EMEX - Engineering, Machinery & Electronics Exhibition
Accord Precision is acquired by operational investors
Accord Precision Limited (Accord), one of NZ’s largest certified precision manufacturing business, has been acquired by an investment company managed by EverEdge Capital – an operational-focussed investment firm.
Accord was founded in 1970 by the Hanson and Stronge families and has become a dominant business in precision design and manufacturing in New Zealand. Accord has more than 70 employees and focuses on producing high-value components, often in repetitive runs, which involve multiple engineering processes and subcomponents including metal injection mouldings, castings, forgings, laser cut parts.
Accord was formerly an operating subsidiary of the McKechnie Group, a pioneer in metal extrusion and engineering in New Zealand since 1951. The business was acquired from McKechnie Group in early 2000’s and has since been owner-managed by its CEO Alec Mandis, and COO Vie Wieland.
About Accord Precision
Accord Precision provides complete end-to-end solutions for new product development, from concept, feasibility, consultation and design through to manufacturing, quality control and traceability for fully assembled and packaged products. As such, Accord is seen as a total solutions provider backed by a modern workforce and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and machinery with a proven track record. The firm has several high-profile OEM customers and has recently pivoted towards the high-growth medical device market. The business operates two production facilities in Auckland.
Under their management Accord successfully transitioned from conventional ‘machining’ to advanced design, prototyping, manufacturing, and assembly of precision components for medical devices and industrial products. The business achieved close to NZD $30 million in sales for the year ended 31 March 2021, primarily from global Tier 1 OEM customers including John Deere, Kirby Morgan, Assa Abloy and F&P. Accord is internationally accredited and one of the only FDA certified precision manufacturers in New Zealand.
The acquisition of Accord was undertaken by the team at EverEdge Capital led by Francis Milner, an experienced operational investor who has owned and operated industrial businesses globally.
About EverEdge Capital
EverEdge Capital is the principal investment business and subsidiary of EverEdge Global. EverEdge Capital focuses investment in mid-market companies where sustainable value can be generated through operational investment and proprietary intangible asset intelligence. EverEdge Capital is targeting companies in the upper mid-market with revenues >$30m and which have an established operating model.
EverEdge Capital undertook the acquisition to facilitate the next phase of growth and development for Accord while enabling retirement of Accord’s owner-managers. The business has a very strong pipeline of work and is actively recruiting skilled employees to support customer demand.
Commenting on the transaction Milner says, “Despite Accord being relatively asset heavy, we identified that some of its most valuable elements are intangible and off-balance sheet. These assets are what gives the business its competitive edge and help explain how Accord has secured global Tier 1 OEM customers from ‘down-under’ while remaining highly profitable.
“As intangible assets can be scaled exponentially, we are looking forward to building on the strong foundations already in place and to leveraging these assets to grow the business and improve margins.”
Of the right ‘caliber’: Engineering successful projects
Image: Auckland Zoo’s South East Asia primate habitat
Project engineers look at a project through a macro lens. Working alongside a project manager, these qualified engineers share the technical, managerial, and sitework load, to ensure projects are delivered in full, on time, and in spec.
When Auckland Zoo tackled the most extensive project of their 98-year history, they called on Metal Concepts to design and manufacture the South East Asia Jungle Track’s high canopy primate habitat.
Metal Concepts is a metal design and fabrication company, specialising in bespoke products for the architectural and construction markets. The scope of the project was huge, so Metal Concepts bought Caliber Design onboard to supplement their existing design team, with one of Caliber’s senior engineers taking on the project engineering role.
Several Caliber engineers were engaged for the duration of the project, from initial concepts to installation. Caliber undertook concepting, detailed design, site measuring, drawing, and worked closely with the manufacturing and installation teams to deliver the project. Throughout the project, Caliber engineers engaged with architects and end users to refine design concepts to meet both functional and aesthetic requirements.
“We encourage you to check out the video footage on our website. The joy expressed by Amy Robbins, Primate Team leader, is palpable, as the orangutans Charlie, Melur, and Wanita enter their new habitat for the first time. The result of years of research, design, development, and preparation … it was incredibly fulfilling to be part of such an important project that will make a profound difference to the lives of these animals and allow the visiting public to experience orangutan in an environment that is designed to meet their needs,” says the company.
Another recent project that illustrates the value of a good project engineer was Ligar.
Ligar has developed a polymerisation reactor that is used to extract high value extracts (eg, CBD from cannabinoid oil) or remove contaminants (eg, smoke taint from wine).
They had the process perfected at lab scale but needed to scale up. A Caliber project engineer worked with Ligar chemists and process engineers to design a reactor capable of bigger quantities. The first step was to scale up production from glass one litre reactors to a stainless steel 10 litre reactor — a significant milestone in the process of commercialising the product.
A Caliber engineer worked with Ligar’s chemists, process engineers, stakeholders, subcontractors, and suppliers to ensure the specification met everyone’s needs. From there, the reactor was designed and manufactured locally to the required standards, then installed and commissioned on site. Throughout the testing and learning phase conducted by the chemists, Caliber’s project engineer was on hand to support and troubleshoot any issues discovered.
Successful projects require effective management. Project engineers add value to a project by pulling everything and everyone together and keeping a project on track.
Caliber Design says to sum it up, it is pertinent to quote science and engineering author N W Dougherty: “The ideal engineer is a composite—not a scientist, not a mathematician, not a sociologist or a writer, but they may use the knowledge and techniques of any or all of these disciplines in solving engineering problems”.
Suppliers speak: Current demands, technologies and the bright future
Today’s engineering environment demands machine partners that are innovative, progressive, and understand what is needed within that partnership. When it comes to CNC machines, New Zealand is lucky to have ‘the right tools’, sourced from experts who supply and manufacture leading-edge technology and machinery.
Back-dropped by a COVID-19 landscape, getting machinery into the country has been no easy task nor has those key experts who fine-tune machines at installation. But problems aside, the sector is in good shape with higher spec, faster and smarter machinery constantly in development.
Some of these key industry CNC providers share with NZ Engineering News the challenges currently being faced in the current engineering environment and how they can help your business…
Keeping up with demand
“The demands placed on your business become tougher every day, as modern manufacturers are tasked with meeting ever-tightening tolerances and problem-solving to deliver the desired result by strict deadlines,” says Fred de Jong, general manager at Okuma New Zealand. De Jong has extensive knowledge in the performance of CNC machine tools; a base that has been accumulated across 45 years in the industry.
He says that Okuma has developed technologies to lend a helping hand.
“Each technology, in its own way, was designed to enhance machine cutting performance, no matter how complicated the part shape, no matter how complex the part surface,” says de Jong.
“Every manufactured part is unique. And now, you have the tools to ensure speed, accuracy and efficiency when you face your next manufacturing challenge.”
When it comes to maintaining the machines, Okuma’s Thermo-Friendly Concept (TFC) offers protection against thermal growth within the machine tool.
“By combining control technology and machine design to minimise the amount of heat generated, and deal with the heat that can’t be eliminated, TFC helps you improve quality, save time, and reduce the incidence of waste product by controlling the ‘uncontrollable’,” says de Jong.
“Ultimately, through machine or programme adjustments, you don’t have to worry about your parts being deformed inside your shop, no matter what the weather is outside of it.”
By integrating 3D modelling of its machines, blanks and tooling, de Jong says Okuma creates virtual machines.
“When you run the real-time virtual application seconds ahead of the actual cutting, any problems can be detected early, and the machine can be stopped before a costly collision.
“While virtual modelling enquires exacting dimensions and definitions, we can meet these stringent requirements since we manufacture the machine and custom-create the applications.”
Easy to access machinery
Zahid Aung, director at Laser Machines Limited, says another issue affecting the sector is that “currently, some manufacturers are taking longer lead time to manufacture CNC machineries”.
The Wellington-based business is a sole agent for Bodor Laser in New Zealand and Australia, providing CNC laser cutting machines – including 2D, 3D and CNC tube laser cutting machines.
“Bodor Laser machines offer the most up-to-date competitive technologies and have features that you would find in most popular brands.”
And because the machines are manufactured in Asia, Aung says this makes them easier to access in today’s market at affordable prices.
“Manufacturers who are based in the Asian market, such as China, can now produce technology and quality close to or equivalent to traditional brands which are made in Europe, US and the UK.
“Bodor Laser uses IPG photonics lasers, for most of their machines and Pricitec and Bodor Genius Laser cutting heads.
“Most of the CNC lasers use European controllers and Japanese controllers and we are proud to sell Bodor Laser machines in New Zealand with very attractive prices,” says Aung.
Laser machines also have local engineers who have been trained to conduct ongoing service support for New Zealand customers, and most of its machines can be fully automated where required.
Automation is also front and centre with the machines supplied by Machineryhouse.
“Here in New Zealand and globally there is a shortage of skilled engineers and young talent coming into engineering,” says Miles Donald, NZ national manager at Machineryhouse.
“The ease of the Haas control allows new users to step into the world of CNC.”
As the country’s distributor of Haas, Machineryhouse has been a “go-to company” in New Zealand’s machine tool and manufacturing industries for more than 35 years. With branches nationwide, the team at Machineryhouse possess a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise.
Donald says that Haas’ ease of set up and user-friendly nature makes the “learning curve and follow-on day to day use very easy”.
“Couple this with the aspect that control is common between lathe, mill, 5-axis, horizontal, makes for a machine shop with operators easily moved from machine to machine.”
And when things don’t exactly go to plan or some extra help is required, Donald says that is also sorted.
“We have three Haas certified service technicians, based in the North and South Island, the largest inventory of spare parts – all as part of the Haas Ethos – just in case.
“If a machine tool is down from say an operator error or general wear over time, time is money and in a competitive world we operate in lead-time to your customer, this is paramount.”
In the typical Kiwi way, it’s clear that despite the hurdles the sector is currently experiencing, those in the industry are already putting their best foot forward and finding the solutions.
Towering above the rest for welding space and safety
Welding safely includes adequate filtration of harmful fumes – let a new space saving filter improve your workshop.
Danish fume extraction specialist Geovent has over 50 years production experience in the ventilation and extraction industry. Continuous development and constant response to find new and better solutions to nuisance fumes means the company offers nearly 5000 products to choose from, all designed to improve workspaces efficiently, protecting staff from welding fumes and exhaust gases in a variety of industries.
NZ Duct+Flex is Geovent’s Australasian distributor and has already placed the new Geo filter GFB2 Tower model into several workplaces around New Zealand. This space saving model is an all-in-one, self-cleaning cartridge filter solution, with a built-in fan on top.
The fan is a highly efficient MEF fan with B-type impellors (backward curving self- cleaning blades) housed in a sound dampening casing – the perfect solution to protect the environment, filter the air and remove the damaging particles. And it does it while providing a reduced noise level, and low energy use.
The GEO filter GBF2 is supplied with timer control for the compressed air cleaning as standard. Manufactured with a robust galvanised finish for indoor or outdoor use, if installed outdoors, the supplier suggests a short roof to keep the worst of the rain/snow off. There are three models to choose from, providing a filter area from 60 to 120m² and there are several types of filter cartridges dependent upon on fume or dust type. The filter is ideal for welding smoke, laser/plasma machining or cutting, or fine dust.
Ideal for workshops with limited floor space, the compact filter has a matching fan dropped on top within an acoustic box. Coupled with a silencer, noise levels are below the common factory floor 80db level.
“‘We have sold a lot of the small fume filters from this Danish company in the last 3-4 years,” says Geoff Ebdon, sales manager for NZ Duct+Flex. “But we sometimes had customers with very limited space, and the noise level could be an issue with separate fans. Combining the two into one slightly taller unit have overcome these problems.”
Choosing the tower unit also saves access costs and possible leak issues involved with cutting holes in roofs for expelling fumes to atmosphere.
For more information visit http://www.nzduct.co.nz or call 0508 69 38 28 to discuss your dust and fume extraction issues.
Upskill, upskill, upskill… Welding training: Adapting to today’s industry
The welding industry is booming, but there is one problem – a shortage of skilled welders in New Zealand. The solution: providing information and education. And the good news is that there are plenty of providers out there to help train new staff and up skill others. Industry training organisation Competenz spoke to NZEN about some of the challenges the sector faces and how they can help.
Almost three-quarters (72%) of the industry believes there is a shortage of full-time welders. As one of the country’s 11 transitional industry training organisations (TITOs), partnering with employers, apprentices, schools, training providers and assessors across the country, Competenz hopes to help with this.
“New Zealand has a shortage of skilled welders, particularly as closed borders often mean overseas skills are unavailable,” says Competenz’s national manager of sector engagement, Mathew Vandy.
An ageing workforce and a male dominated workforce also contribute to the sector’s shortage of workers.
“Companies now need to identify, up skill and cross-train existing employees to tailor their skills to fit current industry gaps.”
Competenz runs campaigns to attract more people into apprenticeships and traineeships, which include welding skills.
“With an ageing workforce in the industry, succession planning is key. Transferring valuable skills from those about to exit the workforce to an apprentice or other team members helps meet those succession demands,” says Vandy.
“Our experienced teams manage pathways that impact roles in the welding industry, and provide pastoral care and support for learners in those programmes.
“Our strong connections with welding providers give us the opportunity to ensure outcomes for our learners meet the expectations of the industry.
“We also have a feasibility study underway, in partnership with the welding industry, to research a welding-specific pathway.”
Welcoming women to welding
With only 14% of engineers being female, another issue is the low percentage of women in trades.
However, Vandy says it should now be easier to women to enter the industry with profile cut parts, smaller components and more lifting assistance being increasingly introduced.
“Modern workplaces should have removed any barriers to hiring women. While some engineering workshops have an equal employment policy, in general, there is still work to be done.”
A change of direction
From August 1, Competenz’s functions to arrange, support and assess work-based training will transition to a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga – the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.
“This is a new entity which, when the transformation is complete, will incorporate all 16 New Zealand institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) and 11 industry training organisations (ITOs),” says Vandy.
“However, employers and learners will notice very little change and will continue to receive our support and services through this transformational period and beyond.”
Latest figures for goods trade both positive and cautionary
NZUS Council executive director Jordan Small says the story from the latest update to the monthly goods trade data is both a positive and cautionary one.
Small says the overall 12-month picture for our goods exports to the US is positive, with growth of $569M over the period. There was growth in frozen beef exports by 16.9%, mechano-therapy appliances 53.9%, and sawn wood products 32%. However, the month-to-month data reflects increasing volatility and the challenge of global supply chain issues.
“We expect to see ongoing month-to-month volatility in many of New Zealand’s exports to the US over the short term as the impact of ongoing global supply chain issues plays out. This is affecting the ability of Kiwi exporters to get product into containers at the right time and place, find ships, and get product cleared at ports.”
The NZUS Council surveyed a selection of large New Zealand exporters into the United States who consistently cited global supply chain issues as a major problem. Shipping delays of up to 6-8 weeks, difficulties getting containers, and slow clearance through US ports were common themes.
Catherine Beard, executive director of Export NZ says, “We are definitely hearing from more stressed exporters about the shipping and logistics problems they are facing, which is a combination of being unable to get predictable slots on ships and the sky-high prices they are being charged.”
Small says a key takeaway from the data is that US and global demand for many of our largest exports remains rock solid, meaning we will continue to see higher global prices and exporters responding to this and shifting between markets.
“US demand for many of our exports remains steady and the US continues to be a key market in the planning of our exporters. For exports such as beef and wine the US is expected to remain their largest market over the coming 12 months. The reopening of food service and restaurants with the vaccination rollout in the US will also be positive for many of our exporters to the US.”
Small says the NZUS Council supports the Prime Minister’s commitment to pursuing an enhanced trade relationship with the US over this term.
“Continuing to grow the significant two-way trade growth potential for the US and New Zealand will help New Zealand achieve the government’s call for further export market diversification and support New Zealand’s recovery from the pandemic.”
The NZUS Council is a New Zealand organisation, established in 2001, focused on advancing New Zealand’s interests in a stronger relationship with the US.
Local manufacturing business opens to keep work in NZ
Avid, a new engineering/manufacturing company in Katikati, opened its doors for the first time recently offering innovators, inventors and businesses the opportunity to take their new ideas and concepts and bring them to life. With local tool design, precision toolmaking and product manufacture all catered for in their newly appointed premises on Sheffield Street.
“Offering our clients an unrivalled service that reduces the time, cost and stresses of taking a product from concept to market, is what we do. By simplifying the process from start to finish, whilst retaining both cost and production efficiencies, we can create products with the highest degree of quality, form & function,” says Avid general manager and co-founder Chris Ebner.
Having specialists in product design, prototyping, plastic injection moulding, toolmaking and precision CNC machining, Avid’s dedicated team is well equipped to take on a large range of projects using the latest in design software, 3D printers, injection moulding machines and CNC machines all housed in a purpose built facility in the Bay of Plenty.
“With our state-of-the-art tool room housing the latest in both CNC and plastic injection moulding technologies we can cater to a wide range of industries – whether it be high precision, low tolerance medical devices or larger robust components for the transport and building industries, we have the ability and resources to tackle it all,” Ebner says.
“Because a lot of our machining work is done unattended with such high precision there is very little manual labour meaning we can compete internationally with the likes of China, who tend to excel because of their cheap semi-skilled labour. As a result, we are manufacturing higher quality products, locally, which brings big benefits to New Zealand companies,” Ebner says.
Avid‘s tool room had been fully operational for the last eight years working as a research and development arm of the Katikati company, Rhondium. When Rhondium no longer needed a full-time research and development team, Avid jumped at the opportunity, setting up as a separate entity with new management and employee buy-in whilst utilizing the expertise and resources of a well-established business.
Avid is interested to speak to anyone, in any industry nationwide who may find value in their services. Whether it be taking a product from concept through to production, or solely contract manufacturing, reach out today and discuss your project with our friendly team to explore the possibilities that await.
Manufacturing and engineering workplaces well being positive
Offer all the fruit bowls you like but it’s going to take more than that to lift employee wellbeing, says Jane Kennelly, Skills Consulting Group general manager of Wellbeing.
Kennelly is fronting a new Work Wellbeing Index, the first of its kind for New Zealand, which reveals fruit bowls and yoga classes are perceived by staff as evidence of an insincere ‘box-ticking’ mentality – and that Kiwi businesses have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to wellbeing in the workplace.
According to the Skills Consulting Group Work Wellbeing Index, which surveyed nearly 1500 Kiwi workers, New Zealand has an overall work wellbeing score of 62 out of 100, with manufacturing and engineering coming in at 70.
The Index measures what’s really important to Kiwi workers in the workplace; what contributes to their workplace wellbeing; and if they feel their current organisation has a wellbeing culture.
It measures existing wellbeing initiatives in Kiwi workplaces, providing a path to improvement.
“We know that work wellbeing is important – that’s a no-brainer,” says Kennelly. “The Work Wellbeing Index takes that discussion to a new level and quantifies exactly where we are at in New Zealand workplaces and sets a benchmark for improvement.”
Demonstrating ‘genuine care’ has the biggest positive impact on workplace culture, the data exposed a significant gap that exists between what employees expect and what employers offer in this area.
“Organisations that show genuine care for their managers and colleagues, as opposed to the tick-box approach, are clearly identified as coming out on top. Sixty three percent of employees said a positive wellbeing culture is number one when looking for a role, yet employers are falling short, with workers saying only 40% of their employers actually meet their needs,” says Kennelly.
“Workers are saying bosses talk about wellbeing because they have to so they put communal fruit bowls on the table – but what employers are not seeing, are people ducking from the bananas that are thrown around the office.”
Kennelly says the study found employee satisfaction levels can increase by as much as 11% if an organisation has a proactive wellbeing culture.
“And the best news, that all employers want to hear, is that as satisfaction increases so too does productivity.”
The Work Wellbeing Index also looks outside of the workplace and into people’s personal lives – showing a clear link between the way people feel at work and their personal life.
“Intriguingly, we see that as satisfaction in the workplace increases, so does employee’s overall satisfaction with life, jumping from 36% to 85%. We know there’s a blurring between peoples’ work and personal lives, and this research is showing us that cultivating a work wellbeing culture can play a vital part in impacting a person’s life,” says the wellbeing expert.
Demographically the results were similar, however the Work Wellbeing Index did see differences across sectors, with employees in education and healthcare scoring below the national score of 62. Construction fared the lowest with a score of 55, however manufacturing scored highest with 70.
“Never before has wellbeing been more on the agenda. We stand at the intersection where New Zealand organisations have tremendous power to shape the work and personal lives of their workforce. They can choose to embrace wellbeing as an integral part of a company’s DNA, and ultimately improve their productivity and positively impact people’s satisfaction in life.”
She says while this is the first research study of its kind in New Zealand, Skills Consulting Group will publish the Work Wellbeing Index annually.
“We have a clear snapshot of what wellbeing at work looks like in New Zealand in 2021 and we’re looking forward to seeing how New Zealand organisations take up the challenge into 2022.
ETNZ drives marine industry innovation with Hydrogen chase boats
Emirates Team New Zealand has committed to drive hydrogen innovation in the marine industry by developing hydrogen powered chase boats for the 37th America’s Cup.
They have been working with AFCryo, a Christchurch based innovative company in design, development and manufacture of composite cryostats for the cryogenic and superconducting industries.
Currently the Emirates Team New Zealand designers are working on a prototype hydrogen powered foiling chase boat, to be built at the team’s North Shore build facility, capable of standing up to the demands of supporting an AC75 throughout all aspects of an America’s Cup campaign.
Once launched and verified, and with the support of the Challenger of Record Ineos Team UK, it is possible that the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup will contain a provision that all teams must use hydrogen powered support boats. This would also apply to the 20+ event and race support boats which will have a considerable impact on the reduction of consumption of fossil fuels across the event.
Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton says, “Emirates Team New Zealand continues to be at the forefront of innovation and we intend to really drive the development curve of new and clean technology in the marine industry. It is our hope that we can make a seismic shift into hydrogen power and an emission free statement for the industry. This initiative is not without risk as we have very specific operating criteria within the team and the America’s Cup, so it is not a small undertaking.
Technical director Hugh Reynolds is leading the project for AFCryo, “As an organisation we have been working in cryogenics, and clean-tech solutions, for 17 years. We are a strong proponent of green hydrogen and are manufacturing hydrogen production systems in New Zealand. It is exciting to work with Emirates Team New Zealand on such an aggressive development curve and timeline to deliver on water Hydrogen storage and power. The opportunity to contribute to such an exciting project aligns perfectly with our view of sustainable future energy.”
Ineos Team UK and Challenger of Record Team Principal skipper Sir Ben Ainslie is behind the push into Hydrogen power on the water, “For nearly two centuries the America’s Cup has pushed the boundaries in design and engineering, whilst ensuring innovation benefits the wider marine industry. With so much investment in hydrogen across the world, shifting to foiling chase boats, powered by hydrogen could well prove to be a sustainable and practical solution for the future of the marine industry, while supporting the AC75’s which are reaching speeds in excess of 50 knots.”
Terry Hutchinson, skipper and executive director of New York Yacht Club American Magic, the U. Challenger for the 36th America’s Cup says, “It is impressive to see how innovation remains the driving force behind the America’s Cup after 170 years of racing. We support the Defender’s efforts to apply their performance innovation skills to sustainable and environmentally friendly technology.”
Elements of the hydrogen innovation will also be assessed and developed into how they can potentially be utilised in the functions of the next generation of AC75’s also.
EMEX 2022: 40th Anniversary still a go
You have been waiting for EMEX since 2018, and after over a year of disruptions, including numerous unavoidable reschedules and cancellations, we are delighted to confirm the 40th Anniversary is now firmly in the calendar for May 31 to June 2, 2022.
“Like you, we can’t wait to present New Zealand’s largest engineering and manufacturing innovation trade show. A trade show that has spanned four decades, showcasing the very latest technology, the newest products and innovations that are taking on the world,” says show organiser XPO Exhibitions.
“By the time we welcome you all to the show it will have been four years in the making – that’s 4 years since our industry leading exhibitors were able to showcase thousands of products and services to you, our very loyal and important industry visitors – it’s going to be a very special event.
“We are busy planning the show, working closely with all our media partners, the 200+ exhibitors who will be in attendance and the many industry associations who have continued to support this iconic and vitally important industry event. We are promising the greatest EMEX ever, with more exhibitors, features, speakers and industry experts in attendance than ever before.”
You can register early to keep up to date with what’s happening at http://www.emex.co.nz.
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