Innovations continue at Sorensen Engineering as one of Australia’s top 100 most innovative companies.

Originally founded in New Zealand in 1974 by Keld and Vivi Sorensen manufacturing specialised machine tools, Sorensen Engineering relocated to Sydney in 1981. Although continuing to manufacture machine tools until the early 2000s, this second-generation family business diversified into the production of precision component parts and assemblies in the mid-1980s and has continued to innovate and was recently recognised in the top 100 most innovative companies in Australia.

Today, with a total staff of 30, the company is a highly competent precision engineering business with more than 40 years’ of experience. Sorensen services diverse markets such as mining, pump & fluid controls, film & TV equipment, and biomedical & scientific equipment. More recently, in response to the COVID crisis, they have been supporting critical projects with components for ventilators and PCR instruments involved in large-scale COVID testing.

The first Okuma lathe was purchased by Sorensen Engineering in 2006 and today it has nine Okuma machines including CNC lathes, horizontal and vertical machining centres, plus automation and robotics.

“The selection of Okuma machines came down to the precision and reliability of these machines and the excellent service offering provided by Okuma Australia who have skilled engineers and technicians in the field plus a resident engineer from Okuma Japan based in Australia,” said Sorensen Engineering Managing Director Julius Sorensen. “With technology leading the industry today and continuing to advance, we are always looking for the next step to improve efficiency and service to our clients.  Our company continues to invest, with in excess of $3m spent in the last five years, as each new machine brings additional advanced features consistent with our innovative approach to business. Okuma’s professional advice of the most suitable equipment to meet our needs now and for the future has always worked for us,” he said.

As well as the engineering business, the Sorensen Product Lab has been established adjacent to the existing factory as a purpose-built workshop for prototyping, product development, and the fabrication of pilot runs. The Product Lab team combines design, engineering, materials, and machining experience to experiment, collaborate in creating new products, or to further develop and enhance existing products for product development now and into the future. In this area we attract engineering graduates, who come directly from leading universities and who bring new and exciting concepts and challenge current ideas, bringing skills in engineering analysis, etc., especially in areas such as cutting-edge software and additive manufacturing.

The ongoing introduction of new technology challenges our engineers who see advantages with the many new features and new ways in which jobs can be approached with the latest advanced machining centres. The addition of robotics and automation has freed up skilled staff providing much more flexibility and allowing Sorensen Engineering to undertake shorter runs competitively.

“We have made radical changes into automation pushing the advantages these new Okuma machines offer and although there is a learning period as our engineers adapt to new concepts, the long-term benefits are there as we modernise and advance,” said Julius Sorensen.

The engineering and achievements of this company, which sits within Australia’s top 100 most innovative companies, have been the success of the Product Lab where engineers are not restricted by processes, have passionate ideas, and the freedom to explore these within culture to push the limits, particularly in the area of automation.

The key outcome has been an increase in capacity and output using the skills and innovative ideas we have without increasing staffing levels. A number of machines are now capable of running without supervision 24/7 with fewer quality issues on all machining centres.

“Such innovation and the readiness to explore the latest advances Okuma can offer in technology and at the same time embracing 4.0 manufacturing concepts with challenging minds within all levels of the company is proving to be exceptionally successful,” said Steve Norbis, Okuma Northern Regional Manager NSW & QLD. “Encouragement from the top down is a success story in itself,” he said.