DataFactory: A drive to fix

DataFactory manager Darius Kowalewksi explains how consulting with electrical engineering experts can help manufacturers save on costs during systems downtime.

When it comes to electrical motors and systems, DataFactory has the electrical engineering know-how to fix problems that no other Australian company can – and at half the cost.

As DataFactory founder and manager Darius Kowalewksi explains, these are valuable skills to possess, especially when customers are committed to strict production timeframes and suffer serious penalties if a drive or motor breaks down. DataFactory can prevent these companies from losing money if a production line stops.

“People come to us because there is a shortage of skills caused by the manufacturing moving overseas, a process that started some 20-30 years ago – whereas we still have that expertise,” he said.

“The manufacturing companies that are here rely on overseas sources of knowledge, but if something happens and you need to fix the problem urgently, emailing to and fro doesn’t work. Customers need someone locally based who can move fast, which is where we come in.”

When it started in 1986 in Melbourne, the company originally designed drives, namely Australia’s first insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) drive, but with an influx of overseas competition, they decided to focus on the service side of operations from 1997 onwards.  Their clients are now Australia-wide and they can provide repairs within 24 hours – which usually equates to half the time and half the costs of a machine’s manufacturer.

“Swapping and replacing drives is not a trivial issue, you need an engineer with a good knowledge of drives and this is our niche,” Kowalewksi said. “We have a test system onsite and are very well equipped.”

It is common for companies to send their drives to DataFactory from remote parts of Australia as they specialise in obscure and complex drives, but have the ability to repair, replace, or replicate and retrofit all types.

Kowalewksi recalls as one of DataFactory’s top engineering achievements, the design and installation of the MA Set for the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant in Melbourne, which is one of the city’s major tourist attractions.

“In 1986, we re-designed the electric installation on the first restaurant tram as the original design was not working well. In the process, we designed a very reliable MA Set, which converts 600VDC overhead tramline voltage into the standard three-phase 415VAC system that is used to power up the air conditioner and the kitchen appliances on the tram.

“The design was successful and we proceeded to build three more restaurant trams using the same concept. One of them, Tram 937, is still in use 12 years after we built it and 32 years since we built the first one.

“The trams are W-class, a vintage family of trams designed and built in Melbourne in the 1920s and 1930s; so retrofitting them with a modern power equipment was not easy. We count this project as an example of our engineering abilities in power electronics,” he said.

Kowalewksi explained that when the DataFactory team – comprising an engineer, technician and electrician – first work on a motor drive, they spend the time to properly understand how it functions. Once they have understood the fundamentals, they can fix a drive quickly, or will have gained the knowledge to replicate it.

“People use systems from all around the world and we are the specialists who can repair and service these drives here in Australia. It doesn’t matter what sector it is – from satellite dishes to special food production to manufacturing lines – we can fix them,” Kowalewksi said. “In the rare instance where we can’t fix it, we will advise the customer on what to do.”

DataFactory fills a gap in the servicing market, as few Australian manufacturing plants have engineering expertise in-house. The DataFactory facilities include a fully-equipped lab, test area and large stocks of spare parts.

Having specialised knowledge of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) servo drives, DataFactory has invested heavily in testing equipment and has several databases on drives that date back as far as 1989. The company also has the ability to reverse-engineer drives and can simulate onsite conditions using a 100-hour test.

DataFactory provides Australia-wide repairs for electronic variable speed drives, servo drives, alternating current (AC) drives, direct current (DC) drives, electronic inverters, complex electronic boards and monitors. They are specialists in CNC machines and have expertise in retrofitting and re-engineering control systems.


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