Breathing life into advanced manufacturing

This year’s Air Conditioning, Refrigeration Building Services (ARBS) exhibition in Sydney will showcase new and emerging technology. Manufacturers’ Monthly speaks with exhibitor Seeley International about the industry gathering’s value.

Among hundreds of exhibitors of new cooling technology, Seeley International will be championing almost half a century of market leadership at this year’s Air Conditioning, Refrigeration Building Services (ARBS) exhibition.

As Australia largest air-conditioning manufacturer, founder and executive chairman Frank Seeley recalls the company’s early days when, in 1972, a small team built the first unit of its kind made from plastic – and hasn’t looked back since.

Whereas air-conditioners had always been made from metal, all-plastic cabinets put an end to corrosion and quickly transformed the rooftop cooler industry from 12,000 units per year, to more than 70,000.

The company is now leading the global market in these products, exporting to well over 100 countries and supplying some of the hottest places on the planet with high performance cooling units that combine advanced manufacturing with innovative design.

“I have a very strong conviction that there is a great future for Australian manufacturing, providing we do two things – innovate like there’s no tomorrow, and automate the same way,” said Seeley.

“As an Australian manufacturer, we know that we can always improve what we do. Innovation isn’t a destination, but rather a journey, and one that we have been on for 45 years.

“We want to make our products even more energy efficient and to contribute to the whole industry, by forcing it to lift its game.”

ARBS, Australia’s only international air conditioning, refrigeration and building services trade exhibition, is set to showcase hundreds of new products and technologies with a focus on innovative responses to existing and emerging trends.

Back in Sydney for the first time since 2010, the new International Convention Centre (ICC) will host ARBS from May 8-10 and will host more than 350 exhibitors and in excess of 9,000 visitors. The event connects industry professionals, consultants, engineers, contractors and technicians with global product and solution providers.

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Over three days, guests can see the latest products and services, talk to manufacturers and distributors and explore how industry leaders design, control and innovate to sustainably and efficiently transform the built environment.

“Since 1998, ARBS has provided a unique forum for the entire industry to connect and develop mutually beneficial business relationships, to source and discover the latest products, systems and service evolutions and to share knowledge of emerging technologies, methodologies and best practice,” said Sue Falcke, ARBS’ organiser.

Including Seeley, major national, international and multi-national exhibitors will all be on display, seeking to connect with other industry leaders and peers.

Seeley is making further inroads overseas, bringing new technology in air conditioning to the wider industry.

Among the company’s flagship technology, Seeley will be demonstrating its Climate Wizard – an air conditioner that uses water as a refrigerant, doesn’t increase humidity and doesn’t require a compressor, which has been proven to save up to 90 per cent in energy usage.

“If you cannot demonstrate the benefits of the product, you are not necessarily going to convince the whole industry of its true value,” Seeley continued.

“People and businesses don’t tend to embrace something new at the first try and, with the Climate Wizard, we are now breaking into new markets.”

In addition to Australia, the product has established a growing foothold in more than a dozen countries overseas including Indonesia and USA.

It is the brainchild of Seeley’s research and development facility, which is called Imagineering and is conducting over-the-horizon R&D.

It is based in Lonsdale, South Australia, where 30 engineers are trying and testing new concepts to drive technology further into the future.

“Researching new ideas is part of our DNA,” said Frank’s son, Jon Seeley, who is the group managing director. “Our  main focus is not on incremental improvements.

“We are looking for disruptive new solutions, utilizing technologies and concepts from other industries and applying them in new and innovative ways to challenge and improve the quality and performance of our own products.

“Having a presence on the floor at events like ARBS is a great opportunity to engage with the wider industry.”

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