A global brand commits to the Australian market

Bringing its unique approach to air compressors to Australia, ELGi equipment continues a history of local service and expertise. Manufacturers’ Monthly explains.

Air compressors have been a staple of industrial processes since the 19th century. In the past two centuries, the technology behind compressed air has come a long way, yet there is potential for improvement, especially as the manufacturing industry shifts to becoming ever more precise and hygienic.

Global air compressor manufacturer, ELGi, is looking to the future when it comes to air compressors. Tom Fyfe, president of ELGi Australia, described how the company has come to prominence both in Australia and overseas.

“In 2012, ELGI purchased a company in the US called Pattons, and that started their global expansion,” he said.

While this may have been a major public foray, according to Fyfe the Indian-headquartered ELGi has been spending a lot of time getting the product right. Looking to the Asia Pacific market, ELGi chose to begin somewhere that was familiar to them.

“Australia is one of the strongest markets in the Asia Pacific and ELGi know quite a bit about the Australian market,” said Fyfe. “Having been distributed in Australia for eight years, there was a real opportunity through acquisition to grow the business.”

At that time, Fyfe was managing director of Pulford Air & Gas, an Australian compressed air distributor with a deep history in the local market. Ultimately, just as ELGi acquired Pattons, the same decision was made in Australia with Pulford Air & Gas. While the ownerships structure may have changed, the core of the business, the people and the expertise, remained in place.

“Pulford has been around since 1925. With almost 100 years of experience, the benefit that ELGi gained in the combination of two companies is they have gained a lot of technical experience in the local market,” said Fyfe. “We have many long-term staff that have been with us for up to 35 years.”

Although the ownership may have changed, ELGi have retained the Pulford and Advanced Air Compressors (AAC) engineers, and sales and support staff that have been under the Pulford brand. In addition, the national network of distributors has local expertise to turn to when working with ELGi.

“Over the years, Pulford went from $3.5 million to almost $20 million in turnover and in doing that we’ve got the experience to help the other distributors and dealers to grow as we did,” said Fyfe. “When you’re talking to the other distributors, you know exactly what they’re going through, what challenges they face and the support they need. We know how we can help them grow their business.”

Together, ELGi Australia has combined the history, heritage, and local knowledge of Pulford Air & Gas and AAC with a global company that is seeking to constantly improve its product. In essence, this leads to a compressor built to Australian conditions.

A company committed to innovation
Since its founding in 1960, ELGi has acquired a reputation of a compressed air manufacturer that is willing to go beyond what is expected. Founded in India, the company has acquired air compressor manufacturers not only in Australia and the US, but in Italy as well, as it bought Rotair in 2012.

In the meantime, the company has improved its manufacturing facilities in India to be able to compete with some of the best-known compressed air brands.

“One of the things ELGi has been very conscious of is the quality and unlike a lot of other companies who tend to buy from component manufacturers, ELGi looked at how they could make the air-ends better,” said Fyfe.

As the core of an air compressor, the air-end is one of the most complicated and expensive components in an air compressor. At ELGi’s manufacturing facility, opened in 2014, the company has been investing in manufacturing its own air-ends.

“Instead of purchasing a cutting machine, they made their own,” said Fyfe. “They get better quality parts out of the machine that they built, and they built that machine for a quarter of the cost. By doing that, they’ve cut down the cost of the air-end, and they made the air-end better.”

Investing in manufacturing its own components, in a facility that is ISO 9001:2015 certified, has allowed the company to offer a lifetime warranty in the US and a 10-year warranty in Australia.

“By vertically integrating their manufacturing, ELGi compressors are better quality and better reliability, and that’s why they offer lifetime warranty on the air-end,” said Fyfe. “Because they do all their own cutting and grinding of the air-end, they’re very confident in the tolerances and the quality of the product.”

While the company continues to invest in the manufacture of critical components such as air-ends, ELGi is looking to other areas where it can improve the standard air compressor. One area is finding an oil that can last up to 20,000 hours, instead of the current 8,000 hours.

Ultimately, noted Fyfe, the company is looking to dramatically reduce the cost of ownership of an air compressor, without sacrificing quality.

“ELGi’s global philosophy is that they want to try and have oil-free compressors at the same price as oil-injected machines,” said Fyfe. “ELGi is going to go right from 5kW to 110kW, with their water-injected range, and by having that range go all the way down, for customers who’ve currently got oil injected machines or very expensive oil free machines, there’s a huge saving for them in many respects.”

These kinds of innovations are about keeping ELGi globally and in Australia at the forefront of a manufacturing industry that is looking for precision-engineered products that meet the highest standards. With such an investment in Australian manufacturing, Fyfe sees ELGi’s commitment to the local market as a mark of confidence.

“They’re very buoyant about the Australian economy. A lot of people are buoyant about the Australian economy because of mining and resources, but ELGi are more focussed on – particularly with the new water-injected range – those key areas of food and beverage and pharmaceuticals,” said Fyfe. “They’re very bullish about the Australian market. There’s lot of other areas around the world that are forecasting a downturn but ELGi still see Australia as a growth market for them.”

ELGi Australia recently launched their new website. You can view it here: www.elgi.com.au/