EMEX - Engineering, Machinery & Electronics Exhibition
Celebrating its 40th Anniversary!
Trade shows play a critical role in building businesses across the country. EMEX 2021 is going full steam ahead. Together we can kickstart our economy.
Don't miss the free seminar program including Callaghan Innovation's Manufacturing Futures on Day 2
Lean - Ten Types - Rapid Learning - IP Strategy
Four Innovation workshops to choose from. Register for Free. 17 February
Learn how to Design for Additive Manufacturing
Olaf Diegel presents a 2 day DfAM Course (16-17 February)
SUSTAINABILITY WOVEN INTO THE FABRIC
Geofabrics Australasia’s Albury manufacturing plant
KAESER MEETS GEOFABRICS ENERGY EFFICIENCY REQUIREMENTS
Australia’s largest manufacturer of geosynthetic products recently installed a low pressure Kaeser ESD 245 rotary screw compressor at its Albury manufacturing plan in regional NSW. Replacing an ageing compressor, the new Kaeser compressor is assisting Geofabrics in continuing to meet its sustainability goals.
Geofabrics Australasia is Australia’s largest manufacturer and supplier of a range of highly engineered geosynthetics for the building and infrastructure sector. The core capabilities are across the road, rail, waste, mining, coastal, water, recreation and slopes and wall segments. Geofabrics has a presence throughout Australia, New Zealand, PNG and the Pacific. The company has two manufacturing plants, one in Albury (NSW) and other in Ormeau (Queensland) and contributes to Australia’s sovereign infrastructure construction capabilities.
On every project, Geofabrics has a singular focus: to provide smarter infrastructure solutions for their clients.
MANUFACTURING INNOVATIVE GEOSYNTHETIC SOLUTIONS
As the Australasian leader in geotextiles and geosynthetics, Geofabrics delivers engineering support and technical leadership through a focus on innovation, research, industry education, design and independent testing services. Simply, Geofabrics’ products are a key component in building Australia’s critical infrastructure; our roads, railways, landfills and resources (mining, oil & gas).
One example of the products manufactured by Geofabrics is bidim Green geotextile, a variant to its existing ‘Bidim’ range, which contains Australian-sourced recycled plastics (think of recycled drink bottles) and is a green innovation that came amid increasing calls for greater sustainability in the construction and infrastructure industry.
Both effective and economical, bidim Green is a superior geosynthetic solution for a range of engineering problems including weak soil, rutted and cracked roads, as well as liquid and gas leaks from landfill sites. It can be used for example, in the construction of roads, railways and embankments where the ground is soft and unstable. Using a layer of geotextile to separate the soft ground from the fill material reduces the amount of fill required, increases the lifespan of the road or rail structure, and reduces long-term maintenance costs.
The in-line slitting process
SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES SAVE ENERGY AND MONEY
Geofabrics is committed to contributing to a positive impact on the environment and to manufacture and supply products that reduce reliance on non-renewable resources and reduce waste to landfill.
This includes making the company’s use of resources more efficient through lean manufacturing and a process of continuous improvement. As a result, Geofabrics has won many awards over the years including the 2019 Australian Exporter of the Year, the 2017-2019 Victorian Exporter of the Year (Environmental Solutions), and the 2018 AusTrade Australian Export Award for Environmental Solutions. These awards recognise outstanding international success in environmental solutions, clean energy innovation and energy efficiency.
It is no surprise then, that when Geofabrics’ process improvement engineer Ashish Swarup began the procurement process to replace an ageing compressor at the Albury manufacturing plant – selecting an energy efficient solution was a key criterion.
Compressed air is an essential utility required to operate many functions at both of Geofabrics manufacturing plants – one in Albury (NSW) and one in southern Queensland. One crucial role is using compressed air in the filament drawing process. Reliably delivering clean compressed air is critical in fulfilling this process. Unfortunately, the ageing compressor at the Albury manufacturing plant was becoming less reliable. Aside from finding a more reliable solution, as one of the largest energy consumers in the business, accounting for around one third of all electrical consumption, finding an energy efficient compressed air solution was therefore also very important.
The procurement process included evaluating a number of possible compressor options against five key criteria, including life cycle costing, reliability of asset and environmental impact, making the process very transparent. All options were then given a total rating. Thanks to a high overall rating backed up with technical advice and support, Geofabrics opted for a low pressure Kaeser ESD 245 series rotary screw compressor to meet its requirements.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY AS STANDARD
The ESD 245 is a specially built dedicated low pressure oil lubricated rotary screw compressor. Unique to Kaeser it delivers flow rates up to 30.9 m3/min at pressures of 3.5 to 5 bar.
Installed complete with a comprehensive air treatment package, this proved the ideal solution for Geofabrics. Not only would this solution reliably deliver large volumes of high quality and clean compressed air, but as a highly efficient dedicated low pressure compressor – the ESD 245 would also easily create in excess of 30% energy savings compared to a ‘standard’ pressure 7 bar screw compressor of a similar size.
Kaeser Compressors pushes the boundaries of compressed air efficiency and availability once again with its latest generation of ESD series rotary screw compressors. Intelligent design solutions have not only led to enhanced ease of operation and serviceability, but also give this series of class-defining compressors their distinctive modern appearance.
Delivering improved specific power, the flow-optimised and further refined Sigma Profile rotors provide the foundation for exceptional energy efficiency. The use of high performance
IE4 drive motors maximise energy efficiency, whilst Kaeser’s 1:1 drive design eliminates the transmission losses associated with gear or V-belt driven systems, as the motor directly drives the airend. Kaeser is currently the only compressed air systems provider to equip its compressors with super premium efficiency IE4 class motors.
Furthermore, the radial fan fulfils the efficiency requirements for fans as per EU directive 327/2011. The advanced Sigma Control 2 compressor controller also achieves additional energy savings and minimises cost-intensive idling periods through the use of a variety of specially developed control options.
Finally, an intelligent component layout ensures even greater energy efficiency: for example, all service and maintenance points are within easy reach and are directly accessible from the front of the unit. This not only saves time and money when performing service work, but also maximises compressed air system availability.
Ashish Swarup says: ‘Selecting energy efficient equipment is a large part of our sustainability practices and our commitment to keeping our carbon footprint to a minimum, and the Kaeser compressor was therefore the right choice for us. Up and running now for almost a year the compressor is reliably and energy efficiently meeting our compressed air requirements.’
Kaeser has an extensive range of low pressure oil lubricated rotary screw compressors available that produce flow rates from 4.65 to 58.7 m3/min, designed for pressures 3.5 to 5 bar.
A STEP INTO THE FUTURE
Oasis Engineering’s robot arm with manufactured brass swivels for use on petrol tankers.
The 2021 EMEX tradeshow may be celebrating 40 years of New Zealand manufacturing and engineering innovation, but the event’s ‘Manufacturing Futures’ seminar won’t be looking backwards – it will dive into what’s yet to come.
Thinking big, thinking digital, and thinking into the future will be the focus of the ‘Manufacturing Futures’ full-day seminar on day two of EMEX.
Set to host the event, Callaghan Innovation has curated a line-up of speakers and topics.
“The day is to talk about where this whole space is going,” says Phil Anderson, business innovation expert at Callaghan Innovation and the event’s emcee.
“We’re wanting to encourage businesses to think big, and to showcase how they can start implementing process, product and business model changes.”
Designed to demonstrate how to get started with Industry 4.0, Anderson hopes the seminar will guide Kiwi companies into the digital world and “towards being world-class”.
Robert Blache from Callaghan Innovation’s future insights team will be one of the day’s presenters, and will explore what the next 40 years of manufacturing might look like. After showing this glimpse into the future, the focus will step back to today to look at some New Zealand companies that have already adopted Industry 4.0 technologies.
Wood Engineering Technology’s director, Tony Johnson, will share how they have developed an Industry 4.0-enabled process for turning low-value, weak wood into high-value structural lumber.
“They have a really strong vision about where they’re heading, connected devices, robotics, end-to-end processes, really getting towards being a fully data-driven company with decisions made through the data,” says Anderson.
“We’re not saying they’re quite there yet, but they certainly are this really neat story of a New Zealand company running at Industry 4.0 technologies to design scalable world-class manufacturing.”
Otago-based United Machinists’ chief executive Sarah Ramsay will also share how their ‘factory of the future’ started with a goal to display live KPI data in the workshop, to now using automated scheduling, live real-time production weblinks for clients, and a multidisciplinary team, systematically removing bottlenecks.
STEPPING UP THE GAME
Helping Kiwi companies embrace Industry 4.0 and introducing them to the tools available to do so will be the focus of the day, says Anderson.
“We will have myself and Sue Bradley, general manager of Industrial Design at Beca, talking about government support and initiatives that are happening at the moment.
“There is an Industry 4.0 network that has been created in partnership with Callaghan Innovation, EMA (Employers and Manufacturers Association) and Beca. Sue and I are going to talk about the support that’s there for companies to get on the road.”
Kevin Flint, general manager at Tauranga-based Oasis Engineering will then share the steps his company took to reach where they are today.
“Oasis’ story is quite interesting as well,” says Anderson.
“They will explain how embedding a culture of continual improvement through Lean has created the bedrock from which to launch into digitisation, and how it’s actually a really good way to understand as a company what is value and what is waste.
“Once you get that part sorted – the manual processes, the culture – then what we’re saying is it’s a good time then to start overlaying the digital parts that make sense as well to help with that continual improvement, which is what Lean brings in.”
With their strong process and culture base, Oasis Engineering is now connecting machines, adding sensors and cameras, and using data to drive its decisions.
“It’s showing how to get there, and how you can start. They are a great example of how a business can start and then accelerate adoption of advanced technologies to create value. We want people to be inspired.”
Callaghan Innovation and 20 Kiwi companies attended the 2019 Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific trade show to learn about Industry 4.0 technologies redefining the industry.
A NEW WAY OF DOING THINGS
The second half of ‘Manufacturing Futures’ will focus on smart products and new business models.
Callaghan’s Ross Pierce will draw on his 25-plus-years’ experience in innovation leadership and product development to share how the digital world creates new opportunity.
“We then bring in Mark Taylor, CEO of Framecad, who has an innovative business model where connected roll forming machines combine with world-class software to create a recurring revenue stream,” says Anderson.
“Digitally-enabled machinery has actually opened up this new business model for him, and it is providing amazing value to his customers. So, that is a bit of inspiration – with big thinking, here is what you can achieve.”
Ben Bodley, founder and chief executive of Teknique, will also dive into the world of artificial intelligence and computer vision.
“It’s getting companies to think about how they can incorporate smart technology into their existing product suite and imagine what their products could look like in the future,” says Anderson.
“Thinking big and thinking digitally, can effectively open new revenue streams and connect long-lasting value to a customer.”
But before building a new product, Anderson says companies need to make sure it is something their customers are going to love.
“Before you even begin something, have you really connected with your customers to make sure it’s something they want you to build?”
Presenters, including Callaghan Innovation’s Shane Dooley and vice president of product at software business Dexibit, Pip Gilberts, will give examples and techniques of how to connect with customers and how in doing so, long-lasting value will be created.
“Start with the business value and let the technology flow in behind,” says Anderson.
“There is a whole bunch of tools that we will touch on over the day of how companies can just crack on with it right now.
“It’s actually not rocket science – you don’t have to be afraid of it, of getting started, of putting foot forward.”
SOFTWARE ENGINEERING PROJECT LAUNCHES GRADUATES CAREER
Pro-vice-chancellor of Engineering, Professor Jan Evans-Freeman presented software engineering student, Flynn Doherty with the People’s Choice Award at the 2020 UC Engineering final year projects showcase for his project into the 3D visualisation of an aerospace launch vehicle
An award-winning project into the 3D visualisation of an aerospace launch vehicle has launched student Flynn Doherty’s career with leading aerospace manufacturer and satellite launch company Rocket Lab.
As part of the University of Canterbury’s (UC) Bachelor of Software Engineering (Hons) degree, students must complete a final year project, with many of the projects sponsored by industry.
Doherty’s final year project, which won the 2020 People’s Choice Award at the UC Engineering final year projects showcase, was sponsored by Rocket Lab and looked at alternative methods for visualising the state of Rocket Lab’s electron launch vehicle.
“During flight, there is an incredible amount of data being transmitted and my project aimed to use this data to reconstruct the vehicle in a virtual 3D environment so that operators and engineers could easily – and visually – determine the position, attitude and general state of the vehicle. The 3D visualisation platform also presented the opportunity to spatially represent vehicle data to allow operators to view data about the vehicle in a physically based, intuitive manner,” he says.
“Through this project, I’ve learned a lot about developing software that conforms to stakeholder requirements as well as a bunch of new technologies that are increasingly applicable to my career in the software industry.”
The project came about after talking to Rocket Lab senior software engineer Chris Ching during an internship at the company in the summer of 2019. Ching says that given the great work Doherty did during his internship, it was easy to justify the project.
“We went through the team’s backlog of projects and matched one with UC’s requirements that would allow Rocket Lab to develop something we typically wouldn’t have spare resources to try. We were able to approach this project with a clean slate and prove out some technical concepts that we can now incorporate into our internal tooling. I think industry engagement offers an applied, practical perspective for students, so was really pleased with the outcome.”
Doherty will join a number of UC alumni at Rocket Lab as a software engineer working specifically on flight operations software.
“It’s an exciting role that enables me to work with a number of other teams to ensure that operators in mission control can effectively monitor, test, and launch the electron rocket. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside and learn from some of the smartest and supportive people in the industry,” he says.
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KERF, LANTEK COLLABORATION DELIVERS ‘INDUSTRY-LEADING’ PLASMA TECHNOLOGY
Kerf Developments has been building plasma, oxy-fuel and waterjet cutting machines since 2002.
The company originally started as a service-based organisation repairing and upgrading a broad range of profile cutting machinery. It was the experiences gained working on such a varied range of equipment that formed the basis of the current machine range. Dan Taylor, managing director, explains the transition to machine building: “We have a considerable amount of experience in the industry and we could see which machine configurations gave the best and most reliable performance. The machines that we build here in the workshop in Rochdale have been designed by our team of engineers which, with Kerf being completely independent, means that we can select best in class products for our turnkey solutions from leading global partners such as Lincoln Electric and Burny.”
In addition to offering a standard range of profile cutting machines, Kerf works with its customers to specify a bespoke machine that matches their own individual application. They design and build machines up to 4m wide with a combination of plasma and oxy-fuel heads and of any length. The smallest machine the company have supplied has a working area of 2.5mx 1.25m. The largest has a huge working area of 40m x 4m with multiple bridges.
A choice of plasma systems can be supplied with the machines ranging in cut capability from 1mm right the way through to 90mm. For oxy-fuel applications machines can cut up to 150mm thick as standard or considerably more if the application requires it.
As part of their continued development Kerf needed to evaluate the capabilities of various CAD/CAM and nesting systems as this was becoming an ever-increasing requirement from its customers. Following evaluation of several of the leading systems the one that came out on top for the engineering team at Kerf was the Lantek ‘Expert’ system.
Described as a world leader in software for the sheet metal and fabrication sector, Lantek now has over 24,800 customers in over 100 countries and 20 offices in 14 countries. Its Expert software is supported by a team of engineers in the UK and is developed at the company’s Technological Excellence Centre in Bilbao, Spain. For Kerf Developments, Lantek has trained Kerf’s engineers so that they can provide training and first line support. Dan says, “All our field service engineers have a copy of Lantek Expert software as part of their toolbox so that they can provide an instant response to any queries. Lantek provides regular and valuable updates to the software and are always on hand to provide online support to fine tune systems to work in line with our customers’ needs.”
For offline programming of the cutting machines, CAD data can be imported directly into Lantek Expert, parts nested on the material to optimise usage and the cutting path automatically created, providing a very fast and simple way of keeping the machine running, achieving high productivity levels and short delivery times.
As part of the collaboration, Lantek has worked closely with the engineering team at Kerf to perfect its UltraSharp technology which delivers high quality parts with a square edge, better quality edges and 1:1 hole sizes, for example, a 5mm hole in 5mm material, a capability which would previously have been impossible on a plasma machine. For the user, this capability makes it possible to use much lower cost plasma technology rather than laser technology to manufacture parts and is especially effective for thicker components. Dan adds, “The UltraSharp technology involves internally enhanced software protocols, accelerating and decelerating the torch dynamics on tight contours and holes, controlling the power, gas pressure and flow, amongst other things, and also automatically selecting special lead in and lead out configurations. The result is a constant and true arc with no lag between the top and bottom of the material being cut. All the parameters required to achieve this are built into our technology tables making it easy to achieve high quality components direct from the CAD data.”
One of Kerf Developments’ customers, Pressed Flights based in Littleborough manufactures screw conveyors. The shape of the screw in its flat state is complex and, in many cases varies along the length of the screw depending on the material being transported.
Previously these parts were subcontracted for laser and waterjet cutting. Now the company has a Kerf RUR2500p machine with UltraSharp cutting technology and Lantek’s software and carries out all the cutting in house achieving ± 0.25mm general tolerance. Mark Cryer, managing director at Pressed Flights says, “It is one of the best investments we have made. We transfer CAD data directly into Lantek, nest the parts for best yield, easily and quickly generating the CNC program. The Kerf UltraSharp plasma is very reliable producing augers which are spot on in size, it is a vital part of our operation. After sales service is excellent from both companies.”
“The 14-year collaboration with Lantek has enabled us to deliver industry leading technology to our customers as part of our turnkey machine packages configured to meet the demands of each client’s business. Our focus is on providing excellent service, as it has been from the start. Lantek has the same mindset making it a valuable partner for the delivery of a full process offering.”
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WINTEC WOMEN- EMPOWERED TO MAKE A STAND
Engineering may often be considered a man’s world but Wintec engineering teachers, Dr Maryam Moridnejad, Sarla Kumari, Josy Cooper, Elena Eskandarymalayery and their manager, Dr Trudy Harris don’t agree. They want to see more diversity in their engineering classes, and they are on a mission to change up the ratio.
The five women have a mix of mechanical, civil and electrical qualifications.
Wintec group director, Trades and Engineering and Industrial Design, Dr Shelley Wilson says women make up 5-10% of engineering students at Wintec and the future is looking bright for graduates who can expect diverse opportunities.
“We work closely with industry to train engineers for an evolving workplace which is responding to new demands for technology, climate change and the influence of COVID-19.
“The scope for engineering careers is exciting and graduates can aim for careers in the manufacturing, roading and other areas of infrastructure, power industry, chemical and mechatronics areas for example. These environments are attracting a diverse workforce.”
Kumari says the perception of engineering sometimes doesn’t help.
“Many people believe engineering is about working outside, getting your hands dirty and a study path with a maths-heavy study component.
“Engineering offers broad opportunities and engineers mainly work in an office designing and creating projects for people.”
Cooper agrees that engineering is people orientated as well as project focussed.
“Everything you design has to work with and be for people. It can be really compelling as a career.”
Dr Moridnejad, who shared the trending post about diversity on LinkedIn says that in her home country, Iran, with more restrictions on women, there are more female engineers than in New Zealand.
Surprised at the female engineering student ratio in New Zealand, and curious, (a trait with engineers), she wanted to find out why.
Since last year, she collaborated with Cooper and Associate Professor Wendy Fox-Turnbull from the University of Waikato on a research project to find out influencing factors and barriers for selection of engineering pathways for women in New Zealand.
“So far, in the New Zealand context, we found that barriers to selection of engineering pathway for females include the school system; a lack of career and subject choice guidance available to students at school, a lack of promotion of the profession, and society’s perception of engineers as being masculine – ‘a tradie working in a workshop’.
“Unfortunately, the low number of women studying engineering at tertiary level is not just a problem here in New Zealand. Worldwide around 10% of students studying engineering are females. The lack of female participation in engineering fields at the tertiary education level has been a barrier for diversity and equality in both the engineering industry and associated professions.
“We are hearing from teenage girls that stereotypes on what girls can and can’t do, persist in our community,” says Dr Moridnejad.
Dr Moridnejad who has a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Auckland and a master’s degree in water engineering from the University of Tehran is sharing her love of engineering by profiling engineers, and their study journeys on Instagram. She invites anyone interested to follow her @maryam.moridnejad.
Recently Wintec’s engineering team created a challenge for students from Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Melville High School and St John’s College in Hamilton. The students had all shown interest in a career in engineering and signed up for a STAR Engineering Taster Day.
Eighteen students took part each day, over three days.
The challenges they created covered the full suite of engineering practice offered at Wintec – civil, mechanical and electrical.
The students had to design and build a solar-powered moon rover and a bridge for it to cross.
“It just wouldn’t be engineering without a bridge,” said Cooper.
The girls from Sacred Heart College managed the fastest time.
“They nailed it,” laughs Cooper. “By lunchtime they were done.
“The girls listened, and they were organised, but the boys had the edge on the bridge,” adds Kumari.
The boys from St John’s and Melville built a very structurally sound bridge.
“There are very few girls considering engineering as a career and when there are women in engineering, they do well,” says Cooper.
The engineers agree that now is a great time to study
“The Government is spending money on infrastructure so there is potential for employment,” says Kumari.
“There are broad opportunities in mechanics, electrical and civil engineering and for starters, the Diploma in Engineering is free and really popular with employers.”
GOING BIG WITH BYSTRONIC
The Bystronic Xpert Pro 320-4300 CNC press brake could sound like something out of a futuristic sci-fi novel, but to the educated engineering ear, it sounds like opportunity.
That is exactly why this piece of hi-tech machinery has made its way into the factory of a busy Auckland subcontract sheet metal fabricator.
After 17 years operating out of Ōtāhuhu, Precision Laser Cutting Limited CEO, Steve Caddle, decided it was time to move the company to larger premises in East Tāmaki.
“We were bursting at the seams [in Ōtāhuhu]. Due to an ever-increasing workload we had no choice but to look for a bigger workshop to cope with the demand. After getting despondent about the lack of suitable workshops and almost giving up, the Harris Road site came on the market,” says Caddle.
“We set about planning the shift, leaving room also for some new equipment to increase our capacity.
“With the recent addition of the 10 KW Bystar Fiber 4020 having settled in over the last six months without a hitch, the demand for folding longer and heavier parts was increasing.”
With this is mind Caddle decided to look for a suitable press brake to address this problem.
“We needed at least 300 tonne x 4-metre-long machine, so options were limited,” he says.
After some investigation and consideration of other brands, he decided the Bystronic was the best fit.
“The new machine is a lot larger. It has 320 tonne bending pressure which means we can do much larger work than we did in the past and it’s also 4.3 metres long. It’s the largest press brake we’ve got so that enables us to fold a lot thicker material and handle longer parts,” Caddle says.
“Now we can fold 4-metre-long parts as well, where before we couldn’t. It increases our capacity.”
Caddle and his team have been loyal Bystronic laser customers since 2004 but had ended up running a range of press brakes over the years. They wanted a machine that suited their needs and to be sure they were working with the best technology available.
“An important point of difference [between us and our competitors]is that we don’t mind folding low volume or one-off parts.
“For this to be effective it’s important to have highly skilled press brake operators that take pride in their work and good high-end press brakes that will assist them to make the right part, first time around.
“We did consider other brands and had always preferred hybrid servo hydraulic machines but Bystronic’s implementation of traditional hydraulics combined with the Dynamic Crowning which does not need adjusting, and the Lams laser angle measurement system, ensures the Xpert Pro 320 folds accurate parts every time particularly important when a lot of complicated one-off parts are required.”
Rudi Wasmuth of Bystronic Australia says the purchase is notable because although Bystronic and Precision Laser Cutting have had a very long relationship of more than 15 years, Caddle is still a very discerning customer.
“Steve is very careful about what he buys. He searched for a lot of information on other brands before he decided to choose our machine,” says Wasmuth.
“For us this is the best technology he can buy at the moment. There’s nothing better on the market.”
INDUSTRY MOURN: MECHANICAL, ENGINEERING AND ROLLFORMING “GENIUS”
Angus (Gus) A.J Robertson passes away.
Recently a very special member of the engineering fraternity passed away…. this is an industry’s ode to ‘Gus’.
In 1993, Angus (Gus) A.J. Robertson started his rollforming business Angus Robertson Mechanical (ARM) in rural Eyrewell on a farm with shingle road access in the car garage. Things progressed quickly with demand for our quality machines as his reputation and skills grew as did the staff numbers.
A couple of years later he took over an old implement shed before building a fitting and fabrication factories. In those days all manual mills and lathes were used to produce rollforming machines to tight tolerances and specifications. The site grew, as did services and a sealed road to the gate. The Mt Thomas internet connection boosted connectivity but cell phone reception remains a hassle.
The area of Eyrewell grew quickly alongside the business, and many 50-acre blocks have now been split up into 10 acre lots. Trucks come and go on a daily basis dropping of steel or picking up any of the various machines for delivery around the country or the world.
Gus philosophy was clear: keep it simple and make it work. He believed that “if you make machines that make customers money they will come back and order more.” Orders grew as did the complexity of operations. He was a tough but fair boss who was practical and pragmatic with his approach. He would ensure that his design engineers did their own calculations first (and research the work of others second) before embarking on the design process. Gus preferred to draw 2D; he was a prolific designer with an eye for detail. He had a love of learning but never got his head around 3D drawing.
Gus spoke with pride when he ordered his first CNC lathe, which vastly improved the speed of production. A CNC mill followed soon after. Every purchase was clearly thought out to improve production and the quality of rollformers built. Now, ARM’s modest factories have three CNC mills and three CNC lathes along with NC, cylindrical and surface grinders, wire-cutting, manual mills and lathes that are used less as the years go on.
He loved machines from an early age and always wanted to know how they worked and behaved, a passion that he honed throughout his 80 years. Customers would come to Gus with a problem, seeking a mechanical solution that would be reliable and perform for the long term. He would provide that with enthusiasm to get it right for the client big or small. He didn’t believe in patents but would vigorously defend his intellectual property of designs and never provide drawings believing that it was more productive to innovate and keep ahead of the field that way.
One of Gus’ highlights was the purchase of an old German Naxos-Union cylindrical grinder in 1995. It was built in Germany in 1939 and commissioned in 1941, so it fought against us, and it is still as reliable and accurate as any grinder made today.
As technology advanced so did the demand for precision cutting from the shears that we made. Wire cutters were purchased to make the job of cutting precision shears easier. Surface grinding to get tool steel straight and true is essential to AGM’s business, as is an eye for detail. Something he installed in all apprentices and tradesmen alike.
The need for automation and control followed technological advances. A friend from the DSIR, (where Gus used to be chief engineer) used to write software for AGM, and still does. We have taken on mechatronics engineers to integrate safety with machine controls as the industry’s safety needs grew. Controlling, programming and automation remain a core focus of the ideology Gus created. AGM were the first to offer hands-free coil loading rollformers to keep operators safe.
Gus celebrated the fact that Angus Robertson Mechanical machines were New Zealand made and produced on site. He aimed to produce as much as possible in-house and use minimal brought in components. He cut gears, mill, lathe and grind everything on site. AGM still gets most heat treatment for long run nitriding completed off site and castings are made in Canterbury, as is chroming and powder coating. This means that when we support our local industry in a time when increasingly more is imported from China. He truly believed that AGM needed to be at the forefront of innovation so he developed a world first: balloon shafts for slitting steel to lock knives. He also created the first purlin mill made from one sheet with a kind of Pittsburgh lock seam into a rectangular box purling 540X125mm.
This Kiwi farmer and mechanical engineer would approach problems with a can-do attitude that was instilled in his generation. This attitude is still reflected in the designers and tradesmen taught at ARM. Believing in these skills to be essential in the Kiwi workforce he trained almost all his staff, taking them through apprenticeships so these skills would not be lost. He would often give kids that schooling system had lost faith in a chance, and he would make bloody good tradesmen out of them. ARM has lost a lot of staff over the years to life overseas, but they often return to work for ARM. Gus would boast that he was training three of the five mechanical apprentices in the South Island in the 1990s.
Gus’ son, Seamus Robertson, came home four years ago to take over the business, ensure the legacy continues and to assist him through the painful process of prostrate cancer treatment. Gus was very happily married for 51 years, but his wife passed shortly before Seamus’ return. Gus was stoic whilst upset but continued to devote his time to rollformers up to the day he died on May 25, 2020.
Research and development are a cornerstone of Gus’ philosophy, something that has continued with Seamus. ARM in association with NZ Steel have developed a laser-based solution to burn back the edge of the Dridex coating roofing. Dridex is a anti-condensation fleece that is applied to the underside of roofing material. By burning back the edge of the sheet, the chance of water wicking back is eliminated. This is just one example of the many innovations that ARM is renowned for in the roofing industry. Often ARM gets projects that have a significant technical stretch that competitors would struggle to deliver upon.
Gus leaves a long legacy in the rollforming community. He was a long-standing sponsor of the Metal Roofing Manufacturers Association. Rollforming machines made when he worked at Ward Engineering (1961to1971) are still in production, as is every machine that he made in the last 27 years at various sites around New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia and as far afield as Ghana and Algeria.
Angus Robertson Mechanical continues today with the same attention to detail and quality engineering that Gus lived for whilst being industry leaders in innovation and safety. Continued research and development benefits clients across the Southern Hemisphere and maintains our world leading reputation for mechanical engineering excellence and industry-leading, coil-processing solutions. Gus’ humour and occasional wobbly will be missed. New Zealand has lost a great mechanical engineer but his legacy lives on. Our business and country are greater for that.
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BLAZING A TRAIL WORKSHOP IN THE SHEET METAL MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
Replika Manufacturing has built a reputation for being early adopters of the latest technology over the past 40 plus years. So, when word got out about the Trumpf TruMatic 6000, it was a no-brainer. It was time to upgrade.
Back in the 1990’s, the Penrose-based company was the first production jobbing shop in New Zealand to purchase a high-power CO2 Laser cutting machine. This was closely followed by the L5030 Trumpf Fibre Laser a few years later and then the Trumpf Trulaser 5020 Robotic Laser Welder, which is still the only one in the country.
“We are known in the industry for having the most recent technology and we like to keep on top of the latest trends to make sure we can provide our customers with the best solutions,” says manager Tony Plowman.
The TruMatic 6000 is a fully automated combination punch / laser machine. Not only does it have a powerful punching head and laser which guarantee high productivity, it is a large format model with 3000 x 1500 standard working range which allows optimum sheet nesting and waste minimisation.
“We have got both laser cutting and punching technology already, but in many instances, we would have to do both processes separately. We would cut it out on the laser machine, transfer it to the punch and then punch it. Now we can do both of those processes in the same machine,” says Tony. Roll forming and tapping technologies are also available.
“It’s a huge time saver for us and the machine is also automated which makes a big difference as well in terms of cost efficiency.
“There will be faster turnaround for our customers, we’ll be able to get the jobs done quicker and it’ll be a cost saving for them as well.
“It runs faster and doesn’t need to have anyone watching it or controlling it,” says Tony.
The team at Replika have always been loyal Trumpf customers and believe they offer the best reliability and are the most ahead in terms of technology.
“We think they are the best manufacturer of machinery for this industry and they are definitely, if not the top, one of the top manufacturers in the world.”
With years of knowledge and experience across the sheet metal component manufacturing industry, the company has developed a reputation for high quality production, and for friendly customer service that takes customers’ requirements very seriously.
“It’s fantastic to see [the TruMatic 6000]working,” says Tony. “We are very happy to be able to have this technology and we’re looking forward to the next advance.”
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CREAFORM ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF THE BRAND-NEW – ‘METRASCAN BLACK’
Creaform, described as a worldwide leader in portable and automated 3D measurement solutions, has announced the release of the latest version of the MetraScan 3D lineup, the company’s advanced optical CMM scanner designed specifically to perform metrology-grade 3D measurements and inspections — right on the production floor.
As the fastest and most accurate portable optical CMM scanner, the MetraScan Black can be seamlessly integrated in any quality control, quality assurance, inspection, MRO, or reverse engineering workflow and operated by users of any skill level in any type of environment.
The MetraScan Black dimensional metrology system has been developed to measure complex parts and assemblies from an array of industries and manufacturing processes, such as automobile, aeronautics, power generation, heavy industry, metal casting, metal forging, sheet metal, plastic injection, composites, etc.
Featuring unmatched performance and speed for optimised 3D measurements:
• 4X faster: Featuring 15 blue laser crosses for larger scanning area that take up to 1,800,000 measurements per second and live meshing, ultimately cutting down the time between acquisition and workable files.
• 4X resolution: MetraScan Black features a measurement resolution of 0.025 mm (0.0009 in) to generate highly detailed scans of any object.
• More accurate and traceable measurements: High accuracy of 0.025mm, based on VDI/VDE 2634 part 3 standard and tested in a ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, ensures complete reliability and full traceability to international standards.
• Shop floor accuracy: The MetraScan Black features a unique and patented dynamic referencing that compensates for environment instabilities.
• Maximum versatility: Masters complex, shiny and highly detailed parts
• No warm-up time: Operators can be up-and-running in minutes.
• Touch probing capability: When paired with the HandyProbe, the MetraScan Black lets users harness the power of both 3D scanning and probing for a complete, streamlined inspection process.
• Available in black and black/elite: Customers can choose from two models based on their needs: speed, part complexity, accuracy, etc.
“Today’s manufacturers are facing tremendous challenges. They are under increased pressure to accelerate their time to market in order to remain competitive on the global scale. Product quality issues impact scrap rate, production ramp-up, production rate, and downtime, ultimately affecting production costs and overall profitability. Manufacturers need to rely on innovative 3D measurement technologies, like the MetraScan 3D, in order to refine their product development and quality control processes,” says Guillaume Bull, product manager at Creaform.“This new version of the MetraScan 3D takes dimensional measurement speed, accuracy and versatility to a whole new level. We believe manufacturers will appreciate its performance within their workflows.”
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FLEXIBILITY AND REDEPLOYMENT IN TIMES OF CRISIS: COBOTS VS COVID-19
Collaborative robots, fondly known as cobots, are emerging as a force for good in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.
Whether they are disinfecting and sanitising, conducting COVID-19 tests, helping to manufacture Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) or ramping up respirator production, cobots can work alongside humans safely or on their own. They are the answer to accelerating repetitive tasks in the manufacturing environment while simultaneously addressing concerns around social distancing and the safety of employees.
Industry pioneers, Universal Robots have noted an uptake in the demand for its cobots in various industries across the globe. “Locally”, says Darrell Adams, head of Southeast Asia Oceania for Universal Robots, “the pandemic has seen many companies shifting towards robotic technology to help ramp up production”.
“As the fastest growing sector in the robotics industry, cobots are easy to program and deploy remotely. Viewed as a ‘niche’ product in the past, cobots are now the fastest growing segment in the industrial robotics sector. By 2025, cobots are expected to jump from niche status to thoroughly mainstream, accounting for approximately 34% of global robot spend,” he says.
Disinfecting with Cobots
The pandemic has seen massive increase in demand for effective deep cleaning and disinfection technologies that do not involve direct human contact with potentially infected areas.
In mid-April, researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore unveiled the eXtremeDisinfection roBOT (XDBOT), which comprises a UR5 cobot fitted with an electrostatic spray nozzle all mounted on a mobile platform.
Researchers programmed the cobot to mimic human hand movements so that it can get into hard-to-reach areas such as under beds and tables – a feature that has been missing from traditional disinfection robots that are not as dexterous.
“These cobots are capable of running for four hours straight on a single charge and has been successfully tested in public areas on the NTU campus. The team is now preparing to trial this technology at local public hospitals”.
Adams notes that the UR5 cobot with its built-in safety features can work safely and collaboratively with humans too.
COVID-19 testing with Cobots
COVID-19 has also resulted in unprecedented demand for medical testing. In response to this extraordinary demand, Universal Robots co-founder, Esben Østergaard turned his creative energies to the design and development of the world’s first autonomous throat swabbing robot launched by Lifeline Robotics, a company he co-founded with the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU).
This robot uses UR3 cobot arms fitted with a custom 3D-printed end-effector. The process is simplicity itself, beginning with the patient scanning their ID card. Right away, the robot prepares a sample kit, consisting of a container with a printed ID-label and it picks up the swab. Then, using its built-in vision system, the robot identifies the right points to swab in the patient’s throat. As soon as the swab process is complete, the bot places the sample in a jar and screws on the lid. The jar is then sent to a lab for analysis.
“The process takes around seven minutes and the swab takes just 25 seconds,” adds Adams.
Meanwhile in Houston, Texas-based portable detection manufacturer, DetectaChem unveiled a unique smartphone-based COVID-19 testing solution in late May. The company’s at-home, low cost COVID-19 test provides results via smart phone in just 15-30 minutes.
Ventilator manufacturing with Cobots
Cobots inherent flexibility helps to support the rapid development and deployment of automation, a feature that really comes to the fore in times of crisis. In March, for example, the Spanish car manufacturer SEAT decided to transform one of its assembly lines from its original automotive role to ventilator production. The auto giant installed a UR10e at the end of the line to perform a quality check of the locking mechanism on the unit’s control box.
PPE production with cobots
Based in Ontario, Canada, Hannafin Automation looked to a UR5 cobot to tend the entire 3D printing cycle of face shields. The cobot picked up a Cognex vision camera to inspect the completion of each print. When the print is done, the cobot picks it up, places it in a bin, and presses the printer’s touch screen to start a new cycle.
Each printer makes 25 face shields per day and these are donated to local police fire stations, paramedics, and nursing homes.
How cobots can assist locally
Adams says that as the local economy starts to ramp up again, there is an ongoing call by government for more local manufacturing to take place.
“More and more, the country is looking to local, sustainable and cost-effective manufacturing practices to help reaccelerate the sector.
“Sometimes overlooked, cobots seek to add value in the business and allows employees to focus on strategic tasks rather than repetitive and mundane tasks. We have seen many companies putting flexi hours into place, here, cobots can assist during the downtime and can work continuously to ensure ongoing productivity.”
Find out more
Universal Robots will be hosting regular webinars to help customers get started with cobots and explore automation opportunities. Support, service and maintenance are available locally, as well as training offerings through its online UR Academy, global network of Authorised Training Centres, and extensive UR+ ecosystem.
For more info: Design Energy 03 943 2143, firstname.lastname@example.org
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