Manufacturers’ Monthly Endeavour Awards Finalists – Most Innovative Manufacturer

As nominations have closed for the 10th Endeavour Awards have closed, we're highlighting the finalists for each category, giving you an insight into innovation and excellence in the manufacturing industry.

CONFOIL

Since 1966 Confoil has grown into a successful Australian manufacturing business. Established as a family owned company, Confoil manufactures aluminium foil trays and Dualpak oven able paperboard trays,

In reviewing its safety performance in 2009 it noticed it had a high number of injuries and workers compensation claims.

Injured workers mainly submitted medical certificates direct to Payroll and there was limited communication between the worker and organisation.

It started to implement a new holistic Return to Work Program with the immediate focus on caring for the injured worker from the moment the injury occurred to reducing the number of Lost Time Injuries.

Recognising the high number of mature aged workers (in 2012 one employee received their 35 year Service Award) it included personal injuries as well as work-related injuries in its policy, demonstrating the company’s commitment to its employees’ total welfare. Several Machine Operators have had to have surgery for personal reasons and Confoil has supported their return to work with alternative duties. In many cases this has assisted employees to retain their sick leave in the event of a more serious personal illness/injury in the future. Confoil’s RTW program involves the supervisor, employee, doctor, physio etc and the RTW Coordinator working as a team with the common goal to deliver suitable and ongoing medical and personal support to an injured worker to provide an effective return to work program.

This team approach has a strong emphasis on communication and working together in collaboration.

The caring of the employee’s welfare starts immediately, even for minor injuries by the way of the supervisor taking the injured worker directly to the doctor.

Confoil has a partnership with local medical practitioners and occupational physiotherapists who have a strong knowledge and understanding of the work environment, allowing them to work with all parties to help develop suitable RTW goals. Confoil visits the physio or doctor, with the employee’s permission, to discuss the welfare of their employee.

What is unique to Confoil compared to other industries is that it’s website has a return to work video demonstrating the different type of tasks performed for all medical practitioners to view at their desk including an injured workers own doctor. This assists the doctors to have a better understanding of the nature of work to ensure a safe and sustainable return to work plan can be implemented. Doctors and physiotherapists have provided favourable feedback on this new initiative. It also has a dedicated RTW Co-ordinator who ensures an accurate return to work plan is always submitted to the doctor e.g. colour photos, video.

The injured employee is consulted in preparing the Return to Work Plan.

Diary notes and regular contact with the employee (at home or work) is always maintained.

Training in new tasks for modified duties is carried out by the Return to Work Coordinator (who is also an accredited Workplace Assessor).

 

SEELEY INTERNATIONAL

Seeley International is a highly innovative company and for 40 years has continued to develop ground-breaking technological innovations, such as the first all-plastic portable and fixed rooftop evaporative air conditioner, the highly efficient Breezair Hushpower Motor, a corrosion-proofed polymer motor housing, the WATERmiser Water Management System which continually monitors and balances water quality and conservation simultaneously, the first commercially viable indirect evaporative air conditioner – Climate Wizard and the world’s first six star ducted gas heating range from Braemar.

Seeley International has continued to grow year on year and build on its position as Australian market leader in the evaporative air conditioning and ducted gas heating markets. The company has a strong desire to grow significantly by growing sales of innovative new products into new and existing markets.

 The company expects significant growth from new products including the EnviroMagic in commercial/industrial markets, Climate Wizard in commercial/industrial and residential markets and its new Braemar builders’ range of heating and cooling products, specifically targeting the Australian builders’ market.

Seeley International has offices in the UK, France, Italy and the USA.

 

BALTIMORE AIRCOIL

Baltimore Aircoil is a worldwide manufacturer and marketer of evaporative heat transfer and ice thermal storage products that conserve resources and respect the environment. BAC manufactures products at Somersby, on the New South Wales Central Coast. Company is considered a small to medium size, consisting of 99 personnel located throughout Australia.

What differentiates it is Vision Blue – a document that has been created outlining BAC’s goal to become Carbon Neutral by the year 2020.

In the past 12 months alone it has already shown an 11% reduction, through energy saving initiatives.

An analysis of BAC’s freight companies enabled BAC to assess their costs and processes. The result being, high savings were made for the company. Through networking, information on how this was done was then shared with fellow members of the manufacturing group CCMC.

BAC has also gone as far as designing a whole new line of heat rejection equipment that doesn’t require chemical water treatment in an effort to reduce environmental impacts. This equipment, known as the 3C Cooler, can reject heat from a process (similar to a closed circuit cooling tower) while using up to 80% less water and without requiring chemical dosing which would inevitably end up in our sewerage system.

 

DOWNER RAIL

Without a new approach to reducing overheads and increasing efficiency, Australian manufacturing will struggle to survive. Building on more than 100 years of Australian rail manufacturing experience, Downer has used the Waratah Train Project to develop and refine an innovative new model for rail manufacturing in Australia that uses Australian skills and expertise in rail maintenance combined with global speed and scale in manufacturing.

Downer Rail and its project partners were awarded the Waratah Train Project in 2006. The project is the design, manufacture, testing and commissioning of 626 double deck stainless steel passenger cars for RailCorp. Components are sourced from around the globe, the trains are partially manufactured in China by Changchun Railway Vehicles Company (CRC), and final assembly, testing and commissioning occurs at Downer Rail’s Cardiff facility in NSW.

The key to Downer’s innovation is the legacy it has built to leave behind at its Cardiff facility: a highly trained team of manufacturing professionals armed with the tools for taking the industry into the 21 century. The team at Cardiff can apply the lean manufacturing methodologies taught by Downer to any future manufacturing project they are part of. This ensures that as the rail manufacturing sector moves increasingly towards a maintenance model, Downer has created a workforce with the skills to adapt to the requirements of an evolving workplace. Over the next 10 years Downer intends to adapt its business model to ensure sustainability in a changing marketplace. It will achieve this by shifting its focus to growing its service revenue. This aligns with its commitment to Australian jobs growth, with maintenance and service contracts performed in Downer’s maintenance facilities in Australia. Additionally, by focusing on growing its whole-of-life management services, Downer can continue to help its customers meet their business, operational, regulatory and statutory obligations.

 

SAGE AUTOMATION

Founded in 1994 by current Managing Director Andrew Downs, SAGE is Australia’s leading independent industrial control systems integration company.

SAGE designs and constructs automation and industrial control systems as well as provides specialised professional technical support and process improvement for a diverse range of industries including, manufacturing, defence, infrastructure, resources and utilities.

In 2010, SAGE Automation participated in the 20th South Australian Thinker-in-Residence program, with Professor Göran Roos.

The purpose of the thinker in residence program is to provide input and transfer competence around business model innovation drawing on technology change for small to medium enterprises in the manufacturing industry.

A key outcome was the $1M investment SAGE made throughout 2011/towards creating a world class manufacturing capability. Whilst SAGE has always had the capability of manufacturing control panels, the recent improvements deliver a significantly enhanced efficiency to our operation, enabling us to remain competitive in price and offer an all under one roof solution for small, large, complex and time-critical projects. .

Training will be imperative for businesses to be able to keep pace with technology. SAGE’s Didactic (Greek for skill full in training) offering will enable our clients to maximise the skills within their own business.

 

WASCA

In the 1960s, technology was not what it is today.  WASCA took orders from some 50 customers on pads, designed parts on paper, wrote out our purchase orders by hand and ran parts on high speed heavy gauge machinery.  Mostly flat plain washers were stamped, in steel and brass with the occasional nut produced. Over the years, we have evolved along with the requirements of our ever growing customer base.

Today WASCA sees itself not as a supplier of washers, but a provider of solutions. We have the expertise of third generation Engineers and we are able to understand the requirements of our marketplace.  We are ready to assist with advice and provide the answer where there is a fastening challenge.   We have become a market leader, well known for our high quality parts and excellence in customer service.  In the future, WASCA will further enhance our technology to ensure we are always ready to provide innovative solutions. 

WASCA’s plan for the next 10 years is to continue to supply washers and stamped components and provide solutions to all industries. We are driven to provide the highest level of service to all customers large and small.  WASCA will remain at the forefront of design and manufacture in our field.

 

 

DUEBEL

Deubel Bicycles started early January 2009 with the goal to successfully design and manufacture in Australia outstanding full suspended mountain bike frames. When started it initially designed and manufactured an Australian innovative prototype, fully in line with the latest market expectations and for the last 2 years have run production of this product. To date it has only 2 employees yet since production has managed and sponsored racing teams and currently holds 23 podium positions at

National, State and Local level using the very same frame it designed and manufactured, the Deubel 2UP frame.

These frames are currently 90% made in Australia, with plans to get the remaining 10% also manufactured in country, as this 10% portion cannot be made here in Australia until the company invests in the tools to manufacture it itself.

The company is always innovating and coming up with new designs to make the Deubel 2UP even more versatile than now and there are even plans to produce a carbon fibre frame 100% manufactured in Sydney. Duebel stated that "if for some reason we are no longer able to manufacture in Australia, then we will not manufacture at all as we feel strongly about keeping manufacturing alive in Australia".

 

ANCA

Innovation has been the competitive advantage of ANCA since the company was launched.

ANCA launched the first Australian made CNC and when ANCA's first CNC tool grinder was launched in the US in 1986 there was only one similar brand in the US.

From the beginning, ANCA has done things that haven't been done before.

They were first to market with game changing product features such as true 3D simulation and Windows style Graphical Users Interface. TANCA tool grinders have continued to become faster, more precise, able to do more things automatically (like wheel conditioning) easier to use and to have more features making them easier to use – such as improved software.

The following systems are used to provide innovative, quality products that meet the agreed strategies of the company: SARS – Sales Action Request for customised products, Stagegate – to control the development of a new product, Roadmap – to assist the identification of new opportunities to develop to new products, CAPA – Corrective Action, Preventative Action to ensure quality is maintained.

Automation has slowly increased and the capacity for the company to manufacture its own components has also increased.

ANCA has invested millions of dollars in the latest production machines, R&D tools and quality testing products.  These include the Mori Seiki LPPS (Linear Pallet Pool System) an Automated machining centre. 

Email newsletters have now been sent out in 10 languages bi-monthly to customers for the last couple of years and an automated lead management system has recently been implemented.  Local sales specialists have been utilised over most of ANCA's history with the numbers steadily increasing. From the first machine to today, relevant exhibitions form part of the marketing mix, as do print ads in specialist industrial magazines.

ANCA is on a mission for continuous improvement in everything it does.  Specialists in areas of Quality, IT and Manufacturing Systems have been hired to improve all of our company systems, our quality and to streamline all processes. Improving the customer experience is also the current company focus, in everything from the service provided, accessory prices and the resources provided to sales staff to help inform customers.

 

RPC TECHNOLOGIES

Responding to market demand, RPC Technologies has developed a new innovative Fire Retardant and Anti-Static (FRAS) Light Weight Mine Vent Duct (or LWMVD) made out of carbon fibre.

This product is a new generation of Mine Vent Duct, which is lighter and stronger than traditional solutions, including fibreglass ducts. RPC, with its know-how in composite, designed and developed a foam ribbed FRAS mine vent duct using carbon fibres. This new product can withstand a higher vacuum and is half the weight of its fibreglass counterpart.

This reduction in weight decreases WHS risks associated with handling of mine vent ducting during installation (i.e. less back injuries) 

A particular effort was required in defining and sourcing the right type of carbon fibre fabric, resin and foam for the construction of this innovative product. The selection that was made, allowed RPC to meet its customers’ requirements without compromising on quality. Moreover, the traditional filament winding method of manufacturing already used by RPC for fibreglass pressure pipes and ducting was not suitable for the new materials. RPC developed an alternative method and the necessary equipment to allow the processing of carbon fibre into the filament winding process at the same production rate as its usual production, which was quite an achievement.

The plans for the next 10 years are to strengthen the RPC Brand, strength service and support to the Australian market and to increase our footprint and position RPC as an Asian Pacific company, with an Asian-Pacific market focus – always keeping in mind the RPC vision which is to be the number one global provider of composite solutions.