AUSTRALIA’S manufacturing sector might be facing challenging times with a patchy economy and a looming carbon tax, but record attendance at Australia’s advanced precision manufacturing and machine tool exhibition – Austech 2011 in Melbourne in May – suggests a bright future is in store for the industry.
Figures released by exhibition organisers Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited (AMTIL) show visitor head-count grew 10 to 15% compared to 2009 – a result which AMTIL says is the "best outcome since the show’s inception in 2000".
Held alongside National Manufacturing Week (NMW) and Ausplas, Austech attracted over 80 exhibitors across a floor-space of 6,000 square metres. The three co-located shows attracted over 600 exhibitors from Australia and overseas.
Among them was welding and cutting machine producer, ESAB, which showcased its new portable MIG/MAG welding unit – the Caddy Mig C200i – a lightweight, easy-to-use inverter power source suited for repair, maintenance and assembly welding of mild steel applications.
Speaking with Manufacturers’ Monthly during the five-day exhibition, ESAB Australia country manager, Damian Cann, said the launch of the new MIG/MAG welding unit marks the company’s return to the Australian metal industry – a market which has been indentified as a source for solid returns.
According to Cann, the company’s renewed focus on the local market is not only a vote of confidence for our metalworking industry, but also a sign that manufacturers are once again looking to invest in new heavy metal equipment.
One company looking to take advantage of the burgeoning growth is leading machine tool manufacturer DMG/Mori Seiki Australia, which reported sales of more than 10 machines at Austech this year. The strong sale figure is a positive sign for the joint German-Japanese company, which expects to increase its market share in Australia and New Zealand by more than 50% within the next three years.
DMG/Mori Seiki chief executive officer of cooperation markets, Dr Jens Hardenacke, said there is huge growth potential for the company’s high-end and low-end machines in the local market. Having already gained 50% growth per year over the past two years in the Asia-Pacific region, the company is in good stead to continue this positive streak. DMG/Mori Seiki Australia recorded over 1,000 trade visitors at its Austech stand, which featured six machines including the newly-developed DMU 65 monoBLOCK simultaneous 5-axis machining system.
Also drawing in visitors at Austech and NMW was welding gases and safety equipment supplier, BOC. The company’s Austech stand featured the Mini Bulk Gas Supply – a supply system designed for the Australian laser cutting market – while its NMW stand featured the new GMA arc weld projector.
According to BOC South Pacifc’s market manager for welding and industries gases, Kyle Scott, the one-of-a-kind GMA arc weld projector was an exhibition winner.
"The GMA arc weld projector unit has been designed for training staff, apprentices, semi-skilled welders as well as welding supervisors and inspectors about the benefits of using shielding gases in real arc time," Scott said.
"It can be used for live demonstrations on the workshop floor or at educational institutions to help train staff and apprentices about specific changes to arc parameters."
The unit is connected to a projector which simultaneously shows the GMA welding arc with the corresponding welding parameters, such as wire feed speed, voltage, stick-out, current, pulse frequency and shielding gas composition.
"As soon as the parameters are changed, users can observe how the arc is affected by looking at the projection which uses a self-contained PC measuring system, combined with a standard beamer to project the image of the arc onto the screen," says Scott.
According to Scott, the company’s success at the show demonstrates a trend to up-skill workers to remain competitive.
"With equipment like the GMA arc project, manufacturers can not only lift the industry’s national welding skills level, but also help to strengthen the sector by providing welders with the knowledge and understanding of best practice," Scott said.