R&D assistance helps Matrix Composites aim for $170m in composites

A strong commitment to R&D has helped Matrix Composites and Engineering work simultaneously on 17 subsea buoyancy projects involving composite materials worth $170 million for the world’s offshore oil and gas industry.

A strong commitment to R&D has helped Matrix Composites and Engineering work simultaneously on 17 subsea buoyancy projects involving composite materials worth $170 million for the world’s offshore oil and gas industry.

The company’s team of industrial chemists, materials scientists and aerospace engineers has developed innovative composite materials – from materials such as syntactic foam – that are used in the company’s ultra light marine buoyancy systems. These are stronger and lighter than the industry standard, making them less likely to crack or split.

The company also engineers downhole and completion systems for offshore oil and gas wells that are lighter and stronger than the steel products they have replaced. They are designed to reduce drilling and completion times, as well as improve safety and increase oil and gas well recovery rates.

CEO Aaron Begley says the company is committed to R&D, and invests heavily in advanced tooling, materials research, and testing.

“We are product manufacturers. And as such we need to look at making opportunities to develop products. We anticipate products, and once they are developed, take them to commercialisation,” Begley said.

“We scanned our customers and found a demand for stronger and lighter systems. We tasked our research laboratory to develop a new material – which is able to be used at deeper depths but is also lighter and stronger.

“The result is a marine riser buoyancy product that is the highest quality, lowest density, strongest and most dimensionally accurate product available on the world market."

The company will soon open Perth’s largest advanced manufacturing complex – at Henderson.

The 20,000 square metre Henderson facility will include new plant, office, research and testing and storage facilities.

“Our new research facility includes a deepwater laboratory which can simulate depths of 5,000 metres,” Aaron said. “This is half the depth of the world’s deepest oceans.”

Ninety per cent of Matrix’s products are exported, and AusIndustry’s Tradex scheme is providing significant cash flow advantages. Tradex provides an up-front exemption from customs duty and GST on eligible imported goods that are intended for export. 

“Tradex helps enormously from a cashflow perspective because we do not have to pay GST or customs duty," Aaron said.

"Nor do we have to worry about a convoluted drawback process. In effect, we are paying world prices for our raw materials. It puts us on a level playing field with the rest of the world. 

“Without a scheme like Tradex we would not be manufacturing in Australia. It is a great product – it is fair and easy to use.”

The company’s commitment to R&D was widely recognised when it won a national Australian Export Award for Advanced Manufacturer in December 2010. 

Matrix exports to 30 countries, and its systems can even be found in the waters off Antarctica.

Matrix has been operating since 1980, and was publicly listed in 2009. In recent years it has doubled its growth.

The company employs 400 full time staff and revenue for the first half of this financial year was $92.4 million.

The production line runs continuously – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – to keep up with orders. 

Matrix also claims the R&D Tax Concession, which allows it to deduct up to 125% of qualifying expenditure incurred on R&D activities.

The company is currently working on equipment for 17 projects, worth an average of $10 million each. 

The company purpose built a syntactic foam plant in 2000, and a year later completed its first major riser buoyancy contracts.

In 2005 it undertook a major expansion of its heavy engineering plant, including constructing an underwater pressure testing chamber, which is the largest in the Asia Pacific region.

Matrix has a European sales office in England, as well as agents in India, Korea, the United States, and Malaysia.

Its products are also used by the mining and defence industries. The company’s product applications include offshore fixed platforms, flotation products, drilling products, marine and subsea operations, subsea production, pipeline, riser and completions, and well construction cementation equipment.

The company purpose built a syntactic foam plant in 2000, and a year later completed its first major riser buoyancy contracts.

In 2005 it undertook a major expansion of its heavy engineering plant, including constructing an underwater pressure testing chamber, which is the largest in the Asia Pacific region. 

Matrix has a European sales office in England, as well as agents in India, Korea, the United States, and Malaysia.

 

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