Unearthing the hidden costs of offshore manufacturing

Offshore manufacturing has become a popular strategy for many Australian operators but hidden costs can make for an expensive move, warns commercial law firm Cowell Clarke.

“Many local manufacturers have taken advantage of cheaper overseas production costs in the hunt for greater efficiencies and profits,” says Brett Cowell, Chairman of Partners at Cowell Clarke. “While the practice has become commonplace, that doesn’t mean it’s simple. Done right, it can be a very astute move and help open up new sales networks into global markets. However, offshore manufacturing is not the silver bullet for every Australian operator under cost pressure.”

Through its membership of ALFA International, the global legal network Cowell Clarke utilises its local relationships worldwide to support Australian businesses transacting and operating in foreign countries. Cowell said for some companies, cheaper base production costs in offshore manufacturing may be offset by a number of unexpected expenses.

“Difficulties in communication, blow-outs in set up costs, additional ‘political’ or administrative requirements and large minimum quantity demands can add significantly to the cost of offshore production,” adds Cowell. “Offshore manufacturing can also expose the company to greater intellectual property (IP) theft risk and quality control inconsistencies. In some cases, when you crunch the numbers, the company may have been better off remaining on home soil.”

Based on experiences of its clients, Cowell Clarke has produced a list of the top ten behaviours of successful offshore manufacturers.

  1. Shop around

“Establish a relationship with an offshore manufacturer using a similar process, but a higher level of caution, as you would use to build a relationship with any local supplier,” Cowell advises. “It pays to research the right partner that will deliver to your requirements, support your goals and protect your business interests. Don’t just default to the first manufacturer that shows interest or the manufacturer someone you met in the pub said was good.”

  1. Seek out inbuilt expertise and experience

“If your offshore partner manufactures products similar to your own, it will already have a level of in-built expertise and experience, implying fewer growing pains in adapting to your manufacturing requirements. The downside risk may be that they are better able to knock off your IP so protect your IP as best you can.”

  1. Retain tight quality checks.

“You will have your own expectations and specifications for your product outcomes; the finish, the workmanship, the precision. Hands-on checking of samples and products made by the manufacturer is important in determining if the quality meets your standards. In general, the greater level of control and interaction you need, the higher the cost is likely to be.”

  1. Social proof

“Speak with other customers who use this manufacturer to find out what it’s like to work with them. Read as many reviews and recommendations as you can. Who else do they work with that gives you confidence in using them too? The manufacturer won’t give you the contact details for a customer that had problems so you may need to do your due diligence.”

  1. Protect your design and ideas

“Think about how you should protect IP before you enter the relationship or even before you start talking. Confidentiality agreements are essential but bear in mind you need to find out about a breach before you can enforce the terms. You may also need to deal with a legal system that is not as helpful to your cause as you would like. Patent, design and trademark registration is important, as is consideration over how you will protect any trade secrets. In any manufacturing contract, make sure that these are protected, as well as any IP developed as a result of working together.”

  1. Be aware of pricing inclusions and exclusions

“Be across production of samples, including the cost, before proceeding with full run production. The cost implications of additional product refinements and minimum run quantities can erode margins. Look beyond manufacturing costs towards in-market delivery. It’s obvious but the cost of getting your product to market can be significant.”

  1. Keep in close communication

“You’ll need to work closely with your manufacturer for new stock orders, lead times, product quality issues and delivery. A comfortable two-way communication channel that is responsive and timely is vital.”

  1. Understand cost of time

“Production lead times can make or break a business or product launch, impacting cash flows, customer relationships and reputation and giving competitors an edge. Be clear on best case and worst case scenarios and plan your marketing and management around this.”

  1. Contract the right business

“Make sure that you are entering a contract with a proper foreign entity and you have measures in place to protect your interests. ‘Off the shelf’ or ‘Off the Internet’ contracts are rarely the right choice. You want a contract that properly addresses the terms important for making the relationship work well.”

  1. Be prepared for problems.

“Whether working across borders or within your domestic environment, product liability and warranty needs to be addressed in your contract and via insurance policies. Indemnity provisions are common, so consult with an experienced lawyer to ensure that you get this right. Also think about how you will address potential contract infringement, where will a dispute be decided and whose law and language will apply. People often think these terms are just the agreement boilerplate clauses but they can have a major tactical impact in the event of a dispute.”


ONE ON ONE – Jens Goennemann

Jens Goennemann is the Managing Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, founded as part of the Federal Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda.

AMT: Let’s start with your professional background and how you came to your role with the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre?

Jens Goennemann: For the past 20 years I have been working for Airbus, eight of them based here in Australia responsible for the Australian and New Zealand operations. When it was more than time to go back to Europe, it became a family decision to give it a miss – Australia had become my home. So, it came that I joined the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre earlier this year, and as anticipated it is a very interesting and promising opportunity. Manufacturing in Australia isn’t what the public perceives it to be, and I felt that we could do something quite extraordinary if we started to believe more in our potential – especially from what I have seen coming from previous experience at Airbus by working closely with innovative Australian manufacturers.

AMT: And what is the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre? Why was it established, and what are its objectives?

JG: The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre was established in 2015 as part of the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. There were five original Growth Centres formed at that time (Advanced Manufacturing, Food & Agriculture, Medical Technologies, Mining, Technologies & Equipment, and Oil & Gas), with the sixth Centre (CyberSecurity) announced earlier this year. The overall idea is to focus on our unique strengths and by doing what we are already good at as a country rather than attempting to do everything making very little impact.

The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre was formed to raise the competitiveness of our Australian manufacturing sector to a global level. While we had a good idea of what that could look like, we decided to conduct solid round consultations with industry and research institutions as well as in-depth analysis to gain clarity on our objectives and what it would take to realise our goals.

What we found confirmed that connecting into global supply chains has to be our sector’s first priority. Second, we need to improve our professional skills both at the management level and to utilise more high-skill workers across the entire manufacturing process to seize opportunities. Third, we need better co-ordination and partnerships between industry – and this means between one manufacturing firm and another – and between industry and researchers, with the goal of tangible commercial outcomes. Last but not least, we could all benefit from more institutional alignment and stability by giving any plan sufficient time to deliver before changing the goal posts.

AMT: What can you tell us about your new Sector Competitiveness Plan?

JG: I can tell you that it will be published before the end of this year. We’re excited to get our Sector Competitiveness Plan into the hands of Australian manufacturers to share with them, and the wider public, that our sector is full of potential. The frequent suggestion that the manufacturing sector is in decline is not supported by the facts, especially when all those jobs which exist because of manufacturing are currently not taken into account.

What our Sector Competitiveness Plan provides is a razor sharp and data-based look at what makes us more successful, and we show pathways that manufacturers can take in order to lift their competitiveness. I think many readers will be surprised as well as heartened to know that we can definitely hold our own internationally. What we need to do is to agree that competition is not within, but beyond our borders, and we can win the global game when we focus on where we can add the most value, where we are at our best.

Moreover, our Sector Competitiveness Plan is an iterative process with updates coming out on a regular basis. We listen, learn and help put into action what promises to make our sector more successful.

AMT: With Australian manufacturing undergoing a period of transition, what are the major challenges and opportunities?

JG: Manufacturing is always under pressure as technology continues to push the frontiers. But this is the case for all sectors across our economy, not manufacturing alone. We know of companies in the automotive sector who saw the writing on the wall over 15 years ago and who have successfully reinvented themselves.

What we are witnessing is the persistent advancement of how manufacturing continues to change. Why this has been particularly hard in some cases here in Australia is that we have not sufficiently prepared ourselves to see around the corner as we could have. Instead we’ve stuck to ways of production that were neither helping employees gain the essential skills to keep up nor shaping our sector to stay ahead or at least in touch with global trends.

It’s rare for Australia to be cost-competitive, unless we are prepared to say farewell to our lifestyle. Our future depends upon competing on value, be it in technology leadership or service offerings – or in a combination of both.

This is why I find our Sector Competitiveness Plan to be an inspiring read. It plots a course for this massive ship called Australian manufacturing, and I believe we have the fact-based analysis and actions instead of the myth-fuelled publicity to help get us on the right course

AMT: Where do you see the sector in the next 10 or 20 years?

JG: Globally competitive – not in everything, but in relevant niches – because we target and co-ordinate our institutional decisions, instruments and investments. Collectively, we will be more informed about what the challenges and the opportunities are – as a sector and as a nation. Manufacturing will be appreciated as the sector where complex things are being realised and the sector which enabled Australia to sensibly participate in ‘moon-shot’ opportunities such as the Future Submarine building program. Only a healthy, vibrant and ever advancing manufacturing sector can pull this off.

AMT: What might an ordinary working day entail for you at Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre?

JG: Thankfully, and like for most executives, there isn’t really an ordinary day. There are major themes though that drive our schedule: My core role for the moment is making sure our sector knows who the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre is, what we do and why it matters. The foundation for this is our profound analysis, such as through the Sector Competitiveness Plan, because without data and facts, it’s like trying to nail a pudding against the wall!

We are a team with big ambitions and I believe we have the right trajectory and government commitment in place to make Australian manufacturing successful over the long term. Equally, I’m keen to connect with your readers in the near future and find out how our ambitions resonate best with theirs.

Let me finish by saying that manufacturing now and in the future is a most exciting affair. Let us be self-aware and more confident about it and tell our children as well. Their future is certainly not built on the fate of unstable commodity prices and ever-increasing property values alone.


Enmin Vibratory Equipment – Materials handling for food processing

Based in Boronia, Melbourne, Enmin Vibratory Equipment has been designing, manufacturing and installing world-class vibratory equipment in Australia for close to 40 years. The company’s expertise has assisted most of the leading food processors to find elegant solutions to their materials handling requirements, either as Enmin’s direct customers or by helping OEM equipment manufacturers to incorporate Enmin vibratory modules into larger food-processing systems.

Most people have little to no understanding of how vibration can be used in product handling. However, this technology has been successfully used in many materials handling applications for years and can be of great benefit when it comes to cost-efficient materials handling and packaging processes.

Vibratory equipment can be applied in a wide range of processes:

Moving product from A to B

In most production processes there are requirements to move ingredients, parts or finished product from one point to another. Automation is critical to productivity and a vibratory feeder provides the ideal solution. It offers a range of significant advantages over a conveyor, including:

  • It is easy to install.
  • It is hard-wearing.
  • It is highly compatible with hygienic environments.
  • It is easy to clean.
  • There is no carry-back on the belt return.
  • There is no contamination of product.
  • It can move horizontally or vertically.
  • It requires little maintenance.


While the product is moving from A to B on the vibratory feeder, why not add a screening function? A scalper/fines screening module can perform various functions without retarding the full flow of product: it can remove unwanted product or contaminants such as clumps from cereal, oversized or joined biscuits, or stalks from sultanas; or it can extract fines such as cereal dust or product crumbs


It’s not a big jump from a scalper/fines screen to using a vibratory system for more exacting selection of product size. A wide range of screen types and apertures are suitable for use with a vibratory feeder, though a degree of expertise is needed to select the right combination for the application.

Stockpiling and progressive release

Adding a hopper and loading it up in one go, means a vibratory feeder can be ready for hours of production, eliminating repeated manual de-bagging, and freeing up that operator for other duties. Automated control of the vibratory feeder will progressively release the product as required by the production process.


Many natural products (nuts, berries, etc) are more valuable when packs contain the same sized product. Sorting product into size groups is therefore an important value-adding step for many food processors. Variations in bulk density can be used to sort product into two or more streams.

Metered flow

A vibratory feeder is also ideal for applications that require a metered flow of product. At the design stage, tray dimensions and amplitude of vibration can be optimised to deliver calibrated product flow. Furthermore, the vibratory drive can be pulsed or switched from external sensors to regulate the flow of product for when it is needed.


Many products need to be aligned for further processing or for packaging, such as hotdogs, carrots or fish. Some just need to be in parallel lanes, some need to be presented head first, some need to be right-side-up, and some need all of the above. A cascading vibratory feeder, with attachments to suit the product, handles this task with ease.

Blending ingredients in-line

Using a combination of vibratory hopper feeders with metering controls, ingredients can be added in correct proportions and blended while being conveyed to the next processing step.


Vertical bag filling in many cases can result in a pear-shaped bag evolving, which makes subsequent packaging into cartons or onto pallets more difficult. Bagged products that are to be palletised must stack firmly if they are to be transported safely, without the stack collapsing and causing ruptured bags, product loss and danger to people working in the area. To overcome this problem the Enmin Bag Flattener automatically shapes the filled bag using the company’s unique Controlled Vibration and pressure action.


Some production processes require the product to be presented in a uniformly thin layer. Using a vibratory feeder to evenly distribute product going into a conveyor-fed drying oven optimises drying performance and product quality, while reducing the high energy costs of the drying process.


An automated vibratory feeder has proven to be the ideal mechanism for sprinkling icing sugar on cakes or chocolate flakes on cheesecake.


Three new members for AMTIL Board

AMTIL’s Annual General Meeting on 20 October saw the confirmation of Annaliese Kloe, Adam Nichol and Andrew Rodgers as the latest appointments to AMTIL’s Board of Directors.

Annaliese is the Managing Director at Headland Machinery Pty Ltd and CEO of Klugo Pty, based in Burwood, Melbourne. Adam is the Managing Director of Nichol Industries Pty Ltd, from Nunawading, Melbourne. Andrew is the General Manager of Bolts & Industrial Supplies Pty Ltd.

“I’m delighted to welcome Annaliese, Adam and Andy to the AMTIL Board,” said AMTIL CEO Shane Infanti. “All three are well-known figures who enjoy a great deal of respect and credibility across the industry. The experience and acumen they will be able to provide will be of enormous value to AMTIL and to our members. They will be great additions to the team.”

Annaliese, Andrew and Andy join existing Board Members Brigitte Stavar, Mark Dobrich, Paul Philips and Phil Xuereb, with Paul Fowler continuing as AMTIL’s President. The new arrivals coincide with the departure of two longstanding members: Pat Boland of ANCA Pty Ltd and Saxon Fletcher of Metal Cutting Technology Pty Ltd. Both have stepped down after eight years, with Pat also putting in a two-year stint as AMTIL President.

“On behalf of all AMTIL member companies and our staff, I’d like to express our gratitude to Pat and Saxon for their outstanding contributions over the years,” Infanti added. “All of our Board members put in a lot of time and commitment without expecting anything in return, so again I want to thank them all for their efforts.”

Agriculture, Food & Beverages: Growing markets

Innovative Australian food and agribusinesses are working together with product designers and local manufacturers to meet growing national and global demand for their products and expertise. By Carole Goldsmith.

Funded by the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL) was set up just over three years ago to encourage commercially driven collaboration and innovation in the Australian food and agribusiness industry. FIAL operates across the entire food and agribusiness value chain, from growers, raw material producers and manufacturers, to packaging, sales, marketing and retail providers, through to final users of the sector’s output.

FIAL works with major food manufacturers, universities, scientific research organisations, supermarket chains and industry groups across Australia. There are around 180,000 food and agribusinesses nationally, and they can all use FIAL’s services.

“We are currently working with Data 61, to develop a searchable directory for the sector,” says FIAL’s Managing Director Dr Mirjana Prica.” A vision for the industry has also been developed involving industry stakeholders from across Australia over the past year. This is due to be released in October.”

FIAL offers a range of opportunities for the industry, among which are: knowledge of technologies and markets, skills training, grants for innovation projects involving both small and large businesses, trade missions, trade shows and other export market activities. FIAL is co-located at CSIRO, with its headquarters in Melbourne and a satellite office in Sydney.

“Australia is in a really exciting position to take advantage of the growing middle class in Asia, as they demand more nutritious and healthy foods,” adds Dr Prica. “We have all the ingredients to meet their needs and capture an increased share of this growing market.”

Evolve and Flow Hive – teaming up for global success

One of the greatest manufacturing innovation success stories of the year has been the development and global growth of Flow Hive. Byron Bay father-and-son team Stuart and Cedar Anderson secured funding for their invention, an innovative bee hive system that can deliver honey directly on tap, via the crowdsourcing website Indiegogo.

Brisbane-based company Evolve Group has been working with the inventors for the past year to get their product to the global market. Evolve Group has two key business units: its product design and development division Evolve NPD, and its manufacturing arm Marco. The Group’s Managing Director and Founder Ty Hermans recalls some of the hurdles encountered as the project developed.

“In the first 60 days of the Flow Hive’s Indiegogo initial fundraising, mid last year, the project raised $US12.1m,” he recalls. “However one of the greatest problems with crowd-funding is the realisation and fulfilment delivery to the backers that support the idea. We have been working through the crowd-funding program to ensure the backers supporting the realisation of Flow Hive production receive their order in full and on time.”

One of the biggest problems was one of dealing with the unexpected success of the crowd-funding campaign. Throughout the campaign, the inventors were receiving thousands of Flow Hive orders. However, at the time, they had no facilities to manufacture them.

“We approached Cedar and Stuart and they came up to Brisbane to see our facilities, where it was made apparent that we could complete their requirements successfully,” says Hermans. “We have since been working with them on the Flow Hive product design, development, manufacturing, commercialisation and distribution nationally and globally. So far we have manufactured over 22m plastic components making up over 45,000 complete bee hives, and distributing them to 128 countries globally from our Brisbane facility. In turn we have employed an extra 50 people to cope with the increasing global demand which has raised our employee numbers to just over 150.”

The Flow Hive won this year’s Good Design Australia’s Award. At the Awards ceremony, Hermans said: “Winning this award shines a spotlight on what great design can do for Australia. There is little future for manufacturing in Australia without great design. Also there is little value in designing products that go straight to China to be manufactured.

“By designing products that can be manufactured locally in Australia, we’re creating jobs that change the lives of the people we employ. To us that’s a winning formula that Australian design and manufacturing should be focusing on more.”

Smo-King Ovens – Commercial food smoking ovens

Smo-King Ovens Pty Limited has been designing and manufacturing commercial ovens for smoking food in Australia for 18 years. The company has almost 2,000 of its ovens installed in a variety of food processing businesses across this country and in New Zealand and Asia.

Speaking from the company’s head office and plant in Silverwater, NSW, Smo-King Founder and Managing Director John Hodgkinson says: “Our ovens, which are designed and developed by us, are simply operated using a microprocessor control system. They are fan-forced, have electrical elements for heating the oven and igniting the genuine wood chips to generate smoke. This gives the food that smoky taste that our customers love.

As well as providing a profitable business for Smo-King itself, it also creates work for local suppliers. Local fabrication business Interfab makes the stainless steel bodies for the ovens, while the electronic control system is manufactured by Sydney firm All Systems Electronics. Smo-King then assembles the ovens at its plant in Silverwater. The smaller ones weigh around 200kg with the largest coming in at about 500kg.

Hodgkinson advises: “Smo-King employs four people, with two in the factory working on technical issues, assembling the ovens and customer support. Vicki handles admin, reception and spare parts, and I handle sales and marketing as well as customer liaison.”

The ovens are used by retail butchers for processing meats and by fish processors for hot and cold smoking. Restaurants and specialty food processors use the ovens for smoking and cooking meat. The company also distributes a range of European and USA food processing equipment across Australia.

Hodgkinson explains that the advantage to retail butchers of having one of the Smo-King ovens is that they can make a range of value-added products.

“As an example, a Mansfield butcher in country Victoria who owns one of our ovens brings in a chef regularly, to make a wide range of products such as pies, pasties, pasta as well as processing traditional small goods such as ham, bacon and sausages.”

Most of the oven sales are in Australia and New Zealand where the demand is high, with sales also to the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong and to food processing businesses in Fiji, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and The Philippines.

“The American style BBQ has recently become popular in this country and restaurants are buying more of our smoke ovens,” adds Hodgkinson. “This all started with Justin Hemmes, owner and CEO of the Merivale Group, which started as a fashion house, and it now owns a group of restaurants and other hospitality venues across Sydney.

“Hemmes was opening a new restaurant at Manly Wharf and his chefs searched in the USA for a suitable smoking oven for BBQ meat. When they returned to Australia and saw our ovens, it was exactly what they had been looking for.

“We have now sold them ovens for use in three of their Sydney restaurants: Newport Arms, Ivy, and Papi Chulo on Manly wharf,” Hodgkinson adds proudly. “They have been very supportive about our ovens and this is helping us gain more sales in to the restaurant industry.”

Silvan – ‘Big red tank’ sprayers

Silvan Australia’s, ‘big red tanks’ are very well known in this country’s agricultural landscape. A leader in the design of horticultural sprayers, Silvan has evolved into one of the largest Australasian manufacturers of world-class crop protection sprayers and related machinery. The company has developed specialised equipment for a wide range of applications including vegetables, grapes, apples, pears, citrus, bananas, olives, sugar cane and turf. Silvan also imports a range of farm equipment, which is sold alongside its sprayers at its distributors Australia-wide.

Founded 54 years ago by Michael Tricarico, Silvan has been headquartered at its current site in Dandenong South, in Melbourne’s east, for the past 10 years. His son, Michael J Tricarico, is now Silvan’s CEO, but as he explains, his father still plays a hands-on role.

“Dad is still active in the business and he comes in once a week to offer advice and say hello to everyone here,” he says. “Our business employs around 100 people across Australia and New Zealand (A&NZ), many of whom are long-term employees.

“Before he started Silvan, Dad was a fruit and vegetable merchant at Footscray Market in Melbourne’s west,” explains Tricarico. “His family moved to Silvan in Victoria’s Yarra Ranges. Dad was buying fruit and vegetables from Queensland and saw some agricultural machinery there, so brought them down to Melbourne. He set up a manufacturing shop in South Melbourne, in inner Melbourne and named the business Silvan after the town he was living in.”

Tricarico adds that he was working in marketing at a large irrigation company, before he took over the reins of Silvan, three years ago.

“There are not too many Australian country towns that have not seen one of our big red tanks. Silvan has always been in the forefront of introducing spraying technology into Australia.”

All of Silvan’s spraying equipment are designed in-house by the company’s R&D team. The lead engineer has been with the business for 25 years and it was his first job out of university. The red tanks that contain the agricultural sprays were originally manufactured in fibreglass at Silvan’s plant, though this process has now been outsourced to a nearby plastics manufacturer. Some of the spraying parts are imported globally, with the bulk from Italy, the leading country for spraying components.

“We manufacture the parts that we can in Australia and assemble the tanks with attached spraying equipment at our factory here,” says Tricario. “Our 3D printing is outsourced to a local business. As an example of our innovation in design and technology, Leigh our lead engineer recently designed our new JetPro spray gun in which the gun sprays in the direction of the arm, making it ergonomic. And we are selling it world-wide.”

Silvan’s sprayers are currently exported to New Zealand, Japan, Vietnam, Fiji, Thailand, The Philippines and several other countries. Tricarico explains about one Japanese customer: “About 15 years ago they came to our plant to sell us some of their machinery. They liked our Linkage Sprayers and have been purchasing the same model for 15 years. We also have a long relationship with Treasury Wine Estates, supplying their vineyards in Australia and New Zealand with our viticulture sprayers.”

In Silvan’s factory, employees are busy connecting the sprayer parts to one of the elevated red tanks. Wheelbarrows are assembled in Silvan’s warehouses in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and in Dandenong, bound for Bunning’s retail sales. Forklifts dart past, and to one side of the factory a Silvan Turbomiser sprayer is assembled and made ready for its journey to another farm.

Tricarico says he regularly visits the dealers and customers – he was recently at Goaty Hill Wines in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley: “They bought a vineyard sprayer and I visited during the initial sprayer setup.”

Speaking about Silvan’s future plans, Tricarico advises: “It’s business as usual and we plan to grow the business domestically, introducing new developments in spraying techniques. The agricultural industry is growing upwards, delivering an increased demand for our equipment.”







The fastest coil handing and cutting system

Cutting a range of coils to width and length is often cumbersome and time consuming. Damage to coils, slow cycle times, inaccurate inventory management and operator safety are just a few problems faced.

The Krasser Centurio provides a complete solution for thin sheet applications, optimally combining both protective storage of coils and the precise and logistically efficient cutting of coiled sheet. Once the coil is loaded into the storage system, all movements of the material occur automatically without any physical labour. Storage and transport damage to material and edges is minimised. The automatic adjustment of slitting knifes with patented blade gap adjustment ensures precise strip widths and guarantees the best cut quality.

Coil loading and slitting processes run simultaneously while guarded by a safety fence. To change a coil from the furthest coil storage position takes only two minutes; this process includes straightening and weighing the coil. According to Sheet Metal Machinery, these features and benefits make the Centurio the safest and the fastest coil processing and slitting system worldwide.

Extendibility is absolutely the biggest advantage of the Centurio coil processing system. Depending on requirement and budget Sheet Metal Machinery is able to offer single or multi-row setups, up to five lines side by side. The flexibility in length and number of stations is nearly unlimited. Coils are weighted automatically and after every move in the storage the weight is saved again in the system. Order and reorder can be coordinated perfectly as you always know how much of your coil is left. You can load new coils into the storage system whilst the machine cuts your orders. This saves you even more time and is one of the biggest advantages of the system.

Speed is key

F&M Fabricators in Brisbane makes commercial roofing and rainwater products and works with steel, aluminium, zinc and copper. The company serves a large portion of south-east Queensland and part of New South Wales. At F&M, speed is key. The custom sheet metal fabricators market their fast turnaround time and advanced technology at every opportunity.

“We promise a lot of light gauge sheet metal jobs on delivery in 12 hours so it’s fairly high pressure,” said Marty Vosper, Supervisor at F&M.

According to Vosper, the Centurio was like an answer to a prayer. The machine went into F&M’s production line, with eight knives on the slitter and an eight-station coiling system. It replaced two aging slitters manufactured in Australia that could only take one-ton coils, whereas the Centurio can handle coils that are five tons. Vosper believes that the difference has been like night and day.

“We used to have to manually change the knives and manually change the coils,” he says. “With the Centurio, we put on a four-ton coil on Monday. On Tuesday, we’d stripped it down to nothing on this one-color job. Plus, we were doing several other smaller jobs in other colours, so there were a number of coil changes in there to meet deadlines.

“All together, there was about eight tons of work produced over less than two days. It’s really unbelievable. The output of work now for us is triple what we were doing before, easy.”

Vosper said the Centurio primarily feeds to three eight-metre Long Folders, and its speed assures that there is rarely any downtime waiting for material. Compared with the machines and workflow that it replaced, Vosper says: “It’s about ten times faster and the operator really doesn’t have to do any real physical work. The machine does it all.”

Moreover, it has helped F&M live up to its marketing promise.

“It has made us extremely competitive,” Vosper says. “No one can get custom product out as fast as us.”



Demo3D – Simulating and testing material handling solutions

Whether you are a materials handling specialist wanting to demonstrate system capability, or a manufacturing company considering a plant expansion or greenfield site development, simulation technology allows you to plan, test and validate designs before actual capital is expended.

Demo3D is an advanced material handling demonstration tool that offers virtual reality 3D solution to designing, simulating, presenting and testing all material handling solutions. Demo3D stands out in the modelling world as it incorporates realistic physics to show the way loads and other model elements interact.

The Demo3D world takes into account mass, friction, force, inertia, gravity, and momentum to represent the interactions between various model elements. Products on Demo3D conveyors behave according to real world physics. They can bump into each other, slide, jam, and even fall to the floor. You can interact with them as the model runs, using the mouse to pick them up and put them down somewhere else in the system if you want to; you can stop and start conveyor motors, and the modelled system will respond in the same way as the real system would.

Demo3D allows to users to model the most simple conveyor or the most detailed automated warehouse, evaluate changes to an existing materials handling system before any decisions need to be made, assess ‘what if’ scenarios, and identify bottlenecks before they actually occur. Users can also experiment with ideas, test possible solutions, and assess the impact of conveyor jam-ups.

Models can be built and customised using an extensive range of components from included catalogues, or you can develop your own components and create custom catalogues to represent the specific equipment your company offers. If you can visualise it, you can build it using Demo3D.

Demo3D has been designed from the outset to allow users to develop detailed operational models fast. Being able to see the model running at each stage of development means you can quickly test and progress ideas, arriving at better solutions, faster.

Demo3D is used in automated materials handling, general manufacturing, and baggage handling to create models that clearly communicate the operation of the proposed system. In order to be cost-effective, you need a modelling system that allows you to create realistic and operational models fast; Demo3D’s approach is designed to help you be responsive. It can bring to life a CAD drawing of a new layout, plug in the functional parameters and allow the user to understand how their concept will operate.

For existing layouts, Demo3D allows the user to test concepts and understand how any future upgrades or process changes will integrate with the existing system. A simulation of future upgrades would then provide the data required for proof of concept and the justification for spending capital.

Once the model has been captured, users can also take advantage of Demo3D’s virtual reality capabilities with fully navigable, 360-degree video that can be sent to smartphones and tablets or simply captured in high-resolution images and video for presentation purposes. You can also export to CAD or even create a 3D PDF to share with your team or customer.


Production stuck in the groove?

The increasing complexity of parts is driving an ever-rising demand for more efficient means of machining grooves. In short, more complex parts mean more grooves and the need for more intricate grooving operations to be undertaken.

As every industry and each material has its own unique characteristic grooving tool requirements, a wide range of diverse grooving solutions is needed to accommodate varied markets and material needs. Iscar’s standard range spans from widths of 0.5mm up to 51mm, internal bore diameters from 2mm and up, economic pressed inserts or precision-ground inserts, and a wide range of chip breakers and carbide grades.

Iscar’s grooving tools have a flexible design that allows the tools to perform side turning in both right and left-hand directions, enabling a more efficient machining process. This original Iscar innovation has become a world standard referred to as ‘Groove-Turn’. Iscar’s many years of experience in providing first-class grooving solutions has enabled an extensive standard range of highly efficient grooving tools to be launched, and for Iscar to now be recognised as a global market leader in this area.

Drawing on the company’s detailed knowledge of the subject and its in-depth understanding of both conventional and exotic materials, Iscar’s prolific R&D department has developed the most comprehensive range of advanced Groove-Turn tools.

Heavy industry

Iscar boasts two high-quality product families that are designed specifically for heavy duty grooving and groove-turn applications, Sumo Grip and Dove-IQ-Grip, with a range of 8-20mm. Both families share the main advantageous properties that are essential for high performance in this type of harsh application:

  • The absence of an upper jaw across each range, enabling unobstructed chip flow.
  • The effective delivery of a direct coolant supply to ensure the tools’ cutting edges remain effective, even while cutting the deepest of grooves. In addition to substantially extended tool life, efficient coolant delivery increases productivity and results in improved surface finish.
  • A robust, rigid clamping system engineered to withstand heavy loads associated with heavy duty grooving environments.
  • Convenient and reliable indexing.

Iscar understands that one size does not always fit all. Mindful that each industry has its own specific needs and complications, the staff of Iscar’s R&D department has worked closely with leading companies in all of the world’s main industrial sectors to ensure the delivery of highly efficient, industry specific grooving tools.

Bearings industry

The vital components produced by the bearings industry perform a critical role across an extensive and diverse range of applications, from machine tools to wind turbines. Consequently, the technical staff at Iscar are familiar with the unique grooving requirements of the industry. The solutions provided by Iscar accommodate the industry’s demanding precision and surface finish needs, in conjunction with boosting productivity.

Iscar continues to work closely with leading bearing manufactures to provide unique and innovative cost saving solutions such as profiling solutions based on V-lock inserts, and unique multi-corner solutions.

Swiss-Type machines and small lathe applications

Mindful of the precision requirements of Swiss-Type machines and small lathe applications, Iscar is continuously increasing its offering in this fast-growing market segment:

Based on the new SwissCut Innoval inserts, it continues to add grooving inserts with effective pressed chip-formers.

Iscar’s standard grooving tools have been upgraded by the application of an innovative side clamping mechanism, which is much more user friendly when used on Swiss-type machines.

Iscar’s Picco line for mini-internal grooving inserts enables the performance of grooves from a bore diameter of 2mm.


Over recent years, the effective reduction of global air travel costs has enabled ever-increasing numbers of passengers to fly. This passenger increase has been made possible by the unremitting reductions in the cost of manufacturing aircraft. The ongoing ‘cost-down’ pressure means that aircraft and engine manufacturers continue to demand that subcontractors produce the same high-quality components at ever-reduced prices.

The challenge of delivering cost-per-part reductions each year while maintaining profitability has encouraged subcontractors to search for more efficient tooling solutions that will release the latent productivity potential of their expensive machine tools. Increasing numbers of aerospace manufacturers are turning to Iscar to enable the required efficiencies and ‘cost-down’ savings to be achieved.

In addition to several other aerospace related sectors, Iscar has long and extensive experience in providing efficient machining solutions for jet engine parts that are made from titanium and a range of heat resistance alloys. In recent years Iscar vastly extended its standard products offerings that are aimed at the aerospace industry’s challenging grooving applications. To enable ever more efficiencies to be gained within the areas of aerospace grooving applications, Iscar provides:

  • A huge range of modular adapters with JetCut pin-pointed coolant directed precisely to the cutting edge. The entire range can be used with high pressure coolant up to 340 bar.
  • The effective delivery of coolant to the cutting edge extends tool life and enables doubling the cutting speeds.
  • New IC806 & IC804 grades dedicated and optimized for the effective machining of Titanium and heat resistance alloys.


Iscar’s groove-turn products are extensively used in the car industry. The main automotive applications that employ these products are gearbox components, synchronising rings, shafts, pulleys, brake systems, turbo chargers and others.

These applications run 24-seven and almost totally unmanned. Therefore chips must be smaller and controlled to enable smooth operation of the machines. Iscar’s GIMN inserts are especially effective in these cases. In most cases, following heat treatment, a finishing operation is also needed. Iscar’s GITM line of CBN tipped grooving inserts provide excellent performance in these hard operations of 50-68 Hrc.

Wheel alloys are made of aluminium with magnesium and silicon additives that provide far superior mechanical properties when compared to pure aluminium. Aluminium wheels have higher strength and are lighter compared with steel wheels, consequently saving energy. As a leading tooling supplier to the global automotive sector, Iscar now provides a range of leading solutions for the efficient machining of aluminium wheels. These include unique inserts with a front stopper for extra stability, and a new quick change system dedicated to the machining of aluminium wheels.


Ai Group calls for calm over fall in GDP

The Australian Industry Group has responded to news of a slowdown in GDP as “disappointing but not unexpected”, adding that it highlighted the need to focus on moving the economy in directions that diversify the sources of activity and employment.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed yesterday that the volume of activity in the Australian economy decreased 0.5% in the September quarter 2016, the first quarter of negative growth since the Queensland flood affected March quarter 2011. Through the year growth remains positive at 1.8%, reflecting the three previous quarters of growth.

Economic activity contracted in a number of areas this quarter. Private investment in new buildings detracted 0.3 percentage points from GDP growth, while new engineering and new and used dwellings detracted 0.2 and 0.1 percentage points respectively. Public capital expenditure detracted 0.5 percentage points from growth as it declined from elevated levels in the June quarter. Net exports detracted an additional 0.2 percentage points from growth. Australia’s terms of trade rose 4.5% through the September quarter.

Nonetheless, the Ai Group pointed to tentative signs that the December quarter will be better than the September quarter. These include the move of the Australian PMI and Australian PSI into positive territory in October and November after both indexes pointed to a slump in activity over the July, August and September period.

“While no cause for panic, the turndown in GDP is a timely reminder of the need to gear Australia’s economic policy towards measures that will lift business investment and employment opportunities,” said Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox. “As a nation we need to cultivate sources of growth that move us away from an excessive reliance on commodity exports and that take advantage of opportunities in supplying services and manufactured goods into global growth markets. An important dimension of this medium-to-longer-term strategy is to unleash a new phase of investment in productivity-enhancing infrastructure.”

Responding to the ABS figures, Treasurer Scott Morrison said: “Our economy is growing faster than every G7 economy other than the UK, slightly better than the US and Canada and just above the OECD average, highlighting the work we must do to maintain and improve our competitiveness. In nominal terms, which has the biggest impact on the Budget, the economy grew by 0.5% in the quarter and 3% through the year.”

Konecranes – real time monitoring for lifecycle care

One of the biggest advances in crane safety and cost-efficient management over the past decade has been the advent of lifecycle care in real time.

New remote digital monitoring and analytical technologies can look inside the performance of a crane or whole fleets of cranes to accurately predict the most suitable and timely maintenance for optimum service, as well as spot impending production risks and accident hazards. Konecranes’ TruConnect technology harnesses in a user-friendly way the power of the industrial internet, the heart of which is based on machinery sensors working together to gather and analyse data for specific purposes. Operating in this way, they can enable efficiencies unimaginable just a short time ago.

“With powerful but highly accessible technologies such as TruConnect, crane maintenance is an entire generation ahead of the days of external inspections, laborious dismantling to find and fix problems – or simply fixing something when it fails,” says John Bailey, General Manager – Service Development, Konecranes SE Asia Pacific. “With the accident liability that outdated practices entail – and the potential for expensive downtime that companies just can’t afford these days – old approaches are just no longer accepted as safe and productive risk management in the world-class industries we serve.”

Such industries include automotive and general manufacturing, bulk materials handling, mining, power generation, petrochemical, ports and container handling, pulp and paper, shipyards, steel and waste-to-energy.

In developing TruConnect to complement its MainMan planned maintenance services to such industries, Konecranes has incorporated into the technology its experience as a major global crane and lifting equipment manufacturer and service organization, with more than 450,000 pieces of lifting equipment under maintenance agreements worldwide. Konecranes’ 10,300 remote monitoring connections and 600 service locations worldwide have fed into the understanding of industry needs that has produced the TruConnect suite of remote service products connecting data, machines and people. Through such products, Konecranes applies the industrial internet to lead the evolution of service through remote monitoring, diagnostics, analytics and usage-based predictive maintenance – providing real-time visibility and offering customers unique predictive capabilities and crane management efficiencies.

To make the process of real-time monitoring for lifecycle care as intuitive and easy to use as possible, Konecranes has integrated TruConnect remote monitoring and reporting and MainMan planned maintenance results captured by mobile-enabled technicians into an easily accessed online customer portal, ‘yourKONECRANES.com’. This portal gives real-time browser-based access to customers’ equipment data and maintenance history, linking usage data, maintenance data and asset details, to provide a transparent and complete view of events and activities of a crane over any interval. Aggregated data can be viewed, analysed and shared quickly, for a single asset or an entire fleet.

Data is sent to this customer portal from Konecranes TruConnect remote monitoring and reporting technology along with MainMan planned maintenance findings, which can be applied to a huge variety of lifting equipment across the range of industries Konecranes serves.

TruConnect gathers data on running time, motor starts, work cycles and brake condition and can also send alters by text or email of hazardous events such as hoist overloads, emergency stops and over-temperatures. MainMan planned maintenance utilises Konecranes’ proprietary ‘Risk and Recommendation’ method to visually categorise findings into safety, production and undetermined risks allowing for easy prioritizsation and planning of future maintenance activities by asset.

“To make the best use of this innovative technology, insights can be drawn by observing anomalies, patterns and trends, helping users make fact-based decisions,” says Bailey.

Anomalies can show up as faults, such as overloads. These events are considered abnormal and should be addressed promptly as they occur. Knowing when an overload occurs is the first step in identifying its cause.

Patterns help reveal relationships between variables. For example, overload or emergency stop alerts or excessive starts may indicate the need for operator training aimed at reducing human-error downtime and the risk of safety incidents. Recurring motor overheats may that indicate changes are needed in equipment or process. The study of trends can help prioritise corrective action and investments. Analysing data behaviour over time supports the development of predictive maintenance.

“Our aim is not to be confusing or overwhelming with a flood of data and analytics,” says Bailey. “We have teams of experienced staff who take a consultative approach to help guide our customers’ decision making. We share our findings, provide recommendations and discuss how each action can optimise particular aspects of operations and maintenance.”

Konecranes technicians and inspectors are mobile-enabled, which means they are constantly connected to TruConnect’s data through their phones, tablets and computers. They can access maintenance history, equipment usage and operating information and look up spare parts and manuals.

“Konecranes Remote Support experts can communicate with your crane, no matter where it is, and provide remote support and troubleshooting in the event of a breakdown or indication of a fault,” Bailey adds. “The data from TruConnect can be used to identify the need for corrective on-site maintenance and spare parts.

“TruConnect’s integration into the ‘yourKONECRANES.com’ portal is designed to improve the user experience and is a key development in delivering lifecycle care in real time, which will help extend the life of valuable assets by planning better maintenance programs and identifying faults and problems at an earlier stage”.