Australian-made lift system announces US partnership

Australian materials handling company Bomac Engineering, known for their Altrac rail system, has announced a partnership with US blast shields manufacturer Blast Control.

The joint venture will result in Altrac USA, which will supply the North American market with the Australian-made Altrac system.

The synergy between the two companies, operating in distinct fields, came from a mutual understanding that they could work together, said Tate McFarlane, engineering director of Bomac Engineering, speaking to Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“At the start it wasn’t Blast Control’s principle interest but once they visited us, they saw the potential Altrac had, and how flexible the system would be to meet different solutions for customers.”

The new company will be headquartered in Texas, where Blast Control is also based, and hopes to expand into the local markets there.

“Being in Texas, there’s obviously huge oil and gas industry there,” said McFarlane. “We have been approached several times by film and theatre, and manufacturing obviously is a strong and passionate part of the American workforce.”

The joint venture’s first public outing will be at Fabtech 2019 in Chicago, from November 11 to 14, where the Hallam, Victoria-made Altrac system will be showcase to prospective North American buyers.

“Currently the agreement that we have with Blast Control is that they’re happy to continue manufacturing in Australia,” said McFarlane. “Hopefully the demand becomes so big after our trade show that we can address that concern and maybe manufacture over there.”

To date, Altrac is used in a variety of applications, from sensitive, high density storage of artworks, to military uses. Part of the attraction of the Altract system to Blast Control was its modularity, according to McFarlane.

“Obviously America is a much larger market with a broader spectrum for manufacturing products and we expect to see a lot more challenging projects,” said McFarlane.

While expanding into overseas markets always has its risks, Australian companies have been enthused about branching out to the US, with Bluescope Steel recently announcing almost $1 billion investment in its facilities in the US. As a smaller business, which has operated in Australia for nearly 35 years, Bomac is aware of the need to take a steady approach, noted McFarlane.

“We realise that it’s not going to be an easy task, and we’re not expecting to sell to 320 million people all of a sudden. We really see a positive future in America; there is strong manufacturing, the ability to recognise a good product when they see one, and the creativity ability to be able to use it in a variety of ways.”