With ‘bad news’ stories about manufacturing so prevalent in today’s economic climate, companies such as Hi-Tech Metrology, which is this year celebrating 20 years in the business, provide proof that Australia’s manufacturing industry is alive and kicking.
Metrology equipment supplier Hi-Tech Metrology was formed in 1992 by current managing director Ian Martin to promote and support the Sheffield Measurement range of Coordinate Measuring Machines.
Now, 20 years later, the firm conducts business from a purpose-built facility in Melbourne’s Hallam, housing offices, a showroom, a laboratory and a training classroom.
“There have been many milestones over the past 20 years beginning with the company’s first Sheffield CMM sale to Dunlop Aerospace (now Rosebank Engineering) in late 1992 followed in quick succession by sales to Hawker de Havilland, Ford, Robert Bosch and others,” said a spokesperson from Hi-Tech Metrology.
“From these humble beginnings in a small Bayswater factory the company has grown to now having offices and showrooms around Australia with an established distributor providing coverage on the North and South islands of New Zealand.”
Throughout the years, Hi-Tech Metrology has signed contracts with a number of key hardware manufacturers such as Micro-Vu, Romer, Brown & Sharpe, Hexagon Metrology and Hommelwerke, and software developers Innovmetric and Wilcox Associates to promote and support their products throughout the region.
The company has also developed its own notable measuring systems; in the mid-1990s the company was approached by PBR (now Chassis Brakes International) to provide Coordinate Measuring Machines capable of functioning in a shop floor environment and being operated by machine tool operators.
“Hi-Tech Metrology, in conjunction with Sheffield Measurement, developed a highly successful system incorporating a pressurised enclosure encapsulating the CMM to keep contaminants away from the machine and a software system called STI (Single Touch Interface) that allowed unskilled personnel to walk up and measure their own parts,” said the spokesperson.
“The system was so successful that PBR rolled it out across their manufacturing facilities both in Australia and the USA with Sheffield eventually developing the shop hardened Discovery series CMM and eliminating the need for pressurised enclosures.
“The concept of shop floor CMMs was then also picked up by GMH, amongst others, and multiple machines were incorporated into Holden’s new V6 engine plant in Port Melbourne.
“Hi-Tech Metrology initially delivered, configured, programmed and installed these CMM's at various machine tool manufacturing plants in Japan to support the machining line run-offs then, once the machining lines were verified, these CMMs were shipped to Australia and integrated into the cylinder head, cylinder block and crankshaft production lines here in Melbourne along with specialised crankshaft measuring systems manufactured by Hommelwerke GmbH.”
Today, Hi-Tech Metrology provides equipment, training, customisation, advice and support on a range of measurement and reverse engineering equipment for applications as wide-ranging as precision measurement of bionic ear implants to scanning of massive mining components.