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NEW ONLINE LEARNING PLATFORM ON MODERN MANUFACTURING
In response to the industry’s demand for information on technology to help them out of a lull in productivity post-pandemic, an automation equipment supplier EU Automation has pooled its resources into a free, online Knowledge Hub.
Visitors can download resources on additive manufacturing (AM), artificial intelligence (AI), Industry 4.0, cyber security, obsolescence, sustainability and the circular economy.
In the last four years EU Automation’s publication AUTOMATED has gathered insight from trade bodies, innovative start ups and created a content bank.
“Google Trends data suggests that the search term “free online learning” increased dramatically during the COVID-19 outbreak,” says Jonathan Wilkins, director at EU Automation.
“There is a desire to learn about innovative manufacturing technologies that could help propel companies out of the pandemic lull, by improving processes, making better use of their people and by helping to drive productivity.
“As a distributor that speaks to manufacturers all over the world every day, EU Automation wanted to share the knowledge and expertise it has gathered on cutting-edge technology and present it in a digestible way. We hope that collating all our expertise and removing the pay-wall on our books will help more industry professionals access learning resources, and inspire them to consider new approaches,” says Wilkins.
The company has also made its two manufacturing chart-topping books available for free download with the authors deciding this would best aid manufacturing professionals in their online learning.
The first book, The Book of Obsolescence Management (BoOM) explains how manufacturers can use obsolescence to their advantage, giving practical advice from industry experts at COPA-DATA, Renishaw, the International Institute of Obsolescence Management and more.
The second book, 4.0 Sight, is a global look at the fourth industrial revolution, covering initiatives like Japan’s Society 5.0 and Made in China 2025.
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MANUFACTURING TRANSFORMATION TO CHANGE NEW ZEALAND’S ECONOMIC TRAJECTORY
FUTUREPROOFING OUR LOCAL ECONOMY TO BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN NEW ZEALAND AND CHINA
Manufacturing and automation is now more top-of-mind than ever before. As Industry 4.0 takes root in businesses across the globe, the opportunity to embrace highly-advanced technology and new, forward-thinking ways of working has never been greater. From smart cities and cashless payments to autonomous vehicles, there is no shortage of buzzworthy, headline-grabbing advances in modern industry.
One innovation that has become particularly important is intelligent manufacturing or smart factories. A combination of cyber-physical systems, automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT), these facilities have the potential to rapidly transform business.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that New Zealand has identified and embraced the benefits that this industrial wave holds. Automation adoption among local manufacturers has picked up substantially in recent years. The BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index in New Zealand jumped to 53.2 in February 2020 from an upwardly revised 49.8 in the previous month, beating market expectations of 50.3.
“According to Bloomberg, before the COVID-19 pandemic, many economists expected the fourth quarter to be the low point in the GDP growth track,” says James McKew, regional director at Universal Robots.
Used in manufacturing in New Zealand, demand for cobots should now increase as the country now looks to rapidly accelerate its economy. In addition, Universal Robots also has good traction in the education sector in New Zealand, which once again underpins the importance of increasing technical competency.
CURBING ECONOMIC CONCERNS
As close economic allies, China’s halt on production has had significant impact on the local supply chain. Here, McKew notes that advancements in AI and specifically, cobotics can be used in areas where its unsafe for humans to work or more simply workers are unwilling to do the monotonous tasks to which cobots are so well suited.
“One of the latest and most exciting robotic breakthroughs, collaborative robots or cobots – robots that work alongside human operators safely – enable businesses to improve cost efficiency, productivity, and output quality. These intelligent tools foster a more inclusive workspace, too, by relieving workers from strenuous, repetitive and sometimes dangerous tasks so they can focus on higher-value assignments,” McKew adds.
Cobots are user-friendly, flexible, compact, safe, and have a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) compared to traditional industrial robots. TCO includes both direct and indirect costs, including maintenance, factory floor upgrades (including the ease a cobot can be re-deployed), employee training, and safety barriers, all of which are factors that typically apply to traditional industrial robots. Cobots are also less costly to set up, which further makes them a financially attractive option for manufacturers across industries turning to automation for the first time.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE COVID-19?
Besides finding a vaccine or a cure, automation has now also been lauded as one of the safest ways to bridge the gap between the virus and service delivery.
In light of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the opportunity exists to further understand and implement automation across the country, placing Australia in a stronger manufacturing position and improving its global competitiveness rank.
“The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Index revealed that those economies that have invested in innovation capabilities are best placed to revive productivity and weather a global slowdown,” says McKew.
INNOVATION AS A FAILSAFE
As pharmaceutical companies are gearing up towards a possible increase in production while new solutions come to the fore, robotics will become a pivotal gear in the manufacturing chain.
Robotics in the pharma industry is performing a wide range of tasks: from packaging of medical devices and implants as well as assisting in surgeries. The robot arms from Universal Robots can be used for mixing, counting, dispensing and inspection to deliver consistent results for business-critical products. They can also be used for sterile handling and assembly of the small, delicate parts that are used in prosthetics, implants and medical devices.
Robotic arms from Universal Robots can be incorporated into the processes so that engineers could easily adapt the software to the specific needs of the drugs and the required tasks. The easy programming, installation and collaborative nature of the industrial robot arms allow them to work side-by-side with the workforce for the production of efficient, high-quality medicines.
“Further, two UR5 robots now optimise the handling and sorting of blood samples for analysis at the Copenhagen university hospital in Gentofte. The solution enables the lab to uphold a target of delivering more than 90% of results within one hour despite a 20% increase in samples arriving for analysis. All this while protecting staff from contamination and providing a safer working environment for the lab technicians,” says McKew.
Utilising robotics and Industry 4.0 technologies, the pivot to intelligent manufacturing may just be the solution that helps countries in beating coronavirus now and future viruses that might arise.
For more information call Design Energy +64 3 943 2143.
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BONFIGLIOLI PARTNERS WITH KILIC ENGINEERING ON LARGE GRAIN PROJECT
Bonfiglioli recently partnered with Adelaide-based engineering firm, Kilic Engineering on a large grain transportation project. Kilic Engineering is a diverse mechanical engineering company owned and operated by the Kilic family since 1973.
The company has a long and proud history of excellence in designing, manufacturing and installing a very wide range of conveyors, material handling systems, chute work and associated structural elements.
With an established reputation built over years of operation in the industry, Kilic Engineering looked to a trusted supplier for this mammoth project. Danie de Vries, state manager for VIC, SA and TAS from Bonfiglioli says that the initial challenge was local support.
“While Bonfiglioli is well established in both Australia and New Zealand – 31 years and counting, Kilic Engineering required ongoing local support and on-hand expertise for this project in South Australia. Thanks to our distributor network, we were able to make this happen through our partner, Motion Control in Adelaide”.
Craig Dennis, general manager for Kilic Engineering says that this application ultimately formed part of a large system for T-Ports. “T-Ports specialises in innovative solutions for the export of commodities, partnering with customers and investors to use a flexible model that positions port infrastructure close to the product’s origin.”
The application required large amounts of grain products to be handled on a consistent basis. Here, grain is dropped into dual hoppers by trucks. The grain is then moved into silos and finally into a large haul shipping vessel via a boom conveyor. “This boom conveyor is a long conveyor which goes from the land over to the shipping harbor and then into the ship,” explains Craig.
Some 1000 tonnes of grain was needed to be transported per hour to a 24000-ton silo storage. Once ready for loading, the ship is loaded at a capacity of 13800 tonnes per day.
“The locally fabricated Ahrens steel silos can be filled directly by trucks direct from growers or from the nearby bunker site via an internal haul road between the two Lucky Bay sites. The system design made in collaboration with our customer, Ahrens, includes belts, gantries, services, framework, conveyors, piling and concreted works and is based on ‘off the shelf’ solutions,” says Craig.
The port itself underwent a harbour extension in 2014 and now incorporates two berth pockets for simultaneously loading or discharging two 87-metre or longer self-propelled self-discharging vessels.
Previously unseen in Australia for grain exports, the use of a transhipment vessel means T-Ports requires less than four metres of depth in the harbour, eliminating the need for major jetty structures and other port infrastructure.
T-Ports transhipment technology is capable of operating in seas of up to 5m wave height and 30 knot winds.
Due to the port being located close to the product, these facilities substantially reduce the road haulage distances, hence reducing the cost to government for road repairs and maintenance and reducing carbon dioxide emissions considerably.
Handling facilities at the port have been designed to be competitive and efficient for the long-term. They consist of a dual hopper which can facilitate two-truck simultaneous discharge of 1000 tonnes per hour.
BONFIGLIOLI GETS THE THUMBS UP
Danie says that Bonfiglioli’s trusted gear motors were used to drive this large operation. “We used a series of HD and HDO heavy duty gear units for this application”.
Bonfiglioli supplied four conveyor drives and two bucket elevator drives for the project. All of these were locally designed and manufactured at their Sydney facilities.
Known for their high output torque, robust reliability and long operating life, Bonfiglioli’s HD series is made up of high-quality materials and boasts an optimised design. “The HD Series can operate in the harshest environments, as well as explosive atmospheres, with low maintenance costs and long service intervals,” Danie says.
“Finally, drives can be customised thanks to an extremely wide range of options and a large accessories portfolio.
“We were able to deliver on time, on budget as per the scope. We are extremely grateful to Kilic Engineering for giving us the opportunity to prove our products in this application,” he says.
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VOCATIONAL EDUCATION BUDGET PACKAGE CRUCIAL TO COVID-19 RECOVERY
Industry training organisation Competenz applauded the Government’s bold investment in the vocational education sector in the 2020 “Rebuilding Together” Budget.
$1.6 billion will be made available in the Trades and Apprenticeships Training package to facilitate the rebuilding of the economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Competenz CEO Fiona Kingsford says: “This is the most substantial Budget to support vocational education in recent times. Competenz relishes the opportunity to ensure our industries, apprentices and trainees take full advantage of the incentives and support to enrol new learners and keep existing ones in training.”
Ms Kingsford says the government spend is more important than ever, following a forecast by economics consultancy firm Infometrics, estimating that in a post-COVID-19 economy, sectors Competenz supports such as general manufacturing and mechanical engineering will see employment decline by as much as 10% in the next 12 months. Forestry employment could decline by around five per cent.
Part of the announced package addresses this, with $412 million in support for employers to retain and keep training their apprentices. This incentivises businesses to retain younger and more vulnerable staff members in the recovery process.
A further $320 million targeted investment will also make trades training free in these critical industries, which will make it easier for employers to train up their existing people, help those who have lost jobs to retrain and will be vital to supporting these sectors.
A further $19 million has been set aside for group training organisations (GTOs) to retain apprentices.
“This funding will be critical to support Apprentice Training New Zealand (ATNZ), Competenz’s largest employer of engineering apprentices, who currently employ and second over 370 apprentices around New Zealand,” says Ms Kingsford.
Additionally, the $50 million grant for Māori apprentices will support at-risk youth, especially in sectors like forestry.
These measures will also directly address the skills shortage New Zealand was facing before the pandemic began.
“Only two months ago, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, our industries were crying out for skilled employees as the skills shortages impacted their businesses. This was a consistent story in the 37 sectors that we support.”
Infometrics estimates over 55% of metal fabricators, over 40% of refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanics, and close to 30% of fitter-welders were roles filled by skilled migrants in the last three years. The domestic market still has considerable labour demands across Competenz sectors that will continue to need to be met.
Now, Ms Kingsford says, acting quickly to implement these initiatives is key.
“It is critical that we don’t pause the momentum to bring young people with new skills into our sectors, especially as a number of these sectors have been reliant on skilled migrant labour, and the future of this labour flow is no longer certain. We will communicate with our employers, learners and industry when we have additional information on how they will be rolled out and the part Competenz will play in that.”
Vocational education budget package crucial to COVID-19 recovery
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NO BIRDS OR PLANE, IT’S ‘SUPERSTEEL’
Researchers at the University of Hong Kong and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL) believe they have managed to produce a type of steel that has high-level performance in all three key properties that need to be balanced in steel – strength, toughness and ductility.
This ‘Super Steel’ has a yield strength resistance against deformation of around 2 GigaPascals, a fracture toughness of 102 MPa-m½, and a uniform elongation of 1%.
Scientists are saying that they believe this means that it’s stronger and tougher than the Grade 300 maraging steel used in aerospace engineering (at 20% the price tag of manufacturing).
INDUSTRY LEADER URGES YOUNG WOMEN TO CHOOSE A CAREER IN ENGINEERING
This International Women in Engineering Day (June 23), Sina Cotter-Tait, a Christchurch-based engineer and board member for Engineering NZ, is calling for more young women to consider engineering as a career.
The purpose of this year’s celebration is to raise awareness of the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry.
According to the Association of Consulting and Engineering, only around 16% of the current engineering workforce in New Zealand is female.
“Engineering and tech must be people-focussed, and if solutions are to work for all people, then we need to understand how different people experience the world and its problems differently,” says Sina.
“So it is so important that we have gender diversity amongst our engineers. Engineering is a career for everyone.”
Sina has an impressive resume including a PhD in Construction Management, an MBA and a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Civil Engineering. She is the Director of Collective Success, a Panel Member of the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Panel, a board member of CEAS and an Independent Director of the North Otago Irrigation Company.
Alongside her many other roles, Sina is a New Zealand judge for the 2020 James Dyson Award, encouraging university students and recent graduates to put their skills to good use.
Sina’s philosophy about engineering aligns perfectly with the James Dyson Award’s purpose of designing something that solves a problem.
“Encouraging our rangatahi – young Kiwis to look for creative ways to solve problems is a kaupapa I endorse whole-heartedly and I’m thrilled to be involved in helping identify the best local designers and engineers and the best ideas that will help to make a real difference in the world,” says Sina.
“Engineering is one of those jobs where you’re part of turning an idea from a pencil sketch into a real life thing, that solves a problem, and that’s satisfying. Most engineers I know are motivated by building a better, safer world for future generations, and that’s what makes it so rewarding. The only question for women considering engineering in Aotearoa-NZ is – why wouldn’t you?”
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OIL INTEL ANNOUNCES JOINT VENTURE WITH TOTAL MARKETING AND SERVICES
Oil Intel has entered a 50/50 joint venture with Total Marketing and Services, cementing a strong partnership of 20 years since its appointment as authorised lubricants distributor for New Zealand.
The venture represents a drive for proximity to their customers in industries such as mining, industrial, food production, agriculture, automotive, construction and transport.
“Achieving growth by being the best at what we do has always been my key focus, it is what the business was built around,” says managing director and co-shareholder of Oil Intel, Reuben Thickpenny.
“We always felt well-supported in this vision by Total.”
Both parties are further united by a shared mission of conducting business responsibly.
“Over the years, we have taken industry-leading steps towards responsible trading, taking into
consideration environmental impact.”
Oil Intel is one of the leading parties in pushing the Lubricant Container Stewardship Programme, where New Zealand oil companies collectively work towards a sustainable process of recycling lubricant containers.
This is in keeping with Total’s ambition to be the responsible energy major, supported by initiatives such as programs on used oils recycling partnerships or biodegradable lubricant ranges.
“We look forward to the opportunities this Joint Venture partnership brings,” says Total Marketing & Services vice president, specialties and BtoB for the Asia Pacific and Middle Eastern region, Christine Richard.
“I am proud of our collective achievements over the last two decades. Our customers have come to rely on the consistency of quality services, and we are fully committed to deliver innovative and responsible solutions to the New Zealand market,” she says.
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OIL INDUSTRY COLLABORATES TO EASE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Approximately 4.5 million lubricant containers end up in New Zealand landfills every year. Now oil companies want to do something about it.
Realising the power they had to alter this alarming statistic, major oil companies in New Zealand united to form The Waste Lubricant Container Working Group and solve an industry wide problem.
The group had one goal – to set up a product stewardship scheme that would see lubricant containers recycled and reduce their contribution to landfills.
Two years on, that goal is now getting closer to a reality and the scheme is expected to be up and running in 12 months’ time.
Oil Intel technical expert Bob Foothead says the scheme is about the industry recognising the impact it has on the environment and the social responsibility it has to deal with it.
“We have to be greener than green,” says Foothead. “The oil industry itself does not have a reputation for being environmentally friendly, so we need to utilise all we can to ensure we are acting in the very best interests of the environment.”
In the past, lubricant packaging has been notoriously difficult to recycle, due to the oily residue left inside even when empty.
This detracts from its value as a recycled material and has meant many have ended up in the ‘too-hard basket’ also known as the landfill.
The group is working to change lubricant containers from being a wasteful problem, to a valuable circular commodity.
As a company, Oil Intel has already had a recycling system in place for its own containers for a year now, but Foothead says the industry-wide stewardship scheme will encourage more companies to get involved and make the whole process a lot more efficient.
Under Oil Intel’s current scheme, around 70% of the recycled plastic stays in New Zealand to begin new lives as bollards or other heavy-duty items.
One advantage oil companies have when it comes to recycling, is that the plastic is of very high quality, says Foothead.
“[The oil] has to be in a very rigid plastic container, it can’t spill or crack. The biggest problem with oil is that it has to be chemically cleaned. That does make it a little more difficult for companies to recycle. But we have to do it because we can’t afford to continue with the issue we have got now.”
The Lubricant Container Stewardship Scheme will work similarly to the successful agrichemical container and Resene paint tin scheme, which diverts difficult-to-recycle containers from the landfill to be cleaned and reprocessed.
The proposed system will see containers returned to designated locations across the country where they will be collected and taken to the appropriate place to be chipped, solvent cleaned and recycled into other products.
However, even with the systems in place, Foothead emphasises that for the system to work, the consumer still has an important role to play.
“ We [the industry]acknowledge we have an issue that we need to deal with and we are working very hard to get a resolution to that.
“We can only do so much. We can set things up, but once we’ve sold the product we rely on people to actually bring those empty containers back. We can go part of the way but there are several links in the chain and an important link is the community returning these empty containers.”
Foothead says there has been fantastic cooperation by all involved, working to drive the project to where they are now.
“It’s always difficult when you’ve got competitors in the market, but it’s gone fantastically well from our first meeting. Everyone has worked collaboratively to put us in this position, which is good not only for the industry but certainly good for New Zealand’s environment.”
The working group is made up of of Allied Petroleum Ltd (Mobil), Castrol NZ Ltd, Farmlands Co-Operative Society Ltd (Gulf Oil), TransDiesel Ltd (ENI Lubricants), Z Energy and Oil Intel Ltd (Total Lubricants).
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CLASSIC SOLUTION: WELDING SAFER FOR CLASSIC STAINLESS COMPANY
Well-established and progressive NZ-owned Classic Stainless Steel Ltd, not only has a total commitment to provide top class stainless steel products that represent excellent value for money, it also places staff welfare top of the company’s agenda.
The Auckland-based business has a team of full time welders manufacturing a huge range of stainless steel items, individually tailored to client requirements, which include benchtops for both residential and commercial applications, as well as shower trays.
Classic Stainless Steel has 37 years manufacturing experience using stainless steel , started up by two business partners, and although the core of the business has been the manufacturing of traditional stainless products, over the intervening years there has been a shift to supermarket fitouts, hospital and hospitality projects says Andrew Grimmer who contacted NZDuct+Flex to solve their fume issues as the amount of welding gases and chemical smoke increased in the busy workshop.
Truly efficient fume extraction that effectively removes fumes, smells and associated dusts, must be operated as close to where these problems are generated as possible. Because of this, NZDuct+Flex fitted six 4-metre long fume arms to give maximum reach to accommodate the variety of work carried out, and the arms were supported in pairs by a stand, each with extraction from three 2.2kw fume fans on the roof.
The fume arms and fans are all from European supplier Oskar Air Products making the installation very simple, as all their components fit together, and the arms can be connected directly to the fan units, (via the brackets) if necessary.
A fume arm and hood connected to the right extraction, positioned correctly and constantly repositioned as the welder works, is the cheapest and best solution to deal with welding smoke and fumes. NZDuct+Flex has the largest range of fume arms in stock starting with the 75mm arms with a 1 metre reach up to the 160mm dia. and a 4-metre reach arms chosen here. The distinctive arms have blue powder coated metal tubes (also available in stainless) with external hinging to make minimal maintenance possible – no down time to clean and un-jam internally articulated arms.
From one of Europe’s leading suppliers, the fume arms and fans are incredibly good value, the arms can be wall mounted if the weld area is in bays or attached to a boom giving a phenomenal 8-metre reach if required. If a static situation is not well suited to a particular production line, the arms can be incorporated into a channel system and moved backwards and forwards to where needed: a perfect solution for assembly lines with a linear work flow.
“Our suppliers have been around for decades and their products have been tried and tested and enhanced over this time. No other company can offer what we offer in New Zealand, a source of LipLock modular ducting components, fans, and fume filtration units, guaranteed to work as a system efficiently and effectively, “ says NZDuct+Flex sales manager Geoff Ebdon.
Andrew says he was impressed with the install carried out by permanent staff from NZDuct+Flex, and was particularly grateful that they were happy to work around the production needs on the day, ensuring there was no down time for the busy workshop.
If safety of your staff comes first for you then contact NZ Duct+Flex 0508 69 38 28 for more information or visit www.nzduct.co.nz.
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CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF MANUFACTURING INNOVATION
Helping clients stay at the leading edge of their respective industries has always been a driving force behind everything Mulcahy does.
When Murray Mulcahy started business in 1980, his vision was to offer clients a total manufacturing solution.
It’s a vision that continues to be alive and well today.
“We don’t see ourselves as simply being a supplier of engineering services, but more as a manufacturing partner,” says Managing Director Kayne Mulcahy, who took over the running of the business from his father in 2012. “It’s all about enabling innovation for our clients.”
This partnership approach has taken Mulcahy from being a small facility with five employees in Gleneden, to having a 6000 square metre plant in Avondale and a team of 140.
Ongoing investment in technology is a key part of the company’s strategy. “It gives us complete control of our service deliverables, not only in terms of the quality of work produced, but also the timeframe within which the end result is delivered,” says Kayne.
When Mulcahy Engineering started operating in June 1980, the workshop only did manual processing.
It was a different world back then.
Plans and drawings were made on the coffee table. Pattern development was done manually on the floor of the workshop before being cut out with cutoff discs.
As the demands of the engineering and manufacturing world have increased over the years, Mulcahy has been at the forefront in providing the technology to meet those requirements.
Although always an early adopter of manufacturing technology, it wasn’t until 2000 that the company actually brought it inhouse. That was the year they purchased their first Trumpf L3030 laser cutting machine.
With a growth mindset and a focus on customer collaboration, this technology opened the doors to new industries which in turn paved the way for continued investment in additional plant.
Examples of this include a Trumpf TruLaser Tube 5000, which was purchased in 2018. This machine can bevel cut to +-45 degrees and process tubes of up to 8 metres in length.
Last year the business added two new Trumpf TruBend 5170s to their bending operation. The technology associated with the new machines allows the team to take a customer’s model and carry it across to the finished, folded part with complete accuracy, using innovation such as TechZone bend offline programming software.
Today, Mulcahy’s capabilities include laser cutting, punching, pressing and the full scope of fabrication services such as polishing, machining and welding.
The customer base encompasses the food and dairy industries, materials handling, original equipment manufacturing, agriculture, horticulture, and architectural.
A highly skilled team of designers and engineers ensures that even the most complex or large-scale projects can be turned around quickly, from the initial concept right through to the delivery of the finished item.
Kayne is confident about what the future holds. “We’re really focused on a strategic five year plan that’s going to put us in a great position to thrive for the next 40 years and beyond.”
Helping clients stay at the leading edge of their respective industries has always been a driving force behind everything Mulcahy does.
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