With high levels of confidence and innovation, three leading manufacturers from New South Wales (NSW) have made significant investments in the some of the most advanced CNC machines and robotics to provide a competitive edge both within Australia and internationally.

Eilbeck Cranes – Lifting capabilities

A third-generation family-owned business in its 110th year in operation, Eilbeck Cranes is now Australia’s largest and most advanced crane manufacturer, towering over the Australian crane market due to its engineering and manufacturing excellence. Today Eilbeck has manufacturing facilities in Sydney, Western Australia, Mackay in Queensand, and a new facility currently under construction in Melbourne, as well as service centres around the country.

Eilbeck Director Tom Eilbeck took the bold move in 2015 and invested massively into the development of the Eilbeck Heavy Machining Centre. This daring decision was not only aimed at gaining competitive advantage, but also an investment in the future of Australian manufacturing and the security of future Australian jobs.

Investment over the last two years has been significant for this company, with the installation of the Okuma MB8000H CNC horizontal machine centre with OSP P300M control in 2016, followed this year by an Okuma Genos M560V S15 CNC vertical machining centre with OSP P300M control, and an Okuma Space Turn LB4000 lathe with OSP P300L control. Moving forward, an Okuma VTM-100 vertical machining centre is due to be installed in January, while an Okuma MCR V A5C 35×80 double column machining centre – the largest Okuma machine in Australia – is due to be commissioned in February 2018.

“When establishing our own machining division, high-end, Japanese-built Okuma machines were selected to provide a strong competitive advantage for the company due to their state-of-the-art technology, robustness and capacity, [which is] suited to the Eilbeck product range,” says Charlie Eilbeck, Head of Eilbeck’s Heavy Machining Division. “The Okuma control program is simple and easy to use, and keeping uniformity of controls throughout the workshop is definitely an advantage, as this allows machinists to increase versatility.”

Today the Eilbeck Cranes product is widely respected across the industrial and civil sectors, plus private and corporate bodies, both nationally and globally. The product range is wide and diversified, including: custom-built overhead cranes and electric wire rope hoists; tunnelling/mucking cranes; explosive-proof hazardous area cranes and hoists; winches, sheaves and wheel blocks.

In addition, Eilbeck is now promoting and pushing for the rise of its CNC machining section as a service in itself. Equipped with state-of-the-art Okuma machines, the Eilbeck Heavy Machining Centre has been a key factor in the exponential rise and success of Eilbeck Cranes’ custom-built and engineered lifting solutions. Keeping the machining local and in-house gives Eilbeck the ability to manufacture exactly what the client requires and in a short-time frame.  Additionally, it provides the client the comfort of being able to see their product being built locally with their own eyes.

The commissioning of the latest Okuma CNC vertical machining centre and the installation of the Okuma MCR A5C 35 x 80 double column machining centre in early 2018 will secure a strong competitive edge in the Australian manufacturing market, while also opening the doors to entirely new machining opportunities.

Alongside the Eilbeck Heavy Machining Centre, Eilbeck has its own full R&D and design departments, fabrication and welding capabilities, a modern blast and paint facility, mechanical fit-out bays and electrical and commissioning specialists. Its production processes meet quality standards to ISO 9001, ISO 140001, AS/NZS 4801 and accredited NATA Technical Competence.

Alongside the facilitation of crane component manufacture, positive new business opportunities are being focused on within the Eilbeck machine shop, with an eagerness and determination to become a leader in the machining sector. The company aims to utilise its machines and its high capacity to gain a large, loyal customer base for its machining service.

“With the current boom in Australian manufacturing, we have major prospects in Sydney and Melbourne’s infrastructure projects,” says Charlie Eilbeck. “These require large custom-built lifting equipment, and Eilbeck Cranes has the capacity to facilitate the requirements being the only Australian crane manufacturer who is equipped to do so.”

Hedweld Engineering – World-leading innovations

Hedweld Engineering, a proud family business based in Mount Thorley, offers unique solutions to a number of industries globally, producing world-leading innovations for the mining sector for almost 40 years. Known for its Trilift range of component handling and maintenance support equipment for large earthmoving trucks and its Safe-Away range of ladder and stair access systems, the company has been heralded for increasing maintenance productivity and minimising workplace injuries within the mining and construction industries in particular.

Hedweld has had a strong relationship with Okuma Australia going back more than ten years and has recently added a cutting edge Okuma CNC Multus U3000-1SWx1500 lathe with OSP-P300SA control to its advanced machining facility.

“Okuma was selected for its consistent precision, reliability and outstanding technical support, including unlimited training for operators,” says Hedweld General Manager Chris Eccleston.

The commissioning of cutting-edge machines and the opening of an advanced manufacturing facility this September have provided a broader scope of work to be undertaken by the company, allowing component machining to be undertaken in-house, and enabling the redesign and re-engineering of some components to achieve cost reductions and improve efficiency. At the same time, these major investments have provided additional manufacturing capabilities to Australian manufacturers.

The Hedweld team actively collaborate with key stakeholders, encouraging innovative thinking to design, manufacture and provide unique solutions that solve customer problems while increasing workplace safety and efficiency.

“Investment in the latest technology and advanced CNC machines is opening up new business opportunities in construction, defence, agriculture and general engineering,” adds Eccleston. “Although there has been a downturn over the last three years, particularly in the mining area, the Australian economy is coming out of this and we forecast a steady growth for the company with an emphasis on innovation and new markets.”

Currently Hedweld exports to 33 countries including USA, Canada, South Africa, Russia, Mexico and South America, representing more than 50% of sales, with the balance of sales throughout mainland Australia. The company has won an outstanding array of awards, dating from back in 2012 to the present day, including: the NSW Mining Council’s ‘Supplier of the Year’ – Mining Technology Award; three NSW Premier’s Export Awards; Hunter Manufacturing Awards for ‘Excellence in Export of Manufactured Goods’ and ‘Excellence in Innovation; a finalist’s place in the Australian Export Awards for three years in succession; and the Austmine Craig Senger Award for ‘Export Excellence’; among many others.

Austex Dies – Maintaining an edge

Located in the south-western extremity of Sydney at Minto, Austex Dies Pty Ltd is Australia’s leading extrusion die manufacturer. Its staff collectively boast approximately 500 years of experience in the design and manufacture of extrusion dies for aluminium extrusions. In addition to utilising modelling software, Austex draws on its staff experience to produce dies that in turn maximise productivity for its customers, extending the life of the die and reducing costs. The company’s capabilities include CAD/CAM, design, a full range of CNC machining processes including turning and milling, EDM erosion, wire cutting and in-house heat treatment facilities.

The company has a number of Okuma machines and its latest investment is the cutting-edge Okuma MA-600 HII CNC horizontal machining centre with OSP P300MA control. The investment in this six-pallet machine is intended to ensure the company remains highly competitive in the international market.

Austex General Manager Alex Ferrari has extensive experience in Europe and the selection of the new Okuma CNC machining centre was based on this experience, with a clear requirement for a strong, reliable machine that would allow his company to expand in a competitive and quality-conscious environment.

“The machine is everything we could have wished for and our decision was also based on the service and technical support from this key supplier,” says Ferrari. “The operators were already familiar with the earlier operating system and have easily adjusted to the advanced controls and feel that it is a privilege to work on the machine.”

The new machine is now operating 24 hours a day unmanned because of its strength, speed and reliability, providing great efficiencies and making the company more competitive in the production of extrusion dies for aluminium extrusions.

“Australia is surrounded by low cost countries,” adds Ferrari. “And this latest investment will allow us to be internationally competitive and develop our business further with a strategy to increase market share and important export sales.”