Integra Systems opened up its headquarters in Broadmeadows, Victoria, on 15 April for an event to mark its acquisition of a state-of-the-art new fibre-optic laser cutter from Italian manufacturer Salvagnini.

The launch event was attended by customers, partners and suppliers of Integra, as well as various industry figures and representatives of the media. They enjoyed speeches from the leadership team at Integra as well as from Frank McGuire MP, Local Member for Broadmeadows and Parliamentary Secretary for Medical Research in lieu of Lily D’Ambrosio Victorian Minister for Industry, Energy and Resources, and Hume Mayor Cr Helen Patsikatheodorou. McGuire also did the honours in cutting the ribbon to officially launch the new machine, a Salvagnini L5 fibre-optic laser cutter. Along with refreshments and networking opportunities for the guests, there were opportunities for everyone to watch demonstrations of the new machine in action up close.

“This event is a celebration of the progressive thinking amongst everyone here today,” said Erika Hughes, Integra’s Marketing Director. “It is a demonstration of the power of disruptive technology to make things happen in a highly competitive world. And with the number of people here today from all areas of industry, it is a celebration of the passion for collaboration amongst us to deliver the ultimate solution.”

At a time when the media bombards us with reports of how segments of the manufacturing industry are in decline and under stress, Integra and businesses like it are moving forward by adopting a progressive and transformative approach. The team at Integra believe their strategy, based around like-minded collaboration with Government, universities, industry advocates, suppliers and clients, will ensure it continued success in Australia’s manufacturing industry.

“Innovative thinking, space for creative experimentation and enabling technology to make it happen are essential ingredients to success,” said Paul Hughes, Managing Director of Integra. “This exciting acquisition will provide our clients with the responsiveness they need to remain competitive in a highly contested global market. Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and we make it our mission to ensure our clients are provided with the best technology and solutions available to enhance their business performance outcomes.”

A culture of innovation

An award-winning, industry-leading family business based in Melbourne’s north, Integra was founded in 1991 by Paul Hughes. He was joined a couple of years later by his father Russell, who remains the company’s Director of Innovation. Erika, Paul’s wife, then came on board as Marketing Director in 2001. From day one the company has operated on the basis that progressive thinking, disruptive technology, results-focused collaboration and speed to market are the key drivers to manufacturing success in Australia.

Innovation has consistently been at the cornerstone of Integra’s culture since 1991. The company enables and empowers its clients by providing fully integrated solutions that cover the entire development process from the initial formation of ideas or concepts, right through to the ultimate execution, encompassing key areas of industrial design, product design engineering, mechanical engineering and prototyping. This is backed up through Integra’s highly efficient in-house advanced manufacturing and metal-processing systems, and the team’s renowned expertise in project management.

“We have provided clients with integrated product design and execution solutions to help them boost their business outcomes locally and globally,” says Erika. “Our design and manufacturing operation is co-located so that we can keep client projects lean, innovative and allows us to keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to product outcomes.

“The glue to all this is our deep knowledge and insights from the diverse range of industries we work in, and our ability to project manage complex products using our own advanced manufacturing facility and components and services from our trusted network of supplies to ensure the optimum outcome.”

Inside the L5 laser cutter

“At Integra we have always been very careful in introducing the most innovative technology that is available at the time,” says Paul. “Having come from the machine tool building industry and developed our own award-winning Punch-IT coil line, we know what to look for in machinery in terms of innovation, technical capability and value for money.”

Distributed in Australia by Machinery Forum, the Salvagnini L5 laser cutter offers high-dynamic cutting due to its original compass structure, which assures dynamics of up to 5g, with low rates of power consumption thanks to its light weight. Driven by a pair of rotary motors, the compass structure allows the cutting head to be moved on the XY plane over a distance of 170mm.

The L5 delivers rapid throughput for high speed to market, with a relatively compact size and an upgradeable modular architecture. It boasts extremely high positioning and processing speeds, with a high-quality, burr-free cut. The machine has the ability to cut aluminium, copper, brass, and coated, uncoated and stainless steel, and can etch and engrave at high speed, even enabling the bar-coding of products. The L5 offers low costs in terms of energy usage, consumables and maintenance.

The new technology will enhance Integra’s ability to experiment and co-create with its customers, engaging them in the entire process from design through to manufacture. The machine can be used for rapid prototyping and validating new designs, significantly condensing the time from conceptual design through to full production. Moreover, it facilitates mass customisation rather than mass production, where products can be continuously changed and updated to accommodate emerging technology

“Most importantly, we can combine the best manufacturing technology that is available with our Design for Manufacture and industrial design capabilities to provide fully integrated solutions for our clients in the shortest possible time frames,” says Paul. “We often use the Abraham Lincoln quote ‘If you’ve got eight hours to cut down a tree, you should spend seven hours sharpening your axe’. We like working with a sharp axe. We believe in investing in the best to achieve the best results.”

WorkSmart – Desks with a difference

A further benefit that the new machine brings is that it allows Integra to bring its own new designs to the market. The first fruits of this development were unveiled alongside the new laser cutter, with the launch of Integra’s flagship new WorkSmart collection of electronic sit-stand ergonomic solutions.

There’s been a lot of coverage of sit-stand desks in the newspapers lately, as awareness has grown of the negative health consequences of spending long periods spent in a sitting position. Sit-stand desks encourage sedentary office staff to spend a bit more time on their feet, raising or lowering the work surface so that workers can alternative between working while standing up or sitting down. Along with health benefits, enabling staff to stand at their desks has been found to improve productivity and general wellbeing.

Marketed under Integra’s new Integra Transform division, and manufactured entirely at the company’s Broadmeadows facility, the WorkSmart collection comprises two basic lines: the BioSmart desk converter, and the AeroSmart workstation. The BioSmart maximises the value of existing furniture assets, sitting on top of an ordinary desk where it can raise or lower your computer monitor, keyboard and other equipment. The BioSmart can be adapted to accommodate up to three monitors. The AeroSmart is a more comprehensive solution, a full-sized desk that uses world-class electronics to elevate the entire workstation surface. The AeroSmart can be easily customised according to customers’ specific requirements.

Assistance in growth

To assist with its purchase of the new laser technology, Integra received funding from Melbourne’s North Innovation and Investment Fund (MNIIF). The Fund was established by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments, along with Ford Australia, to grow manufacturing and create jobs in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

“Integra Systems is demonstrating its forward thinking by investing in the cutting edge new technology, which will enable it to expand its operations and provide an innovative service to manufacturers” says Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian Minister for Industry, Energy and Resources.

“The support of all of these parties as well as our local Hume Council is greatly appreciated,” said Paul. “We are fully committed to expanding our operations and appointing five new people to support this innovative development.

“We are a passionate Australian family business and believe there is a bright future in design-led advanced manufacturing in Australia and we are proud to be part of these exciting times.”