BRISBANE-based Heat Treatment Australia is poised to enter major international markets as a participant in the massive nine-country F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program valued at $70bn.
As the only Australian heat treatment processor to take up a Federal Government invitation to be involved, the company has installed two new $1.5m furnaces with capabilities never before available in Australia. In fact very few companies around the globe have this technology.
The JSF’s 10-year SDD (System Development & Demonstration) phase aims to create a new generation strike fighter with cutting edge technologies including short takeoff and vertical landing.
One of Heat Treatment’s new furnaces provides the ability to braze aluminium, a process requiring exact control mechanisms because the melting and brazing temperatures of aluminium are very close.
The second furnace, from Seco Warwick, is a vacuum hardening and carburising furnace.
Also with strict controls, it has the ability to provide better metallurgical properties for very high end products using stainless steel for example, or precision valves and gears. The high-stress, high-quality components used in aircraft are other examples.
Heat Treatment’s GM, Karen Stanton, said the decision to invest such substantial sums was made both for the sake of enhancing the company’s service capabilities, and the unparalleled business opportunity the program offered.
“To our knowledge there is only one other Australian organisation with the heat treatment standard required for the aerospace industry,” she said.
“Most have the ISO 9001:2000 standard but a few years ago the giants of military aircraft manufacture set their own, the NADCAP standard – and that’s what we are working towards achieving relatively quickly.
“At the same time, it is also about being part of something exciting and new.
“Previously we would get an order, do the process and return it. But right now we working with engineers and customers from Australia and overseas who want to know our capabilities, and who have input that can help us.
“At the same time we are presenting our case and discussing with them the challenges and possible solutions we all have. It’s a collaborative thing that achieves the result we all want.”
Quality manager Gary Coffey said behind the scenes talks had been ongoing for at least 12 months with other suppliers to JSF who required heat treatment of their products.
“This is a huge opportunity made available to us at the highest levels of world business and politics,” he said.
“The Australian Government, for example, has teams in both Canberra and Washington dedicated to this single project. And major companies have sent people from the US.
“They have not just spoken with us, but spent days with us looking at our facilities and learning about our capabilities. Then we’ve exchanged emails for several months ironing out various matters.
“The result is we’ve already undertaken several projects. And while we might be playing a relative small part in the overall scheme of things, we have a vital role.
“Without our work on, say, an aluminium box, the avionics might not be securely housed and the aircraft might not fly.”
For further information call Heat Treatment on 07 3345 4944.