Education needed to cash in on mining

In the increasingly volatile manufacturing sector, innovating to meet the changing needs of clients is key to the success of any business.

But becoming a strong player in the market is no easy task as companies look to have more of the components they need manufactured overseas. This is especially true in the current climate, with costs soaring against the backdrop of a high Australian dollar, many manufacturing companies are struggling to find new markets to tap into.

However, in an increasingly competitive market, investing in education and design technology is a way many companies are finding gaps to gain new opportunities in many sectors, especially mining.

A company in Wollongong NSW, has done just that, ignoring the negative press over how the local industry slowdown may affect the maintenance supply chain, and instead focused on ways to meet the needs of the mining sector head on.

After a client came to the company asking it to manufacture a product on an OEM arrangement, an opportunity to service the unique demands of the mining sector presented itself.

Director and design engineer, Jason Leussink said his company was perfectly positioned to provide the attention to detail that would give clients an added competitive advantage.

“This is a product that has never been outsourced before by this large player in the mining industry, so to give the client a level of advantage and confidence in our methods we approached the task in a different manner to what industry normally expects,” Leussink said.

“We sent two of our engineers to one of their facilities in the U.S.A to learn thoroughly the manufacturing techniques and what the requirements were.”

“Once they were readily equipped and knowledgeable they returned to Australia and implemented the manufacturing know-how at our plant."

“This global company has factories across several countries producing their own machinery. We have since begun to machine and repair these OEM parts successfully in our factory in Wollongong, NSW,” he told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“A lot of this particular customer’s requirements are for equipment used in cutting coal out of underground mines.”

Leussink Engineering has been operating in the Illawarra region for over three decades and has traditionally provided industries with engineering services, prototyping, emergency repair work, machining, manufacturing and welding solutions.

With so many years experience in the manufacturing sector, making a push to better service the mining industry was the natural next step for the company, with the scope of services offered wide.

“We target the manufacturing of new and the repairing of old mining equipment used to aid in the removal of the mining resource. We also target any mechanical engineering component that requires repair, modification or replacement,” Leussink explained.

While the much publicised ‘end of mining boom’ has the potential to slow down trade for manufacturing companies, Leussink says that ‘providing reliable solutions to a  client’s problem at affordable prices’ will ensure ongoing success as clients return for solutions they know and trust.

“There will always be the need for mining in Australia and while mechanical solutions are used to extract the resource then we believe our diverse business model, as it has in the past, should fare well through to the next cycle,” he told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

And with a new investment in the education and training of staff, from apprentices right through to senior engineers, Leussink said the business is growing in strength as a result.

“The response has been overwhelming. Our mining customers are now able to explain their engineering problems and Leussink Engineering has the ability to understand their needs, re-design and simulate software engineering changes, produce revised engineering drawings and then manufacture and assemble to world best practice. This allows our customers to focus on what they do best, mining.”

Image: Examples of components made by Leussink Engineering apprentices.