Automation helps Aussie’s fight imports

A COMPANY in Victoria is preventing manufacturers in India and China from adding to Australia's burgeoning import bill by producing high-quality brass terminals for Australia's electrical switchboard industry.

A COMPANY in Victoria is preventing manufacturers in India and China from adding to Australia’s burgeoning import bill by producing high-quality brass terminals for Australia’s electrical switchboard industry.

Netec Industries is a family business based in Somerton and it has moved from being one of several engineering firms making such products in 1988 to achieving the status of being Australia’s only dedicated manufacturer in 2008.

To cope with steadily increasing demand, Netec recently took delivery of its fourth Fanuc Robodrill from the Melbourne branch of 600 Machine Tools. At each expansion phase of the company, with moves from small premises in the 1990s to its current spacious factories in Stanley Drive, each additional Robodrill has increased its production capacity.

Already in the Somerton workshops were the A, B, and D models of the Robodrill and these versatile machines have now been joined by the sophisticated F model.

Managing Director Shane Borderick explained that the new machine was essential to enable the company to meet demand, easing the pressure on the workforce, which has been working six days a week – with overtime.

“The Robodrill is ideal for our type of work,” Borderick said. “We have a large number of jigs and fixtures for our range of brass products and it is simple to switch production from one machine to another to cope with specific orders.”

According to Borderick, changes to programs are simple so it is straightforward and quick to introduce a variation to a standard product in order to meet the special requirements of a customer – or even to produce a prototype for evaluation.

“These precision machines have automated many of our production processes,” he said. “In the early years, we consumed approximately half a ton of brass per month, but now we can get through eight tons per month without a sweat- and with fewer staff.”

Managing director of 600 Machine Tools, Cliff Purser, said the team at the Melbourne branch, led by Ross Whittle, has grown familiar with the needs of Netec over two decades and therefore understood the role that the Robodrill has in producing the company’s brass products.

“The new F series is particularly suitable for machining electrical and small parts, from high-speed cutting of light metal, such as brass or aluminium, to cutting of stainless-steel.

“High-speed and high-precision machining is possible with high-speed processing. NURBS interpolation and a super-minute line segment program provide smooth machined surfaces that require little finishing,” he Purser explained.

The F model has been designed to provide rapid traverse speed: 48m/min with Fanuc Series3 1r-A controller. It has a simple and reliable proprietary tool turret mechanism for tool changing times (cut to cut) of 1.6sec. There are versions for 21 tools or 14 tools.

High-speed axis feed, high-speed spindle operation and optimal acceleration and deceleration control provides efficiency of machining and reduced cycle-time. The spindle is directly coupled to its motor and users frequently machine at a spindle-speed of 24,000 rpm.

Precise high-speed contouring allows deburring and chamfering for sophisticated parts, such as magnesium mould, die cast, forged, or cast parts. This Series also can be used for machining the datum plane during succeeding process.

The company has been able to use less staff with higher output in a very labour-intensive production process and according to Borderick, automation and efficiency is the key to maintaining a healthy local industry.

“Netec’s attitude now is, ‘don’t import it if we can make it here in Australia’,” he said.

“The advantages of a high-quality Australian-made product far outweigh a small cost-saving on a cheap import and we make it on time.

For more information contact 600 Machine Tools on phone 02 9748 1964 or visit