributors across Australia and New Zealand, and is also building on international export opportunities. The company is a leader in vehicle load restraint devices and produces equipment within the occupant protection and towing segments to suit all manner of passenger, light commercial, 4WD and sports utility vehicles. It is best known for its world-renowned Milford Cargo Barrier. Spooner explains that Milford’s cargo barriers and towbars have been purchased by vehicle importers, manufacturers and the aftermarket sector. “Milford has been conducting undergraduate research projects on the Next Gen Towbar program, working with engineering students, from Adelaide and Flinders Universities,” says Spooner. “Flowing out of these projects, several of those engineers are now in full time employment at our company. “Along with the research, we have been developing domestic and international patents for these towbars. One of these patents is for the HitchHush noise reduction system, designed to provide a silent tow bar hitch, negating the need for tools, adjustment and fitment hassle.” Spooner downplays the impact that the closures of the major car plants had on the automotive aftermarket. “The auto OEMs departing Australia have not necessarily had a negative effect on the aftermarket sector,” he says. “Business activities have always focussed on this important channel, regardless of whether vehicles are locally sourced or imported. Business has been very busy at Milford. We have a lot of new cargo barriers and towbars to bring to the market.” Milford also runs a NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities)-certified laboratory for conformity assessment and testing of its products and services. The company’s test capability has been significantly bolstered by the recent commissioning of its world-leading DynaLoad dynamic vehicle/towbar testing apparatus. Milford also employs digital 3D scanning, FEA (finite element analysis) high-speed photography, and CAD modelling as part of its development process. “This year, we have also expanded our production site and have installed a significant amount of new equipment including an automated pre-treatment powder coating line,” adds Spooner. “Milford has an ongoing interest in bringing innovative products to market, so keep an eye on our website.”
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Milford’s Ult1Mate Next Gen Towbar was a 2019 Good Design Award winner in the automotive and transport product category.
Harrop Engineering – Supercharging the auto industry As soon as you walk in the front door of Harrop Engineering in Preston, north-east Melbourne, you get a sense of highperformance driving in action. Images of motorsports vehicles, engines and their components are on display. You can even see the first lathe that the founder Len Harrop used when he started the business 64 years ago; today, Len’s grandson Tim Harrop is the company’s Operations Manager. Heath Moore, General Manager at Harrop, provides a tour of Harrop’s high-tech advanced manufacturing site. Employees are busily engaged in setting and operating the twenty-plus Mazak CNC machines distributed around the factory. Several co-ordinate measuring machines are also in operation, verifying product accuracy. The company is currently producing heavy-duty mining vehicle brake components for an industrial customer, while in the Harrop Performance Centre, the team is developing a supercharger for the new Suzuki Jimny SUV, with supercharger testing undertaken in its supercharger and chassis dyne cells. “The auto OEMs use Harrop’s superchargers to achieve fuel economy and performance targets on their high-performance models,” Moore explains. “They are essentially air pumps which deliver more air into the engine for enhanced performance. A supercharger system sells for up to $15,000 in retail stores.” Moore points to images of vehicles on the office wall, including the Toyota HiLux, Holden Commodore and HSV Colorado, BMW and Ford Mustang. “We have done performance upgrades on all of those brands.” Involved mainly in motorsport performance in the past, the company still has its own racing car, the Harrop Toyota 86 BRZ, which won the SA Time Attack 2019 Club Sprint this year. It’s powered by Harrop’s TVS1320 Supercharger System and cooled by Adrad Performance. Moore has always had a passion for all things mechanical and automotive, growing up on the family’s farm in the Hunter Valley. He has a Bachelor of Commerce and has been General Manager at Harrop for 11 years. A long-time AMTIL member, Harrop is part of the Adrad group, an Australian manufacturer, importer and distributor of quality radiators, automotive air conditioning parts and other heat exchange products. Harrop is a modern world-class operation committed to technical excellence in total component design, engineering and manufacturing. The company employs around 60 people at its Preston head office and manufacturing site, with a further 10 staff at its non-ferrous casting facility, plus one person at its US office in Dayton, Ohio.
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Harrop Engineering employs around 60 people at its Preston headquarters, with a further ten staff at its non-ferrous casting facility, and one at its US office in Dayton, Ohio.
As well as superchargers, Harrop’s other main product lines include engine and drive line enhancers, braking and cooling systems. “We export to 34 countries, with the bulk going to America, the Middle East, the UK and Asia,” says Moore. “The 4x4 sector has become an important part of our business and global vehicle platforms are attractive in the USA and the Middle East. One of our recent innovative products is a supercharger kit made for a RAM 1500 Pick-Up Truck. We will sell it locally and export it to the Middle East and USA. “Around 70% of our business is in designing and manufacturing aftermarket products using our IP. The other 30% of products we manufacture for key industrial customers for speciality applications. An example of this: we designed and developed a supercharger system for the Yamaha V6 outboard marine engine for Nizpro Marine, and this increases the engine’s peak performance from 250hp to 450hp.” Harrop’s Open House is an important promotional event in the business’ calendar. Moore explains that it started in 2015 to celebrate the company’s 60-year anniversary, and it has been held annually on a Sunday in October ever since.
A Harrop TVS1320 supercharger kit undergoing testing on the company’s in-house dynamometer.
“It’s a very popular family day for auto enthusiasts to see our latest performance products, participate in the vehicle Show and Shine Awards, plus there’s food trucks, children’s activities and factory tours,” he says. “The gold coin entry donation raises valuable funds for worthy charities’ Camp Quality and Victorian Police Legacy, and the event also helps us connect with the 125,000 people following the brand on social media”. Harrop was not significantly affected by the closures of Holden, Toyota and Ford in Australia, according to Moore: “We saw it coming and had already sufficiently diversified our business. It was also a good opportunity for some companies to reinvent themselves in terms of products and markets. “Harrop continues to grow through successful partnerships and our highly skilled workforce, delivering world-class products. Our development pipeline for supercharger, differential, brake and cooling product is securing our future growth and attracting new global customers to Harrop.” www.aaaa.com.au www.apmec.org.au www.milford-auto.com www.harrop.com.au
Harrop’s General Manager Heath Moore.
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AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT
Rae-Line selects SYSPRO’S ERP solution to improve efficiency, profitability & service Rae-Line, a market leader in the design and manufacture of commercial upholstery for trucks, caravans, sports and safety padding, has chosen SYSPRO to support its digital transformation journey as the business embarks on an ambitious period of growth. The 47-year-old company, based in Kilsyth, Victoria, counts Kenworth Trucks as one of its longest-serving customers and prides itself on how its staff continue to deliver exceptional client service by providing timely solutions to help solve customers’ problems. Rae-Line has been recognised as Kenworth’s ‘Supplier of the Year’ seven times. Brett Vorhauer, Managing Director for Rae-Line says the business has been successful at reactively addressing issues, but that the company is now at a point where employees’ time needs to be freed up to allow them to do more with the limited time they have. Despite a solid customer base, the growth of the company and its customers’ businesses means the organisation needs to progress its digital transformation journey, so that efficiency can be improved via better predictability throughout the supply chain. “Due to customer growth, the business has outgrown our legacy system of relying on manual data collection and requires a more integrated IT system,” says Vorhauer. “Having the support of a systemised ERP solution will help us further service our clients efficiently whilst being able to predict any needs or issues one or two weeks ahead. “This in turn will help boost our profitability, not just in terms of cash flow but also with how an ERP helps replace the less mundane tasks for my staff so they can work on other aspects within the business.” The team at Rae-Line will be able to automate some manual processes such as material requirements planning, capacity planning and digitise customer schedules, ensuring staff are working on the latest information. Current systems, such as payroll and CRM, will be integrated with SYSPRO’s software and cashflow will also be improved by reducing the need to hold more materials on site. Having access to a comprehensive dashboard will help the management see whether production is going to plan. While the decision to purchase a new ERP was collectively made by Rae-Line’s key decision-makers, the entire senior management team is looking forward to overcoming several business challenges by being able to make better decisions with the data the business will be collecting through the SYSPRO ERP system. Of the ERP providers who participated in the sales process, SYSPRO was a stand-out choice due to the company’s detailed knowledge and its complementary partnership approach. “SYSPRO’s approach and willingness to help its customers is the same culture we have at Rae-Line,” Vorhauer adds. “Their team is
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an ongoing partner in our business. It’s no different to my banker or insurance broker – these are people we rely on for their expertise in our business and to help us continue to improve,” In addition to the cost and efficiency benefits, the wellbeing of employees is equally important for Rae-Line. Vorhauer believes the ERP system will help to reduce stress in the workplace, because an estimated 70-80 staff members will have more certainty in what they’re doing since they can see problems more clearly and be better prepared to deal with them. “Rae-Line and SYSPRO share the same business philosophy,” says Rob Stummer, CEO of SYSPRO Australasia. “We put the customer first and take pride in delivering exceptional customer experiences. We are committed to partnering with Rae-Line to enable them to better respond to the challenges of a rapidly-evolving customerfacing business.” Using the best technology to remove paper-based records, and to make the information flow as immediate, relevant and accurate as possible is an IT strategy that works for Rae-Line. After the current initial phase of the project is complete, Rae-Line will work with SYSPRO’S engineering team to actualise the design process. The project is currently ahead of schedule and expected to officially go live by April 2020. www.syspro.com www.rae-line.com.au
AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT
HSV aims for growth through digitalisation collaboration with Siemens, AMGC Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, visited HSV’s facility in Clayton, Victoria, on 14 November to announce a high-tech software collaboration to help HSV expand production lines and tap into global exports for its performance vehicles. The collaboration brings together HSV, the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) and Siemens. Enabled by AMGC’s project fund, it will see HSV implementing Siemens’ state-of-the-art product lifecycle management software. “What’s so exciting about this announcement is that it demonstrates the benefits of going digital in all types of industries,” said Minister Andrews. “By increasing the digitalisation of HSV’s manufacturing process, they expect at least a 20% increase in performance. This will in turn create more demand for the local supply chain.” “Embracing digital technology allows Australian manufacturers to compete on value, not on cost, which is so important to their ongoing success and will allow them to grow and create new local jobs.” Also present at the announcement were Tim Jackson, CEO of HSV: Jeff Connolly, Chairman and CEO of Siemens Australia Pacific; and Dr Jens Goennemann, Managing Director of AMGC. Jackson said the introduction of digital processes will significantly help the team at HSV. “Right now we have around 350 people, with one of our lines operating 24 hours a day (three shifts) to keep up with demand,” he said. “The remanufacturing process requires significantly more work to the vehicles than when we were producing the Commodore. This software will make a big difference to the flow of information across
our organisation and will connect everyone through a centralised digital thread.” The software, known as Teamcenter, connects people and processes across functional areas, with a digital thread for innovation. People across the organisation can take part in the product development process more easily than before. “Each new product adds 350-600 new components,” added Jackson. “This high-tech software will support our new model portfolio. To bring these new vehicles to life we have nearly twice the engineers, and five times the manufacturing team than when we rolled the last Commodore off the line.” The update will see HSV set the benchmark for other small-tomedium enterprises looking to digitalise their production capabilities and scale up. AMGC and HSV will subsequently share their feedback with the public. “All manufacturers can become advanced manufacturers given the right conditions and willingness to invest,” said Dr Goennemann. “It’s not what they make but how they make it that makes them competitive. I’m really proud to see a company like HSV, with such great Australian heritage, adopt digitalisation in their manufacturing facility. It sets a great example of what is possible for the many thousands of Australian SME manufacturers. www.hsv.com.au
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AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT
MaxiTRANS ensures seamless data transfer through DataSuite When Australia’s leading road transport equipment supplier MaxiTRANS decided to replace its outdated IT systems with a single enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Central Innovation’s DataSuite interface was able to solve a key issue – that of ensuring seamless data transfer between its engineering and production departments. In addition to designing and producing trailers for general freight, temperaturecontrolled freight and bulk transport, MaxiTRANS manufactures rigid truck bodies, and supplies parts and consumables through its MaxiPARTS division. As such, it is a longtime user of SolidWorks and has been utilising SolidWorks PDM to assist in product management for almost a decade. Over this time an ongoing relationship was established with Central Innovation – whose development team was able to assist with custom-built tools to help expedite data delivery of Excel files into its production department. This laid the groundwork for Central Innovation’s in-depth involvement in ‘Project Transform’, which MaxiTRANS initiated in 2014 to replace 13 legacy IT systems and its now-unsupported core IT system with a new JD Edwards ERP system and other integrated systems across its business. The aim was to improve operational efficiencies by streamlining its business processes and practices while reducing operational risk. “Central Innovation had proven that they had the expertise and the capacity to assist us – the trust was there,” says MaxiTRANS Managing Director and CEO Dean Jenkins. “When the time came for Project Transform, we were confident they would be able to provide a solution to seamlessly manage our data transfer between SolidWorks, SolidWorks PDM and the JD Edwards ERP system.” MaxiTRANS has several manufacturing sites across Australia and in New Zealand. Due to the high level of trailer customisation required to meet customer needs, one of the challenges in implementing the ERP system was the sheer amount of data required to be transferred from engineering to production. “The obvious short-term solution, which was to manually transfer data to the ERP system, would have resulted in a massive workload and the potential to introduce human error into the process,” says Jenkins. “This would have impacted on our production schedules and made it impossible to meet our Project Transform ‘Go Live’ deadline.” Central Innovation’s solution was built around DataSuite and its Production Information Orchestrator (PIO) – an
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advanced visual interface for the management of production information data. In practical terms, DataSuite takes the data from SolidWorks and SolidWorks PDM and then converts it into a format which can be manipulated and easily read by the JD Edwards ERP. “With DataSuite we are able to transfer data from our engineering to our production departments without any doubling-up or the need for manual overwriting,” Jenkins affirms. Central Innovation’s development team worked closely with MaxiTRANS Engineering Lead – Technical Services Joel Balmer and IT Manager Philip Brokenshire to understand MaxiTRANS’ exact requirements. A ‘proof of concept’ was subsequently developed in order to showcase how the seamless data transfer could be achieved. Once approved, specified features were delivered to MaxiTRANS on a fortnightly basis, to permit the engineering and IT departments the opportunity to test and identify issues as the project progressed. The result of this was that if anything delivered was contrary to MaxiTRANS’ expectations, the project would potentially only be impacted by a maximum of two weeks. “Given that the delivery timeframe was relatively short, we were very pleased to see how efficient the workflow was as the project progressed,” Jenkins says. “We had a smooth learning curve because we
were able to familiarise ourselves with the project feature by feature.” The positive here was that at the official conclusion of development, all components had been tested and MaxiTRANS could immediately start exploring DataSuite’s full potential. At this point, Central Innovation undertook a formal deployment and set-up, walking MaxiTRANS staffers through the use of the DataSuite solution and ensuring that all elements were understood. The new system went live in October 2018, with DataSuite having removed the need for time-consuming manual data transfer and the concomitant risk of human error – ensuring MaxiTRANS was able to utilise the JD Edwards ERP to its full potential and extract maximum value. “We fully expect that removing our reliance on multiple data systems will enhance our competitive edge,” says Balmer. “The lack of easy access to data and associated time delays obviously impacts on productivity, which was a key driver for Project Transform. “Now we can go from engineering to production faster and more efficiently. It’s still early days since implementation, but already some 1000-plus trailers have been produced using the new process. I personally have been very happy with my dealings with the Central Innovation development team – they’ve gone above and beyond on numerous occasions.” www.centralinnovation.com www.maxitrans.com
AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT
Volgren celebrates 5,000th bus out of Dandenong Volgren, Australia’s largest bus body builder, has celebrated the roll-out of the 5,000th bus built at its manufacturing headquarters in Dandenong, south-east Melbourne. The milestone vehicle, an Optimus Low-Floor Route Bus, was handed over to operator and longtime Volgren partner Ventura Bus Lines (Ventura) on 14 November during a ceremony attended by staff from both companies. Also part of the event was the first bus ever manufactured by Volgren, the VG001, which is owned by Ventura. Volgren Chief Executive Thiago Deiro said it was a great achievement for the company and that seeing the two buses together demonstrated just what an emphasis the company has placed on quality over four decades. “This is a proud moment in our company’s long history,” said Deiro. “You don’t produce this many vehicles over this many years without dedicating yourself to manufacturing excellence and to providing operators with buses they can trust. This first Volgren bus – with more than 850,000km on the odometer and still going strong – is symbolic of what we have built our reputation on: reliability, AMTIL_Outlined_V2.pdf 6/9/19 quality, innovation and long-term 1value for
our partners. It was the first aluminium bus ever built in Australia.” Deiro added that it was fitting that Ventura, a business based in Dandenong and connected to Volgren for decades, should receive the bus: “Our bases in Perth and Brisbane are superb manufacturing facilities, but Dandenong is the engine room of Volgren’s manufacturing operations. In fact, the suburb of Dandenong is one of Victoria’s great manufacturing hubs. Ventura is an iconic figure in Victoria’s public transport sector and in 2024 will celebrate their centenary. Every year they carry more than 32 million customers across Melbourne and we’re thrilled that they have our first and now our 5,000th bus.” Volgren’s relationship with 11:09 Ventura spans 40 years. It has built more
than 250 vehicles for Ventura and in 2018 announced a fouryear contract extension with the Victorian operator. Accepting the bus from Volgren, Ventura’s Managing Director Andrew Cornwall said the company was delighted to be a part of such a momentous moment. “This is a huge achievement for Volgren and we’re pleased to be a part of it, but not just for symbolic reasons,” he remarked. “The Optimus low-floor bus is widely considered one of the best vehicles of its type in Australia and we’re always enthusiastic to bring another one into our fleet.” Deiro said the Ventura-Volgren partnership would continue to strengthen thanks to a shared confidence that one party can always expect value from the other: “The value we provide to Ventura comes from an unrivalled whole-of-life bus cost. We are proud to offer a bus that, with its advanced engineering and unique CO-BOLT design, delivers the lowest cost of life savings to Ventura. www.volgren.com.au
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AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT
Electric utility truck launched in Australia The ZED70 is the first electric ute engineered in Australia for use in the harsh climates found in the mining and agribusiness industries. The fully electric vehicle is based on the Landcruiser 79 series platform and promises a range of up to 350km. The pickup was developed in Adelaide, South Australia, over the past year by Dave Mitchell and Tim Possingham, who both have extensive experience in motorsport and original equipment manufacturing (OEM). They set up Zero Automotive to address the growing demand and fleet targets for zero emission vehicles, especially in the mining and agribusiness industries. Possingham said they didn’t plan to massproduce the ZED70 but would rather supply commissioned vehicles that met specific industry needs. “This vehicle is a bespoke vehicle that we designed to suit the application whether it be mining, agribusiness, or local and state governmental agencies,” he said. The South Australian company specifically worked with mining and energy companies to understand their vehicle fleet needs, such as zero emissions in underground mines and the elimination of diesel fuel on sites. “It’s a priority for those types of clients to reduce their emissions and also clean up the environment that some of the workers are working within,” said Possingham. “Diesel particulates in particular, are
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hazardous for the people to breathe in, so in a confined environment, where there’s very large costs involved in ventilation, removing the source of noxious fumes is it certainly something that can have a shorter payback (for the ute).” The ZED70 is already Australian design rules compliant and road legal and will sell for less than D$200,000. “It’s available in 20 to 120 kilowatt hour battery packs, with modular battery packs in it, and has a 700 Newton meter electric motor in it,” said Possingham. “That has more torque than the factory turbo diesel V8 that’s normally found in this Landcruiser 79 series platform.” According to Possingham, advances in technology meant the cost of the vehicle would reduce over time and also allow Zero Automotive to customise each EV for the client – such as implementing automatic speed limiting for mining sites – to add value. “Advances in battery technology, charging tech and peripheral tech, such as geo-fencing, telematics and semi autonomous operation, have reached a sweet spot,” he said. “A vehicle that’s got low maintenance and low running costs also has total cost of ownership benefits to industry.” The ZED70 is available in wagon, dual cab, single cab and troop carrier configurations
and has regenerative braking, high voltage air conditioning and heating. The ZED70 ute has been undergoing trials by the parks department of the City of Adelaide, while a major mining company is also testing its regenerative braking systems on the steep and long inclines of its pit mine. South Australia has traditionally been a powerhouse in automotive manufacturing, being home to both Holden and Mitsubishi in Australia until they shut down over the past decade. The ZED70 utility is just one of a handful of new vehicles being made in Adelaide, including the Brabham supercar, which Possingham also has an interest in. The EV ute will be built in Adelaide with parts sourced from all over the world. “The vehicle integration and componentry fit has all been engineered out of Edwardstown in South Australia,” Possingham said. Possingham, who runs the Adelaide Motorsport Festival and Adelaide Rally, said that though he loved internal combustion engines, electric vehicles made more sense now that limited range had been nearly been eliminated with better batteries. “It’s hard to find a negative, except for something like cost at the moment, which is changing,” he said. “As these things are addressed the shift will be swift and will be widespread and we can see that it’s
AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT
3D Printing Functional
Metal Parts happening now and it’s happening very, very fast. For many organizations the time to make the decision to electrify their fleet is happening right now because people are demanding greener solutions “It’s unquestionable that it’s time to reduce carbon emissions from our vehicle fleets.”
New battery technology could slash e-vehicle costs South Australian researchers from the University of Adelaide have secured a $1m research contract with a Chinese battery manufacturer to develop the new technology and bring it to market within 12 months. The patented design uses non-toxic zinc and manganese, two metals that are abundant in Australia, and incombustible aqueous electrolyte to produce a battery with a high-energy density. The researchers estimate the cost of this new electrolytic Zn-Mn battery to be less than US$ 10 per kilowatt hour compared with US$ 300 per kilowatt hour for current Li-ion batteries, US$ 72 per kilowatt hour for Ni–Fe batteries and US$ 48 per kilowatt hour for Lead–acid batteries. The battery is designed by Dr Dongliang Chao and Professor Shi-Zhang Qiao from the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials. The high-energy, safe battery opens up markets where the battery weight, size and safety are essential factors, including automotive and aerospace, and domestic and commercial buildings, and grid-scale energy storage. Dr Chao said that, though there were other Zn-Mn batteries on the market such as the dry cell, they were not rechargeable or recyclable and did not present high-energy density due to a different chemical reaction mechanism. “I can imagine this battery being used on all vehicle types from small scooters to even diesel electric trains. Also in homes that need batteries to store solar power, or
even large solar/wind farms,” he said. “With more sustainable energy being produced – such as through wind and solar farms – storing this energy in batteries in a safe, non-expensive and environmentally sound way is becoming more urgent but current battery materials – including lithium, lead and cadmium – are expensive, hazardous and toxic. “Our new electrolytic battery technology uses the non-toxic zinc and manganese and incombustible aqueous electrolyte to produce a battery with a high energy density.” Dr Chao and Professor Qiao began working on the project in South Australia about 12 months ago and patented the technology at the beginning of this year. Chinese battery manufacturer Zhuoyue Power New Energy, whose current batteries are lead-based, has committed $1m to develop the new technology. The ongoing research work and initial product development will be conducted in Adelaide with manufacturing expected to take place in Australia and China.
Markforged combines Metal Injection Molding (MIM) technology with a unique 3D printing platform
Dr Chao said the project would combine the new electrolytic battery technology and the company’s battery assembling technology. “In addition, the battery uses basic materials and simple manufacturing processes so will be much cheaper to produce and easier to recycle than existing batteries of comparable energy density,” Dr Chao said. Dr Chao obtained his PhD from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and worked as a researcher at University of California, Los Angeles, before joining the University of Adelaide in South Australia last year. South Australia is home to the world’s largest lithium-ion battery at Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm in the state’s Mid North. It is also looming as a hub for electric vehicles and hosts the World Solar Challenge, the world’s most famous solar car race. www.zeroautomotive.com.au www.adelaide.edu.au
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AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT
Improving safety and functionality in 3D printed automotive parts Metal additive manufacturing, or 3D printing as it better known, is set to revolutionise the automotive sector, bringing numerous benefits, as well as innovations in part design and processing. Already examples are emerging, such as the 3D-printed titanium brake caliper for the Bugatti Chiron. Produced as a single unit from titanium through the layering process in the build chamber of an SLM 500 multi-laser machine, it features a tensile strength of 1,250 N/sqmm and a material density over 99.7%. On testing the parts, Bugatti found the 3D-printed components sustained strength and retained stiffness amid the high temperatures witnessed at the speeds of more than 375km/hour achieved by these highperformance sports cars.
When BMW redesigned the folding mechanism of the BMW i8 Roadster and built it in the metal-powder bed fusion chamber of an SLM Solutions laser machine, it found the part to be 10 times stiffer than the plastic injection moulded counterpart. It was also 44% lighter as it was built from AlSi10Mg. Traditionally the folding mechanism of the i8 Roadster’s soft top is cumbersome, loading the car with unwanted additional weight, and taking up boot space. The new folding mechanism reduces all of these unnecessary issues. BMW also optimised the design specifications so that the part can now be produced in greater quantities, since the reduction in support structures enables stacking of 238 parts per platform, realising a significant economic cost saving.
organisations – EDAG Engineering, voestalpine ADM Centre and Simufact Engineering – in the redevelopment of a vehicle hood hinge with stringent specifications and the requirement for weight reduction. The exacting safety and functionality demands imposed on engine hoods demonstrate how complex the parts actually are. The response of the hood hinge is critical in the event of a pedestrian accident, as within a fraction of a second the hinge extends the distance between impact and engine components by raising the hood, thereby reducing pedestrian injury. However, complex kinematics are involved to trigger this instantaneous response. In the past this has entailed the use of around 40 components, intensive assembly and high tooling costs, due to the hinge systems being manufactured by stamping, casting or forging. Moreover, hinges made from sheet metal, for example, weigh around 1,500g each, adding considerable weight to every vehicle. The redevelopment team applied bionic design, or biomimetic engineering, a process of adapting designs from nature that feature complex geometries best implemented in a selective laser melting machine. SLM Solutions systems feature multi-laser options, biodirectional recoating and closed-loop powder handling for safety with increased build speeds for complex and dense metal parts. Implementing bionic design allowed the LightHinge+ engineers to develop an important additional function of predetermined breaking points on the structure. They were also able to integrate the connections for the gas pressure springs, along with mounts for the windshield wipers. Aside from these enhanced features and improved safety, initial topology optimisation of the design for minimal material requirements enabled a weight saving of 52% compared with the sheet metal construction, enabling the team to meet the specifications and a produce a better part. The Lighthinge+ component (left), and the original sheet metal design (right)
Dedicated teams from SLM Solutions, with strong R&D applications knowledge and service experience, work closely with companies on specific customer development projects. One such project, the LightHinge+ project, demonstrates not just the usual benefits of 3D printing in terms of weight reduction and efficiencies, but also addressed the safety requirements of parts when vehicles become involved in a collision. The LightHinge+ project combined three
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The LightHinge+ project, undertaken by working closely with a team from SLM Solutions, provides just one example of the impact of 3D printing on automotive part manufacturing. Australian companies can now access a team of engineers to support individual customer project development, located both in Sydney and Lübeck, Germany. www.raymax.com.au
AUTOMOTIVE & ROAD TRANSPORT
Proven tapping performance on the automotive world stage Australian-designed and manufactured taps for the automotive components industry are making their presence known in global markets, according to Jeff Boyd, Key Markets Manager of Sutton Tools. Since expanding overseas, Sutton Tools has been able to continue to manufacture high-end tools here in Australia because we have access to global markets. As a family business founded in 1917, that is important to us, as it is to our many local customers. It also means we’re competing with global tool manufacturers on their own turf – so we need to hold our own and prove it as well. This is why we put extensive time and effort into testing our tools in our R&D Lab. To compete, our products must offer a technical advantage over their competitors: longer tool life, faster cutting speeds, smoother loads or another measure of value to manufacturers. An example is our range of tapping solutions for automotive applications. Our taps for forming threads in steel forgings are used in components such as crank shafts, cam shafts, connecting rods, steering and suspension parts for both through and blind holes. We have engineered these taps for high-volume thread production, so they need exceptional tool life, without chips to deal with. In designing our thread-forming tap we optimised its leadin to last longer. Its lobular profile was also expertly engineered and protected with a TiCN coating with the substrate HSS-grade powder metallurgy, offering higher hardness and extra toughness. The result is the creation of stronger threads in steel forgings with a smoother thread surface finish. The taps’ engineering enables them to be driven at higher speeds for shorter cycle times, and without the complication of chips or swarf. The proof was in the pudding: on testing a M14 x 1.5 at a cutting speed of 13 metres/min to a depth of 40mm, it was able to achieve 1,000 holes and threads, compared with just 800 by one competitor and only 300 by another. We bring our engineering design and technologies to other tapping applications in automotive component production. Every material, machine and component design has its own special characteristics, so requires special additions to our existing or traditional type taps. As every application is different, we can also customise our tools for our customers’ precise requirements, and can supply them with or without coolant ducts. Some designs we have innovated bring significant productivity benefits. Our HSSE forming taps for low-carbon pressed steel are specifically designed for vehicle oil filters, and offer 65% more tool life than a comparable product. Meanwhile, our carbide forming taps for aluminium alloy components such as engine blocks and gearboxes have been designed to minimise lubrication to maximise results. In addition to tapping, Sutton Tools also has high-performance solutions for drilling and milling applications, notably for aerospace materials. www.suttontools.com
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Dr Bronwyn Evans was appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of Engineers Australia in October. As the peak body for engineering in this country marks the 100th anniversary of its foundation in 1919, she spoke to AMT Magazine about her plans for the organisation. AMT: Engineers Australia is celebrating its centenary this year. Tell us a bit about the organisation, its history, and its current position. Bronwyn Evans: Engineers Australia is the peak body and “voice” of the engineering profession. Established in 1919, and constituted by Royal Charter in 1938, our purpose is to advance the science and practice of engineering for the benefit of the community. Engineering plays a critical role in the lives of all Australians, and Engineers Australia has used the centenary celebrations to highlight the value of engineering to the community and to focus on emerging technologies and the future of the profession. Our Centenary culminated in November with the World Engineers Convention, which was being held in Australia for the first time. The event, co-hosted by Engineers Australia and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, was an opportunity for attendees to build networks with leaders in global engineering practice, all while enjoying the natural beauty and quality of life for which Australia is world-renowned. The convention welcomed a diverse array of national and international speakers under the theme Engineering a Sustainable World: The Next 100 Years. AMT: What sort of activities does Engineers Australia engage in to meet its objectives. BE: Our organisation has around 4,000 office bearers and 310 staff, who work together to provide a wealth of services. These include: • Accrediting Australian engineering programs at universities. • Maintaining the largest register for engineering, the National Engineering Register (NER), which currently includes almost 21,400 engineers. • Credentialing members as Chartered Engineers, in accordance with international benchmarks. There are now a record 25,000 chartered members. • Delivering programs to inspire school students to become the next generation of engineers. • Advancing engineering knowledge through our nine discipline-based Colleges and 30 specialist Technical Societies. • Delivering professional development to the engineering profession. • Serving approximately 100,000 members who live in 120 countries around the world.
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• Representing Australia in the International Engineering Alliance and developing agreements for global professional mobility. • Speaking as the number-one voice of the engineering profession in Australia. • Assessing around 16,000 migrant skills applications on behalf of the Australian government. AMT: What is the make-up of your current membership? And in what ways might your members be engaging in the manufacturing sector? BE: Our membership covers everyone from undergraduate engineering students and newly graduated engineers, through to mid-career engineers and senior leaders of the engineering profession, as well as people allied to the profession. The composition of our membership is split across these broad areas as follows: 40,000 students and graduates; 48,500 members; 7,500 Fellows; and 300 Affiliates and Companions. Our members are active in the manufacturing sector, including in areas such as medical devices and supply chains of all types. AMT: What do you see as the biggest issues facing engineering in this country? BE: Some of the challenges for the profession include creating the engineers of the future, with the right skills and competency profiles for industries and needs that currently don’t exist; retaining engineers in the profession; and creating a diverse and inclusive industry. Some of the opportunities that we have as engineers is to be part of delivering products and services in niche areas of manufacturing, such as CEA Technologies, which not only makes radar systems for our Navy but sells them to the US. As the Australian population ages, technology provided by engineers will become more and more important in advancing health delivery and containing costs of the overall healthcare system, as well as offering automation of many services that will support active assisted living for the ageing population. AMT: What can government be doing to support it? BE: There are multiple policy areas that will support engineering to continue to contribute positively to the Australian community. These include: • Education policy. • Tax policy such as through the R&D Tax Incentive.
“My ambition is that we are best-in-class in the interactions that we have with members, with potential members and with the broader community. My ambition is that we inspire young people to understand how fantastic it is to be an engineer.” • Migration policy, such as skilled migration. • Transport and health policies. • Innovation policy. AMT: With a particular focus on the manufacturing industry, how do you see engineering’s role evolving over the next 10 to 20 years? BE: In all areas of technology, the introduction of wireless sensor networks, Internet of Things, Artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a part. Engineering will be an important contributor to implementing these innovations and helping manufacturing to capitalise on them. That means the role and skills of engineers will evolve and grow as the demands of the industry evolve and change. AMT: Tell us about your professional background prior to this role. BE: I am electrical engineer with more than 35 years of experience in sectors as diverse as power generation and distribution, to medical device design and manufacturing. Specifically, I have had roles in transmission line construction and substation maintenance, steel production and mill maintenance, engineering education and research in my PhD years, medical device design, manufacture and quality management systems (QMS) at Cochlear, and leading a major business unit in Asia for GE. And most recently I was the CEO of Standards Australia. AMT: You’ve recently come into the job? What are your ambitions for Engineers Australia? BE: At Engineers Australia our purpose is to “advance the science and practice of engineering for the benefit of the community”. And we will do that by delivering on our critical strategic goals. These are to: • Create tomorrow’s engineers. • Uphold professional standards. • Provide a professional home for life. • Be the trusted voice of the profession. My ambition is that we are best-in-class in the interactions that we have with members, with potential members and with the broader community. My ambition is that we inspire young people to understand how fantastic it is to be an engineer. My ambition is that we support engineers who have both traditional and nontraditional career paths. And when we can do this, we will be true to our purpose and contribute to all sectors, and especially the manufacturing sector. www.engineersaustralia.org.au
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FORMING & FABRICATION
Integra Systems continues evolution with Salvagnini panel bender As a company committed to innovation and with a proven track record of staying ahead of the field, Integra Systems – based in Melbourne’s industrial northern suburbs – always has an eye trained firmly on the future. For Paul, Erika and Russell Hughes, as well as the extended Integra family, the next stage of the company’s evolution began with the recent delivery of a bespoke Salvagnini P2lean automated panel bender. An ideal complement to the company’s existing infrastructure, Paul Hughes, Managing Director at Integra, explains that one of the biggest advantages the P2 delivers is a boost to his business’ design capabilities.
capability, it enables us to really get much closer to being able to make something that matches the capability of our design. On this type of machine, we can achieve a lot more detailed and precision folding that hasn’t been possible before.”
“Most of our customers want something that’s functional but also aesthetically pleasing,” Paul expounds. “Sometimes, though, you’re compromised with sheet metal work in what you can actually achieve in terms of aesthetics because of the limitations of what you can fold. Essentially, we needed a lot more capacity in metal folding, because that’s a critical part of what we do, and we wanted something that was different to what we already had in terms of conventional CNC press brakes.
Training at the Salvagnini Academy
“Most of our jobs now require design and prototyping. The P2 also needed to be as much of a product development tool as it was a production tool. It had to be something that was as good for oneoffs as it was for production runs.” Integra’s strong alliance with the defence industry, and its commitment to the record build-up of Australia’s defence capability, qualified Integra for a Federal Government grant to assist with the purchase. The team at Integra have been vocal in expressing their gratitude to the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC ) for providing this grant funding through the Sovereign Capability Development Fund. In the Salvagnini P2, Paul is confident Integra has found the sweet spot that meets the company’s exacting, contemporary manufacturing requirements. “It’s just a completely different way of bending,” he says. “A lot of bends that weren’t achievable on a press brake with conventional tooling are possible for us now. Because we’ve got the design
As part of the investment in the machine, Paul and Integra’s Design Integration Manager Steven Parker were invited to attend the Salvagnini training academies in Austria and Italy. And while, from the outside, it might have seemed a ‘tough’ part of their jobs, Paul says, as a learning experience, the trip to the Academy was invaluable. “In buying the machine, part of the agreement was to go over and do some training,” continues Paul. “It was a really hands-on training experience. They’d present some ideas to us about interesting techniques that you can do with the machine, and then they would show us videos and how you would go about doing that. Then we’d go out into the factory where they set up a machine exactly the same as ours in their own facility that we could then actually program and see the part running.” The first half of the week-long trip consisted of touring through Salvagnini Austria to gain further knowledge of programming and folding methods. The second half of the journey saw them travel to Sarego, Italy, were they visited Salvagnini’s second factory. While there, Paul and Steven were taken to some local factories to experience Salvagnini’s automatic material loading towers. Suffice to say, both Paul and Steve have returned to Australia armed with new techniques and progressive ways to work with sheet metal, which is already being reflected in Integra’s new designs. “With such a complicated machine, we wanted to be sure that we could tap into the gurus who really know the machine backwards,” The new Salvagnini P2lean Panel Bender in Integra System’s facility in Broadmeadows.
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FORMING & FABRICATION
Paul Hughes, Managing Director at Integra Systems, with the new machine.
admits Paul. “So when we start pushing the boundaries of the machine, we know we’ve got the support there from an applications and programming point of view to be able to do what we need to do. “We were working alongside guys who are there, basically, to create applications that have never been done before, for the purpose of demonstrating the intricate capabilities of the machine. We had a list of techniques that we’d pre-prepared in advance that we wanted to learn about as well, so it was a great opportunity to get inside their heads, to understand their methodology behind bending, and what they had in mind when they designed the P2, so we could start programming around how they’ve designed the machine. “With a new machine, when everything’s new, you kind of treat it with kid gloves. But the Academy visit gave us the confidence that – within reason, of course – you can get in there and really try some really creative stuff.”
Putting the machine to work With the machine up and running at Integra’s Broadmeadows factory, the company’s design and production team is now moving into the next phase of product development assisted by the P2. “At the moment, we’re converting stuff we’ve already completed onto the panel folder,” explains Paul. “Going forward, we want to look at how we can improve our products, how we can make them much more functional, and drive a higher level of quality and aesthetics.” Integra staff training on the Salvagnini is also on the table since Paul and Steve’s positive experiences in Italy and Austria. As part of the next step in the process, Integra is now multi-skilling its production team, so they can be moved around the manufacturing facility to where they’re most needed at the time, rather than just focusing on any one particular process. The human touch is always important to Integra’s design ethos, but Paul is still very excited by the productivity improvements that the P2 can deliver. “With this machine, the skill is in the programming,” he says. “The machine does all the same tool setups automatically. It will fold everything from half a millimetre up to three millimetres with no operator intervention in terms of tooling change. “In the past, where you might have needed 12 components joined together to make up a single, more complicated component, you can actually do the whole thing in one part on this machine. With the
design capability, we can really reduce our part count and assembly time, so it improves productivity and drives a shorter cycle time.” Kit production is also an avenue the Salvagnini P2 opens the door to for Integra Systems. Paul believes the efficiency gains the machine can deliver will boost the organisation’s output significantly, which means the investment in the P2 really pays for itself. “Instead of doing a conventional production batch where we might do 100 of one part and then 100 of another part and then 200 of another part or whatever, we can do a kit which might have four different parts in it,” he says. “We can do one of each part and then assemble those, so it feeds straight into an assembly line, meaning it doesn’t have to be large batch manufacture. It really enables a whole degree of flexibility.” The time spent with Salvagnini in Europe also provided Steven and Paul with some insights into their partners as an organisation. The Salvagnini teams welcomed the two Australians with open arms. Paul and Steven were impressed by the personal ‘boutique feel’ of the company, which mirrors the kind of experience Integra endeavours to provide customers. It was these less tangible benefits that left a definite impression on Paul and leaves him keen to consult with his Italian partners on other machinery and tech upgrades in the future: “We really got to the right people, and the informal nature of the training meant that we got to understand a lot about the culture of the company, and how they go about things. Owning such a sophisticated piece of equipment wasn’t such a daunting thing when you got to know that you really had great support behind you. “Integra’s very much a family business,” Paul adds. “And a lot of our customers have got that family feel to them. Even though they partner with big businesses, a lot of local Australian companies we deal with have really got a good culture, and are very family valuesorientated businesses.” “It was the same with Salvagnini – even though they’re quite a large company, it didn’t feel like they were just a big, mass-produced machine tool builder. Our visit was a real personalised visit to them. Down to just eating in the lunchroom with the production guys, the overall presentation and cleanliness of the factory… It had a vibe to it that everyone who worked there really cared. So that was really good to know as well.” www.machineryforum.com.au www.integrasystems.com.au
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FORMING & FABRICATION
Aztech Cutting Solutions - Smart manufacturing with TECHNI Waterjet When Aaron Chambers opened up Aztech Cutting Solutions back in 2008, he knew he wanted his shop to be more diverse than other cutting businesses. That’s why he researched different waterjet manufacturers and came to rest on TECHNI Waterjet. “It was a pretty easy choice for me,” says Aaron. “I looked at all my options and decided I wanted to go with an Australian-made machine as I knew the quality of the TECHNI machines was world class. It also helped that the TECHNI head office was local, so if we needed any support, the guys were very close. “I started the business back in 2008 as I thought there was a gap in the market for a waterjet cutting job shop here in the area. At the time I didn’t really know which way the business would go, but I was confident that we could build a strong business providing a quality service. Eleven years later, we now have a total of six TECHNI Waterjet machines – eight cutting heads, running 10 hours a day.” Soon after he opened Aztech Cutting Solutions and the business began to grow, Aaron knew he needed more support. That’s when his brother Warrick Chambers came on board to assist with sales and project management. Since then, their company has taken off. In 2017 the company moved into a new, purpose-built 1,000sqm factory in Campbellfield, Victoria. After installing four machines, they had outgrown the space, so in August of this year, the team decided to expand by opening up a second location in Dandenong South. “We took lease of another 1,000sqm facility and put two more TECHNI Waterjet machines in,” says Aaron. “These new machines are 4,000mm x 2,000mm PAC60 set-ups, giving the new site a lot of versatility when it comes to our cutting options. Both these machines are now up and running, and we definitely have the room for more. Maybe next year.” Aaron and Warrick are continually looking for different ways to increase their business while still keeping costs down. That is the main reason they looked into adding solar panels on their building. “When we purchased the solar system, we had only just moved into our new facility a couple of months earlier,” Aaron explains. “At the time, we were only running the two waterjets, but we also had ordered our new six-metre TECHNI machine, which was due to arrive in a month’s time. My brother Warrick and I are always looking at ways we can improve the business, both environmentally and financially. By adding the 231 solar panels on our roof, this gave us the ability to ease the load on our electricity demand, consequently improving in these areas.” Aztech Cutting Solutions today runs a total of six TECHNI Waterjet machines.
Aztech Cutting Solutions owners/directors Aaron and Warrick Chambers.
Not only are the savvy business owners lowering their electricity bill with solar panels, but they also installed TECHNI’s Quantum NXT ESP66 electric servo pump, which is 60% more efficient than standard hydraulic intensifier pumps. Aztech Cutting Solutions had been accustomed to operating with standard hydraulic intensifier on its first waterjet machine, but when the team swapped out its old equipment with the innovative new technology of the Quantum NXT, their savings continued to increase. “With the use of the solar panels coupled with the energy savings from the Quantum NXT, we estimate that we’ll be saving anywhere from $12,000 to $16,000 per year on electricity,” says Aaron. Aztech Cutting Solutions’ slogan is ‘We only cut everything’, and this is clear to see when you walk into the company’s Campbellfield workshop. On the large 6,000mm x 3,000mm twin head cutting machine, they’re cutting a 6m sheet of 50mm Bissalloy steel. On the next 3,600mm x 1,830mm 2D machine they’re cutting 2mm brass, while on the smaller 3,000mm x 1,500mm five-axis machine, they’re cutting 20mm marble. Finally on the 6,000mm x 3,000mm twin-head, five-axis machine they’re cutting 6m 6061 aluminium sheets. “The PAC60 Five Axis Cutting Head has added another arm to our business, which has opened doors to a variety of different customers,” Aaron adds. Forward-thinking, hard work, and outstanding customer service have paid off for Aaron and Warrick. Endless cutting possibilities and dedication to excellence are what set this business apart from others in the cutting industry, making the team at Aztech Cutting Solutions true industry leaders “It’s never a boring day here at Aztech Cutting Solutions,” says Aaron. “We’re often called upon to cut some weird and wonderful jobs for someone. We have customers all around the country and due to the size of our machines, we’re able to cut some pretty big stuff, which is always challenging.” www.techniwaterjet.com www.aztechcuttingsolutions.com.au
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FORMING & FABRICATION
Yawei pressbrakes provide growth opportunities for JC Butko Based in Wodonga, Victoria, JC Butko Engineering Pty Ltd recently decided to upgrade its workshop’s capacity with the acquisition of two new Yawei pressbrakes supplied by Applied Machinery. JC Butko Engineering was established in 1976 by John and Carolyn Butko. Employing 128 tradespersons and 30 contractors, the company’s expansion – particularly over the last 10 years – has seen its factory grow to the present size of 7,000sqm (with an additional 450sqm of administration area). With an average annual turnover today of $35m, it is now the region’s largest general engineering company.
Laurie Smith (left) of Applied Machinery and Paul Butko of JC Butko Engineering with one of the new Yawei pressbrakes.
Born to Ukrainian immigrant parents, John Butko was apprenticed as a fitter and turner in Melbourne before returning to Wodonga and joining Milos Metrol & Sons. In 1972, John was named as Albury & Wodonga’s top apprentice. Soon afterwards, he rented a small shed in Kendall Street, Wodonga, and invested heavily in machinery – including a lathe, guillotine and a set of rollers – and the rest is history. The team at JC Butko consists of boilermakers, sheet metal workers, pipe welders, fitter/machinists and apprentices. The management team comprises project managers, mechanical engineers, certifying engineers, project supervisors, estimators, drafting personnel, quality assurance, health, safety & wellness, and administration. The company’s recent growth has come about as a result of working on larger projects throughout Australia (mostly on the East Coast) and overseas (including in the USA, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea). The company is certified to ISO 9001-2008 Certificate No QEC10764 by SAI Global, and it has successfully maintained this accreditation since 1998. Furthermore, JC Butko is also certified to AS/NZS ISO 3834 Certificate 044 in accordance with the IIW MCS scheme, and are accredited members of ASSDA (Australian Stainless Steel Development Association) and RMS prequalified. John’s son Paul Butko has worked with the company for the past seven years and is currently the company’s Commercial Manager. He previously worked for five years in construction with Lend-Lease, which has provided him with an excellent grounding for his current role in the business. A true family business, Paul’s brother Michael Butko has also been with JC Butko for the past 14 years is now the company’s Director and Engineering Manager. “My parents and brother, along with the support and dedication of current and previous employees, have done an amazing job to get the company where it is today,” says Paul. “I can’t reinforce that enough.” The company undertakes a diverse array of projects including large structural steel, tanks, pipe spooling, conveyor systems, food/ materials handling systems and pressure vessel work in either mild steel or stainless steel. “Our work is a 50/50 split between mild and stainless steel, as well as a 50/50 split between fabrication and site installation,” Paul explains. Tanks and pipes are the company’s forté, and it also works with clients in the water industry, food production and dairy – among other areas. MARS Petcare and MARS Chocolate, Lend Lease, GrainCorp, John Holland, CPB, Thales, Visy, Nestle, Orora Paper, Terminals, Norske Skogand and Thales are JC Butko’s biggest clients. Major projects undertaken include the GrainCorp Oil seeds refinery at Numurkah (ongoing), the MARS Petcare Single Serve & Hydro Upgrade (completed in 2019), and the Lend Lease MRP Project (completed in 2017). JC Butko Engineering was awarded with
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the Thales Australia Supplier HSE Award, in recognition for the outstanding achievements of the JC Butko Thales team, and their collaborative and proactive approach towards improving HSE culture at Thales’ Mulwala facility. In addition, founder John Butko was named as an Albury Northside and Wodonga Chambers of Commerce hall of fame recipient in 2016. At the end of the year the company will have a fully dedicated mild steel and stainless steel factory. These will operate separately to each other but will be situated in the same location. JC Butko prides itself on providing its customers with a one-stop-shop service from design through 3D modelling to installation and ongoing maintenance. “This is our bread and butter,” Paul remarks. “We work with clients from the beginning to end of a project, providing a sense of reassurance.
Investing in enhancing capacity The team at JC Butko wanted to increase the company’s work capacity and scope. They had heard about Yawei pressbrakes through a service contractor, who was performing maintenance on their existing equipment. Yawei is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of CNC pressbrakes, fibre lasers, turret punch presses and guillotines. Since its initial introduction to the Australian market more than 10 years ago, Yawei’s pressbrake technology has had a big impact on the manufacturing industry here. In fact, more than 300 machines are now installed across the country with Australian fabricators. Although the JC Butko team had been looking at a few other manufacturers, the Yawei Pressbrakes impressed them immediately. As a result, Paul purchased two machines: a larger PBH 630-6200 CNC5 CNC pressbrake, and a smaller PBH 300-4100 CNC7 CNC pressbrake. The 630-ton pressbrake is responsible for larger projects, whereas the 300-ton machine is used to perform intricate high-precision work. The machines have made a good impression on the operators. “After a few months in use, we have found them to be solid, reliable and good to use,” Paul comments. “They are also very user-friendly, and are value for money.”
FORMING & FABRICATION
cooling solutions for e-mobility
batterycooling Applied Machinery played a major role in JC Butko’s decision. Applied Machinery is one of Australia’s most experienced technology suppliers in the sheetmetal, engineering, recycling and plastics sectors. In addition to Yawei, Applied Machinery also represents Genox, Hurco, Kitamura, Chen Hsong, Alfarobot, Hermle, Akyapak, Hyundai-WIA, Weber, Fimic and Polystar. “We wouldn’t have purchased the Yawei machines without Applied Machinery’s advice and assistance,” Paul explains. In addition to the installation of the machines, Applied has provided training to staff operating the machines and provides service and assistance where necessary. “The service we receive from them is crucial and we are grateful for it,” Paul adds. “The machines have allowed us to get more work so we can thank Applied for that.”
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Paul is optimistic about the future of JC Butko and what it holds. “We just want to keep consolidating what we do,” he sums up. “We want to continue to offer a complete service that makes our clients and customers happy.”
technotrans technologies pte ltd | Unit 7 / 111 Lewis Road Wantirna, Victoria 3152 Phone +61 3 9887-5049 | Fax +61 3 9801 1945
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High-speed machining and the importance of tool accuracy High cutting speeds are a natural attribute of high-speed machining. Understandably, a tool should also be precise; it is required not only by machining accuracy but also by the mechanics of a fast-rotating body. However, in recent years the issue of tool accuracy has become an additional point to consider. What is the reason? Why is high-speed machining penetrating more and more into rough processing? And how do cutting tool producers formulate their solutions to meet these new industrial demands? The metalworking industry adopted highspeed machining (HSM) in the 1990s. This method was engrained in various industrial branches and caused significant changes in technology and machine tool engineering. The well-known advantages of HSM are repeatedly cited in various books, guides, magazines and other sources of information. Recently, there has been a significant interest in accurate HSM and, more specifically, in precision and other characteristics of cutting tools and toolholding devices intended for this purpose. Accurate (or precise) machining means maintaining repeatable strict tolerances during cutting operations. The level of such a “strictness” depends on the machining method – for example milling, turning, or drilling – and the type of operation: rough, semi-finish or finish. Technological advances, especially in producing workpieces that are preformed half-finished products, place special emphasis on accurate HSM. Precise casting, metal injection moulding and 3D printing ensure that the production of workpieces is very close to the final shape of a part. As a result, the need to remove a high volume of material by means of rough cutting decreases. In die and mould making, utilising HSM as a means of reducing production time has brought a real alternative to traditional methods. In the aerospace industry, machining difficult-to-cut, heat-resisting superalloys by ceramic tools at extremely high cutting speeds, in combination with a small stock to be removed, is now common. As for manufacturing aluminium components, here HSM has simply become a daily reality. Machining operations with low stocks per pass have distinct advantages such as lower power consumption, less heat generation, and better surface finish. Accurate HSM, which features low stock removal, is a logical extension of producing workpieces by precise modern methods. Usually, HSM relates to cutting by rotating tools – mainly milling cutters. In many cases, when a part featuring complex profiles and slots is produced from a solid material, HSM provides productive low-loaded roughing
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Figure 1. A solid carbide endmill with chip splitting grooves.
Figure 2. A ceramic endmill.
by trochoidal milling. According to this technique, a rapidly rotating milling cutter moves along a complicated trajectory and slices thin but wide layers of the material. This results in pre-shaping the part very close to a final form. The remaining small allowance is removed in the next stage: high-speed finish milling. Producing blisks (bladed discs) and impellers is a typical example of the mentioned process that may be defined by the rather oxymoronic term “accurate roughing”.
of advanced machine tools. This element is much smaller and less complicated compared to machine tools and holders. Each improvement in the last chain element – the cutting tool – may be crucial. The cutting tool industry is far from stagnation; it is on the constant move in developing new solutions to meet the demands of changing metalworking technologies.
Successful HSM relies on a key element chain comprising a machine tool, an effective machining strategy, proper toolholding, and a cutting tool. The low-power multiaxis machine tools designed especially for HSM feature high-torque characteristics, high-velocity drives, effective controllers and intelligent software. They are capable of realising various machining strategies that were developed for ensuring maximum efficiency. Today, metalworking has in its arsenal highly reliable toolholders designed for secure tool-mounting in an expanded range of rotational speeds. Under such conditions the cutting tool – the element that directly contacts a machined part during a cutting operation – can be a limiting factor in maximising the potential
Time has not radically changed principal tool requirements: it is expected to be more durable and more efficient when cutting at considerably increased cutting speeds and feed rates. Lowering machining allowances leads to additional tightening tool accuracy parameters. An ideal product is a precise and high-balanced tool that ensures high performance in combination with excellent tool life when cutting at high rotational speeds. Staying true to its motto “Where innovation never stops!”, Iscar has developed a range of solutions that give new momentum to HSM concepts, and many proposed designs relate to the field of solid carbide tools.
More flutes, fewer vibrations Multi-flute solid carbide endmills from Iscar’s ChatterFree line were developed especially for vibration-free HSM operations. Their
Figure 3. Iscar’s “MM HBR” bulb-shape head.
necessitates low cutting speeds, normally 20-40 metres/min. HSM with a small radial engagement, when the width of cut is up to 10% of a mill diameter, usually features cutting speeds of 70-80 metres/min. The metalworking industry is always seeking ways to increase productivity when manufacturing parts from HTSA; and low cutting speed is one of the existing barriers to this goal.
design features a varying helix angle, variable tooth pitch and a specially shaped chip gullet, intended for applications such as semi-finish and finish high-speed milling, as well as roughing by trochoidal technique. The ChatterFree range comprises several endmill families for different applications. Seven-flute endmills, produced from an ultra-fine carbide grade, are designed for machining hard materials and finish operations. General-purpose multiflute endmills incorporate an interesting concept, according to which the number of teeth is equal to a nominal diameter in millimetres. Seven- and nine-flute endmills were designed originally for trochoidal milling complex parts from titanium and today they form the Ti-Turbo family – this name reflects a real “turbo” metal removal rate when milling titanium. The latest step of the line development integrates chip-splitting grooves (Figure 1) in the endmill design. The new geometry has an unusual appearance because HSM forms thin chips that do not appear to need an additional chip-splitting action. However, the grooves increase vibration resistance and reduce cutting forces, significantly improving trochoidal milling and machining performance at high overhangs. In trochoidal milling, the produced chips are thin but wide. Splitting the chips into narrower segments contributes to better chip evacuation and surface finish, which increases accuracy and effectiveness in rough HSM.
Ceramics that cut fast Milling difficult-to-cut high-temperature superalloys (HTSAs) by carbide tools
A solution may be found in applying cutting ceramics as a tool material for HSM. Iscar has developed solid ceramic endmills that enable a dramatic increase in cutting speeds of up to 1,000 metres/min when compared with tools made from cemented carbide. The new endmills have a diameter range of 6mm to 20mm and are designed with three or seven flutes (Figure 2). Introducing the ceramic endmills in rough milling operations has proved to decrease machining time drastically and to enable fast pre-shaping of a part for further finish operations.
High-speed master Long-reach high-speed milling operations require tools with long overall length. A solid tool concept is not an economically attractive option. An assembled cutter comprising a body carrying a carbide cutting head is a solution that makes economic sense. Such an approach is at the core of Iscar Multi-Master – a family of tools with exchangeable heads. A rich variety of tool bodies, heads, extensions and reducers ensures various tool configurations and fundamentally reduces a need for special tools. An important advantage of the Multi-Master line is its noset-up-time principle, whereby replacing a worn head does not require additional tool measuring or appropriate CNC program adjustment – the insert can be replaced without withdrawing the tool from a machine spindle. High assembly rigidity, a balanced structure and high geometrical accuracy make Multi-Master suitable for HSM. A typical example of this application is finish milling 3D surfaces of parts produced from hard materials. Iscar’s “MM HBR” bulb-shape head (Figure 3) was developed for this type of operation, featuring a 240-degee spherical cutting edge, centre-cutting
Figure 4. The SpinJet high-speed spindle from Iscar.
ability and strict ISO h7 grade tolerance limits for the head diameter.
Reliable toolholding High-speed machining is impossible to perform without the use of reliable, highgrade balanced and accurate tool holders. Thermal shrink chucks are one of the most popular types of tool holder. Iscar’s line of SHRINKIN chucks includes the X-Stream family of thermal chucks, featuring coolant jet channels along the shank bore. The new design provides coolant flow directed to the tool’s cutting edges. In the highspeed milling of aerospace components (the aforementioned blisks, for example), a well-directed coolant significantly enhances performance. For deep pockets and cavities, the new chucks with pinpointed coolant flow have resulted in preventing recutting, thereby improving chip evacuation and increasing tool life. A wet coolant may be a means for upgrading machine tools from low velocity to high speed. SpinJet, a family of compact coolant-driven high-speed spindles (Figure 4), is capable of maintaining rotational velocity up to 55,000rpm and facilitate HSM even on the low-speed machines that are still so common in the shop floor. Changing technologies require new machining concepts: more productive, more economical, more sustainable. HSM has already proved itself as a method that meets today’s industrial needs. The progress in producing workpieces by nonmachining processes brings in focus lowpower high speed roughing. Accordingly, cutting tool manufacturers already feel the growing demands for appropriate products. It is a definite trend, which, no doubt, should be considered. www.iscar.com.au
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Keeping me up to date with our industry AMTIL has been a part of our business for a number of years. Being involved with an experienced group that gives support is important to me and thatâ€™s what AMTIL delivers constantly. The AMT Magazine is placed in our lunchroom for the team to look at. It keeps us up to date with the latest equipment and machinery and has assisted us with sourcing suppliersâ€™ contacts and solutions which have resulted in increased productivity. David Murphy, Managing Director TRJ ENGINEERING PTY LTD
READERS AMT the No. 1 trusted industry publication. For information or advertising rates visit www.amtil.com.au or contact Anne Samuelsson, Sales Manager on 03 9800 3666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org AMT proudly owned and published by Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited (AMTIL)
Guhring ramps up milling range with new RF Speed cutters Guhring has unveiled the latest extension to its Guhring RF Speed milling range. Developed for machining very tough materials, the new RF100 5-Speed and RF100 7-Speed solid carbide endmills take cutting speeds and process reliability to a new level. The increased tooth number of the five-fluted 5-Speed and sevenfluted 7-Speed generate high metal removal rates with stable process reliability, even when processing the most difficult-to-machine materials.
Optimal cutting conditions for the RF 100 5-Speed involve tough materials up to 1,200N/sqmm and where a ramping angle of up to 10° is required. The new innovation is also perfect for slotting with cutting depths up to 1xD and helical milling. While the RF 100 7-Speed is also perfect for tough materials up to 1,400N/sqmm, the seven-fluted variant is also ideal for helical milling at in-feeds of up to 0.05xD ap per cycle.
Providing high-performance roughing even at high cutting depths, the two new ranges maximise feed rate parameters during large metal removal rates. As part of the highly dynamic Guhring Trochoidal Cutting (GTC) series, the new RF100 5-Speed and RF100 7-Speed are ideal for machining tough stainless steels, special alloys and a wide variety of steel and cast-iron grades.
From a dimension perspective, the RF 100 5-Speed is available with cutting diameters of 6, 8, 10, 12, 16 and 20mm with a necked diameter that permits cutting depths from 20mm to 62mm depending upon diameter selected. The overall tool length retains uncompromising rigidity during the machining of difficult to access surfaces. Furthermore, each diameter option is available with three different cutting-edge radii. This ranges from 0.2mm radius to 1mm on the smallest 6mm tool and a 1.5, 2 and 3mm radius on the largest 20mm endmills.
At limited machine speeds or cutting speeds limited by the material, the RF 100 5-Speed and 7-Speed ensure high feed rates and long tool life thanks to the increased number of teeth. The new arrivals are particularly suitable for difficult-tomachine materials under stable conditions and they can conduct trochoidal cutting at an ae rate of up to 10%. On the RF 100 5-Speed this performance is due to a 38° helix angle with an unequal flute spacing that reduces contact points during low-vibration machining. Similarly, the RF 100 7-Speed incorporates a 32° helix angle with unequal flute spacing for quiet cutting and low-vibration machining. On both the RF 100 5-Speed and RF 100 7-Speed, the large, wide flutes and chip breakers have been integrated for fast, secure chip evacuation. With centre cutting capabilities, the new endmills have increased clearance in the centre for efficient plunging/helical milling.
Like the RF 100 5-Speed, the 7-Speed is also available in diameters from 6 to 20mm with a necked length for additional reach and clearance when slotting and ramping. Like the 5-Speed, the 7-Speed also has an overall cutting depth of 20cm to 62cm and it offers an equally impressive variety of corner radii. When applied with state-of-the-art, effective application methods, the new tools deliver impressively high performance. Very high cutting parameters can be achieved even with less powerful machines or unstable machining conditions. With difficult-tomachine materials or unfavourable diameter-length-ratios of the tools, a massive increase of process reliability can be achieved. www.guhring.com.au
Kennametal – 3D printing the future of e-mobility tools Kennametal has developed a 3D-printed stator bore tool specifically designed to meet growing customer demand for lighter-weight tooling solutions to machine components for hybrid and electric vehicles. E-mobility components are typically machined on smaller, low-horsepower CNC machining centres that require lighter tooling. Kennametal’s 3D printed stator bore tool weighs half that of a conventionally manufactured version, while still meeting accuracy, roundness, and surface finish requirements for aluminium motor body boring. “The main bore, that houses the stator of an electric motor measures approximately 250mm in diameter and approximately 400mm in length, with a smaller bearing bore at the bottom,” said Harald Bruetting, Manager – Program Engineering at Kennametal. “When manufactured using conventional means, a reamer for this type of application would weigh more than 25kg, far too heavy for the existing machine tool or for an operator working with the tool.” Bruetting and Kennametal’s Solution Engineering Group turned to the company’s inhouse additive manufacturing capabilities to print a strong but lightweight indexable tool, equipped with proven Kennametal technologies including fine adjustable RIQ reaming inserts for
high-precision finishing and a KM4X adaptor for maximum rigidity. The tool also features internal 3D printed cooling channels that help maximise productivity and tool life. “By using metal powder bed 3D-printing together with finite element analysis software, we were able to design and build a tool that brought the moment of inertia very close to the spindle face, increasing its rigidity while meeting the customer’s weight restrictions,” said Werner Penkert, Manager – Future Solutions at Kennametal. “It is an excellent example of how Kennametal is using advanced manufacturing technology to help meet our customer’s unique challenges.” Two versions of the tool were built, one with a carbon-fibre tube, the other using a 3D-printed metal tube. The tool with the 3D printed tube weighed 10.7kg and the carbon-fibre version was 9.5kg, less than half of their conventional counterparts. www.kennametal.com
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Trends in tool development Reducing greenhouse gas emissions has become an objective worldwide. In many places, there are discussions about imposing taxes on emissions, with implications for the development of new cutting tool technologies. In Germany the government has set itself the objective of reducing the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by 55% by 2030. This has a considerable impact on the development of machining tools, as new fields of application are emerging and existing ones need to be adapted. Alternative drives, new, lighter materials and concepts that save energy and resources are now more in demand than ever before. Developers see great potential in design modifications to tools, new coatings, new machining strategies and digital solutions which respond to the existing framework conditions in real time.
Suitable workpieces, milling tools, machines and CAD/CAM systems are required for the dynamic milling strategy.
Ramping milling cutters increase tool life by up to 200% The current trend is for new, lightweight aluminium-lithium alloys. These materials quickly overwhelm conventional tools. This results in an increasing demand for high-performance tools specifically designed for this range of applications. For instance, aircraft components made of aluminium alloys often have machining volumes of up to 90%. Depending on the required component geometry, numerous bevels and cavities need to be milled out of the metal, with the goal of ensuring stability and reducing weight. To manufacture the components economically and to a high quality, they need to be machined using high-speed cutting (HSC) processes involving cutting speeds of up to 3,000 metres/min. Cutting values that are too low lead to build-up on the cutting edge and therefore result in rapid wear and frequent tool changes. This results in high costs due to long machine running times. Machine operators specialising in aluminium therefore have good reason to demand above-average cutting data and tool life from their tools, as well as particularly high process reliability. With the design of the M2131 ramping milling cutter, the tool developers at Walter have shown how such complex requirements can be dealt with. The 90-degree milling cutter is equipped with a new class of indexable inserts, with the grade designation WNN15. This refers to a new PVD coating, which is manufactured using the HIPIMS method. The term HIPIMS stands for “High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering”, a technology based on magnetron cathode sputtering. The special feature of the physical coating process is that it produces an extremely dense and smooth PVD coating, which greatly reduces friction and the tendency to cause built-up edges. At the same time, this method increases cutting edge stability and resistance to flank face wear, enabling a maximum metal removal rate as a result. Field tests have confirmed the advantages of HIPIMS indexable inserts compared to standard types: increases in tool life of up to 200% were achieved. “We are seeing an increasing demand for high-performance tools for machining aluminium, particularly in the aerospace industry but also increasingly in the automotive industry,” explains Wolfgang Vötsch, Senior Product Manager for Milling at Walter.
Dynamic milling – milling strategy with a focus on efficiency Many sectors, particularly the supply industry, are under pressure to provide increased process reliability and faster machining – at ever lower costs and with consistent quality. The demands for surface quality and dimensional stability are often increasing at the same rate as requirements for process reliability and cost efficiency. Moreover, there is a growing need for lightweight or heat-resistant materials. However, these materials from the ISO M and ISO S material groups are often difficult to machine precisely because of these properties.
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Dynamic milling provides a solution in this area, offering both productivity and process reliability. This is why a growing number of metalworking companies are relying on this method.
High-performance cutting vs High dynamic cutting The main differences between conventional high-performance cutting (HPC) and high dynamic cutting (HDC) are in the movement of the milling cutter and the forces generated. During HPC, the milling tool moves with relatively low depths of cut. During HDC, the CAD/CAM control system adapts the machining paths so that the tool moves according to the shape of the workpiece. This prevents non-cutting time, or at least reduces it. Moreover, the depth of cut is significantly greater during HDC than during conventional HPC, meaning that travel distances are also reduced because the complete tool length can be used. The engagement angle is usually very large during HPC. The forces that occur in the process are accordingly high. This in turn quickly causes signs of wear to appear on the tool and the machine spindle. Dynamic milling, on the other hand, is characterised by a high level of process stability and a long tool life. The engagement angle chosen for HDC is normally small, meaning that the forces which impact the tool and machine are much lower than for HPC. Higher cutting parameters, less non-cutting time and increased process stability result in a much higher metal removal rate for HDC milling compared to HPC.
Adaptive feed control: Cutting data optimisation using live data Automation, digitalisation and networked processes have been everyday aspects in many areas of metalworking for a long time. In particular, the hardware and software used to collect and analyse live data have produced huge leaps in performance.
CUTTING TOOLS Walter is developing future innovations at its Technology Center in Tübingen, Germany.
The Comara iCut software tool demonstrates how this provides opportunities to optimise processes. The adaptive feed control analyses incoming machine data in real time and adjusts the machining accordingly. This answers one of many users’ key questions. Namely: how can you get the most out of a machine without making major changes to the process or carrying out complex reprogramming work? The iCut software enables the machining time per workpiece to be significantly reduced. This software is integrated into the existing control programme and applies the data from this for the machining process. During the first cut, iCut “learns” the idling output of the spindle and the maximum cutting efficiency per cut. Subsequently, it measures the spindle output up to 500 times per second and automatically adjusts the feed in each case. This means that the machine always operates at the maximum possible feed for each tool. Should the cutting conditions change (depths of cut, machining allowances, wear, etc), iCut adjusts the speed and output in real time. This not only has a positive effect on the machining time for the workpiece; the optimised milling characteristics also increase the process reliability. The forces acting on the spindle are more constant and this also results in a longer service life. If the tool is in danger of breaking, iCut reduces the feed straight away or stops the action altogether. Florian Böpple, Digital Solutions Manager at Walter, says: “We have already achieved astonishing increases in efficiency for customers using iCut. If the machining operation is compatible, a 10% reduction in machining time is always achievable. We have already managed to reduce machining times by double this amount. When the quantity is high, this frees up considerable machine capacity.”
combine design improvements with high-performance cutting tool materials. This means that the focus is always on increased productivity and process reliability. The most striking design feature is the installation position of the indexable inserts, at a greater incline and with a larger contact surface. This reduces the surface pressure in the seat while increasing the stability. The larger screw hole crosssection stabilises the indexable insert and the longer screws hold it in place more securely. The cutter body has also been made stronger, now with much more material behind the insert seat. Besides increased process reliability, the special installation position of the inserts also allows for the addition of an extra tooth, thereby increasing productivity. The precise 90-degree shape of the shoulder milling cutter helps to reduce what would otherwise be additional required finishing operations. Clamping screws which are easier to access optimise handling and help prevent assembly errors. Another new feature, which applies to the face milling cutter M5009 in particular, is the smaller indexable inserts which can be fitted to the milling cutters. These continue the current trend towards reduced machining allowances. The M5009 milling cutters combine small depths of cut with the economic advantages of double-sided indexable inserts – with eight usable cutting edges rather than the usual four. Thanks to these cutting edges, as well as a reduced number of finishing operations, the milling cutter achieves increased efficiency. Walter’s commitment to innovation also extends to sustainability. As part of Walter Green, the production and supply chain of the Xtra-tec XT milling cutters is CO2-compensated.
Moreover, this works irrespective of whether Walter tools are used; all that is necessary is for the machine’s system requirements to be met.
These examples illustrate where we are heading in the metalworking industry – with respect to tools, machining strategies and the field of digital innovation. At the same time, they highlight approaches where the opportunities lie and how the trends and challenges of the future can be dealt with successfully.
Milling with “Xtended Technology”
Walter recently showed the potential of the tools themselves with the entirely new generation of Xtra-tec XT milling cutters. These cutters
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Reliable, cost-effective production of turbochargers The turbocharger has been a mainstay in the automotive industry for some time. Given they are so integral to automotive powertrain units, Mapal offers production solutions and cutting tools for the complete machining process. State-of-the art turbochargers are used in diesel vehicles, and almost all automotive manufacturers offer a turbocharged petrol engine. Why? The turbocharger makes comparable performance with a smaller engine capacity possible and that contributes to the advance in downsizing. Turbochargers also contribute to the reduction in fuel consumption and are therefore fundamental in meeting strict emission limits.
Challenge for machining tools Most turbochargers are exhaust gas turbochargers and each automotive manufacturer has a different design that incorporates special geometries and the need for special tools. However, when it comes to petrol engines, there is one common factor in all variants – the very high temperatures achieved during operation. It is due to this reason that the turbine housing, the so-called ‘hot side’, is manufactured from a very abrasive, heat-resistant material. These materials represent a particular challenge for every machine tool, especially regarding the cutting tools applied. Mapal has taken up these challenges and developed new cutting materials and tool geometries. Mapal now offers a complete process solution for machining turbochargers, including the design and manufacture of all cutting tool types. Mapal develops drills, milling cutters, reamers and mechatronic actuating tools that can be matched to the related geometry of the turbocharger. Mapal also assists customers during the continuous development of processes to reduce cycle times, cost-per-part and also with the improvement of tool life. As such, combination tools that undertake multiple machining operations in one single machining operation form part of the portfolio of Mapal solutions. A significant percentage of turbocharger machining can be implemented using tools with ISO indexable inserts. This includes the multitude of machining processes on the challenging ‘hot side’ of the turbocharger. Mapal has developed a cutting material specially matched to machining of heat-resistant cast steel. This ingenious new cutting material technology extends tool life significantly, improving cost-effectiveness and productivity, despite the abrasive nature of the material. Every turbocharger incorporates a V-band that requires machining, and an interrupted cut is often a challenge during pre-machining. Mapal relies on its complex boring tool with ISO indexable inserts to pre-machine the V-band as well as to pre-machine the internal contour of the turbine. This enables the Mapal solution to machine internal and external features simultaneously, allowing multiple steps to be machined. The tool operates counterclockwise to transport the chips out of the component and to prevent damage to the
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internal contour of the turbine. For example, a Mapal V-band tool is frequently applied in diameters of 49, 70.5, 73 and 90mm using MQL cooling to process turbines at a cutting speed of 70 metres/ min with a 0.4mm feed rate. At optimal machining conditions, the Mapal tool easily achieves a tool life of beyond 75 parts prior to any necessary tool changes. A particular challenge during the machining of the turbine housing for exhaust gas turbochargers is the main turbine bore. Production is subject to close tolerances in relation to shape, position and surface finish and the bore is a bellmouthed shape to generate the best possible flow and performance characteristics. Mapal undertakes this machining operation using its Tooltronic system with the LAT attachment (linear actuating tool). Tooltronic is a mechatronic tool system with a full NC axis integrated into the existing machine controller, whereby the mounting tool is fitted with three inserts: one for roughing, and two for finishing. By applying the Tooltronic system, manufacturers can precisely machine the turbine housing at cutting speeds of 140 metres/min for roughing and 120 metres/min for finishing at feed rates from 0.15mm to 0.4mm, achieving a tool life of beyond 50 parts when applying a tool in the typical diameter range of 40.5 to 57.295mm.
New face milling cutters for roughing Mapal recently announced a new milling range with pressed, radial ISO indexable inserts. The milling cutter for roughing the face surface on the turbocharger housing comes from this range. The ISO indexable inserts with 16 usable cutting edges are the highlight of this face milling cutter and with 16 edges, it is a particularly economical prospect for turbo manufacturers. The 125mm diameter face mill with 14 inserts undertakes dry machining and runs at a speed of 80 metres/min with a feed rate of 0.12mm per tooth to achieve maximum productivity with a tool life of 125 parts. Another new tool from Mapal is the turning tool system for premachining the catalytic converter flange. Very cost-effective, this system incorporates tangential technology and is used on the diameter and due to the upright and horizontal installation of the LTHU inserts, it allows eight effective cutting edges to be used per indexable insert.The four tools mentioned all demonstrate the different machining tasks on a turbocharger and also the variety of tools and know-how available from Mapal. From standard milling cutters through to mechatronic actuating tools and even complex boring tools, the programme includes all the tools necessary for machining turbochargers. Mapal designs the complete machining process, so the most reliable and cost-effective strategy for the customer is used. There is always a close eye on accuracy – down to the micron – so that turbochargers achieve the highest possible efficiency in operation. www.mapal.com
Real Business Real People Real Members Why am I a member of AMTIL? Aside from supporting our industry through membership of our peak body, I find the developed network of like-minded companies and individuals invaluable. As an engineering and manufacturing group we all face similar challenges. Often when issues arise I am able to pick up the phone and discuss a problem or get advice from other members who all share our common values and goals of seeing Australian manufacturing prosper. Peter Sutton, Sutton Tools
Since 1999, AMTIL has been connecting business, informing of opportunities and growing the manufacturing community. To be become an AMTIL member contact our Corporate Services Manager, Greg Chalker on 03 9800 3666 or email email@example.com
Lehane Centrifugal Clutches – New Doosan machining centre creates new possibilities Based in Yennora, NSW, Lehane Centrifugal Clutches is a family business that specialises in the manufacture of industrial clutches. It recently upgraded its capacity with the acquisition of a Doosan HC500 horizontal machining centre from Hare & Forbes. Lehane Centrifugal Clutches (Lehane CC) was founded in 1961, when Peter Lehane began operating a small manufacturing business out of his father’s backyard in Lidcombe, having completed an apprenticeship at de Havilland aircraft. He remains closely involved with the company, though these days he has largely handed the reins to his son, also called Peter, as he transitions into retirement. Peter Junior joined in 1985 and is now the company’s General Manager. A third generation of the family joined in 2015, when Peter Junior’s son Pierce came on board; he now works as the company’s CNC foreman.
Peter Junior. “That’s a small clutch, 100mm in diameter. We also have a larger range, up to about 600mm in diameter, that will transmit 2,000 to 3,000 horsepower. Most of those we send to India, where they go onto large diesel engines, usually for blowing air into mines.”
In the early years, Peter Senior had picked up general engineering jobs, including quite a lot of work in automotive and motorsports. However, over time the business found its niche in the manufacture of high-quality industrial clutches.
Instead the company has focused on excelling within its own specialist field, where it trades on a reputation for manufacturing products to a very high standard.
“First of all we started repairing clutches, and then we started improving them,” explains Peter Senior. “And later on from about 1980, we basically specialised in centrifugal clutches, and we’ve been doing it ever since.” The clutches that Lehane CC makes are for stationary engines in a range of industrial applications, in sectors such as mining, construction and agriculture. One major client is a German manufacturer of construction machinery. “We supply them with our clutches for their concrete trowelling machines and vibrating plates, which go all over the world,” says
One sector the company definitely does not engage with is the automotive industry. Peter Senior explains: “We stay right away from anything that are automotive-related – too many problems. Usually the car manufacturers know exactly what they want, but most of those people haven’t got much of an engineering background and there’s lots of problems. So therefore we stay right away.”
“We have got customers all around the world that we do send our clutches to,” says Peter Junior. “There’s plenty of clutch manufacturers who make big volumes of stuff, but we specialise in high-quality ones that last for a long time. We can’t compete against the Chinese ones and we don’t aim to, but people buy our clutches because the quality is a lot higher than what a Chinese clutch offers.” Lehane CC’s products are manufactured almost entirely in-house, with only the bearings sourced externally. Components are largely machined either from billet steel or iron castings. The company has also recently gone back to using Australian-made castings.
From left: Peter Lehane Senior, Pierce Lehane and Peter Lehane Junior with the new Doosan HC500 MKII horizontal machining centre.
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NEW SOUTH WALES Lehane Centrifugal Clutches’ facility in Yennora, NSW.
“It’s the quality,” says Peter Senior. “We got sick of getting castings from China and they’d finally arrive and they’d have holes in them and the material wasn’t what you expected. So we get them here.” “It makes it much easier,” adds Pierce. “You don’t go through anywhere near as many inserts in the machines and it makes it a lot easier to keep all your tolerances really close, because of the consistency of the materials.” The company’s niche expertise is reinforced by its policy of not taking on any contract manufacturing work on the side, instead just concentrating on its own products. Peter Senior explains: “I learned a long time ago: make your own product. I used to do jobbing work, but in the end I thought all I’m doing is wearing the machines out and not making any money. You’d quote on a job and if you got it you’d reckon ‘I was too cheap’. And after you’d just about worked out how to make money out of it, someone else has quoted half a cent cheaper and the job’s gone. I quickly got onto the fact we need a product”. Today Lehane CC operates from a purpose-built factory in Yennora with a team of about 10 staff. The business moved locations in western Sydney a few times before settling in Yennora in the late 1970s. Most of its clients are in Australia, though exports account for a healthy proportion of its sales at around 20%. According to Peter Senior, business conditions are currently “comfortable”, though he adds that the drought has had an impact – a significant part of the company’s sales comes from clutches for water pumping equipment for customers in rural Australia. However, this is partly offset by the wide array of customers the company serves. “We’re very diversified with the different applications the clutches are used for,” says Peter Junior. “It definitely does have an impact when there are droughts. We also have a lot of our clutches used for mining equipment, so when the mining sector is booming, we sell more clutches. When it’s quiet we don’t sell as many in that area, but we’ll sell them in other areas. It all balances out, though it’d be nice if everything was all really good all together.”
Boosting capabilities Recently Lehane CC made a major investment in upgrading its workshop, with the purchase of a Doosan HC 500 MKII horizontal machining centre from Hare & Forbes. The new machine was brought in to replace an older machining centre, a Japanese brand, which had reached the end of the road. “It was still a good machine but it was pretty ancient,” says Peter Senior. “It was causing a lot of trouble, like an old motor car. Costing more in maintenance.” Peter Junior undertook the search for a replacement: “I looked at lots of machines. And in terms of value for money, I decided the Doosan machine was the right one for us. Whether I spent $500k or a million, I wasn’t going to make one more cent on a million-dollar machine. But the Doosan has proven perfectly 100% reliable. It’s easy to use
and it does exactly what we anticipated it was going to do.” Equally impressive for the Lehane team was the way Hare & Forbes handled the installation. “The service was really good,” affirms Peter Junior. “They did exactly what they said and more. For instance, Pierce hadn’t used a machining centre before. He only knew how to use lathes. They trained him basically from scratch. And later, if he didn’t know something, he’d just ring them up and say ‘Look I want to do this; how do I do this?’ And they’d say ‘I’ll be over there soon and show you how to do it.’ That training really was excellent”. The new machine has already had an impact, particularly in terms of how quickly it can perform each task. Pierce cites the example of the production of shoes. The shoe forms an internal part of the company’s very large clutches, machined from an iron casting that weighs about nine kilograms, and which entails a complex piece of machining. “I think I worked out that we can do another eight shoes a day or something,” says Pierce. “So we can get a lot more stuff done. The new machine has definitely improved productivity. Sometimes it’s sitting there doing nothing, but even then at least it’s not using power. And it’s just such an easy machine to use. The Fanuc controller is really simple to operate, and you can have all your offsets kept in it”. The Doosan machine is also helping Lehane CC do more in terms of meeting its customers’ requirements. One new client in New Zealand manufacture frost-fighting machines, which blow warm air through crops such as grapes to prevent the build-up of frost during winter. The customer had specific requirements which Lehane CC would have struggled to meet in the past. “With our old equipment we couldn’t have done it,” says Peter Junior. “But with the new machine, the front of it that can attach a coupling. So that’s been a very busy job on the new machine.” Meanwhile the Lehane team are still in the process of coming to understand all of the capabilities that the new machine can offer, with the prospect of new opportunities for the business. “It does give us opportunity for other activity or other expansion,” says Peter Senior. “We’re not quite sure yet, but it could do. We’re only using a very small part of the capabilities of that machine anyway. You never know. We might start to do something else.” www.machineryhouse.com.au www.lehanecc.com
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Brent & Warburton – Choosing the best machine for the job Established in 1913, Brent & Warburton is a family-owned and -operated company based in Tomago, in the Hunter Region of New South Wales (NSW). The company recently purchased its first Mazak CNC machine tool. Now in its fourth generation, Brent & Warburton continues to build on more than 100 years of knowledge and capability in machining, manufacturing, fabrication and fitting. Its Tomago workshop boasts six CNC lathes, six CNC mills, as well as a number of manual machines, fabrication and fitting facilities, along with six overhead cranes. An important factor behind Brent & Warburton’s longevity is its tradition of constantly striving to be a world-class manufacturer. This is also one of the factors behind the business’ recent purchase of a Mazak FJV60/80, a high-precision, high-productivity, doublecolumn vertical machining centre with enhanced performance, intelligent functions and rigid machine construction. The Mazak FJV60/80’s special design ensures extremely highprecision machining over extended periods of operation by eliminating the spindle overhang often seen in C-frame vertical machining centres. Furthermore, its ergonomic design ensures convenient loading and unloading of large workpieces and overall ease of operation. Darcy Currey, General Manager at Brent & Warburton, spoke to AMT about the choice to invest in a Mazak machine tool. AMT: What prompted this Mazak purchase? Was it a growing workload, a gap you identified in the market, or something else? Darcy Currey: Like many manufacturers in Australia, we identified a need to modernise our machines. With this, we recognised that we needed to move from buying the cheapest machine which will do the job, to buying the best machine to do the job.
Darcy Currey (centre) with the John Hart team commissioning the Mazak FJV 60/80: (from left) Mechanical Service Engineer Jamie Fagan, Service Team Leader Andreas Zerndt, Northern NSW Sales Engineer Peter Jarvie and Service Engineer Sam Vegas.
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AMT: Why this particular machine? Was it bought for a particular feature? DC: With this purchase we wanted to improve the rigidity of the machine so that we could gain efficiency processing wear plate materials like BIS 500. At the same time, we wanted to increase the size of the machining envelope for the vertical machine centres in our workshop. AMT: What is the reason you chose a Mazak machine over other brands? DC: The design of the Mazak machine emphasises ease of interaction between person and machine. In addition, the machine table provides 100% access to an overhead crane, which simplifies loading and unloading of parts. AMT: What kind of work are you using it for? What parts will you be manufacturing predominantly? DC: We are planning to move most of our wear plate processing onto the new machine. An important part of our business is machining mounting holes of various designs into wear plates, which line chutes for materials handling. AMT: What benefits have you gained or do you plan to gain from this machine? DC: We expect cycle time for parts will be reduced, as well as change-over time between parts. Operator fatigue should be reduced by the good ergonomic design of the machine. Also, we expect the halo effect from a high-quality machine and brand like Mazak to improve morale and performance of our operators.
NEW SOUTH WALES AMT: What about this machine makes your job easier? DC: The machine has a maintenance schedule built into the control, which flags when regular maintenance is due. It also lets the operator know when it’s been done. The machine design simplifies monitoring and changing of grease and oil. AMT: What advice and help did you receive from John Hart in your purchasing process? DC: John Hart presented a number of machines which could make our parts and discussed the advantages of each. When we settled on the Mazak FJV 60/80, they helped us option up the machine while avoiding options which wouldn’t benefit us.
AMT: How well do John Hart people respond to your business needs? DC: John Hart assisted us with machine inspections prior to our purchase. We received regular progress updates during the manufacture and delivery of the new machine. They also helped us understand the requirements of the machine foundation and placement. Overall the support from pre-purchase through to installation and training has been comprehensive. www.brentandwarburton.com.au
John Hart increases investment in service, support and Northern NSW presence. In its commitment to the continued improvement of, and investment in its service and support infrastructure, John Hart has recently added a new second office in New South Wales, located in Newcastle. “Our new facility in Newcastle aptly represents the amount of activity we have in the region,” said Peter Jarvie, John Hart’s Northern NSW Sales Engineer. “We are the only machine tool company to make this type of investment and it demonstrates our increased commitment in supporting our regional customers.” This investment drive has also included the recent creation of a new role for a Technical Service Manager. John Hart has appointed Adam Wallace to this role, where he will oversee national service activities including staff training, technical information, service systems, service scheduling, key project oversight and key issue resolution. Adam Wallace added: “More than that, we are also growing the John Hart service team, with the latest intakes including additional service engineers for Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria, a preventative maintenance engineer for Newcastle and an additional national laser specialist engineer.
Building on our overall skill base, all our service engineers have also recently travelled to either Mazak Japan or Mazak Europe for regular factory training. “Furthermore we have updated and expanded our range of service test equipment, and we have implemented a fully digital and mobile service administration system, which will help us increase our infield access to information to enhance service delivery and improve efficiency.” These latest investments confirm John Hart’s ongoing dedication to providing world-class support to customers throughout the operational lifetime of their Mazak machines. With more than 30 dedicated service and support staff, a local parts centre stocking a huge inventory of genuine Mazak parts, and an Australia-wide branch network, John Hart has one of the most comprehensive customer support operations in Australia. www.johnhart.com.au/support The John Hart Newcastle team in front of the recently built Newcastle facility. Left to right: Service Engineer Sam Vegas, Northern NSW Sales Engineer Peter Jarvie, Service Team Leader Andreas Zerndt, and Mechanical Service Engineer Jamie Fagan.
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LaserBond expands machine shop to meet demand for larger projects Headquartered in Smeaton Grange, New South Wales (NSW), LaserBond has more than 25 years’ experience and an in-depth understanding of the mechanics of wear to vital production components in industries working with some of the planet’s most abrasive substances. The company recently expanded its machining capabilities with the introduction of an additional Okuma machine to cater for larger projects. LaserBond is a specialist surface engineering company founded in 1992 that focuses on the development and application of materials, technologies and methodologies to increase the operating performance and wear life of capital-intensive machinery components. The company operates from facilities in New South Wales and South Australia. The exceptional growth of the company has been built on its pursuit of innovation and technology leadership in three fields of surface engineering: the tribology of wear and the performance of heavy industrial components; metallurgy and the science of highperformance materials; plus the optimisation of a wide range of materials and application methodologies. Tribology can be further defined as the science of rubbing interfacing surfaces in relative motion. It concentrates on contact mechanics of moving interfaces that generally involve energy dissipation and encompasses the study and application of friction, wear, lubrication and related design aspects. Customers of this innovative company are typically internationally recognised Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in capitalintensive heavy industries that endure high costs whenever their equipment is down for maintenance. The broad range of industries serviced by LaserBond includes mining, drilling, mineral processing, power generation, transport and marine, plant and machinery, manufacturing, fluid handling and agriculture – with more and more industries opening up as they see the advantages of this advanced technology. LaserBond’s high focus on workplace health & safety (WH), quality assurance and the environment, plus the company’s certified PAS99-integrated management system, are widely recognised by its customers. WH&S benefits are realised as a result of the maintenance of equipment and replacement of worn parts. With work often carried out in potentially hazardous environments and involving the handling of heavy components, the reduced frequency required for maintenance can significantly lower the risk of injury to personnel.
Environmental benefits arise from LaserBond’s ability to remanufacture and provide performance improvements to machine parts that would typically be scrapped and replaced with new parts. The typical carbon footprint of a LaserBond remanufactured part is less than 1% of a new part, and with life improvements of between two and 20 times of a standard part, a carbon footprint of much less than 1% is often achieved. Research & development (R&D) efforts by the company are mainly focused on the development of application-oriented coating systems, the development of new materials, and the associated processing parameters for all coating technologies: laser cladding, thermal spraying and surface brazing. With hardchrome plating becoming an issue across multiple industries worldwide, considerable research has been undertaken to try to achieve more environmentally friendly, cost-effective and efficient alternatives. Two different coating systems have been developed by LaserBond with great success, with one representing the best technical solution and the other a very economical alternative, both outperforming existing hardchrome coatings in relation to corrosion and wear resistance. Now globally recognised for its technically advanced superior solution for wear problems, LaserBond is establishing licensees around the world, assisting partners with the integration of equipment, the development of software systems, and in-depth operator training – including the understanding of metallurgy and the building of the ultimate quality assurance process. Future growth for this dynamic company is in the reclamation and remanufacture of worn parts, new products or components for OEMs, and the further development of technology with licencing partners around the world. “The company continues to train apprentices, machinists and graduate engineers to provide the skills we need for the future,” says
LaserBond specialises in the development and application of materials, technologies and methodologies to increase the performance and wear life of capitalintensive machinery components.
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NEW SOUTH WALES GET THE MAXIMUM VALUE FROM YOUR BUSINESS WHEN YOU EXIT
LaserBond’s latest acquisition, an Okuma CNC lathe model LB4000BCx2000 with OSP-P300L control, will offer the company increased capacity for larger projects.
William Buck are the accountants and advisers to Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited (AMTIL) and preferred supplier to members. William Buck has a proud reputation for delivering value and results to our clients for over 120 years. William Buck recently conducted an independent report surveying Australian small-to-medium businesses to measure their business's level of exit readiness. According to the William Buck Exit Smart Survey, 77 per cent of baby boomer and builder generations respondents are preparing to exit their current business in the next decade, with more than half exiting in the next five years. Most owners also rely on their business to fund their retirement plan, however only 34% have exit plans in place. Our findings highlight that many business owners do not understand the importance of proper exit and personal wealth planning. Contact William Buck to ensure you are not ignoring this critical planning stage and compromising a successful exit outcome.
Industries serviced by LaserBond include mining, drilling, mineral processing, power generation, transport and marine, plant and machinery, manufacturing, fluid handling and agriculture.
Wayne Hooper, Chief Executive Officer at LaserBond. “Investment in personnel and leading edge equipment will continue to increase our capabilities to deliver planned growth.” As well as the remanufacture of components that is undertaken by LaserBond, the supply of new components to OEMs is also a major division of this business. Precision machine supplier Okuma Australia has played an important role in this area, with LaserBond’s first machine commissioned in 2008. Over the years a number of additional Okuma CNC machines have been acquired. The latest arrival is an Okuma CNC lathe model LB4000BCx2000 with OSPP300L control, which will offer increased capacity for larger projects.
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“The service provided by Okuma is excellent and the machines are rigid, well built and consistently reliable to fine tolerances,” says Hooper. “Engineers on the floor find the Okuma machines easy to learn and programme, and the training offered by the company is excellent. The investment in quality machines and equipment from companies such as Okuma is recognised and acknowledged by both customers and staff.” www.okumaaustralia.com.au www.laserbond.com.au
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From hurricane lamps to Olympic torches – Harrington Industries hits 100 years Australia has a long and proud history of manufacturing. Harrington Industries is one company that helped build a fledgling Australia, and after a century in business, it’s still going strong today! Harrington Industries was established in 1919, originally trading as GA & L Harrington, named after its founding brothers. George Arthur (affectionately known as GA) and Len Harrington set up a general engineering shop in Ultimo, New South Wales. The company’s centenary marks the culmination of four generations under the Harrington family: GA’s son George Harrington joined in the late 1920s, and his son John Harrington started in 1959 and is now the company’s Chairman & Director; Len’s grandson Mark Bennett (Engineering Director) came onboard in 1974; and John’s sons Trent (who is now the Managing Director) and Marshall (Purchasing Director). Four generations in one Australian company may possibly represent an unrivalled feat. ‘Trusted for 100 years’ is the company creed, and that trust has been forged and repeatedly proven over the century. Since its first product – a rabbit trap for farmers – the company has been an active participant in many of the landmarks of the last century of Australian history. In the 1920s GA & L Harrington was the first Australian company to manufacture a one-piece car door (previously, they were made in two parts). A new press – one of only two in Australia at the time – was installed for this purpose. Output reached 1,500 door frames per week. One writer in 1929 described the new press as offering the possibility of “… opening up a new era in the production of motor parts. Messrs Harrington have risen during the past decade to a high position in the motor engineering industry, and their foresight in grasping opportunities is another indication of that enterprise which characterises the work of all true Australians who have the interests
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of the manufacturing community of the Commonwealth at heart.” As Marshall puts it, “Our company’s history and varied industry knowledge base gives us a unique advantage.” Those qualities allowed the company to branch out into other industries including aviation, commencing with the production of parts for the de Havilland Tiger Moth aircraft, a British biplane that would be used during the Second World War. Australia had resolved in 1935 to build its own aircraft, after industrialists, industry leaders and politicians had warned that in the event of war we would be cast adrift and left isolated, and amid the threat that Japan would soon invade. A total of 1,070 Tiger Moths were eventually constructed in Australia, and GA & L Harrington’s skill, experience and reliability were employed in producing approximately 280 pressed metal parts for the plane. Without a military equipment manufacturing industry, Australia was desperately unprepared at the outbreak of the Second World War. GA & L Harrington – along with many other Australian companies – was harnessed for war production. Over the course of the war, other components produced by the company included Bren gun carrier parts, Mosquito and Dragon aircraft parts, hurricane lamps and other ancillary war equipment. With so many items required immediately during those frantic years, GA & L Harrington quickly stepped in and produced them. The media at the time reported on the company’s manufacture of urgently needed hurricane lamps. A newspaper article from those desperate times noted that this was the first time that hurricane lamps were produced in Australia: “It is gratifying to know that local
079 In 2013, GA & L Harrington began trading as Harrington Industries. A milestone for the company came the following year with the opening of an overseas plant in Thailand. Several of the company’s customers had moved production there and requested that Harrington Industries join them. A press shop was set up in Rayong in 2014, and since then the company has grown considerably, attracting many new customers and products from Asia and abroad. Trent Harrington led the establishment of the Thailand factory and building up that arm of the business has been a major career highlight: “Managing the Thailand factory evolution from an open greenfield site into a fully operational and profitable business has been very satisfying. Operating in Thailand allows us to continue our involvement with the automotive industry, which brings with it a bounty of future global opportunities.” “It’s exciting. That’s why I haven’t retired,” adds John. “There are always new products and processes to understand.” John Harrington, the company’s Chairman and Director.
industry is capable of producing at short notice material for war purposes not previously manufactured here.” The company’s wartime role also included production of Bren gun carrier parts. Australia’s Bren gun production incorporated several features of Australian design, and was widely regarded as an improvement on the British carrier. When it was suggested that the Bren gun carrier could be produced in Australia in large volumes, many experts were sceptical. However monthly output approached nearly three times the figure thought possible. GA & L Harrington’s ability to step capably into the breach with speed and efficiency exemplified the way Australian industry responded during the transition to war-production, which was widely hailed by industry leaders. Sir Alexander Roger, who led an industrial mission from Britain to Australia in 1942, described Australia’s efforts as “… an inspiring example to the whole Empire and to the Allies. What Australia has achieved is a miracle of production. I have learned a lot from Australia, and we were able to bring back a lot of production information for use in Britain.” Now headquartered in Padstow, in Sydney’s south-west suburbs, the company’s proud heritage has been built on the foundations of skill, fairness and the high esteem in which the founding brothers GA and Len were held, as borne out by the memories and anecdotes of surviving family members. GA died in 1948 and Len in 1988, but their legacy lives on.
Expertise from the ground up The company’s philosophy has always been that family members come into the business through the shop floor and work their way up into management roles. As John Harrington affirms: “Expertise comes from knowing how to form metal, and practical experience is required for that.”
While the company now has an international presence, John points out that Harrington Industries still remains the leading press shop in Australia, with an impressive roster of clients that included ResMed, Nissan, Ford, Toyota, General Motors (Holden), Mitsubishi and the iconic Victa lawnmowers. In 1987 the company was awarded a certificate of appreciation for its contribution to the Australian production of the Boeing 747 leading edge – a very difficult pressing made from aluminium alloy. Today, Harrington Industries boasts a staff of 45 in the Sydney plant, with a further 50 personnel in Thailand. The company is a proud member of the Australian Industry Group – as well as of AMTIL. One of the company’s most challenging but rewarding projects has been its account with medical device manufacturer ResMed, which has been one of Harrington Industries’ biggest clients since 2000. “We have developed our own processes for the manufacture of high-volume medical grade stampings,” explains Trent. “And because of this our Thailand facility continues to win new business with ResMed. They are an Australian business that is now a global leader in sleep therapy, and we are proud to be part of their impressive international growth story.” Another major highlight was the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games: in 1999 Harrington Industries won the contract for the engineering design and produce 14,500 torches and 200 community cauldrons. Its winning design for the torch took a creative leap of faith on John’s part. One of the requirements was that the flame needed to withstand extremely high winds without blowing out. The company didn’t have a wind tunnel facility to test its burner design, so John decided to drive over Alfords Point Bridge in Sydney at variable speeds with the lit torch held out of the sunroof. Continued next page
During John’s time at the company he has seen a variety of changes, innovations and evolutions in the industry, from the invention of the calculator in the 1960s, through to the emergence of computers and the implementation of CAD in the 1990s. “There were no adding machines, computers or air conditioning in those days,” recalls John of his early years at the company. “All the calculations had to be done manually.” One of John’s most significant achievements was managing the modernisation and automation of the Harrington plant in the 1980s. He introduced coil feeding into the presses, which reduced costs significantly. The company has managed to remain at the forefront of some great changes, from general engineering and metal pressing, then die wire spark erosion cutting, computers, automation, robotics and the latest in smart technologies. “We’ve embraced it all,” remarks John.
Harrington Industries’ current headquarters in Padstow, NSW.
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Continued from previous page
“We certainly got some interesting looks from other motorists that day,” jokes Marshall Harrington, who checked and lit each torch personally, supervising the assembly of 17,000 torches in total. The Sydney Olympic torch was followed by 13,000 torches for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. In recognition of the company’s work ahead of the Sydney Games, John had the chance to run in the official torch relay team. “Running with the torch was very special,” he recalls. From rabbit traps, to automotive components, equipment for the war effort to sophisticated components for airliners and medical devices – as well as numerous products for the mining, white goods and general engineering sectors – Harrington Industries has consistently been involved in making Australian manufacturing history, enduring through the ups and downs of the last century. It lit the way with hurricane lamps in the 1940s, and with the Olympic Torch at the turn of the millennium. As it enters its second century, Harrington Industries is poised to continue shining a light for Australian manufacturing for many more years to come. www.harringtonindustries.com.au
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Harrington Industries’ products over the years (clockwise from top left): its first product, a rabbit trap; hurricane lamps; metal pressings for ResMed’s sleep apnoea machine; and the Sydney 2000 Olympics torch
The Truth About Compressed Air! If you think compressed air is too expensive and noisy - read this. The facts will surprise you!
Compare these Blowoffs
Facts about Blowers
source), and a blower supplied air knife (using an electric motor as a power source). Each system
Energy conscious plants might think a blower to be a better choice due to its slightly lower electrical consumption compared to a compressor. In reality, a blower is an expensive capital expenditure that requires frequent downtime and costly maintenance of
Here are some important facts:
Filters must be replaced every one to three months. Belts must be replaced every three to six months.
edges, we took sound level measurements in free air (no impinging surface).
Typical bearing replacement is at least once a year at a cost near $1000.
Blower Air Knife
and easy to make. For this test, we used (2) drilled pipes, each with (25) 1/16" diameter holes on 1/2" centers. As shown in the test results below, the drilled pipe performed
option. As noted below, the purchase price is high. Operating cost was considerably nozzle, but was comparable to EXAIR’s
is overshadowed by its high energy use.
its two 3" (76mm) diameter hoses requires
level is excessive - both of which violate OSHA requirements. Velocity across the entire length was very inconsistent with spikes of air and numerous dead spots.
the others. Noise level was high at 90 dBA.
Blower bearings wear out quickly due to the high speeds (17-20,000
Poorly designed seals that allow
environments above 50°C decrease the one year bearing life. Many bearings can not be replaced to send the assembly back to the manufacturer.
with downtime were also negative factors.
Blowers take up a lot of space and often produce sound levels that exceed OSHA noise level exposure requirements. Air
Flat Air Nozzles
EXAIR Super Air Knife
As shown below, this inexpensive air nozzle was the worst performer. It is available in plastic, aluminium and stainless steel from
job of removing the moisture on one pass due to the uniformity of the laminar low. For this application, energy use was slightly higher than the blower but can be
from many of the same problems as the drilled pipe. Operating cost and noise level are both high. Some manufacturers
to control since mechanical adjustments are required. To discuss an application, contact:
is possible. Safe operation is not an issue since the Super Air Knife can not be deadended. Maintenance costs are low since there are no moving parts to wear out.
be blocked - an OSHA violation. Velocity was inconsistent with spikes of air.
The Super Air Knife is the low cost way to blowoff, dry, clean and cool. Blowoff Comparison Comp. Air Type of blowoff
Horsepower Sound Purchase Required Level dBA Price
Annual Electrical Cost*
Approx. Annual Maintenance Cost
First Year Cost
Flat Air Nozzles
Blower Air Knife
Super Air Knife
*Based on national average electricity cost of 8.3 cents per kWh. Annual cost reflects 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.
COMPRESSORS & AIR TECHNOLOGY
‘Tis the season to get planning’ - Compressed air maintenance for the festive shutdown With the festive season just around the corner, it is the ideal time to start planning your compressed air maintenance requirements and any other major projects you want to complete within this shutdown period. Here Kaeser Compressors discusses why maintenance planning is essential in order to take full advantage of the extended festive shutdown period. Meeting production requirements can often make it tough to schedule in downtime for essential compressed air system maintenance. However, following the maintenance schedule prescribed by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) is essential in order to ensure that a compressed air system continues to reliably produce high-quality compressed air. Failure to do so could lead to costly and unplanned downtime as well as premature wear of components and consumables. And together this could also have a negative impact on the expected life of the compressed air equipment. However, even if you follow the prescribed maintenance schedule, there will of course be larger maintenance jobs that need to be completed which take longer to do. The festive season often presents the ideal time.
Holiday shutdown The festive season is one of the longest periods of time in the year when most manufacturers will shut down. Usually the period between Christmas and New Year presents the perfect opportunity to schedule in larger maintenance tasks with your compressed air service provider. Some common compressed air system maintenance tasks that require a longer shutdown period include: replacing motor bearings; removing and cleaning coolers; as well as oil/water separator cleaning and replacement. As the festive period falls towards the beginning of summer, the shutdown period is also the ideal time to perform a number of routine maintenance tasks, which will ensure your compressed air system is ready for the hot weather ahead. The festive shutdown is the perfect time to schedule in larger compressed air maintenance tasks.
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Hot weather can put a lot of stress on your compressed air system, and as the temperature starts to rise so can a number of maintenance issues. Maintenance tasks – from changing the oil and the inlet filter to checking the fluid system, belts and couplings – are just a few jobs that are beneficial to undertake at the start of summer in order to prepare your compressed air system for the hotter months. Keeping your coolers clean is actually one of the most important things you can do during the summer months. Dirty coolers can cause a number of problems, not least in contributing to your compressor running hot. Moreover, elevated running temperatures increase the carry-over of oil from your compressor, which will eventually lead to a low oil level and ultimately a compressor shutdown. Depending on the state of your coolers, high-pressure cleaning and/or ultrasonic cleaning may be advised. Again, an extended shutdown period presents the ideal time to have your coolers cleaned. The festive shutdown period could also be used to implement any system upgrades or improvements you have been considering. Some examples may be getting on top of compressed air leak detection and repairs, to installing new line filtration if required to improve air quality. It could also be the perfect opportunity to install a bypass line if you don’t already have one. A bypass line allows the compressed air user to be able to continue to transport compressed air through the system while, for example, line filtration is maintained. However, a bypass line can often be overlooked when a compressed air system is installed. Installing a bypass line would therefore mean that any future work required on line filtration will not have to wait until longer shutdown periods.
COMPRESSORS & AIR TECHNOLOGY An extended shutdown period presents the ideal time to have coolers cleaned.
The key to success Maintenance planning is the key to success. Furthermore, consulting your compressed air service provider in advance of your shutdown period will allow you to discuss together what maintenance jobs need to be conducted. Not only can you then get your service visit booked in, but you can also place an order for the required consumables, spare parts and so on that will be required, ensuring they are all available and ready to go. It would also be worth you and your compressed air service provider looking over the oil sample analysis results that have been taken as part of your routine preventative maintenance visits over the past 12 months. This will identify any trends and if anything else needs corrective action. If any issues are detected, recommendations can be made and actions planned, preventing potential future costly repairs, breakdowns or shutdowns. If recommendations are made, it may well be the case that some, if not all, of them can be scheduled in to be actioned over the shutdown period.
Optimum results The festive shutdown can be a very productive period for a business in terms of undergoing required compressed air system service and maintenance work as well as making system improvements or upgrades. To get the optimum outcomes, however, maintenance planning in the run up to the festive season is essential. au.kaeser.com
Kaeser launches DHS 4.0 series air-main charging systems Kaeser Compressors has just announced the launch of its latest generation air-main charging systems – the DHS 4.0 series. The DHS 4.0 series electronic air-main charging system not only provides protection for the compressed air treatment components within a compressed air system, but also helps ensure reliable compressed air quality. This even applies following complete shutdown of a compressed air supply system, for example at weekends. A compressed air network is often depressurised following periods of downtime. As a result there is no flow resistance from the network pressure when the compressors are started. The compressed air treatment components in a compressed air supply system, however, are designed to accommodate the flow rates and speeds that occur in the distribution network when the system is in load operation. Therefore, without back-pressure present, there is the risk that filter and dryer components may become ‘overwhelmed’ by the sudden surge in airflow that occurs when the system restarts. This can lead to filter element damage and to a raised pressure dew point in the refrigeration dryer. As a result, contaminants such as oil, particulate matter and humidity are introduced into the pipe distribution network and the process air. The DHS 4.0 series electronic air-main charging systems from Kaeser eliminate these risks by guaranteeing necessary minimum pressure, which consequently ensures smooth network start-up and safe operation of the compressed air station. They also prove highly useful during system operation, and are even essential for stations with multiple treatment lines, because they help
assure consistently high compressed air quality. If for example, a fault occurs with a dryer or a filter, the airmain charging system is able to shut down and isolate the affected treatment line. This not only assures consistent air quality, but also safeguards the pipe distribution network and the air consumers in the production facility. Moreover, this protection saves money: it minimises the burden on compressed air treatment components, air receivers and pipe networks and also prevents surge loads caused by large changes in pressure from occurring. This consequently enables long service life, which in turn leads to considerably reduced costs. Control and function capabilities have been extended with these next-generation models: the air-main charging system can be easily adjusted to accommodate specific production periods and can be opened or closed, for example, via the controller’s timer function. The real-time display keeps the user informed of operational status at all times. In addition to the stand-alone capabilities of the DHS 4.0, a Sigma Network connection now means that like all other station components, it can be connected to the Sigma Air Manager 4.0 master controller for input and visualisation. All relevant information, such as pressure measurement values or status indicators, is shown in real-time and is formatted for crossmachine communication. This allows the user to take full control of their compressed air system to assure maximum compressed air supply dependability. au.kaeser.com
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ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION
A precision transformation Traditional production methods were enhanced with cutting edge technology 15 years ago at Sutton Tools – and the internationally renowned tooling manufacturer has gone from strength to strength in lockstep with Automated Solutions Australia (ASA). Walking the factory floor at Sutton Tools’ headquarters in Thomastown, Victoria, defies what many would expect of a firm that each year produces some 20 million drills, taps, milling cutters and specialist tools for industries, ranging from medical and mining to aerospace and automotive. It’s clean. Really clean. “We used to be a far more manual operation up to the 2000s, with an environment not as clean as it is now, and more moving parts on the loading mechanisms” says Sutton’s Engineering Manager Tim Schurmann. “Our first robot was about 15 years ago, a Drake thread grinder that had one robot fitted to it. “We decided this was a pretty good idea, so we purchased some more robots and we started to install them ourselves. But we soon found we needed help from somebody to integrate them to the control system on the CNC machines, so we got Pat in to do that work.”
“The systems that they started with were fairly basic, for want of a better term,” says Green. “And so we’ve tried to stick with those basics. Things have improved progressively, they’re using more technology, the interfaces are better and smarter, but we still try to maintain that common feel.”
“We’re constantly challenged to make our product faster, of higher quality, yet more economical, to compete with opposition companies and imports from China and India where the labour is a lot cheaper,” Schurmann says. “So using robots for loading and unloading and running unmanned for some of the day reduces our cost. Sutton Tools is probably only three or four percent of the total world production of cutting tools. We’re aiming at the high end of the market. Lots of low-quality tools are coming into the country. We don’t want to compete with that. We want to be world leaders in high-quality cutting tools.”
Schurmann says the relationship with ASA has flourished, and that Green and his team knows Sutton’s manufacturing principles: “So when we ask them to integrate a robot, because they have that knowledge of doing it previously, we don’t have to give them 100% of the information. They know a lot about that already and we can get the job done quicker and more efficiently.”
Schurmann adds that ASA is a crucial partner in achieving this: “ASA do a great job and we trust Pat and his team to support our evolving needs. When we first started to install robots, each machine would probably increase efficiency by 60% or 70%. It made a big difference. It’s faster, but in particular it takes out the people factor in incorrect loading.
This has also seen improvements in the specifics of how robots have been incorporated into Sutton’s manufacturing processes.
“Our processes rely on the cutting tool being loaded correctly with exact timing – if an operator loads a tool even slightly out of timing rotation, it will be a reject. You learn over the years if you’ve got one tool that doesn’t meet specifications in a batch, the customer will send the whole batch back to you. We’ve got to be very confident that every one of those cutting tools in the batch that we export is correct and meets the standard. Robots mean we can pretty well guarantee right from the start that the product will be correctly timed all the way through until it’s finished.
By “Pat”, he means Pat Green, Director of Automated Solutions Australia (ASA). Green lives and breathes robots; his philosophy is that, though the technology might seem complex, its operation shouldn’t be.
“Some of the first installations had the robots sitting on the outside of the machines,” Schurmann explains. “They would enter the machines and load the product, then bring the finished product back out again onto a pallet. The problem is the cycle time was fairly long: the door had to open, the robot had to go in, take the old part out, put the new part in, come back out, and as soon as the door closed, the machine cycle could then start up again. It was all fairly oily and hazardous, it required guards, and it was timeconsuming. “So we decided then to put the robots inside the machines. This reduced the loading time and the cycle time as well. And it prevented any oil dripping onto the floor. It reduced the hazards and having to put up guards around a robot on the outside of the machine. “With our continuous improvement process we are where we are today,” Schurmann adds. Sutton’s spotless modern plant in Thomastown has come a long way from the company started by English immigrant William Henry Sutton in his Melbourne garage in 1917. Now run by a fourth generation of Suttons, with a fifth now coming onboard, the company manufactures a wide range of high-quality cutting tools – about 40% of which are for export. Its success rests in its passion for cutting tools and its reputation for precision and quality, and automation has played a significant part in that.
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“Compared to hand loading, robot loading has reduced rejects by probably 10% or 15% on some of the machines. It’s made that much difference on some trickier type loading situations. And we run them over morning tea and lunchbreaks, as well as lights out on the third shift.” Schurmann says one of the many satisfying aspects was working with ASA to speed production processes: “I guess it’s all about reducing loading times and improving quality. Early on we were putting a robot onto a machine and you might not get the process right the first time. So you think, ‘Oh, we can save a couple seconds here and a couple seconds there’, and we’d get ASA back to refine it. And by the time you’d saved several seconds here and a few more there, across the whole process it adds up, and we can shorten the overall time dramatically. A lot of people say it’s only a couple of seconds, but at the end of the day it means quite a few more parts that we’re producing.”
ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION
Amid so much change, certainty is vital. Green says ASA provides Sutton with a good stable format that they understand. “They have about 30-odd robots in their facility,” he remarks. “What’s crucial when you have that many is commonality. You want people to feel accustomed to it. You don’t want 30 different machines, because that’s a challenge, whereas 30 machines that feel similar and that operate in a similar way are a lot easier to understand. “Our work is specifically so that the robots feel very similar and comfortable. The machine might be different, but the robot interface, the way it works, the way the systems are set up are all common for familiarity. The operations have upgraded, but you still try to use a similar feeling program so that when they look at it and when you provide training, it’s valid across the range. That’s really the aim when you have such a broad spread of such a large number of machines. “And obviously from the support perspective, if they’re all similar, I don’t need to know the specifics of one machine to give them guidance across the lot,” Green adds. “It’s one of the benefits of developing close relationships with the people we deal with: we tend to fairly quickly become trusted partners and I think the customers that we have our best dealings with are those that are comfortable with us, know us well, feel like we’re a part of their team, and I think, generally speaking, we do that quite well. “This might sound like a strange thing to say, but we don’t just seek customers far and wide. We don’t try to be the one-stop shop for everyone. We do operate in fairly niche areas. We’re happy to say to people that there are other companies who are better suited to a particular solution than ourselves. It means our customers can have confidence that we truly understand the areas that we’re plying our trade in.” Schurmann says automation has given Sutton an increased confidence to branch into areas where they can develop new products for new needs as industries change and adapt. “Some of the newer products we’re making are carbide milling cutters for the aerospace industry, and to grind that type of material
you need diamond grinding wheels,” he says. “So now we have a cycle time that is a lot longer than with high speed steel. And with the long cycle time we can, by automatically loading these carbide cutters into the machines, run during the night and get a lot more efficiency. Without robots we wouldn’t be able to produce at an economical and high performance level. Just as Sutton Tools has evolved, so has ASA, with a customer base that covers quite a bit of territory. Green says its heartland is metal manufacturing: “Machining, machine-tending, some injection moulding, things where you’ve got a machine that’s manufacturing a component – we’re tending those machines and we’re interfacing to them and we’re doing post-process or preparatory work; we’re very strong in those areas. “We’re held in very high regard by the machine tool industry, and there’s obviously the paint shop automation that’s part of our business that we dominate in. And generally, we have enduring relationships with companies, and I’d put that down to the rapport we build.” www.automatedsolutions.com.au www.suttontools.com
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION
It’s not easy to give a robot a sense of touch We have robots that can walk, see, talk and hear, and manipulate objects in robotic hands. There’s even a robot that can smell. But what about a sense of touch? This is easier said than done and there are limitations to some of the current methods being looked at. Ajay Pandey and Jonathan Roberts explain how they are developing a new technique that can overcome some of those problems. For humans, touch plays a vital role when we move our bodies. Touch, combined with sight, is crucial for tasks such as picking up objects – hard or soft, light or heavy, warm or cold – without damaging them. In the field of robotic manipulation, in which a robot hand or gripper has to pick up an object, adding the sense of touch could remove uncertainties in dealing with soft, fragile and deformable objects.
The quest for smart skin Quantifying touch in engineering terms not only requires the precise knowledge of the amount of external force applied to a touch sensor, but you also need to know the force’s exact position, its angle, and how it will interact with the object being manipulated. Then there is the question about how many of these sensors a robot would need. Developing a robot skin that could contain hundreds or even thousands of touch sensors is a challenging engineering task. Understanding the physical mechanisms of touch sensing in the biological world provides great insights when it comes to designing the robotic equivalent, a smart skin. But a significant barrier for the development of smart skin is the electronics required. The sense of touch is generally measured by a sensor that can translate pressure into a small electrical signal. When you use a digital scale to weigh yourself or measure out ingredients in your kitchen, the scales are probably using a piezoelectric transducer. This is a device that turns a force into electricity. The tiny electrical current from the transducer is then run through wires to a small microchip that reads the strength of the current, converts that into a meaningful weight measurement, and displays it on a screen. Despite being able to sense different levels of force, these electronic devices have several limitations that make then impractical for smart skin. In particular, they have a relatively slow response time to the force. There are other types of touch sensors based on a material changing its other electric characteristics, such as capacitance or resistance. Your mobile phone screen may have this technology built in, and if you use a trackpad on your computer it will certainly use touch sensors. There has been great progress in recent years in making touch sensors that can be embedded into soft and flexible materials. This is exactly what we need for smart skin.
with artificial intelligence. Sensors uniformly distributed over the hand can be used to identify individual objects, estimate their weight, and explore the typical tactile patterns that emerge while grasping them. The researchers created a glove with 548 sensors assembled on a knitted fabric containing a piezoresistive film (which also reacts to pressure or strain) connected by a network of conductive thread electrodes. This is the first successful attempt at recording such signals at large scale, revealing important insights that can be used in future design of prosthetics and robot grasping tools. But just like almost all other touch interfaces that are designed with capacitive, resistive or piezoelectric techniques, this tactile technology does not work well with wet fingers or underwater.
Optical force sensing on the horizon To address this problem, we have developed a new form of tactile sensor that uses nanometre-thin films of organic LEDs (OLED) and organic photodiodes (OPD) for measuring soft touch. OLED technology is normally found in television and smartphone screens. Our approach to measuring the sense of touch is based on optical force sensing. The OLED elements (called diodes or pixels) are actually fully reversible. This means that as well as being able to produce light (like in a TV screen), these pixels can also detect light. Using this principle we can manufacture a tiny, opaque, flexible dome with a reflective coating that is placed above some OLED pixels. Light emitted from the central pixel is uniformly distributed across all other pixels under the dome if the dome is not disturbed. But if the dome is pressed – by touching something – it will deform, resulting in an unequal response from the pixels being used to detect the reflected light. Combining the responses from dozens of these domes in the area of contact it will be possible to estimate the force being applied. This approach is a significant step towards simplifying the smart skin layout for large area applications and we hope that we will soon see robots that can have full body sensing in the air, when wet or even underwater. Ajay Pandey is a Senior Lecturer (Intelligent Bionics and Soft Robotics) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Jonathan Roberts is a Professor in Robotics at QUT.
But many of these developments completely fail (due to the sensing type) in the presence of moisture. (Have you ever tried a wet finger on your smart phone’s touch screen?) Medical applications are now a main driver behind the demand for flexible and robust force sensing. For example, smart skin could be used to restore sensory feedback to patients with skin damage or peripheral neuropathy (numbness or tingling). It could also be used to give prosthetic hands basic touch-sensing ability. Recently, researchers from MIT and Harvard have developed a scalable tactile glove and combined it
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
This article was originally published by The Conversation. www.theconversation.com www.qut.edu.au
ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION HEADING
Three new additions to Australian-made robotic machine loading range Expanding on the success of the world class Agile Flex CNC machine tending products, John Hart has introduced three new compact platforms to complement the existing models in the range, which are designed for heavier parts on larger machines. Tailored specifically to smaller CNC machine tools, the new Agile Flex 12P and Agile Flex 12D models boast all the features of the larger Agile Flex 35P and Agile Flex 35D models, including the easyto-use software package requiring no robot experience, but in a smaller overall size and at an even more affordable price. The new Agile CoFlex 15P, featuring a Fanuc CR-15iA collaborative robot, allows the operator and machine to work even closer together, removing all requirements for safety scanners and barriers. All three of the new smaller models will handle a workpiece weight of up to 4kg (double gripping) with a maximum diameter of 100mm and length of 300mm. Workpiece capacity for the complete range is superior to competitive machine tool loading products.
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Agile Flex is a range of out-of-the-box robotic loading systems for CNC machine tools, designed and built right here in Australia and marketed worldwide. Rapid to deploy, compact and easy to use, Agile Flex has been developed to add lights out machining at a very affordable price to any brand of CNC machine. The full Agile Flex line-up includes five models and offers a range of features including:
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• Highly flexible design with up to eight high-capacity drawers as well as an additional pallet on top of the drawer chest. • Access to the drawers from both sides of the drawer chest. • Flexible configurations where the system can be installed parallel or perpendicular to your CNC machine. • Simple to use with a visually rich parametric control software interface. • No robot interface required. • No auto-door required. • Optional automatic part re-grip station. • Adjustable gripper jaws. • Affordable pricing. www.johnhart.com.au www.agilerobotics.com
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Founding Director, Empower Software email@example.com +64 27 2284211 www.empowersoftware.biz AMT Magazine 17/10/19
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION
Assembler robots make large structures from little pieces Systems of tiny robots may someday build high-performance structures, from aircraft to space settlements. Today’s commercial aircraft are typically manufactured in sections, often in different locations — wings at one factory, fuselage sections at another, tail components somewhere else — and then flown to a central plant in huge cargo planes for final assembly. But what if the final assembly was the only assembly, with the whole plane built out of a large array of tiny identical pieces, all put together by an army of tiny robots? That’s the vision that graduate student Benjamin Jenett, working with Professor Neil Gershenfeld in the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, has been pursuing as his doctoral thesis work. It’s now reached the point that prototype versions of such robots can assemble small structures and even work together as a team to build up a larger assemblies. “What’s at the heart of this is a new kind of robotics, that we call relative robots,” Gershenfeld says. Historically, he explains, there have been two broad categories of robotics — ones made out of expensive custom components that are carefully optimised for particular applications such as factory assembly, and ones made from inexpensive mass-produced modules with much lower performance. The new robots, however, are an alternative to both. They’re much simpler than the former, while much more capable than the latter, and they have the potential to revolutionise the production of large-scale systems, from aeroplanes to bridges to entire buildings. According to Gershenfeld, the key difference lies in the relationship between the robotic device
and the materials that it is handling and manipulating. With these new kinds of robots, “you can’t separate the robot from the structure — they work together as a system.” For example, while most mobile robots require highly precise navigation systems to keep track of their position, the new assembler robots only need to keep track of where they are in relation to the small subunits, called voxels, that they are currently working on. Every time the robot takes a step onto the next voxel, it readjusts its sense of position, always in relation to the specific components that it is standing on at the moment. The underlying vision is that just as the most complex of images can be reproduced by using an array of pixels on a screen, virtually any physical object can be recreated as an array of smaller three-dimensional pieces, or voxels, which can themselves be made up of simple struts and nodes. The team has shown that these simple components can be arranged to distribute loads efficiently; they are largely made up of open space so that the overall weight of the structure is minimised. The units can be picked up and placed in position next to one another by the simple assemblers, and then fastened together using latching systems built into each voxel. The robots themselves resemble a small arm, with two long segments that are hinged in the middle, and devices for clamping onto the voxel structures on each end. The simple devices move around like inchworms, advancing along a row of voxels by repeatedly opening and closing their V-shaped bodies to move from one to
the next. Jenett has dubbed the little robots BILL-E (a nod to the movie robot WALL-E), which stands for Bipedal Isotropic Lattice Locomoting Explorer. Jenett has built several versions of the assemblers as proof-of-concept designs, along with corresponding voxel designs featuring latching mechanisms to easily attach or detach each one from its neighbors. He has used these prototypes to demonstrate the assembly of the blocks into linear, two-dimensional, and three-dimensional structures. “We’re not putting the precision in the robot,” says Jenett, adding that the precision comes from the structure as it gradually takes shape. “That’s different from all other robots. It just needs to know where its next step is.” As it works on assembling the pieces, each of the tiny robots can count its steps over the structure, says Gershenfeld, who is the director of CBA. Along with navigation, this lets the robots correct errors at each step, eliminating most of the complexity of typical robotic systems. “It’s missing most of the usual control systems, but as long as it doesn’t miss a step, it knows where it is.” For practical assembly applications, swarms of such units could be working together to speed up the process, thanks to control software developed by fellow graduate student Amira Abdel-Rahman that can allow the robots to coordinate their work and avoid getting in each other’s way. This kind of assembly of large structures from identical subunits using a simple robotic system, much like a child assembling a large castle out of LEGO blocks, has
An assembler robot at work, carrying one structural unit over the top and down the other side of a structure under construction. Image courtesy of Benjamin Jenett.
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION
Two prototype assembler robots at work putting together a series of small units, known as voxels, into a larger structure. Image courtesy of Benjamin Jenett.
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already attracted the interest of some major potential users, including NASA, MIT’s collaborator on this research, and the European aerospace company Airbus SE, which also helped to sponsor the study. One advantage of such assembly is that repairs and maintenance can be handled easily by the same kind of robotic process as the initial assembly. Damaged sections can be disassembled from the structure and replaced with new ones, producing a structure that is just as robust as the original. “Unbuilding is as important as building,” Gershenfeld says, and this process can also be used to make modifications or improvements to the system over time. “For a space station or a lunar habitat, these robots would live on the structure, continuously maintaining and repairing it,” says Jenett. Ultimately, such systems could be used to construct entire buildings, especially in difficult environments such as in space, or on the moon or Mars, Gershenfeld says. This could eliminate the need to ship large preassembled structures all the way from Earth. Instead it could be possible to send large batches of the tiny subunits — or form them from local materials using systems that could crank out these subunits at their final destination point. “If you can make a jumbo jet, you can make a building,” Gershenfeld says. Sandor Fekete, Director of the Institute of Operating Systems and Computer Networks at the Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany, says: “Ultralight,
digital materials such as [these] open amazing perspectives for constructing efficient, complex, large-scale structures, which are of vital importance in aerospace applications.” However, assembling such systems is a challenge, says Fekete, who plans to join the research team for further development of the control systems: “This is where the use of small and simple robots promises to provide the next breakthrough: robots don’t get tired or bored, and using many miniature robots seems like the only way to get this critical job done. This extremely original and clever work by Ben Jenett and collaborators makes a giant leap towards the construction of dynamically adjustable aeroplane wings, enormous solar sails or even reconfigurable space habitats.” In the process, Gershenfeld says: “We feel like we’re uncovering a new field of hybrid material-robot systems.” The new work appears in the October issue of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, in a paper by Jenett, Gershenfeld, Abdel-Rahman, and CBA alumnus Kenneth Cheung, who is now at NASA’s Ames Research Center, where he leads the ARMADAS project to design a lunar base that could be built with robotic assembly. “This paper is a treat,” says Aaron Becker, an Associate Professor of Electrical And Computer Engineering At The University of Houston. “It combines top-notch mechanical design with jaw-dropping demonstrations, new robotic hardware, and a simulation suite with over 100,000 elements.” www.mit.edu
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AMT DEC/JAN 2020
29/10/19 9:01 am
AGRICULTURE, FOOD & BEVERAGES
Aussie fruit-grading technology delivers massive savings on labour costs With a 60% reduction in labour costs per tray, improved export quality and the creation of new streams of business revenue, the Benning Blueberries farm is hugely benefitting from its implementation of new AirJet Vision fruit-grading technology from Melbourne-based manufacturer GP Graders. Benning Blueberries is a family-owned business spanning three generations, which has been farming for the past 17 years in Wodonga, New South Wales. The farm grows approximately 140 hectares of blueberries, ten acres of raspberries, and has 5,000 macadamia trees. Over its years of operation, Benning Blueberries has faced a number of issues with its blueberry growth and supply, its labour, output consistency, sorting accuracy and speed, and all the challenges of meeting the growing demand for high-quality blueberries. Before it made contact with GP Graders, it had a grading system that had served its purpose in terms of the prevailing requirements when it was originally purchased. However, those needs and requirements had since changed and a more advanced grading technology was required. Since 1963, GP Graders has been manufacturing machinery to meet the needs of growers and packers around the globe. The company is the leading international supplier of fresh produce grading machinery, which uses advanced camera technology to grade various types of fruit for quality and sort them accordingly. GP Graders focuses on gentle handling, so produce is delivered fresh and unharmed. Designed and manufactured at its plant in Mount Waverley, Victoria, its machinery is designed and built with an emphasis on speed, accuracy and reliability. Benning Blueberries introduced the camera technology from GP Graders at its farm as a trial. The results have been phenomenal, with the farm improving the quality of its blueberry outputs, and exporting with the most confidence and pride they’ve had in their 25 years of business.“As a result of this investment, we have already witnessed a 60% reduction in labour costs per tray,” says Bob Benning, Chief Executive of Benning Blueberries. The driver of these savings has been the increase in productivity in terms of quantity and quality. Today, Benning Blueberries has increased its production from 4,000 trays per day to 15,000 trays per day with export-ready products. “We have the same amount of people working; however we have moved them off the grading tables and into packing and quality control,” Bob explains. “We can now pack more product, our costs are going down, and we are delivering better quality produce and more volume than ever.” In Australia, the blueberry market has evolved to a $250m business, that is exponentially growing with more and more growers getting involved in the industry, mainly due to growing overseas demand and healthy global consumption trends.
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
Hoping for new export opportunities, the Benning Blueberries team had the chance to travel out and meet several major fruit importers from the Asian-Pacific region. The grower faced expectations around quality standards, with buyers from overseas seeking exceptional quality in their produce. “The representative we met with in China went through a process where he explained to us what we needed to do to succeed in exporting good quality blueberries in the market of China and Malaysia,” says Bob. “The success factors we required is to deliver a consistent size, consistent firm berry and with good colour.” Delivering low-end or over-priced berries would severely undermine Benning Blueberries’s future ambitions regarding export markets. Changing the way the company sorted was crucial, and the production choices were looking to be a massive challenge. However, Benning Blueberries knew that the right technology investment would be hugely cost-effective, since a grading machine could not only be used for the firmness detection but would simultaneously be able to customise colour sorting.
AGRICULTURE, FOOD & BEVERAGES
The market-leading company GP Graders took up this challenge with its pioneering blueberry-sorting and grading system. The system is very easy to use, allowing greater control with customisable settings to adapt better to product seasonality. But above all, it offers an advanced sorting precision at a level never before possible. With the new GP Grader machine, Benning Blueberries was able to solve the problem of not having precise grading options to choose which berries to export, sell in Australia, or freeze. The new solution allows the company to sort its blueberries into 16 different levels of quality, all sorted into separate grades. They can separate the grade of softness, so they now have a lot more flexibility of which target markets they can sell to. “Not everyone is after big, firm fruits, as the market is quite complex,” said Bob. “With this new grading system we’ve got opportunities to target every single market rather than just targeting a particular market.”
High-grade grading After a three-year investment in the development of new cherry and blueberry grading technology, GP Graders recently released the next generation of vision technology that will cut the cost of its vision systems through in-house development. AirJet Vision features superior vision camera capability that allows for the grading of cherries and blueberries to be achieved at the highest standards. In the next release stage it will be enhanced to surpass any other grading machinery in the market with previously unreleased camera technology, at a much more affordable price. Improving upon GP Graders’ current suite of technologies, this new innovation give packers an ability to either convert to the AirJet Vision, or to upgrade their existing grading machinery with the more innovative, results-driven camera technology platform. “We have invested three years and a lot of money into building a vision grading system that heavily focuses on the packer’s outcomes, their ability to market produce and reducing the actual costs of the machinery and operators,” says Stuart Payne, CEO of GP Graders. “GP Graders has been working extensively on building our own proprietary best-of-breed technology that can be purchased at a substantially lower cost than existing technologies, and as the
software develops packers will be in a position to upgrade from their current systems to AirJet Vision.” AirJet Vision is world-class technology, with superior functionality and a highe degree of ease of use, allowing greater control without a third-party interference. Additionally, the training for AirJet Vision takes approximately one to two hours and is supported at no additional cost by GP Graders. “It has been imperative for GP Graders to work closely with packers worldwide and understand the real issues they experience with their current grading machinery technology,” adds Payne. “We understand the market and the market has been telling us to develop our own software platform with an easy to use interface and to keep ahead in the technology game, which is what we have done. “We are now in full control of our development and have a full pipeline of development projects to release to the market over the next couple of years. This is a really exciting time for GP Graders, and we have received nothing but positive feedback from our customers.” www.gpgraders.com www.benningblueberries.com.au
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
AGRICULTURE, FOOD & BEVERAGES
De Bortoli Wines boosts quality, compliance and optimisation with QAD De Bortoli Wines has grown to become one of Australia’s largest family-owned wineries. Recently it has undergone an extensive program aimed at streamlining its operations in collaboration with QAD, a leading supplier of cloud-based enterprise software for global manufacturing companies. The De Bortoli Wines journey started more than 90 years ago when Vittorio De Bortoli emigrated to Australia from Northern Italy with dreams of building a better life. Vittoria purchased a fruit farm near Griffith, in the New South Wales Riverina region, and turned unwanted Shiraz grapes into wine for family and friends. From these humble beginnings, De Bortoli Wines has grown to become the sixth largest winery in the country, exporting to 75 countries around the world with bottling plant operations in Europe and distribution in the UK. Operating estates across five Australian winemaking regions, De Bortoli Wines has also demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability and views this as a key philosophy of leaving a positive legacy for future generations. De Bortoli Wines operates a complex vertically and horizontally integrated business model that encompasses wine production and distribution from grape to glass. “De Bortoli is a vertically integrated business that is involved in every part of the wine industry and can be thought of as not just one company, but as a collection of quite distinct businesses,” says Bill Robertson, Chief Information Officer at De Bortoli Wines. “We have businesses that grow grapes, make wine, package wine, warehouse wine, transport wine, and sell wine, including direct to consumer via our own physical and online retail presence.” Robertson explains that one of the things that De Bortoli has managed to do over the years has been to build justin-time agribusiness scheduling and incorporating that into its winemaking process by working with QAD. QAD Adaptive ERP for manufacturing supports operational requirements in areas such as manufacturing, financials, customer management, supply chain, service and support, analytics, business process management and integration. “The focus of this was around quality, compliance and optimisation,” he says. “These pieces interconnect. So, when we do just-in-time scheduling of grapes, it not only optimises our deliveries for our growers and for ourselves, it also improves the quality. When we do things like the online spray diaries, that not only helps with our compliance, but it also helps with
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
the efficiency. When we have traceability through our blends, that also helps with our compliance. It also helps with our quality. So, all of these pieces have really provided a basis for a sustained, competitive advantage.” As De Bortoli looks to the future, the company plans to integrate QAD’s next generation user experience (UX). “QAD’s UX is going to support De Bortoli’s vision of sustainability by bringing all the disparate pieces of information and software into one cohesive ERP that we’ll be able to leverage for a long time,” says Shane Dunn, Business Analyst at De Bortoli Wines. “We’re using QAD to track all wine specifications from grape to bottle. The current feature set is highly configurable, and we’re using this to print a certificate of analysis form for the customer, which
shows all the specifications that they have asked for and how they match.” Robertson adds: “We’re also really excited about where QAD is going with its new user experience. The application programming interfaces (APIs) will allow us to integrate with things like manufacturing execution systems, our constraint-based scheduling systems and our supply chain integration. The ability to deploy on multiple devices is going to be critical. “There are so many pieces to where QAD is going, not just in the immediate future but the long-term, that aligns with what we want to achieve. We’re really excited by where QAD is going with its new UX. If we had a wish list of the roadmap for our ERP solution, QAD ticks the boxes.” www.qad.com www.debortoli.com.au
AGRICULTURE, FOOD & BEVERAGES
NORCO embraces metrology upgrade Nestled in the lush green pastures and rolling hills of Nowra, New South Wales, the North Coast Fresh Food and Cold Storage Cooperative Company (NORCO) began operations more than 125 years ago and is today one of the oldest dairy cooperatives in Australia. Previously with the Go/NoGo gauging, not only were the results open to interpretation, but with no absolute measurement data obtained it was very difficult to improve the overall process capability. The Vertex now provides real-time, accurate measurement data allowing NORCO to improve product quality and productivity.
Owned by Australian farmers since 1895, NORCO recently invested in a MicroVu Vertex Multi-Sensor vision system, supplied by Hi-Tech Metrology, to enhance the production and quality of its injectionmoulded ice cream containers. According to Trent Dobrunz of NORCO: “We needed a better way of measuring the dimensions on an ice cream container. As they are flexible with no straight edges conventional methods proved difficult, unreliable and definitely not repeatable, which prompted a call to Hi-Tech Metrology.” NORCO had previously been using a Go/ No-Go gauge that was highly susceptible to operator influences, making it very difficult to obtain reliable results. As the ice cream containers are flexible the solution needed to be non-contact, so the search began for an automated measuring system that utilised vision technology. The system ultimately chosen for the task was a MicroVu Vertex, supplied complete with a suite of fixtures and part programs to measure a variety of parts manufactured by NORCO.
Utilising a high-resolution colour camera, combined with powerful optical zoom and intuitive InSpec software interface, the Vertex is able to rapidly measure a number of features directly on the shop floor and provide instant accurate process feedback to the operator. With Hi-Tech Metrology designing and supplying the fixturing systems, assisting NORCO with the measurement routines, and commissioning the entire system, the operator now simply places a part in the fixture and from there on all human influences on the measurement results are removed.
Despite NORCO being based in quite a remote location, Dobrunz had been very impressed with the way Hi-Tech Metrology handled the installation and provided aftersales support. Moreover the new system is already having a positive impact on NORCO’s operations. “There is always someone at the other end of the telephone when needed and emails are always answered in a timely fashion,” he explained. “The installation has already improved our quality, provided greater repeatability, and allows us to store a history of measurements from each sample taken.” www.NORCOfoods.com.au www.hitechmetrolgy.com.au
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
AGRICULTURE, FOOD & BEVERAGES
Tube processing for agricultural engineering In agricultural machinery, diverse and flexible solutions for forming, bending and forming, and even automated systems, are required for the manufacturing of tubes that are used in crucial driving, lifting and moving operations. In agriculture, most production processes have gone from manual manufacturing to industrial production. Agricultural product that used to be processed with simple farm machinery is now undertaken using equipment that is often highly automated, in processes that have to be designed along rational lines. This applies to all areas of agriculture, from tractors to combine harvesters and driverless machines for many different applications, but also to comparatively small pieces of equipment and accessories. As a specialist in tube processing machines and systems, transfluid has already been delivering its solutions to this sector for many years. “The developments are very exciting and we are happy to continue to contribute to that”, says Stefanie Flaeper, Managing Director at transfluid. “When we look at the tube processing for the manufacturing of agricultural machinery we see two key types: heavy tubes and profiles, that are often used in the construction of frames; and on the other hand the large hydraulics systems.” Hydraulics is a method that is frequently used in agricultural machinery to drive, lift and move. transfluid offers a wide range of machines suitable for the processing of the tubes for this application: from a simple bending machine with a mandrel, like the t bend DB 642K, for mobile use and small numbers of tubes; to highly flexible CNC-controlled systems with short setup times and the ability to bend clockwise and counterclockwise, like the t bend DB 630-CNC. Very fast processes and higher output are the results with these machines.
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
The drives of the tube-processing machines are particularly high-performing and can be either hydraulic or electric with brushless motors, depending on your preference. All the challenges are therefore met, whether the tubes are small or large in diameter. Machines are available for extreme geometries, which can bend both clockwise and counterclokwise in one operation. These generally have an electric, brushless motor drive for large outputs.
Better processes with different materials and geometries In the production of hydraulics tubes there is often a requirement for only small numbers of production pieces but in a great variety of geometries. In this case, materials and geometries are particularly challenging. Although standard materials are used, other materials with significantly greater strength are used to meet the specifications. For this reason, the machines must offer the right level of flexibility. In this production area it can make sense to have a manufacturing model that is based on one piece flow and chaotic, when tubes of different diameters are needed for a product. The stock levels can be reduced a lot and the tube is prepared completely before bending. “Our goal is to greatly simplify and optimise the production processes with our solutions, ” explains Flaeper. “To do this, our machines will produce tubes that are completely ready for immediate use after the bending.” The first step is the cutting, which the t cut range takes care of. The cleaning and automatic application of cutting rings and
many different types of forming are also required. The forming and the cutting rings can be processed both ways in this case. The transfluid cleaning systems automatically deliver clean tubes. transfluid offers the complete processing of tubes and, if needed, the right automations systems with t motion, for a completely automated production.
Prototyping and software for safe production A key element for success in tube processing is prototyping. All transfluid machines can be operated manually to produce the first set of tubes. In addition, tools are available to measure the component, or even the whole set of components, in a flexible way and directly on the item and generate accurate digital data. The t project software makes it possible to process isometrics directly from CAD. Both the technical department and the machine operator can use a number of different interfaces to import data and run collision tests. “With our advanced software, even the very first tube is ready to be used in a manufacturing process,” adds Flaeper. This way, transfluid offers tubes to the manufacturers of agrotechnical products that are ready to be incorporated and produced in a way that is extremely close to the final manufacturing standards; they are necessary for a functioning and reliable hydraulics system. www.transfluid.net
AGRICULTURE, FOOD & BEVERAGES
Komatsu – Beating the heat An Australian innovation has made the country’s growing feedlot industry substantially more efficient and has brought relief to machine operation in extreme heat conditions. Komatsu’s Australian engineers have devised a way to maintain radiator efficiency in conditions which would otherwise cause machines to shut down for lengthy time-consuming cleaning. The ingenious system of modifications has brought relief to operators as well as engine and transmission components, contributing to reduction in fatigue on long shifts at the controls. Local Komatsu engineers have spent several years examining and changing airflow patterns over the radiators of their machines, particularly in applications where high-fibre debris has the potential to clog radiators. New widercore radiator vanes allow debris to find its way past and through the radiator without the same propensity to clog. The system, the result of substantial trials, has given Komatsu a decided edge in the burgeoning feedlot industry, which this year is expected to exceed $4.6bn in contribution to the economy, and to service more than 1.5m head of cattle. More than 60% of Australia’s 400 accredited feedlots are located in the comparatively high temperature regions of Queensland. “Our brief from customers was to be able to provide them with a full shift of operation without having to stop to clean radiators and coolers of high-density fibers which gather on the ground in feedlots,” said
Steve Hollins, Komatsu’s National Technical Manager – Wheel Loaders. “The solution we devised exceeded that target, and later improvements by the Komatsu factory have provided even greater efficiency. Our work was done on the PZ-6 series which is still in wide demand. It’s pleasing that many of our modifications have been taken up as standard equipment on later models.” It was determined that the hydraulic fans that distribute air over the machine’s radiator could be run in reverse to pick up clean air from behind the radiator and force it forward in the PZ-6 models. The new-8 models from the factory have taken up the modification as standard. The function operates every 20 minutes for three minutes under normal conditions but can be programmed to work for five minutes in every 12 in severe conditions. The ‘reverse cycle’ for the PZ-6 models was assisted by the development of a special wide core radiator which opened blades from 2-3mm to 5-6mm allowing fibres a better opportunity to pass through without clogging. The feature is now standard on the new-8 models. The same technique was applied to the engine and transmission oil cooler, which sits alongside the radiator.
The relocation of the air conditioning condenser from nearby the radiator to the top of the cabin has had the dual advantage of clearing an additional airway for engine cooling and providing cooler, cleaner air to the operator. The condenser, like the radiators, has an automatically activated self-cleaning function which further reduces the possibility of clogging. It is provided as a retro-fit to the company’s PZ-6 machines which are widely used in the feedlot industry and is an installation modification on Dash Seven and Dash Eight machines which have incorporated some of the innovation as original equipment. “Operators in the feedlot industry are sometimes working in heat up to 50 degrees, and in conditions where a ‘haybuster’ can split open a core of feed in a matter of seconds and create an almost impenetrably dust storm,” said Hollins. “For years, the need to stop and clean radiators has been an annoying, and as it turns out unnecessary drain on productivity.” Operators who needed to stop three or four times a shift to clean radiators with compressed air are now reporting up to 100 hours between major cleans. www.komatsu.com.au
One of the team’s modifications provided an additional boost for operator comfort.
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Med tech – A sector undergoing constant change As a pioneer in the medical technology field, Tornos strives for continued improvements in terms of precision or quality – essential factors if you want to go further and further in the field of micro-precision. While the global population continues to grow and age, the gradual urbanisation of our civilisation is creating a plethora of new health risks. The United Nations expects that an ageing global population will precipitate significant social changes – changes for which Tornos has been prepared for many years, especially in the medical and dental sectors. The Swiss machine tool manufacturer has such expertise in the field that it knows it can anticipate the needs of this booming market and meet those demands by providing innovative customised high-performance solutions.
Perfect results for the most complex parts
Growth and ageing of the population
Screws used to anchor dental implants pose the same kind of challenges as screws that are used for other medical purposes. The current kinematic system of the automatic lathes from Tornos offer a B-axis system in order to machine milled contours to the required complexity and precision.
The global population is forecast to grow 16% by 2030. In the same period, the global population will also be ageing. The number of people aged 60 years and older is increasing faster than that of younger age groups and it is expected to double by 2050, and even triple or more by 2100. This demographic trend of ageing opens up new prospects with regards medical and dental technology, since the people aged 65 and older present greater demands for appropriate care. Two-thirds of those patients who need an artificial hip are currently more than 65 years old. Medical devices are used to prevent, diagnose or treat diseases and complaints, or to detect, evaluate, restore, correct or modify the structure or functions of human bodies in order to restore health.
Precision medicine – targeted and customised Today, the convergence of technologies, innovation and the consumption of healthcare paves the way for precision medicine – or as it is also described, personalised medicine. The relevant information is used to define individual disease patterns, based on which specific treatment is best for each individual. Few other industries are so strictly regulated, or place such exacting demands with regard to quality, safety and transparency. For more than 30 years, Tornos has been closely collaborating with manufacturers of medical devices from all over the world to assist them in providing impeccable products that improve the quality of life for patients. In this way, Tornos enables its partners to produce anything connected with spinal instrumentation. This ranges from poly-axial and mono-axial screws – including screw heads – to lock nuts, not forgetting intervertebral cages that are used to treat certain dorsal and cervical diseases and also for degenerative disk diseases. With regard to maxillofacial surgery, Tornos follows the ongoing trend towards miniaturisation that requires ultra-precise screws with extremely sharp threads and heads that are able to withstand high forces, as well as a flawless connection to the osteosynthesis plate.
Orthopedics and sports medicine In the treatment of bones, joints and soft tissue, both orthopedic and trauma surgery often use bone screws and other fixation devices such as plates. Tornos has expertise in the production of cannulated screws, canellous and cortical bone screws, as well as locking screws made of stainless steel or titanium.
Among the health-related business sectors, the dental field is experiencing an extraordinary boom. This is due to the fact that dental medicine means much more than getting back a beautiful smile. In fact, it can ensure various essential functions required to guarantee a high quality of life such as biting and chewing food. Dental implants such as bone screws, abutments and locking screws must be bio-compatible and resistant to various compression, traction and shearing forces.
Both in the medical and in the dental fields, a whole array of specifically designed tools are required to assist the physician when it comes to cutting, clamping and blocking, retracting and exposing as well as holding the relevant parts of the body during surgery. Such tools need to be easy to sanitise, economical, and in certain cases compatible with robotic handling. They should therefore be manufactured from suitable materials. For the production of medical and dental devices, an essential factor is bio-compatibility – in other words, the ability of a material to perform with an appropriate host response in a specific situation.
Traditional material or innovative material? Tornos attaches great importance to the physical properties of the material. Likewise it is the ability to satisfy the requirements of its use and to the appropriate treatment processes such as chemical and biological properties as well as the compliance with valid regulations. The material cost is another factor that must be taken into consideration. Classical bio-materials such as platinum, magnesium and stainless steel, as well as more recent bio-materials, in particular cobaltchrome and polyether ether ketone (PEEK), are the materials the Tornos solutions are aimed at. The machining of PEEK is subject to various constraints. Under no circumstances should PEEK workpieces that are intended for implantation purposes be exposed to cutting oil during the machining process. This means that dry machining is required. Moreover, all lubricants used must be compatible with PEEK. In this particular case, cooling is ensured by a targeted jet of cold air.
Turned parts from Tornos used in trauma surgery.
Moreover, Tornos is an expert in cannulation, a process used for machining a central hollow shank. Hip screws provide a vivid demonstration of Tornos’ knowledge in the field of orthopedics, and illustrate the high machining performance that the company offers – especially in terms of threading. A dental fixture manufactured on a Tornos machine.
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Inclined milling and B-axis Just like certain components such as vertebral implants, orthopedic bone nails, screws and dental implants require specific solutions, especially when conducting milling operations. Thanks to fully numerical axis control, manufacturers can handle extremely complex medical and dental components with ease and in one set-up.
Tornos is an expert in the dental industry.
Furthermore, the high-end Tornos machines are equipped with a tool holder with fixed nozzles that enable the cutting oil to be precisely supplied directly to the cutting edge of the cutting tool. In this way, excellent chip breaking, process security and high productivity are ensured. This is essential for the burr-free production of batches that are becoming smaller and smaller due to the increasing trend towards customised medical and dental devices. With its expertise in the field of medical technology, Tornos is able to assist its customers in tackling any challenge they face. www.tornos.com www.swisstec.com.au
Tornos delivers speed and efficiency Stefano Buonpane founded Almadec in November 2018 as a new bar-turning venture built around the latest Tornos machines Almadec is annexed to the premises of Buonpane’s first company, Precisteel, in Brügg, Switzerland. With a staff of 15, Precisteel mainly produces parts for industrial machines, for the connector business and for watchmaking. Buonpane decided to establish the new company by focusing its production around the precision and reliability of Tornos machines, which are known for their efficiency, stability and agility. For the new venture, Buonpane decided to invest in new machinery, purchasing two Tornos SwissNano 4 Swiss-type lathes. A Tornos Deco 10 machine was also ordered to make sure that in terms of technical capabilities, nothing is left to be desired. “These machines have an excellent reputation,” says Buonpane. “When I bought them, I knew that I made a good investment. My customers often request various special parts that we can now manufacture on these machines.” Almadec’s spacious premises are geared to accommodate an even larger machine inventory if required, but for the time being the new equipment can cope with upcoming demand. “We make suggestions and conduct a feasibility study,” says Buonpane. “There is no challenge that can frighten us.” Buonpane’s extensive expertise is clear, and his customers can place their confidence in him for any machining tasks, be
it turning, milling, cylindrical grinding, drilling, or internal and external grinding, finishing and assembly. His motivated staff are qualified to set up machines for highly complex workpieces in any quantity, from prototypes to large batches Buonpane conceived of the name of his new company Almadec by taking the two initial letters of his two sons’ first names, Alessio and Mattia, followed by the three initial letters of the French word for bar turning – décolletage. “I founded this company based on the vision of its future and its permanence,” he explains. “Precisteel is a family-owned enterprise and the same is true for Almadec. And it’s an important asset I am intending to invest in.” Buonpane even decided to personalise his new Tornos SwissNano 4 machines by giving them the names of his two sons. The enclosures of the machines are labelled with the forenames Alessio and Mattia. Even though his sons are still very young, he hopes that they will succeed him in due course. For now, he is busy building the company day by day. “Little by little, I’m going to complement my staff,” he says. “Just recently, I hired an experienced bar turner who had worked in the watchmaking business before. The forecast is favourable and we are all making progress by doing our best every day.” www.almadec.ch
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Leading Australian fastener company invests in future One of Australia’s largest and leading manufacturers of specialised fasteners such as bolts, nuts, screws, washers, studs and cages has secured its future in a competitive world with a heavy capital investment in the latest CNC machines and bar loaders from Okuma Australia. A third-generation family business based in the Gold Coast suburb of Carrara in Queensland, Prendergast Fasteners is a long-term user of Okuma’s range of high-tech manfacturing equipment, having commissioned its first CNC machine back in 1996. Most recently the company commissioned five new Okuma CNC lathes with OSPP300LA control and four LNS ALPHA SL65-S Bar Loaders. While the new machines are in many ways similar to the existing Okuma machines in the Prendergast Fasteners workshop, they also provide for enhanced consistent accuracy and increased speed of production, thereby allowing for shorter lead times and improved efficiencies. For the company’s Managing Director Nat Prendergast, the new machines have had a clear impact on operations at the company’s Carrara facility, further bolstered by the aftersales support provided by the team at Okuma Australia. Each of the new Okuma CNC lathes comes equipped with the OSPP300LA control.
“Okuma has been a standout for us,” said Nat. “The performance of these machines is outstanding as we are already achieving improved cycle times from 12 minutes down to two minutes, and the back-up service, training and ongoing advice is excellent. With all operators in direct contact with Okuma personnel, any problem we might experience is always quickly resolved.” Founded by Robert and Patricia Prendergast in 1969, Prendergast Fasteners started life in the New South Wales (NSW) market, before it relocated its operations north of the border to Gold Coast in 1989. The company’s commitment to excellence soon earned it a solid reputation for exceptional high-quality output, resulting in an early manufacturing deal for specialised screws for the Sydney Opera House. A second generation of the Prendergast family – Nat, Debbie and Kelly – have subsequently joined the company, and today the trio continue to set the same high standards in the industry. They do this with the help of the latest cutting-edge technology and a team of some 20 personnel, including four third-generation members if the Prendergast family. While specialising in a broad range of fasteners, the company today also produces parts for a number of industries including energy and resources, such as components for slurry pumps for the mining sector. With a diverse client base that includes the likes of Caterpillar, the company continues to ensure it is not totally reliant on any one industry for its flow of work and revenue. This quality-assured, 100% Australian company offers a diverse product range that includes anchor and square head bolts, metal thread screws, speciality fasteners and much, much more, with letters of conformity specifying that the product is compliant with relevant
The new machines from Okuma provide for enhanced consistent accuracy and increased speed of production, shortening lead times and improving efficiencies.
Australian and international standards. Additional capabilities such as mill certification, chemical analysis, heat treatment, galvanising zinc coating, electroplating, phosphate coatings and mechanical testing are also available as Prendergast Fasteners strives to meet its customers’ specific requirements. Whilst servicing the broader Australian market as a manufacturer with a reputation for reliably high quality, investment in the latest technology has enabled Prendergast Fasteners to increase direct and indirect export sales amid a highly competitive and ever-changing global market place. For Nat and the rest of the Prendergast Fasteners team, having the latest state-of-the-art manufacturing technology from Okuma at their disposal means the company is well equipped to meet any challenge.
A member of the Prendergast Fasteners team operationg one of the company’s new CNC lathes from Okuma.
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“Operators on the floor are over the moon with the new machines, which they see as securing their future as the company continues to grow and prosper,” says Nat. www.okumaaustralia.com.au www.prendergastfasteners.com.au
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Making the case for metal-cored wire Although metal-cored wire has increased efficiencies and reduced overall costs in heavy equipment, automotive and general manufacturing, some shops that are good candidates to adopt it are still reluctant to change. Why? Most importantly, what is their risk for not converting? By Caleb Haven. While every company has unique goals, all certainly want the same results for their welding operation: consistent productivity, high weld quality and profitability. The path each takes to achieve those results varies. For some it may be a matter of investing in automated equipment or increasing their workforce. For others, a welding wire change could be the answer. Metal-cored wire can bring improvements to the right welding application, and it has been especially successful in heavy equipment, automotive and general manufacturing. Considering a conversion to this welding wire, however, requires a holistic look at the welding operation. In many situations, metal-cored wire can increase efficiencies and reduce overall costs compared to solid wires. If thatâ€™s the case, why are some shops reluctant to make a change to metal-cored wire? The installed cost may factor into the equation, along with the comfort level of using solid wire, which is prevalent in many industries. There may also be some concern about welder acceptance of a new welding wire or about teaching welders a new welding process or technique. The trial and installation may seem daunting to others. These are all matters easily addressed working in conjunction with a trusted welding distributor and filler metal manufacturer throughout the conversion process. That leads to a second question: What is the risk in not considering metal-cored wire for those shops that are good candidates for a conversion? In some cases, failure to convert means they may be less competitive in an increasingly competitive landscape or they may not reach the full productivity potential of their operation. They may also have to settle for higher rework or repair rates.
How it all adds up Metal-cored wire is a composite tubular wire consisting of a metal sheath with a core of metallic powders and alloys. Its construction offers key benefits over solid wire that add up to cost savings: 1. Improved productivity. With the same welding wire size at the same operating parameters (amperage), metal-cored wire typically has a higher deposition rate, resulting in faster travel speeds for the same size weld. For example, at 350 amps, a 1.14mm diameter metal-cored wire can operate at a wire feed speed of 14.3m/min, resulting in a deposition rate of 6.76kg/hr. The same diameter solid wire welding at 350 amps is capable of a wire feed speed of 11.6m/min and provides a deposition rate of 5.99kg/hr. Metal-cored wire does cost more than solid wire, but it can yield about a 30% increase in productivity. Faster cycle times mean more parts out the door and a better bottom line. In fact, a shop located in the southern US recently reported increasing their travel speed by 25 cm/min and their weld penetration by 15% to 20%, resulting in faster production and an approximate savings of $365,000 annually. 2. Better labour utilisation and fewer non-value-added activities. Labour accounts for around 85% of the total cost of most welding operations, with the remaining costs being divided between the welding wire (10%) and shielding gas (5%). Labour encompasses more than just welding; it includes weld preparation, positioning and tacking, changing contact tips and welding wire spools, and potentially post-weld clean-up or rework. Of these, the cost for weld preparation and post-weld work can be reduced with metal-cored wires.
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By reducing pre and post-weld activities, metal-cored wire can help reduce total cycle time in a welding operation. Gains can be made with faster travel speeds in the weld cell, too.
This welding wire eliminates the need for labour to clean mill scale, oil or dirt from the base material prior to welding and produces minimal spatter to reduce cleanup. It also provides good gap bridging and high weld quality to reduce labour for rework. Getting rid of these non-value-added activities not only reduces the cost for items like grinding wheels, grinders and anti-spatter solution (or for scrapped parts), it also gives companies the opportunity to reallocate labour to other areas of the welding operation where welders can help increase productivity. In a welding industry that faces a shortage of skilled labour, metalcored wires can simplify training. New welders can typically pick up the appropriate welding techniques for metal-cored wire quickly, making them a productive part of the welding operation and adding to its profitability.
The cost of conversion The cost to change to metal-cored wire is generally minimal, especially considering the projected overall savings in labour and rework, and the increase in productivity. This holds especially true for metal-cored wire conversions on robotic welding systems. In some cases, it may be possible to increase productivity with this welding wire on existing equipment, as opposed to investing in additional robots. The conversion involves a few key steps: 1. Welding operation study. This study can happen in one of two places: the filler metal manufacturer can study the operation onsite, or recreate the part production in their lab. In both cases, a specialist will establish the baseline for the current welding process with solid wire, looking at welding parameters (wire feed speed, amperage, voltage and so on) and determining how long it takes to make the part. The part will then be welded with metal-cored wire and the faster travel speeds and deposition rates noted. From there, it is possible to prorate the cost savings using metal-cored wire on a pershift, monthly or yearly basis. 2. In-house trial. After reviewing the data on metal-cored wire from the welding study, a shop can trial it in a single welding cell within their operation, working with a filler metal specialist to optimise the parameters. According to the preference of the company, this trial may run for a day, week or even a month.
Considering a conversion to metal-cored wire requires a holistic look at the welding operation to accurately assess the cost savings. In many situations, metal-cored wire can increase efficiencies and reduce overall costs compared to solid wires.
3. Potential welding procedure requalification. Depending on the application, it may be necessary for a shop to requalify their welding procedure for use with metal-cored wires. In some cases, it may be possible do conduct the testing in-house. However, if additional Charpy V-notch or tensile strength testing is required, the shop will need to work with a third-party testing lab to ensure the chosen metal-cored wire qualifies. 4. Conversion. The goal is to convert to metal-cored wire without interrupting production. This can occur by changing over one cell or a group of cells at a time or during routine weld cell maintenance. It may be necessary to make changes to the drive rolls at this time: metal-cored wires require V-knurled drive rolls.
Overcoming barriers to change Metal-cored wire may help shops that are: • Spending time and money cleaning prior to and after welding. • Currently welding mild steel 1.5mm to 6mm thick with solid wire.
• Having poor fit-up, gaps or burn-through issues. • Experiencing inadequate side wall fusion. • Struggling to train less skilled welders. • Have high levels of scrap or rework. Change can be difficult at any time, whether it’s a personal matter or a business one. In the case of seeking improvements and cost savings with metal-cored wire, it is important to gain the acceptance of the welders who will be using the new welding wire on a daily basis. Communication about the welding process change and proper training are key to successful implementation. Helping welders understand that they are a critical part of the success and the profitability of the process can also go a long way in garnering support. The conversion decision also requires that the decision makers – whether owners, purchasing agents or other stakeholders – look at the entire welding process to see the potential for overall gains. Don’t just look at the welding wire cost by weight. Caleb Haven is an applications engineer for Hobart Brothers. This article is reprinted courtesy of Fabricating & Metalworking. www.fabricatingandmetalworking.com www.hobartbrothers.com.
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Demeller 3D welding table transforms workflow at balustrade manufacturer Baed in Illawarra, New South Wales, D&T Balustrade Systems has transformed the way it manufactures custom balustrades by adopting the Demmeler 3D welding system. D&T is the preferred fabrication supplier to many major construction companies in Illawarra, and is regularly contracted for projects by the Kiama and Wollongong Councils. Specialising in strata management multi-story residential projects, D&T has the expertise to design and install balustrading to exact specifications for large and small jobs.
Previously, D&T had been using a sturdy but simple steel bench with traditional methods of squaring their jobs up. Fabricating with aluminium and not steel meant that they couldn’t tack the job to the bench to keep it in position. “We had no real way of setting the job up once and moving forward,” explains Szabo. “During the fabricating process we had to constantly re-check that the job hadn’t moved out of square, which takes time. And while it sufficed, it wasn’t very accurate.”
The investment in Demmeler tables from Leussink Engineering enabled D&T to produce extremely accurate work, which opened doors to bigger clients and larger orders. “Within six months of purchasing our first table we changed our workshop around to fit another Demmeler table in,” says Luke Szabo, Business Director at D&T. “The decision to bring this system into our factory impressed our clients with the level of accuracy we were able to achieve. And because of this improved accuracy, the work came flooding in from our mining client.” Demmeler tables enabled D&T to produce work precisely to the millimetre and exactly as per the stringent requirements of their mining client. “Building exactly to the sizes required is key,” Szabo adds. “And with what we were able to do with this bench, we were getting products sent to us (that other companies had fabricated) to square them up and fix issues that had occurred during the fabrication process. We realised early on that whilst our methods for making balustrades and other products for the housing industry were fine with the processes we were using, the accuracy required for what we were fabricating for the mining industry was not quite good enough.”
Since acquiring two Demmeler tables from Leussink, D&T fabricates all its products on them to achieve engineered accuracy. Over time Leussink has worked with D&T to engineer and adapt the system to suit workshop requirements. “We fabricate steel, aluminium and stainless steel, and the Demmeler table system handles each of these effortlessly,” Szabo attests. “With the Demmeler system, we set up the stoppers and clamps at the start of the process, which holds the job in place for welding. Once the job is locked in, it just doesn’t move at all because it can’t, and this really speeds up fabrication time and improves our accuracy. “Having a table full of holes and accessories that fit perfectly into those holes means we are able to set the job up and clamp the job pretty much in any location and into any position. If the frame size changes, we just pull the clamp or locating bolt out and move it. I think of it like a Meccano set.” www.leussink.com.au
Welding training prioritised for Naval shipbuilding Welders will play a critical role in the workforce required for the Government’s $90bn continuous Naval Shipbuilding Program. With Australia facing a shortage of qualified, certified welders, the Naval Shipbuilding College and Weld Australia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a national shipbuilding welding education and training competency framework. Technological advancements are resulting in rapid changes to traditional training methods for apprentices and qualified welders. Ian Irving, Chief Executive of the Naval Shipbuilding Institute, said the MoU would be used to create a commonality in training, skilling and certification across Australia in relation to naval shipbuilding. “Augmented reality training, simulation and virtual reality are some examples of the new technologies today’s vocational students are using to obtain their required skills,” said Irving. “Our common goal is advancing the progress of the welding skills required by the Naval Shipbuilding Program. The agreement will allow us to share information across all parties and work together to develop an evolving and consistent national education and training competency framework.’’ Chief Executive Officer of Weld Australia Geoff Crittenden said Australia is facing a significant shortage of qualified welders: “Our collaboration with the Naval Shipbuilding College, formalised in the signing of this MoU, will support the Australian defence industry.
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It will help ensure that the defence prime contractors have access to the skilled, qualified welding professionals required to successfully deliver the Naval Shipbuilding Program.” Weld Australia’s National Manager for Strategic Partnerships, Brian Rungie, said extensive consultation with key stakeholders would take place to identify the welding skills, capabilities, certifications and qualifications required to successfully deliver the Naval Shipbuilding Program. “Based on our findings, we plan to develop and deliver education and training models that support both the needs of the defence industry and those of Australian welders,’’ he said. “We will continue to encourage and support Australian fabricating firms looking to enter the naval shipbuilding supply chain, with assistance to become certified to AS/NZS ISO 3834 Quality requirements for fusion welding of metallic materials.” www.navalshipbuildingcollege.com.au
Explore your unlimited possibilities additively The Additive Manufacturing Hub is a $1.85m programme that will grow and develop additive manufacturing capability and investment in Victoria. The vision of the AM Hub is to provide an industry-driven network of users, suppliers and supporters that will foster and grow the use of Additive Manufacturing technology in Australia. + Promote and market additive manufacturing sector capabilities. + Expand the knowledge base of additive manufacturing technologies. + A grant programme for Victorian businesses to encourage adoption of additive manufacturing technologies. + Support the creation of high quality additive manufacturing jobs. + Be a voice to Government on additive manufacturing sector development. Companies looking to explore the potential of additive manufacturing, or further expand their use of the technology should register interest via email at email@example.com
Cut To Size sees growth trends for engineering plastics Light, strong, and cost-effective, engineering plastics are continuing to supplant metals in many machinery, componentry and materials handling applications, particularly agriculture, food & beverages, and primary product processing such as sugar, fisheries, forestry and timber. Manufacturers and machinery engineers in these sectors are adopting engineering plastics* to maximise advantages in applications where outstanding hygiene, corrosion and deterioration resistance, low friction, automation and safety are critical, according to engineering plastics innovator Laurie Green, Managing Director of Cut To Size Plastics. Engineering plastics are a group of plastic materials that have better mechanical and/or thermal properties than the more widely used commodity plastics “Australia and New Zealand are starting to catch up with pan-Asia and global trends towards the use of engineering plastics in expanding uses to which they are eminently suited,” says Green. “Metals are great for some applications, but manufacturers, operations managers, processors and infrastructure specifiers here are waking up to opportunities to optimise their lowmaintenance infrastructure and automation applications with plastics.” Cut To Size has more than 40 years’ experience in engineering plastics applications throughout the Asia-Pacific, and distributes advanced materials from international leaders in plastics technology including Licharz, Gehr and
Beck-Wefapress. The company has just launched a new website to help groups such as engineers, operations managers, safety managers and others to decide whether plastics can deliver the benefits they need – and to further extend technical support to specifiers who work with high performance and engineering plastics. The website is linked to subsidiary Hercules Engineering, which manufactures costefficient low-maintenance bearings for architectural, infrastructure and engineering applications ranging from hospitals, highrises and landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, through to road, rail, bridge, tank and pipeline infrastructure in Australia, Asia and Africa. Green says plastics have long had a place in safety applications, ranging from machinery guards and electrically protected products, right through to light and easily replaced plummer blocks housing shafts, as well as low-wear, low friction bulk-handling equipment, guides and liners to help prevent blockages, and hazardous clearing operations, which can bedevil mining, food & beverage dry product and diverse bulkhandling applications.
“Automation and the search for costefficiency are also driving change in plastics engineering,” adds Green. “Increasingly, engineers, architects and machinery fabricators are open to innovation, rather than being rusted on to the past. And new plastics formulations are emerging every year with designed-in attributes that optimise them for particular applications. ”
Expansion and innovation Recent innovations by Cut To Size include the introduction of a new high-speed, vibration-free Morbidelli Author M100F heavy-duty CNC router, which offers unmatched finishing quality and rapid production turnaround for the company’s Asia-Pacific markets. It is also currently introducing Wefapress’ globally proven Flex Cover ranges of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylenes (UHMWPE), which have been chemically modified to make this tough, light material particularly suitable for hightemperature applications. The Wefapress Flex Cover range is typically eight times lighter than comparable steel liners used to curtail friction, wear and material flow challenges in diverse applications requiring no moisture absorption, outstanding chemical resistance and corrosion prevention. “The important thing is to approach engineering plastics with an open mind, knowing that there are some applications for which metals will be superior and others where plastics will have the big advantages,” says Green. “For example, the particularly low melting point and high malleability of plastic allows these materials to be easily formed into a wide variety of complex shapes, thereby contributing to the ease of forming this material without requiring the use of any forming or machining procedures. “Plastic materials also typically exhibit a greater chemical resistance compared with metals against potentially hazardous chemicals, such as those that cause oxidation or rusting when applied to metals and which can be a real hazard or downtime contributor in industries such as food and beverage and mining. Overall, plastic materials can be produced at a much faster rate as compared to their metal counterparts at a lower cost.”
Laurie Green, Managing Director of Cut To Size Plastics.
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Lion opens Australia’s first recycled bar During this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival, racegoers had an opportunity to see just how single-use plastics can be repurposed in 2019 – and enjoy a drink at the same time. Thousands of pieces of recycled plastic have been used to create the Round II bar – a new initiative by beverages producer Lion to celebrate its partnership with soft plastic recycling organisation REDcycle and its manufacturer Replas. Launched in time to pour Lion’s sparkling alcoholic seltzer Quincy throughout the Carnival, the Round II bar was made from 98% recycled plastic, while the furniture and barriers are made from a mixture of post-industrial plastic such as car bumpers, and approximately 13,500 pieces of post-consumer soft plastic waste including plastic bags, lolly wrappers, and shrink wrap used for beer packaging. Lion’s Head of Sustainability, Libby Davidson said the Round II bar is an Australian-first, and will be used at many of the company’s key sponsorship events. “The impact of single-use plastics on the environment is a key concern at Lion so we are always looking for new, innovative ways to repurpose this resource and promote the circular economy.” In September Lion announced it was the first major brewer in Australia to partner with REDcycle - a national soft plastic recycling initiative which collects and reuses soft plastics that cannot go into kerbside recycling. Once processed, the reclaimed plastic is delivered to Victorian manufacturer Replas where it undergoes transformation into a range of recycled-plastic products including park benches and street signage. www.lionco.com www.redcycle.net.au
Australian manufacturer develops fire-retardant rubber for mining In a bid to reduce fire risks at mineral processing plants, Australian company Elastomers Australia collaborated with leading mining operators to develop non-burning rubber screen media panels. Fires accounted for a massive 98% of notifiable incidents at Western Australia mine sites and mineral processing plants in the 12 months to March 2018, according to WA’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. It’s a similar story across Australia’s other mining states, with both the New South Wales Resources Regulator and Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy reporting big increases in fire incidents over recent years. According to Pat Caputo, General Manager - Business Solutions at Elastomers Australia, one of the reasons is likely to be an increase in the use of some combustible materials by operators. “There are many benefits to using lighter-weight plastics and rubber compounds for a broad range of applications across the industry,” Caputo said. “Screening, or the process of grading ore by particle size, is one such application. Screen media panels that contain various sized apertures to grade the ore are made of rubber or polyurethane compounds, which perform well and are easy to handle. But these sorts of materials can also burn if they come into contact with an ignition source.” It is that risk that has driven major mine operators around the country to investigate the development of fire retardant alternatives and resulted in Elastomers Australia delivering a solution that is ready for market. “We were approached by an existing client who asked about potential solutions to the problem,” Caputo said.
“We’d already commenced research into fire retardant materials and with the assistance of the client we were able to fast-track development of a tailored screen media solution. After initial fire tests proved successful, we rolled the screen media out across a number of sites to test its wear and other performance capabilities, and the results have been very positive. “Fortunately, the number of lost time injuries caused by fire remains low in the Australian mining sector, but the results of fire could be catastrophic and it is our duty to eliminate any such risks. Much of the mining industry’s approach to safety goes beyond compliance and seeks to achieve year-on-year improvement. While a key focus of safety management is people’s behaviour, the adoption of technology by operators also has a major part to play in reducing and ultimately eliminating risks.” Caputo added that, while Elastomers Australia solutions were responsible for screening the highest tonnages of iron, coal and gold ores across 200 mineral processing operations in Australia, the company saw global opportunities for its new development. “As far as we know, we are the first in the world to bring a viable fireretardant screen media product to market,” he said. “We expect to see an increase in opportunities as mine operators nationally and internationally look for ongoing safety improvement.” www.elastomersaustralia.com.au
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Navigating the road to finance New legislation has been applied after the Banking Royal Commission which has included increased compliance requirements. To assist when applying for finance, Angus Macdonald provides some helpful advice and elaborates on the benefits of engaging an independent broker. Running a business can be difficult at the best of times, obtaining finance for equipment purchases, paying suppliers, importing of stock or equipment and general cash flow are all things that go hand-in-hand with running a business. Spending the money is one thing, getting your business to a point of capacity for borrowing and then proving all this to a lender is a different thing entirely. Due to changes put in place after the Banking Royal Commission, new legislation has increased compliance requirements and pushed out service times which generally make the process of obtaining finance longer and more arduous. However, there are still several essential requirements that no finance application goes without. Hopefully the following tips can break this process down so that when the next time comes when your business needs finance assistance, you will know exactly what to do. • Financial Statements
Generally consisting of a two-year balance sheet and profit and loss statement. Additional financial information that is generally required includes ATO portal printouts, Trust Deeds and director tax returns.
presented to them. While this additional security allows the bank to offer competitive pricing due to minimal risk, it is not a practice that has the customer’s best interest in mind. This is commonly known as a “fixed and floating charge” and often remains registered against assets long after all the money owing is paid back. This type of lending is not put into practice when using an equipment finance broker, the only security taken is that of the asset being purchased, leaving the business with the maximum level of protection.
Why use Interlease over the bank? • Broad industrial equipment finance experience. • We introduce you to many funders - not just one - spreading your borrowing risk. • No requirement for personal property or business equity to support loan. • Most brokers are around long after your bank has cycled several managers through your business.
What we do for you? • Provide instant access to finance expertise.
• Directors Statement of Position
• We collect financial information, analyse information.
• We write up full application submit to financier.
This outlines an estimate of what you own versus what you still owe and what that net difference is.
• Business Overview
A detailed description on what your business does, how long you have been in business, who its suppliers and customers are and how many people are employed etc. - the more detail the better.
This document explains to the lender why you want to borrow money and how you can service the loan. For example if you are borrowing to purchase a new piece of machinery you must explain how that machinery improves your business (ie. it might speed up the rate of supply while being more energy-efficient and require only one person to run instead of two).
After gathering this information together and preparing your application, it is then time to choose which lender to entrust sending your personal information to (if you know of any other apart from your bank). With new players entering the market on a regular basis this is not as straightforward an answer as it used to be. All lenders have appetites for certain security and loan sizes, but like anything, it often comes down your financial position and importantly the proposal to the lender. The obvious question in this scenario is: why wouldn’t I just let my bank handle all of this? Which is what many business owners do. By engaging an independent broker you are handing over all of the administrative work required in the process of a finance application to someone who has broad industrial equipment finance experience and is completely independent of any lender, meaning their advice is unbiased and in the interest of the client, not the bank. Security is a bank’s priority when lending, and it is guaranteed that a business’ transactional bank will tie up all the security available to them, including family homes, when a new lending opportunity is
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• Select best fit financier = quick yes or no. • We manage the submission. • We manage the financier. • We manage the loan through the life. By bringing in a specialist in business finance, such as Interlease to handle the process for you, it automatically eliminates all the variables in a complex and ever-changing market while putting your business in the best position moving forward. Interlease has over 40 years specialist experience in commercial financing, working with clients, accountants and suppliers to structure finance to meet almost any requirement, as well as extensive expertise in structuring transactions, whether it’s another forklift or large imported machinery, which requires managing currency, interest rate and supplier risk. Please contact Angus Macdonald on 03 9420 0000 or firstname.lastname@example.org www.interlease.com.au
AMTIL’s corporate partner, Interlease provides the following services to all AMTIL clients: • Collect & analyse financial information. • Consult with clients’ difficult applications. • Write-up full application and submit to financier (and select bit-fit financier/manage financier) and then manage the submission. • Represent to alternative financier if required. • Remove the vast majority of the paperwork, red tape, effort and headache required to obtain a loan. • Manage supplier payments. • Manage the loan through the life • Or simply a chat about what’s going on in the industry!
New Whistleblower Laws! So what? In Australia, new whistleblower laws took effect from 1 July 2019, updating earlier laws passed 15 years previously. A small business may think the law applies only to larger corporations; however the law applies whatever the size of a corporation. Rob Jackson explains. The role of a whistleblower The Government wants to give greater legal protection to whistleblowers. The Government recognises their value in detecting hidden and complex corporate wrongdoing, preferably before any damage is caused to a business’ financial viability and reputational standing. Also relevant is the risk of damage to consumers, for example in the wake of the Royal Commission into banking and financial services. Or damage to vulnerable members of the community in the case of institutional sexual abuse or currently, aged care services. Whistleblowers are rarely thanked by their employers for disclosing corruption, fraud, insider trading, price fixing or a range of other unlawful or unethical business practices. Currently, a university is suing an academic who expressed criticism about the enrolment of overseas students with poor English language skills. The university wants compensation from the academic for the drop in student numbers following the broadcast of a television documentary, where he expressed his concerns publicly.
The new whistleblower laws The new law introduces the concept of an ‘eligible’ whistleblower (called a ‘discloser’). This means a current or former employee, or supplier, and can include their spouse or other family members. A whistleblower must possess a belief based on reasonable grounds that either misconduct has occurred or an improper state of affairs or circumstances exists. A whistleblower must make any disclosure to an ‘eligible’ recipient within a company. This can include a director, senior manager, or somebody designated by the company. A company may arrange for an external service provider to receive disclosures. This can be the external accountant. Or, a whistleblower can also make a disclosure to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission or the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. A recipient must keep the whistleblower’s identity confidential, or risk committing a criminal offence.
What if a company receives a whistleblower complaint?
“…all companies should have a whistleblower policy in place because company owners and senior managers want to be the very first to know if there are serious issues that may affect the viability of their business … A recipient must keep the whistleblower’s identity confidential, or risk committing a criminal offence” However, the new law specifically excludes workplace grievances from protection under the whistleblower provisions. How the law though will reconcile a genuine whistleblower with a real concern, but who is also an atrocious performer remains to be seen. There have been few cases in Australia on whistleblower protection to date. This new whistleblower law may change that.
Not another policy! A public company, listed or not, must have a whistleblower policy in place by 1 January 2020. A ‘large proprietary company’ must have a whistleblower policy in place by 1 January 2021.
A company must act upon receiving a whistleblower complaint.
A small business may think the law applies only to larger corporations. The law applies whatever the size of a corporation.
If 90 days pass after the company receives the disclosure, then a whistleblower giving notice to the company, may contact a member of parliament or a professional journalist if the substance concerns the ‘public interest’. This concept is undefined.
The best advice is that all companies should have a whistleblower policy in place. The simple reason is that the senior managers and owners of a company want to be the very first to know if there are serious issues that may affect the viability of their business.
And if there is an ‘emergency disclosure’ then the whistleblower can give a written notice to the company, without waiting 90 days, of their intention to contact an MP or journalist.
A policy that tells a whistleblower how to make a disclosure and assures them the company will support, not attack, them, is vital.
We never liked that whistleblower anyway… They were always a poor performer! The new law prohibits any ‘detriment’ such as legal action from being taken against a whistleblower. A whistleblower can seek redress in the Courts for any victimisation. A recent case recognised that possessing or exercising whistleblower rights is a ‘workplace right’ for the purposes of an employee pursuing a general protections claim under the Fair Work Act.
Or, the other way to find out is when a journalist unexpectedly calls late one night for comment on a controversial matter which a business leader knows nothing about. Rob Jackson is a Partner in Rigby Cooke’s Workplace Relations, International Business and Manufacturing groups. Rob has extensive experience in employment and industrial relations, occupational health & safety, workplace investigations and employment related migration. Ph: + 61 3 9321 7808; E: RJackson@rigbycooke.com.au www.rigbycooke.com.au
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The work of health and safety: Different, at different levels Health and safety work is done at different levels of a company - each requiring different knowledge and skills. An international document is now available which can drive greater clarity about what the real expectations of work are at each of these levels. David Clarke explains. Original knowledge sharing about safe work practices can be traced back many centuries, commonly found in workers guilds where tradespeople shared knowledge of good practice that would reduce risks and exposure to hazards. The work of health and safety as a defined practice began in Australia in the mid-20th century when a group of engineers came together in 1948 to form the Safety Engineering Society, to discuss the science and practice of safety. In 1971 that group became the Safety Institute of Australia, which last year was renamed the Australian Institute of Health & Safety - keeping pace with the changing nature of the work as it increasingly embraces the health of workers as well as their safety. In Australia, we now have a more sophisticated structure for defining work practices, starting with a powerful research and knowledge base for the science, psychology and practice of health and safety, summarised in the Australian OHS Body of Knowledge (BoK). The BoK brings together decades of evolving concepts, ideas, knowledge of hazards, and conceptual frameworks for the application of health and safety systems in Australian companies. Using the BoK as a core reference point, the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board (AOHSEAB) accredits Australia’s higher education (University) courses in health and safety, and supports Universities in their work to attract new students, and build strong OHS programs. But that’s at the health and safety management end. There are many thousands of people working in critical operational health and safety roles today, with VET education. We have a wide range of people from a wide range of backgrounds, education and work experience, doing the work of health and safety. How can this work? The common denominator in most professions is a baseline level of education they receive, and surely, we should have at least that? Yes and no. Although education is a critical part of building your health and safety knowledge base, health and safety work is done at different levels of the company, and each of these levels requires different knowledge and skills to underpin practice. Roles start at HSR level, on to the on-ground compliance focus of thousands of full-time practitioners at the coalface, moving into supervision and then management, and upward all the way to senior executive level in some of Australia’s largest companies. At the two ends of the spectrum, the knowledge and skill requirements of these roles are so different as to be almost unrecognisable. They not only require different skill sets, but also different personal qualities, styles and approaches. Both the profession and industry have historically got themselves confused over this diversity, with too much assumption that one size fits all, and that recruiting a health and safety person at one level means that they can work successfully at others. There has been no industry-wide agreement about how roles are described, and differing conventions about describing roles, and setting education and experience requirements. This lack of clarity and consistency has been a problem across the globe - so much so that six years ago, the heads of health and
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safety of some of the world’s largest global mining companies asked the International Safety and Health Professions peak organisation INSHPO to do a body of work which would provide greater clarity around health and safety roles, and the type of people needed to fill them. As a result, and after some outstanding work over three years, The OHS Professional Capability Framework: A Global Framework for Practice , was born. The Global Capability Framework splits health and safety roles into six different levels, (three at ‘practitioner’ level and three at ‘professional’ level) describing the common baseline education for each, as well as the knowledge and skill requirements at each level. Supported now by organisations in 23 countries, (including Australia by the AIHS) for the very first time we have an international document which can drive greater clarity about what the real expectations of work are at each of these six levels. For business, the framework can aid in planning their health and safety workforce, describing and defining health and safety roles, and the capabilities of the people needed to fill them. For health and safety people, it can assist those who work in the profession to understand their own skills and learning needs, design their professional development, and give greater clarity on the educational and experience pathways for career development. The Body of Knowledge, Education Accreditation, and the Global Framework for Practice are the first three planks of what we call our capability agenda , to build a stronger health and safety profession. The fourth is Certification. Like the British, Americans and Canadians who have been doing it for decades, in Australia we are now certifying health and safety people, and Australia is the first country to articulate our program against the Global Framework for Practice. David Clarke is the CEO of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety – the national association representing the health and safety profession. It works to build the capability of the profession and to provide health and safety people a voice on policy, legislation, regulation and standards. Ph. (03) 8336 1995 Email: email@example.com www.aihs.org.au
Beware the NDA in today’s landscape: What now if the NDA is of little value? (Part 2) This is Part 2 of Roger La Salle’s explanation of the one great failure of the Non-Disclosure Agreement. Here, Roger explains what to do if the NDA is perceived as having little value. The problem In exploring the use of NDAs in the advancing of new ideas, it is really important as much as possible to have a proper robust mechanism for engagement and disclosure. This should not be trivialised as the handling of ideas and disclosure is fundamental to successful commercial outcomes that are equitable for all parties. However, as discussed in the previous article, if all the necessary technology to resolve a perceived opportunity is already in the public domain, perhaps the common NDA is of little value as the disclosure necessarily reveals the opportunity. Perhaps one possible solution would be to add what may be seen as quite an unusual inclusion to an NDA in that it seeks confidentiality in all cases, even when the background knowledge is already known. This would seem to be both simple and unambiguous. Such an inclusion to the NDA could be words to the effect: The recipient may be aware that some or all of the technology(s) required to implement the innovation/invention disclosed herein may already be in the public domain however in signing this document the Recipient agrees not to disclose to another party the innovation/ invention that is the subject of this agreement. Clearly, the idea with this approach it to have the Recipient agree that under no circumstances will the recipient disclose the matters discussed. However, the problem still remains that we are relying on the goodwill and integrity of the Recipient. This is something I like to think we can do, but one can never be sure.
Is a patent the answer? One reader correctly suggested enhanced protection could be gained by first lodging a patent application, but this too may have problems. To the surprise of many, an idea cannot be patented, you can only patent the way to fulfil the idea or implement a solution. For example, a wonderful idea may be for anti-gravity boots that will allow people to float around the room. Indeed this is a great idea, but it cannot be patented until you can describe in great detail how to do it. With patents, this is what is referred to as the “Method and Apparatus”. Referring to the example in the previous article for a toothbrush that alarms when the user is pressing too hard, what is the “Methods and Apparatus”? The solution suggested was the use of a quartz crystal in the handle of the toothbrush to power an alarm mechanism in the case of excessive pressure. Of course this can be patented, but there are other ways of detecting excessive pressure. For example, a strain gauge could be used in the handle of the tooth brush. This would be equally patentable along with the suggestion of quartz crystal solution. Indeed this is why patent attorneys have in their descriptions a number of possible solutions referred to as embodiments with the best suggested one being referred to as the “preferred embodiment”. However, with the patent lodged and perhaps now known to the world, (depending somewhat on the stage of progress of the application) the next inventor may arrive at a solution that simply detects flex in the bristles of the tooth brush. This too is equally patentable along with all the others.
So we see that even a patent may leave one exposed with others looking to steal the high ground once the problem has been divulged. This is of course apart from those that willingly infringe your patent and tempt you into costly litigation.
New products can be a mine field I write this article as one that has some experience in business partnerships and even in legally structured royalty arrangements. In one case with a written royalty agreement in place, it was proven that the other party was less than honest with their payments. Costly litigation ensued, which we won with a formal court settlement signed by a Judge. Three years later the same underpayment, was repeated. The litigation this time went to the Supreme Court where again we were successful. All this, even in the light of court-signed documents, so what chance has an NDA?
So what’s the solution? The bottom line, and one all in businesses would understand, at the end of the day, it all comes down to relationships and trust. Build relationships slowly and with care and beware the people effusive with praise; and most of all people who blithely sign an NDA without first close examination. The writer of this article is not a legal practitioner. This material is presented as an opinion for discussion, it does not pretend to represent legal advice) Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organisations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. A serial inventor, Roger is also responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. www.innovationtraining.com.au www.matrixthinking.com
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AMTIL INSIGHTS â€“ A new initiative AMTIL recently launched AMTIL Insights, a 16-page biannual document aimed at providing our members with an overview of what is happening in the major industry sectors around the world and the impact they are having on machine tool consumption. We will produce this report in April and October each year and distribute it free to all AMTIL members. AMTIL is a member of an international network of manufacturing technology associations. We commission Oxford Economics to undertake a Global Machine Tool Report, which is used, in part, to produce our AMTIL Insights document. Below is an excerpt from the initial report which gives some insight into the global machine tool industry and the major players: The main driver for world growth since the early 2000s was the emergence of China â€“ both as a producing and consuming nation â€“ and its increasing integration into world trade. Chinese real GDP growth in the 10 years to 2012 averaged 10.5% pa with real fixed investment spending across all sectors of the economy increasing by just under 14% pa over the same period, accounting for a much larger share of world investment than its GDP share. Since then, Chinese GDP has decelerated considerably, with growth averaging 6.7% in 2017-2018. Looking ahead, both Chinese GDP and fixed investment are set to grow more slowly as the Chinese economy rebalances away from excessive investment as the main engine for growth. As a result, GDP is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.6% in the 2019-2023 period and fixed investment at a rate of 3.9% pa. Weaker investment trends suggest more moderate Chinese machine tool (MT) consumption growth rates for the medium term compared to those typically seen prior to 2011. At the same time, such rebalancing favours comparatively rapid consumer spending, 6.5% pa over the 2019-2023 period, and a switch in consumer demand towards more discretionary spending on manufactured goods and services as per capita incomes rise. Moreover, despite weaker GDP and investment growth, the process of catch-up is far from complete and will ensure China remains an important engine for the world MT market for some years yet. For the key MT buying sectors, fresh demand for their products (e.g. motor vehicles) is less dynamic in Europe as penetration levels are already very high. Markets here are large, so replacement demand does provide a continual stimulus to production and hence investment spending. Greater dynamism is expected to come from emerging countries. However, e-mobility will gradually alter traditional automotive supply chains over the longer term, and this could have a considerably adverse impact upon demand for machine tools, given that pure electric vehicles require fewer machined parts than conventional motor vehicles and hybrids. In the near term, however, the EV market faces a number of constraints, including the cost of battery technology and limitations in the charging infrastructure, which should soften the near-term disruptive impact. Anybody interested in receiving this publication should email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shane Infanti, CEO AMTIL
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AMTIL HEADING INSIDE
AM Hub leads trade mission to Germany for Formnext 2019 AMTIL led a trade mission to Germany in November for members of its Additive Manufacturing Hub (AM Hub) to attend the Formnext exhibition and conference. Held in Frankfurt from 19 to 22 November, Formnext is the leading global exhibition and conference dedicated to additive manufacturing (AM) and all of its upstream and downstream processes. AM Hub Manager John Croft and AMTIL Corporate Services Manager Greg Chalker hosted a group of 18 AM Hub members in attending Formnext, where they were able to see some of the latest advances in AM technology first-hand. As well as visiting Formnext itself, the AM Hub and AMTIL had also organised a number of site tours for the group to German companies and organisations at the cutting edge of AM innovation. Among the sites visited were Bosch’s plant in Nuernberg, and leading additive companies FIT AG and MBFZ Toolcraft. “The trip has been a great opportunity for our AM Hub members to see what’s going on in the world of additive manufacturing right now, and also see how Industry 4.0 is being incorporated with additive manufacturing,” said Croft. “Formnext was as spectacular as you’d expect, and I think everyone in the group found all the site visits fascinating. “The whole point of the Hub is to encourage Australian manufacturers to grasp the opportunities that AM can offer. By seeing what our colleagues in Germany are doing with the technology, I’m sure the members
who travelled with us will have gained a lot of inspiration that they can now take home to Australia.” Led by AMTIL, with support from the Victorian Government, the AM Hub has been established to grow and develop additive manufacturing capability in Australia. The vision of the AM Hub is
to provide an industry-driven collaborative network that will foster and grow the adoption of AM technology. To find out more about the AM Hub, contact John Croft, AM Hub Manager, on 03 9800 3666, or email jcroft@amtil. com.au. www.amhub.net.au 1382AMTIL
AMTIL gratefully acknowledges the support of its Corporate Partners. AMTIL’s corporate partners offer a selection of products and services that will benefit our members in their business. For any enquiries about our Corporate Partnerships, and how they can benefit you, contact Anne Samuelsson on 03 9800 3666 or email email@example.com
Our Partners. Our Members. Your Benefits.
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AMTIL 2019 Confidence Report – Measuring the mood among manufacturers Between June and August 2019, our Member Liaison Alan Taylor contacted the AMTIL membership to collect feedback on their confidence in manufacturing in Australia. Here he explains his findings on the mood across the manufacturing industry. In undertaking this survey, I first contacted the manufacturing base of AMTIL’s membership – the Manufacturing Tehnology User (MTU) members. To gauge confidence the following questions were posed to the MTUs:
There is a lower participation rate with the MTSs as they were only contacted once; their input is intended primarily to create a snapshot that gives context to the MTU data. This decision was also made due to time constraints.
• Q1: Did you buy any significant technology in the last year?
With regard to how many manufacturing members purchased significant technology; 61% of members contacted said that they had bought some technology in the last financial year. Most of these sales were in Victoria, followed by New South Wales and Queensland respectively.
• Q2: Are you looking at or budgeting to buy new significant technology in the next year? • Q3: Are you looking at expanding the number of employees you have over the next year? • Q4: On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate your confidence in the manufacturing industry at present? The term “significant technology” was chosen as the types of technology used by the membership is very diverse. It can even be technology such as cloud-based systems or other parts of Industry 4.0, rather than the traditional machine purchases. The numbers of MTUs contacted for the survey are as follows:
Statistics from survey of MTUs State
Number of MTUs surveyed
34 (69%) 31 (63%) 32 (69%)
2 (33%) 3 (50%)
7 (53%) 10 (77%) 10 (77%)
9 (56%) 4 (25%)
3 (100%) 2 (66%) 3 (100%)
5 (83%) 9 (56%)
Next I looked at which manufacturing members said that they have budgeted or would be buying new technology in the current financial year. Around 57.5% of members said that they would be looking to make that sort of purchase. Most of those manufacturing members were, again, from Victoria, followed by Queensland.
Obviously there is a disparity in numbers across different states, which will result in responses being heavily weighted is certain areas. I then contacted our Manufacturing Technology Supplier (MTS) members. Most of the MTSs don’t buy equipment, and are not manufacturing any products themselves; however they do interact with the industry on a daily basis; therefore we felt that they would be able to offer valuable insights with which to put the data taken from the MTUs into context. Of AMTIL’s 145 Australian MTS members, one call was made to each; any MTSs based outside Australia were not surveyed. Of those Australian MTSs called, 50 contacts were made; approximately 34.5% of the MTS membership. Questions one and two – around the purchase of technology – were not relevant to almost all of our MTSs, so these questions were not used. However Q3, about increasing the employee base, was retained.
Statistics from survey of MTSs State VIC
Number of MTSs surveyed
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Increasing the employee base was where the most demand seemed to lie, with 67% of MTU members needing to increase the numbers of full-time employees. All of these respondents (100%) said that they faced challenges finding skilled or qualified staff. The greatest need for employees in the manufacturing membership is in Victoria, followed by Queensland.
Increasing the employee base was much less of a priority for the MTSs.
When looking at the whole membership, the comparatively small numbers of MTSs looking at expanding their employee base did not have a significant impact on the numbers for the overall membership.
I then broke the states’ confidence levels down into averages: by MTU and by MTS. In both cases it seems that Victoria and Queensland are experiencing high levels of confidence in both demographics, while New South Wales confidence is significantly lower. The average confidence of MTUs in each state is as follows: State VIC SA NT NSW WA QLD Average 7.48 6.5 5 6.3 7.6 7
The average confidence of MTS’s in each state is as follows: State VIC SA NT NSW WA QLD Average 5.9 5.6 NA 5.3 4.5 6
The average confidence of the members in each state is as follows: State VIC SA NT NSW WA QLD
Confidence in Australian manufacturing by manufacturing members seems quite high, with them seeing a lot of demand in infrastructure, defence and mining. Around 67.8% of the MTU members surveyed reported their confidence on a scale of one to 10 as a seven or higher. The most common rating being eight, which 29.9% of manufacturing members rated their confidence as.
In summary it is difficult to compare different states, as when compared to Victoria, both Queensland and New South Wales are outnumbered by Victorian members in every field – in a range of around 2:1 out to almost 5:1. Even when looking at it as a national figure the enormous disproportion weighted towards Victoria heavily skews the numbers. The average confidence for each state bears slightly better scrutiny, with confidence high overall in Victoria and Queensland, and comparatively low in New South Wales. However, Western Australia has high confidence in manufacturing, because this is a very recent upturn and doesn’t look like it has flowed onto those supplying to manufacturers in the region. All manufacturers looking for skilled employees are finding it significantly difficult to fill their needs. Most are looking at taking on unskilled workers and are struggling to train them up or have tried to fill the gaps in their business with automation. In many cases the lack of employees limits the amount of work they can take on.
Confidence in Australian manufacturing was still relatively high among our MTS members with 48.9% of them rating their confidence as a seven or higher. However a significant segment (20.4%) of the MTSs surveyed responded with a neutral five.
Most are just hiring people and skill them up themselves, which takes resources they can’t really spare under the demand placed on them. Only three manufacturing members said that they will be looking to try and bring in skilled workers; however they added that they are facing challenges with the processes involved and in finding the workers internationally. Although this is a snapshot of AMTIL’s membership, it could be reasonably argued the sample is far too small to be considered a fair representation of our industry. For this very reason, we will continue to make an annual record of key aspects of our members, try to lift the participation numbers, and explore a means of taking the census and this survey to a wider cohort than our membership. www.amtil.com.au
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Promoting Women in Manufacturing AMTIL held its first Women in Manufacturing event on 7 November, with a special Oaks Day lunch during the Melbourne Cup Carnival. Held at Left Bank restaurant in Melbourne, the lunch was attended by a group of women from AMTIL member companies and its partner organisations. As well as enjoying a delicious meal and the opportunity to network, the group engaged in a lively discussion about the issues facing women in manufacturing. Subjects covered included the need for women to be able to have their voices heard in an industry that remains highly male-dominated, the challenges of attracting more women to consider manufacturing as a career, and the need to lead by example for the next generation of young women entering the industry. There was also an interesting discussion about working in family businesses and bringing children on board. All of the group felt there was a need for more forums to get together and chat with likeminded women. Anne Samuelsson, AMTIL’s Head of Partnerships & Sales, hosted the event, and she said that everyone in attendance thought it was a great new initiative.
“It was wonderful spending the afternoon with such an inspiring group of ladies from our industry,” said Samuelsson. “Women have so much they can contribute to manufacturing, and our industry needs to create an environment that can accommodate more female talent if it is to prosper in the years to come. That’s why events like this are so important – and AMTIL plans to hold them regularly going forward.” AMTIL aims to hold more Women in Manufacturing group functions in future. In addition, the group is planning on donating to selected charities. This will mirror the activities of CEO Groups that AMTIL has been running around the country. So far AMTIL has donated more than $13,000 to Australian Paralympian athlete Tim Disken, more than $2,000 to Variety Club Victoria, $1,300 to the Unicorn Foundation, and $1,300 to Everyday Hero. The Women in Manufacturing group will be donating $400 to the Heart Foundation. To find out more about AMTIL’s Women in Manufacturing events, please contact Kim Banks at firstname.lastname@example.org
AMTIL honours its long-serving members AMTIL held its annual general meeting on 31 October at Riversdale Golf Club in Melbourne, and it was an opportunity to honour some of those companies who have been members of the association since its foundation in 1999. Special commemorative plaques marking ‘Twenty Years Continuous Membership’ were awarded to several companies present at the AGM. The plaques were given to Dimac Tooling, Headland Machinery, Hi-Tech Metrology, John Hart, Nichol Industries, Okuma Australia and Sutton Tools. “It’s been a big year for AMTIL as we’ve celebrated our 20th anniversary,” said AMTIL CEO Shane Infanti. “Recognising those members who’ve been with us since the beginning is a very important part of that, and we’ll be doing so with all those founding members who couldn’t make it to the AGM as well. I’d like to thank those companies, and all of our members, for their continued support.” The AGM was opened with a keynote address from guest speaker Simon Kuestenmacher on ‘Predicting the Future of Work through Australian and global demographic trends’. Following Kuestenmacher’s presentation, the AGM itself took place. Infanti
gave a round-up of AMTIL’s activities over the course of 2019, most notably this year’s record-breaking Austech exhibition, and outlined the association’s plans for the coming year. AMTIL President Paul Fowler also spoke on the state of Australian manufacturing, and AMTIL board member Paul Philips delivered the financial report. One notable item on the agenda concerned Phillip Xuereb of Sutton Tools, who is stepping down as an AMTIL Director having served four years on the Board. Xuereb’s place on the Board will be taken up by Peter Sutton, also of Sutton Tools. “I have to thank Phil for the terrific contribution he’s made during his time as an AMTIL Director,” said Infanti. “And I’d like to welcome Peter, who I know will make an excellent addition to the Board. All our Directors give up their time for free to support AMTIL, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without their support.” www.amtil.com.au Left - AGM: Craig Leckie, Hi-Tech Metrology; Adam Nichol, Nichol Industries; Mark Dobrich, John Hart; Dean McCarroll, Okuma Australia; Annaliese Kloe, Headland Machinery; Phillip Xuereb, Sutton Tools; and Paul Fowler, Dimac Tooling. Right - AMTIL Life Members Trevor Morgan and Paul Philips.
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
New members AMTIL would like to welcome the following companies who have signed up as new members of our association.
ADDITIVE NOW PTY LTD 600 Murray St Perth WA 6000 www.additivenow.com
BERRY DESIGN PTY LTD Level 2, 283 Normanby Rd Port Melbourne VIC 3207 www.berrydesign.com.au
NUKON Level 1, Unit 2, 216 Turner St Port Melbourne VIC 3207 www.nukon.com.au
ANATOMICS PTY LTD Warehouse 1, 246 East Boundary Rd Bentleigh East VIC 3165 www.anatomics.com
BNNT TECHNOLOGY Manufutures Building, Deakin Uni 75 Pigdons Rd Waurn Ponds VIC 3216 www.bnnt.com.au
SHOC SPORTS HELMETS OPTICAL CONVERSIONS PTY LTD 14 Home St Sunbury VIC 3429 www.shoc.com
AQUABUBBLER Unit 4, 247 Ingles St Port Melbourne VIC 3207 www.aquabubbler.com.au
GUNSTONE DEVELOPMENTS PTY LTD 5/6-8 Macquarie Dve Thomastown VIC 3074 www.hgunstonepatterns.com
BASTION ADVANCED ENGINEERING & DESIGN 412 Heidelberg Rd Fairfield VIC 3078 www.bastionadvanced.com
METIS DESIGN AND ENGINEERING 50 Paget St Hilton WA 6163 www.metisde.com.au
Real Business. Real People. Real Benefits. Call AMTILâ€™s Membership Manager David Mohorovicic on 03 9800 3666 to learn how your business can be part of the leading Advanced Manufacturing association in Australia. www.amtil.com.au
Real Business. Real People. Real Members Since 1999, AMTIL has been connecting business, informing of opportunities, and growing the manufacturing community.
To become an AMTL Member, contact our Membership Manager, David Mohorovicic, on 03 9800 3666, or email email@example.com
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
Please Note: It is recommended to contact the exhibition organiser to confirm before attending event More events can be found on AMTIL’s website
INTERNATIONAL STEELFAB United Arab Emirates, Sharjah 13-16 January 2020 www.steelfabme.com
METAV Germany, Dusseldorf 10-13 March 2020 www.metav.com/en/METAV_2020
MACH UK, Birmingham 20-24 April 2020 www.machexhibition.com
CAR-MECHA JAPAN Japan ,Tokyo 15-17 January 2020 www.automotiveworld.jp
SIMODEC France, La Roche-sur-Foron 10-13 March 2020 www.en.salon-simodec.com
EXPOMAQ Mexico, Leon 21-24 April 2020 www.expomaq.org.mx
NORTEC Germany, Hamburg 21-24 January 2020 www.nortec-hamburg.de/en
KONEPAJA Finland, Tampere 17-19 March 2020 www.konepajamessut.fi/en
IMTEX FORMING India, Bengaluru 23-28 January 2020 www.imtex.in
TECHNI-SHOW Netherlands, Utrecht 17-20 March 2020 www.technishow.nl
SIAMS Switzerland, Moutier 21-24 April 2020 Microtechnology exhibition www.siams.ch
JAPAN IT WEEK KANSAI Japan, Osaka 29-31 January 2020 www.japan-it-osaka.jp
GRINDTEC Germany, Augsburg 18-21 March 2020 www.grindtec.de/en
MNE + PROTOTYPING EXPO Belgium, Kortrijk 5-6 February 2020 www.prototyping-mne.be/en
MECSPE Italy, Parma 26-28 March 2020 www.mecspe.com/en
EXPO MANUFACTURA Mexico, Monterrey, 11-13 February 2020 www.expomanufactura.com.mx/
SIMM China, Shenzhen 30 March-02 April 2020 www.simmtime.com
THAILAND INDUSTRIAL FAIR Bangkok, Thailand 12-15 February 2020 www.thailandindustrialfair.com/about-fair
SIMTOS South Korea, Goyang 31 March – 4 April 2020 www.simtos.org/eng
CHINA AUTO AFTERMARKET EXHIBITION China, Beijing 18-21 February 2020 www.ciaacexpo.com
STOM-BLECH & CUTTING Poland, Kielce 31 March – 2 April 2020 www.targikielce.pl/pl/stom-blech.htm
MACHAUTOEXPO India, Ludhiana 21-24 February 2020 www.machautoexpo.in CME-CHINA MACHINE TOOL EXHIBITION China, Shanghai 25-28 February 2020 www.cme021.com/en ASIAMOLD China, Guangzhou 26-28 February 2020 www.asiamold-china.cn.messefrankfurt. com METAL & STEEL/FABEX Egypt, Cairo 27-29 February 2020 www.metalsteelegy.com ADVANCED FACTORIES Spain, Barcelona 3-5 March 2020 www.advancedfactories.com/en
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
INDUSTRIE PARIS France, Paris 31 March-3 April 2020 www.industrie-expo.com/en AI EXPO Tokyo, Japan 1-3 April 2020 Artificial Intelligence exhibition www.ai-expo.jp/en-gb.html
FEIMEC Brazil, Sao Paulo 5-9 May 2020 www.feimec.com.br/en MACHINE TOOLS AFRICA South Africa, Johannesburg 12-15 May 2020 www.machinetoolsafrica.co.za INTERTOOL Austria, Vienna 12-15 May 2020 www.intertool.at INTERMACH & MTA Thailand, Bangkok 13-16 May 2020 www.intermachshow.com CIMES China, Beijing 18-22 May 2020 www.cimes.net.cn/en INNOPROM METALWORKING Russia, Ekaterinburg 6-9 July 2020 www.metalworking-expo.com/en INTERMOLD/DIE & MOLD NAGOYA Japan, Nagoya 17-18 July 2020 www.intermold.jp/english IMTS USA, Chicago 14-19 September 2020 www.imts.com
MACHTECH & INNOTECH Bulgaria, Sofia 6-9 April 2020 www.machtech.bg
EUROBLECH 2020 Germany, Hanover 27-30 October 2020 www.euroblech.com
CCMT-CHINA CNC MACHINE TOOL FAIR Shanghai, China 7-11 April 2020 www.ccmtshow.com/enindex.jsp
JIMTOF Japan, Tokyo 7-12 December 2020 www.jimtof.org/en
INTERMOLD//DIE & MOLD OSAKA Japan, Osaka 15-18 April 2020 www.intermold.jp/english
INDUSTRY CALENDAR HEADING LOCAL AUSRAIL PLUS SYDNEY INTL. CONVENTION CENTRE 3-5 DECEMBER 2019 A platform for knowledge sharing & networking with world’s leading industry figures, rail manufacturers & operators. Includes a three-day conference. www.ausrail.com AUSTRALASIAN OIL & GAS EXPO PERTH CONVENTION & EXHIBITION CENTRE 11-13 MARCH 2020 Specialised industry zones showcasing the Instrumentation Control and Automation, Asset Integrity, Subsea, Health, Safety & Environment and Drilling & Completion. www.aogexpo.com.au SYDNEY BUILD ICC SYDNEY 19-20 MARCH 2020 Australia’s Leading Construction, Architecture and Infrastructure Expo. Co-located with Sydney Transport and CIVENEX Infrastructure Exhibition. Includes major construction projects across Sydney. www.sydneybuildexpo.com MEGATRANS MELBOURNE, MCEC 1-3 APRIL 2020 Exhibition for the freight and logistics industry. Co-located with the specialised bulk handling expo, Australian Bulk Handling Expo 2020. Three dedicated trade areas Logistics & Warehousing; Sea & Rail; Road Transport. www.megatrans.com.au DESIGNBUILD MELBOURNE, MCEC 21-23 APRIL 2020 Showcases innovation in Australia’s built environment. Co-located with Total Facilities. Includes seminars from experts on the trends shaping the architecture, building, construction and design sector. Includes latest solutions in construction technology and smart buildings in the new Digital Building Zone. www.designbuildexpo.com.au
ADVANCED MANUFACTURING EXPO (AMX) SYDNEY SHOWGROUND 13-15 MAY 2020 Introducing AMX - exhibition and conference focused on the latest high-tech manufacturing products and advanced processes. Brings together expert speakers sharing valuable insights and case studies on how to transform your operations. www.advancedmanufacturingexpo. com.au
AUSMEDTECH MELBOURNE MCEC 20-21 MAY 2020 Australia’s premier medical technology conference. Includes the latest Medtech technologies and possibilities for the industry. www.ausmedtech.com.au
AUSTRALIAN ENERGY STORAGE ADELAIDE CONVENTION CENTRE 20-21 MAY 2020 Unites all energy storage technologies for utility, commercial, and residential applications. Includes the latest advances in energy storage for investment in new energy and energy-efficient technologies - an important consideration with more large scale projects being funded and approved. www.australianenergystorage.com.au
VICTORIAN TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE CONFERENCE 2020 MELBOURNE, MCEC 16-17 JUNE 2020 Victoria’s largest transport infrastructure conference. Features presentations that discuss critical transport infrastructure across the state. Topics covered - Transport, Ports, Roads, Railways & Airports. www.expotradeglobal.com/events/ victransport
AGL 93 Air Liquide Australia
Bystronic 13 Complete Machine Tools
Compressed Air Australia
61 10, 12
Emona Instruments P/L
Hare & Forbes
Headland 120 IMTS 39 Cover, 9
Iscar 2-3 John Hart
Thyssenkrupp 15 William Buck
Bolt & Industrial Supplies
AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY YOUR INDUSTRY. YOUR MAGAZINE
MANUFACTU RING TECHNOLO YOUR INDUS TRY. YOUR MAGA GY ZINE
BOOK YOUR 2020 ADVERTISING NOW! AUSTRALIA’S NO. 1 ADVANCED MANUFACTURING MAGAZINE Call Anne Samuelsson of AMTIL on 03 9800 3666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
DEFENCE & AEROSPACE Industry 4.0 STATE SPOTLIGHT: Tasmania ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING ADVANCED MATERIALS
Construction & Infrastructure State Spotlight: Queensland
QUALITY & INSPECTION SOFTWARE CUTTING TOOLS FORMING & FABRICATION MATERIAL REMOVAL
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
Big wheels & little wheels – the story of UK-born Australian Sir Laurence John Hartnett (1898 – 1986) Australia’s “Father of the Holden” and much more
URGENT DISPATCH ACROSS NEUTRAL AMERICA
With World War 2 declared, an unprepared Australia sets out to recondition, modify or rebuild its machine tools and workshops to hastily produce desperately-needed munitions. An anti-tank gun was accordingly manufactured in Australia and rolled off the assembly line in a timeframe inconceivable to our Allies. And then a more serious challenge ensued – one remedied by an urgent despatch from San Francisco via Canada!
any of the machine-tools necessary to make the war-tool-components just didn’t exist in Australia during WW2. They had to be designed and built. Others had to be reconditioned, modified or rebuilt to cope with the special jobs they were called on to do. GM-H engineers searched Australia for suitable equipment for the two-pounder anti-tank gun. They even resurrected an old lathe from a junk-heap near the Yarra in Melbourne, where it had been rusting for nearly twenty years. Another machine was dug out, literally, from an Adelaide iron-yard. These engineers had to design a great quantity of jigs, dies, tools and fixtures. Special machines had to be built to provide the rifling of the barrels. Nearly all of the 4,000 component parts of the gun were built from a special high-tensile Australian steel developed for war production jobs.
Workshops had to be redesigned; others had to be built. GM-H did a magnificent job in helping in maintenance, repair and redesigning of equipment in the plants of the sub-contractors, and in designing new plant layouts. It was how our boys interpreted the urgent call to get on with the job. And get on with the job they did. The two-pounder was built in record time, starting from nothing but the drawings and the sample. In seven months from the receipt of the official order to produce it, the gun was coming off the GM-H assembly line. Seven months! Within the year, the volume was running at 180 guns a month. Experts in Great Britain said it would take British industry two years at least to get a new gun into production. The Americans reckoned 19 months from production planning to production volume. If I appear to be giving much of the limelight to GM-H’s contribution, it is not done out of any feeling of kinship with that company, or any desire to single-out GM-H for special mention ahead of other firms which also worked zealously and fervently for the war effort. But, in truth, it happened that GM-H at Woodville (SA), were, as the first appointed co-ordinating contractors, proving the worth of the pattern of operations for the production of munitions that I had adopted. The Government Munitions Factory at Maribyrnong gave us freely of their specialized experience, but they had never been called upon to produce, say, two-pounders at the rate of 150 a month. That volume of production was a straight-out assembly-line job, a task for men and firms long used to assembly line methods – like that employed in GM-H due to their experience producing motor-bodies according to an inflexible time schedule during peacetime - mastering the complexities of coordinating the manufacture of components from dozens of outside firms. The twenty-five-pounder was another triumph for Australian adaptability and ingenuity. It was also a top-priority … what article of war wasn’t top priority in those days? But we started even further behind scratch with it than we did with the two-pounder. At least with the two-pounder we had a couple of British sample guns and most of the drawings to work on.
Circa 1940: An un-named hero travels 4,600km from Ottawa to a Sydney-bound ocean liner in San Francisco. His mission was to deliver gun plans which Australia desperately needed for the war effort
But there was no sample twenty-five-pounder, and no drawings of it, anywhere in Australia. The Army knew about it from British reports, and they wanted it. The Master-General of Ordnance, Major-General “Tock” Williams, who worked in closely with me, knew about it. “Tock” was a wonderful character, something of a comedian, an old First War soldier. “The twenty-live-pounder? Ooh, they say it’s a wonderful gun!” he’d say. “Yes, Tock, but where can I get my hands on one, or even some drawings of the darned thing?”. “Ooh, dunno about that. No manuals on it. No drawings either. Never seen one myself, Larry. Best in the world. We simply must have it. We’ve got nothing but old survivors of Mons* to shoot with. Must have it. “ I picked up a copy of the Illustrated London News at home one night, and there, taking up a whole page, was a full description of the twenty-five-pounder. I had 200 photostat copies of that page made and was all prepared to have the factories start the basic work from the information contained in the article. Then I heard a whisper that Canada had sets of drawings. I sent off a signal to Sir William Glasgow, Australian High Commissioner in Ottawa, asking him to get a set and to send it out to us. Sir William caught something of our own fervour and, somehow or other, got a set of the drawings. But how to get them to Australia? America wasn’t in the war yet and her ships were still crossing the Pacific. Sir William checked sailing times and found that the Mariposa was almost ready to leave San Francisco. He put someone in a car with the plans and sent him roaring down through neutral America with our gun plans. His man got there before sailing-time, entrusted the documents to a Sydney-bound passenger, and hoped for the best.
To be continued… *The Battle of Mons in Belgium was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force in WW1.
This is an extract from ‘Big Wheels & Little Wheels’, by Sir Laurence Hartnett as told to John Veitch, 1964. © Deirdre Barnett.
AMT DEC/JAN 2020
MACHINERY FORUM (NSW) Pty Ltd 33 Brodie Street, Rydalmere NSW 2116 Ref. Mr. Heino Windhorst T. +61 (02) 96389600 E. email@example.com
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The L5 high dynamic fiber laser features the new high power density 6kW source which perfects its performance.
The B3.AU-TO press brake features the new automatic tool change and provides greater certainties in terms of processing times.
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TRUMPF GOES THE DISTANCE TRUMPF laser machines are going the distance for international 4x4 accessories manufacturer, ARB.
Recently, ARB replaced their TRUMPF TruLaser L3030 with a TRUMPF 3030 Fibre. They purchased the TruLaser 3030 in 2001. “It ran 3 shifts, 7 days per week for over 15 years, with 97,000 hours clocked. When it came time to sell the TruLaser, we upgraded to a brand new TRUMPF Fiber Laser. And the TruLaser still had a good resale value,” said David Wentworth, Maintenance Manager at Australian-based ARB. Headland is an innovator in Australian manufacturing technology. Since 1949, we have provided the world’s best machine and technology solutions. Invest in your business and consider TRUMPF. Download our Free TRUMPF Laser Pricing Guide at headland.com.au/trumpf-laser-pricing-guide/
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AMT Magazine December/January 2020