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BIGGER, BOLDER… JUST BETTER
NEW CHEMFREIGHT SPECIALIST FLAMMABLES STORAGE WAREHOUSE PROJECT TO BE GAME CHANGER
The soon-to-be opened $20 million project – dedicated to flammable storage classes – will add five million litres of storage capacity to 100% Kiwi-owned company Chemfreight, growing flammable storage capacity to over 8,000 pallet spaces. This will provide better service to existing storage clients and, in turn, allow new storage customers in the packaged market to partner with the company.
Specialist non-hazardous and hazardous chemical storage and national transport services provider Chemfreight has announced its $20 million warehouse is set to open in the coming months. The new warehouse is an addition to an impressive existing Stonedon Drive Major Hazard Facility (MHF).
General manager, Joseph Price, says of the current project: “It started back in 2015, where we challenged ourselves to design and build a chemical storage facility with a full reinforced concrete roof that would set the benchmark in size and capacity for Type D buildings.” The facility also had to exceed the regulatory requirements for the safe storage of flammable substances while satisfying council resource consent and building consent requirements.
“We had to go for scale, and we’ve achieved what we set out to do. The design process was comprehensive and exhaustive, incorporating safety in design (SiD) practices right from the outset,” says Price.
He says it is an extremely exciting time for a company that has gone through much growth and transition in recent years; constructing the latest specialised facility and adding a fourth chemical store solely dedicated to flammable substance classes 2 and 3. Chemfreight has built all four flammable stores from the ground up.
“Our total investment in this latest development for flammable substances is significant and further demonstrates our long-term commitment to customers and servicing a complex market with very high regulatory barriers to entry. This will be the fourth dedicated flammable storage facility we have built, being the largest it certainly was not without challenges.
“The engineering and complexity involved to be able to meet the various building and HSWA regulations, including seismic and incident control as well ensuring it would still remain operationally functional and be commercially successful were all part of a nearly six-year design and consenting process.”
When opened, the new flammables facility will provide much needed supply capacity to the market and is an extension of the company’s sprawling Upper Tier Major Hazard Facility strategically located in East Tāmaki.
“The facility will service the North Island with overnight transport services to provide a next-day delivery service from Northland to Wellington. Chemfreight are a national 3PL operator with three MHF locations, two MHF facilities are in Auckland and the third MHF chemical storage complex is in Christchurch and services the South Island,” says Price.
The company operates a fleet of a dozen company-owned trucks that provide a daily delivery service for the wider Auckland and Christchurch metro areas with an overnight national network through selected transport partners, providing an intra-island overnight service for dangerous goods. The Chemfreight truck fleet is equipped with GPS monitoring and tracking and also carry chemical pump over capabilities for hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals.
The new warehouse started construction mid-2021, partnering with Macrennie Commercial Construction and engineering firm Holmes Consulting.
With its full concrete wall and roof construction, the store is classified as a ‘Type D building’ under the current regulations, being the most secure and the highest rated classification – essentially a pair of cavernous reinforced concrete bunkers totalling 4,000m2 of fully racked floor space. The concrete roof, in parts, will be more than half a metre thick. The steel-reinforced concrete roof section weighs in at close to 6,000 tonnes.
“For the 3PL industry, the scale of this flammable storage facility and the technology deployed is cutting edge and will support the safe storage and handling of packaged flammable liquids and gases in the New Zealand national supply chain.”
Price joined Chemfreight six years ago and in that time the business has strategically maintained a low profile while it has undergone substantial structural and process changes. The approach has paid dividends with market demand and strong customer growth resulting in the family-owned company doubling in size. The Chemfreight team now numbers 100-strong, partnering with more than twice that many clients. Many clients, explains Price, have been with the business for “decades resulting in mutual growth and success”.
Price is focused on customer outcomes. “We don’t have any business development or sales staff. We choose to focus and invest in delivering a high-quality 3PL service to our customers and not focus on trying to sell it.”
Chemfreight has been operating in the same sector now for nearly 35 years and is capable of drawing from a depth of experience. The company has formed a reputation of operating class-leading facilities – delivering an excellent 3PL supply chain service to attract new business while retaining its existing clients.
It has facilities that can process up to 100 in-bound containers per week across its multiple secure MPI accredited premises, with all goods stored indoor under cover.
Being proactive within the market is a facet strong within the mantra of the company with innovation at its forefront. In 1989, Joseph’s father Harry Price founded the business with the vision and foresight to be the first storage provider to specialise in hazardous storage for the packaged market; while there were bulk services available, the packaged market was the vision. Today, Chemfreight has quietly grown to be a substantial provider of hazardous storage services for the New Zealand market.
The new specialised storage facility will store products that are deemed as flammable and therefore hazardous for storage under regulations. These include industrial and household solvents such as methylated spirits and acetone, other alcohols and cleaners, ethanol-based hand sanitisers, paints and stains, resin and fibreglass related products, butane and other flammable gas canisters, hazardous flammable consumer aerosols such as hair spray, deodorant, and household items such as spray paint, lubricants and other flammable propellant-based spray products.
As part of its full service offering to the market, the company operates a separate, fully-certified and dedicated food storage facility, also a significant non-hazardous chemical storage, and chemical toll blending operation to round off a comprehensive suite of 3PL services for the packaged chemical market.
TEAM TRAINING AND WELL-BEING
In addition to keeping the staff well trained, Chemfreight continuously undertakes risk assessments and reviews their safety procedures. Team safety is paramount and Chemfreight invests heavily in training each year that delivers thousands of hours of targeted skills to its staff. But, Price says, there is more to safety and well-being than just training: “Staff safety and well-being doesn’t end when you walk out the door, everyone has challenges and factors influencing well-being outside work, Covid has been challenging on many levels in the critical worker sectors.”
SAFETY AND COMPLIANCE A PRIORITY
Chemfreight takes pride in having a substantial HSEQ function – team members hold qualifications or experience in organic chemistry, biochemistry, engineering, occupational health, auditing and a range of health and safety areas.
“We need to understand what we actually store and handle, to enable us to identify and assess the risks involved and how we can mitigate them; how to handle products safely and ensure we can store them safely,” Price says.
Price, a former regulator himself with a background in financial market risk and compliance, says, “Regulatory compliance can be viewed as meeting the requirements of the legislation, which is the bare minimum required. At Chemfreight, we look to manage the overall risk and that includes regulatory compliance as a part of the wider scope of how we manage our business risk; we aim to set our bar at a higher level.”
While he had grown up around the business, Joseph only became involved in the business at the age of 38 – coincidentally the same age that Harry founded the business. In that six-years, it is clear the passion in this family business is very much alive and evidenced by its advancement since Joseph joined the management team. Having a background in tax and insolvency, the chartered accountant has spent most of his career in professional services, spending seven years in London working in restructuring and insolvency followed by a number of financial management roles in the private and public sector. It is this foundation that has provided Price with the skills that Chemfreight now benefits from.
The business has invested heavily in plant and machinery and has completely replaced its truck fleet over the last five years, as well as acquiring an additional two dozen fork trucks to bolster its already substantial material handling fleet to 50 units.
A digital transformation is underway, too. This will provide Chemfreight customers not only an excellent operational service but a cutting-edge digital service. A substantial focus has gone into 3PL software specifically for hazardous substances logistics.
The future for this company looks very bright, with a number of land and property acquisitions secured that have locked in long-term future development growth and continued expansion.
Fortunately, Chemfreight has the versatility and flexibility to diversify into other services. Its toll blending service manufactures chemicals, storing and distributing them through the Chemfreight network.
With the ability to blend up to 5,000 litre batches and with four blending tanks, the company can manage the entire packaged chemical supply chain from start to finish. Additionally, a small bulk service can deliver chemicals to site, pumping them into the customer’s vessels, before the clean up and taking away of empty drums or IBC tanks.
Chemfreight has been operating in East Tāmaki for 33 years and it seems highly likely that this exceptional family-owned business, under the second generation of the Price family, will be operating for another 30 years.
Price credits the continued success of Chemfreight solely down to the hard-working group of 100 staff and teamwork.
“Chemfreight was a successful 3PL business long before I joined the management team here. We are a family business and family, along with teamwork, are core values of our firm.”
The new warehouse storage facility – yet another feather in the family cap.
WITH ITS FULL CONCRETE WALL AND ROOF CONSTRUCTION, THE STORE IS CLASSIFIED AS A ‘TYPE D BUILDING’ STORE UNDER THE CURRENT REGULATIONS, BEING THE MOST SECURE AND THE HIGHEST RATED CLASSIFICATION
A new licencing regime for engineers
The regulation of engineers has achieved greater public attention in recent years, particularly following the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes and the lessons learned in the aftermath. To give the public confidence that professional engineers are acting within their area of competence and to provide greater protection for the public, a bill is in development that will change the way engineers are regulated in New Zealand.
The new regime will have two tiers. All engineers will be required to be registered in order to practice. Engineers will need to hold a minimum qualification to be registered. Once registered, they will be subject to a code of ethics and be required to meet continuing professional development requirements to renew their registration.
A second tier of registration will be required for engineers who work in higher risk areas (those that are hazardous to life, health, property, economic interests, public welfare or the environment). To acquire this second tier registration, an engineer will be subject to greater scrutiny including being required to meet more comprehensive competency requirements.
The transition will be gradual, and it is expected it will take up to six years fully implement the new regime. The bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament later in 2022.
This is a significant change from the current registration system under which a person may call themselves an ‘engineer’ without any requirement that they are registered as a Chartered Professional Engineer or a member of Engineering New Zealand. In such circumstances, the protection of the public often falls to Building Consent Authorities, many of whom, at their discretion, do not accept producer statements and other certifications from engineers who are not registered as Chartered Professional Engineers, but this approach is not consistently applied.
The current system also relies heavily on self-regulation by engineers. Engineers are assessed in a certain practice area although they are not required to work only within that practice area, provided they are still acting ‘competently’. Rather than being determined by the boundaries of the engineer’s registered practice area, the engineer’s ability to practice competently is either self-determined or is assessed by reference to the Code of Ethical Conduct as part of a disciplinary investigation when the damage has often already been done.
The specific details of the regime are still being determined, however, in principle, this regime is likely to provide more clarity on areas of competence for engineers which will assist all parts of the sector including BCAs and members of the public. It is a meaningful step towards replacing the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff with a fence at the top.
Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter. No warrant or guarantee whatsoever is given as to the accuracy of any information contained in the article, nor is any liability accepted for any actions taken based on this information.
Staying in touch with hazards – lithium-ion batteries
An often ignored component of health and safety systems policy manuals is the section describing, ‘Keeping Current with Health & Safety Info’.
The process for keeping current with relevant health and safety information, legislation, guidelines and standards is usually described something like:
• WorkSafe and ACC website media releases
• Briefings and updates from external health and safety advisors
• Accessing publications and information such as from Industry Associations
• Annual legislative compliance assessment
• Attendance at related conferences, workshop, seminars, meetings etc.
All-too-often however, the worthy intention is lost in the daily pressures of running an operation. It sounds hard so it must be.
Thankfully, being receptive to new information has never been easier, with a myriad of organisations and bodies disseminating information across the web.
Take lithium-ion batteries as an example. Social media is full of footage of spectacular and violent fires arising from the proliferation of lithium-ion batteries in everything from e-cigarettes to laptops, bikes and cars. It seems these miracles of modern science have a dark side.
What’s happening here? More importantly, is this something that we should be considering as a hazard in our workplace?
Due to its chemical composition and structure, lithium-ion batteries can overheat, leading to leakage of flammable gases, fire and explosion, particularly when under charge or discharge. The resultant fierce fires are not just an overseas tale, in New Zealand, a tally of garage fires and explosions and at least one recycling yard fire have all been attributed to lithium-ion batteries.
Technical solutions are on the horizon with solid state lithium-metal batteries or even silver-zinc batteries offering hope if they become commercially viable. Meanwhile, the lithium-ion are well embedded in virtually every commercial application you will encounter. And potentially creating a risk to you and your staff.
The task of making industry aware of the hazards, possible controls and future solutions for lithium-ion batteries has been shouldered by the NZ Institute of Hazard Substances Management. Its regular Flashpoint magazine draws readers attention to the topic in an informative and simple read.
Awareness of the risk is the first step towards controls that consider the safe storage, charging, life span and disposal of lithium-ion batteries. Battery charging alongside combustible items and re-purposing EV batteries should be avoided. Obsolescence plans and dedicated waste disposal methods should be encouraged.
Keeping in touch with organisations and publications via their mailing lists is not just a convenient method of complying with your health and safety policy manual. Case Law shows us that the availability of such information in the public domain can be considered when determining PCBU culpability; was the hazard reasonably predictable? Ignorance is not a defense.
Craig Carlyle is director at Maintenance Transformations. His expertise lies in the practical application of maintenance and health and safety management systems in the workplace. He is also a life member of the Maintenance Engineering Society of NZ.
The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Xpress Engineer NZ, NZ Engineering News or the parent company, Hayley Media.
Zero carbon steel program Tātaitai Puhanga Waro set to launch
The month of May will usher in a new zero carbon steel programme for steel products. The program, Tātaitai Puhanga Waro, has been independently developed and based on verifiable data and provides a carbon emission calculator, believed to be a world first, to help companies offset carbon emissions and offer zero-carbon steel in their projects. HERA is the facilitator of the program and has partnered with social enterprise Ekos, a leader in environmental financing, to administer the offsetting process.
Tātaitai Puhanga Waro is a great leap forward for the steel industry in New Zealand, promising to give new tools to materials producers, engineers, designers, fabricators and end users to measure, reduce, offset and report their emissions from steel.
New Zealand has committed to a net zero carbon target by 2050, and the reduction of the steel industry’s emissions is only part of the challenge. Carbon is primarily used in the steel-making process as a reductant, rather than an energy source. Although there is research into alternative reductants (e.g. hydrogen), currently no commercially viable alternative exists for coal, so until an alternative is developed, it is important for the industry to utilise carbon offsetting as a mechanism to reduce net emissions.
Tātaitai Puhanga Waro has been developed to provide independent and robust carbon offsetting rules for the industry, with a preference for the offsets to be focused on the domestic planting of native trees and provide additional biodiversity and human capital benefits to New Zealand society. The rules of Tātaitai Puhanga Waro have been developed by thinkstep-anz, independent experts in sustainability, in consultation with HERA.
The engineering and construction sectors are having a lot of conversations around carbon in steel, with MBIE having developed two emissions mitigation frameworks under the Building for Climate Change Programme – the building and construction sector’s contribution to New Zealand’s 2050 goal. The novelty of Tātaitai Puhanga Waro is that it covers a number of different steel products. It includes painted steel used in roofing and cladding, rebar used in concrete, light-gauge steel framing, heavy structural steel and stainless steel.
We expect the program will change the conversation around the carbon performance of steel. For more information on Tātaitai Puhanga Waro, visit www.hera.org.nz.
Dr Troy Coyle brings more than 20 years’ experience in innovation management across a range of industries including materials science, medical radiation physics, biotechnology, sustainable building products, renewable energy and steel. She is a scientist with a PhD (University of NSW) with training in journalism and communications
The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Xpress Engineer NZ, NZ Engineering News or the parent company, Hayley Media.
From Scott Base to to Aorangi Stadium – flexible trades training gets a boost in South Canterbury
Ara Institute of Canterbury has been working alongside other tertiary education providers to provide flexible trades training for South Canterbury apprentices – showing that collaboration is key to development and shared success within the Te Pūkenga network.
South Canterbury trades employers are buzzing with the news that their year three electrical apprentices can now undertake part-time study at Ara Institute of Canterbury in Timaru, while continuing to work locally in the region.
An agreement between Ara Institute of Canterbury and The Skills Organisation Incorporated (Skills), sees Ara deliver the Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory & Practice (Trade) Level 4, to Skills Electrical apprentices (Year 3), at Ara’s Timaru campus.
There are currently six apprentices enrolled in the programme who are attending Ara for face-to-face training one day per fortnight, for the duration of their third apprenticeship year.
Following consultation with local industry, including Skills and Venture Timaru, it was determined this delivery model was the best option for apprentices and employers, since it spaces out time spent away from the workplace.
Dr Glynnis Brook, Executive Director of Academic, Innovation and Research at Ara says, “As a region, South Canterbury continues to enjoy high employment rates, meaning the number of people taking part in on-the-job training and apprenticeships is on the rise. Working with industry partners and other Te Pūkenga institutes, Ara can help open new doors for learners, in terms of providing accessible, regional learning which is tailored to local needs.”
Ara’s provision of this electrical course at the Timaru campus is welcome news for local industry, to be able to train and retain skilled electrical workers in the region.
Erin McNaught, director of Business Services & People at Industrial Controls says, “We have always recommended that those looking for an electrical career complete Level 2 and 3 at Ara to kickstart an apprenticeship. The ability to now continue off-job training locally with Ara towards completion of the Level 4 qualification is of real benefit to both apprentices and their employers.”
Another industry collaboration resulting in a new delivery is the Painting and Decorating Block course which Ara is contracted to deliver for stage one BCITO apprentices, with intakes in July and October.
Ara Institute of Canterbury’s Woolston campus in Christchurch has traditionally been the only provider in the South Island to deliver block courses in painting and decorating. In 2021, Venture Timaru and Master Painters NZ (the national representative body for the painting industry) jointly approached BCITO about catering to local apprentices in South Canterbury .
Grant Jenkins, owner of Grant Jenkins Contracting in Timaru says, “To have apprentices undertake training at Ara in Timaru means that our workers can learn from the comfort of their hometown. We’ve also found that it’s been a tremendous help for our apprentices to have local training on a campus that’s purpose built for our trades, with great facilities and amenities.”
As well as partnering with Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) in South Canterbury, Ara has also been assisting Otago Polytechnic in the set-up of a BCITO Painting and Decorating Block Course in the Otago region.
Brook says this is an exciting time for South Canterbury. “Ara’s industry connections and Te Pūkenga network partnerships are critical in giving learners more choices and flexibility in what, where and how they learn. Learning that fits around life, rather than having to fit life around learning.”
Nigel Davenport, Chief Executive at Venture Timaru says the Timaru District’s economic and tourism agency is thrilled to see both the electrical and painting and decorating courses being provided locally to meet the needs of industry.
“It’s been great to work collaboratively with industry representatives and the group of training providers, brought together by Ara, to make this a reality. The innovative, flexible and can-do approach by all involved has been fantastic.”
Davenport acknowledges the upcoming developments in the region which are going to rely heavily on local trades resource, exacerbated by the lack of international workers entering New Zealand due to the pandemic. “We are entering a period of unparalleled development and construction in the district across key projects such as the Scott Base Redevelopment build, the Theatre/Heritage project and the extension to Aorangi Stadium. There are so many opportunities for our rangatahi to be part of it all. It is therefore hugely important that we add even more locally based training options going forward, especially for our construction and trades sectors, to provide training in a way that first and foremost works best for industry and their workforce.”
New igus plastic bevel gears from Treotham for the lubrication-free drive around the corner
Gears are widely used as drive elements: in clockworks, in e-bike drives as well as actuators and locking systems. However, if forces have to be transmitted around corners, bevel gears are the means of choice.
They can undertake format adjustments in the food industry, for example, via a 90-degree angle, eject packages in logistics and make assembly lines in resource supply departments and automotive industries flexible and quickly adaptable. igus has developed bevel gears made of two high-performance plastics especially for use with low and medium loads which are available from Treotham.
“With iguform S270 and igutek P360, we have two materials in our range that have already proven themselves in the field of gears and are also ideal for use as bevel gears,” says Steffen Schack, head of the Business Unit iglidur gears at igus GmbH. iguform S270 is characterised by a low coefficient of friction as well as a low moisture absorption. Bevel gears made of igutek P360 have a very high wear resistance and toughness, which makes the drive elements insensitive to impacts.
The bevel gears made of the tribologically optimised plastics are popular with users because they are cost-effective, lightweight and, unlike metal bevel gears, do not require external lubricants. This reduces maintenance intervals on machines and systems and increases hygiene and cleanliness.
“With the help of simulation tools and data from our in-house 3,800-square-metre test laboratory, we can provide customers with individual advice and support in choosing the right material and gear geometry, from prototype to series production,” says Schack.
All bevel gears are available from Treotham in six different transmission ratios, plus seven modules for power transmission. If the standard dimensions do not fit, igus can produce parts in-house with over 800 injection moulding machines and operates its own tool shop.
The power of collaboration
By Daniel Taylor, head of manufacturing, NZTE
Most companies are well versed in the power of internal collaboration – getting the right people together to ensure a broad range of skill sets from right across the business are working as one to solve the gnarliest problems or maximise the biggest opportunities.
What fewer New Zealand manufacturers seem to grasp is how powerful external collaboration – working with like-minded Kiwi businesses outside your own – can be.
The vast majority of New Zealand manufacturing exporters are globally small players providing niche capability as part of very large value chains. As a little country taking on the big, wide world, collaboration should be considered a key component of any go-to-market strategy. Given our modest scale and subsequent knowledge of the local ecosystem, if done well it could be one of New Zealand’s key competitive advantages.
The easiest way to understand the practical benefits of collaboration is to put yourself in the shoes of those managing the value chain. Now, perhaps more than even, the less complexity there is in the supply chain, the better. If by collaborating in New Zealand you can help de-risk supply chain management internationally, your solution is likely to be viewed favourably.
There’s also additional value to be extracted by intelligent collaboration. It stands to reason that if you’re able to command a larger slice of the value chain by presenting as a bigger single solution, as opposed to a number of smaller solutions, your negotiation position is strengthened and the likelihood of a ready replacement for your offering being found elsewhere is reduced. Sometimes, one plus one can really equal three.
A word of caution, however. If collaboration is a key component of your go-to-market strategy, it needs to be prioritised and properly resourced – not doing so creates more of a distraction than a benefit.
As a business leader, I think it’s worth stopping and asking yourself, “How could better local collaboration help me win on the global stage?”
Cost-effective automation: igus presents the world’s lightest cobot
Automation made very easy: with the new ReBeL, now there is a plastic cobot from igus that weighs only ten kilograms. Together with low costs, low maintenance and simple operation, the ReBeL makes new innovative ideas in service robotics feasible for smaller companies and start-ups – from installed use on agricultural drones up to mobile support as household help.
In nursing, in dispensing machines, in the field or in factories, collaborative lightweight robots can help automate monotonous tasks.
To enable interactive service robotics concepts to be implemented quickly and inexpensively, igus has developed the new generation of the ReBeL. The lightweight plastic robot has a fully integrated tribo strain wave gear with motor, encoder, force control and controller.
Electronic components in the fully integrated strain wave gear allow human-robot collaboration to be possible (HRC). This is because the encoder technology enables forces and torque to be determined and limited via the motor current in combination with the angle measurement. For this, igus relies on a double encoder, in which a measurement is carried out in front of and behind the joint. This detects forces and torque levels and responds accordingly.
The use of plastic in the ReBeL results in an extremely compact, lightweight design. With a net weight of less than ten kilograms, the robot is the lightest cobot on the market. Its payload is two kilograms and it has a reach of 700 millimetres. Thanks to the low starting price, the ReBeL can even be used in areas where the use of robotics was not previously worthwhile. Many new innovative ideas are now becoming feasible: from use in an automated guided vehicle system to use as a bartender.
“Many young companies are currently showing what is possible with low cost automation,” says Alexander Mühlens, head of automation technology at igus. “An example, in the textile industry, as at ADOTC. Here an igus articulated-arm robot undertakes the automatic feeding and removal of textile pieces to and from the sewing machine. Since energy prices for robots are comparable worldwide, this automated product is worthwhile.”
In addition to the price, igus also lowers other entry hurdles such as complexity. For example, the new ReBeL, like the other articulated-arm, delta or linear robots from igus, can be tested and operated very easily. For this purpose, igus offers free control software. It is easy to define and simulate the movements of the robot quickly. This saves companies commissioning costs and makes them less dependent on integrators.
Those who require further support can also make use of the new RBTXpert service, which helps in the selection of the right low cost automation solution. After a free online consultation with the RBTXpert, the suitable automation system can be tested. Based on the tests, the RBTXpert can then quote the customer with a price. This is made possible by the low cost automation marketplace RBTX.com where components, hardware and software from different manufacturers can be found. Among them are various robot kinematics, cameras, GUIs, grippers, power electronics, motors, sensors and control systems. In line with the ‘Build or Buy’ approach, customers can configure individual components for their robot or ready-made robotics solutions and order them from Treotham.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No… its more quintessentially Kiwi Martin Jetpacks
Time will be the teller – along with Netflix maybe – of whether the brainchild of Glenn Martin will end up on our screens like the telling of Kiwi-engineering legend Burt Munro, in the Hollywood blockbuster, The World’s Fastest Indian.
Martin, too, was a southerner. His garage – like Munro’s – produced an unbelievable piece of engineering and good ol’ Kiwi out-of-the-box thinking and creativity. One wanted to go fast. The other wanted to fly.
Out of Martin’s Christchurch garage came the “single person aircraft” the Martin Jetpack. In you’d strap, using hand controls to pilot the craft amid a standing frame. It was more than a jetpack. powered by a petrol engine, two ducted fans provided the lift-off among a host of features including carbon fibre airframe and landing gear, aluminium quad rotor, and titanium and Inconel exhausts.
It may pale in comparison to today’s standards… Kiwis now putting things into space. But this was the 1980s and Martin was a Kiwi pioneer.
Last year, people got a chance to buy a rare piece of Kiwi aviation and engineering history when the Martin Aircraft Company went into liquidation and most of the company’s assets were sold.
That included one Martin Jetpack that sold for $37,600 and another that sold for $158,200. It also included a tender package of jetpacks, unmanned drone test aircraft, spare engines, training simulators, every imaginable spare part, computer servers, branding and technical documentation – all of which was purchased by an overseas buyer.
But perhaps a twist-of-fate will now lead to a Kiwi owning a historic piece of local genius.
Now, two more Martin Jetpacks have been located and went on sale last week.
“I was absolutely blown away by the interest in the aircraft last year, and I’m pleased that the discovery of these additional two aircraft will give others the opportunity to own a piece of New Zealand aviation history,” says Skylarc Asset Realisation’s Sam Brown.
“Given the price of fuel right now it’s probably just as well neither of these aircraft have engines, but they’ll still be a great talking point for years to come.”
One of the aircraft has flown extensively, while the other had never been assembled until it came into Sam’s warehouse.
Sam is staying quiet on where and how the two latest aircraft were unearthed and what price he thinks they may reach but he’s pleased they were found and can now go to new homes.
The Martin Jetpack was designed to be easy to fly, so it could be used by first responders and could also carry a payload. It was able to fly for almost half an hour.
Martin Aircraft Company Limited closed its doors in 2019.
War and 3D printing
By Dr Juan Schutte, R&D engineer at UoA’s Creative Design and Additive Manufacturing Lab
The war in the Ukraine once again highlighted humanity’s tendency towards acts of unnecessary violence and cruelty. Much like the initial outbreaks of Covid-19, the supply of aid is put in jeopardy by the surrounding hazardous environment.
3D printing has a historical relationship with warfare, given that its prolific outbreak as a “disruptive technology” was furthered by sensationalised media including the now famous debate of ‘can anyone with a printer manufacture an unregulated gun?’. While many renditions of a 3D printable ‘gun’ have been derived, much of these can be disregarded as the use of explosive media in commercially accessible material extrusion 3D printers tends to have a higher chance of exploding in your hand than hitting a target. Additionally, the notion that you can acquire more dangerous/effective means for malicious activity from your local hardware stores at a much cheaper and faster rate tends to discredit this particular case.
That being said, 3D printing’s ability for topology optimisation and part consolidation has yielded dramatic benefits in increasing the efficiency and production of military tools such as drones that can be optimised similarly to examples seen in aerospace rocket and satellite optimisation. Lighter infantry equipment loads also increase the opportunities for lowering power consumption requirements for robotics-based solutions which could help remove individuals from dangerous environments.
3D printings on-site/remote manufacturing can be used to create spare or upgraded parts allowing military and healthcare research and development to have more immediate effects. Examples include doctors without borders use of the technology to provide solutions/treatments customised to local needs.
From a pacifists viewpoint, it must be noted that 3D printing can be no more demonized than the hammers, anvils or CNCs found in greater number all around the world. These are merely tools in the hands of individuals and are not inherently “evil”. Unfortunately, it seems the same cannot be said about the economic and political powers who continue to treat and use people as tools, allowing 18-year-old conscripted soldiers to die and children to be robbed of their youth forcing them to live in fear.
Dr. Juan Schutte works at the University of Auckland’s Creative Design and Additive Manufacturing Lab as an R&D Engineer consulting with industry and academia on the opportunities of 3D printing.
The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Xpress Engineer NZ, NZ Engineering News or the parent company, Hayley Media.
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