Shipbuilder benefits from in-house CNC technology

Aluminium Dynamics’ decision to bring all its aluminium cutting in-house with the purchase of two Australian-made CNC routers has resulted in improved component quality and efficiency. Barbara Schulz writes.

AT sunrise this year, a new 25-metre vessel can be seen docking at a local boat ramp somewhere along South Australia’s coasts laden with fresh crabs destined for Australian markets. The work boat, cut and supplied by Adelaide-based Aluminium Dynamics, will weather many a morning on the high seas.

Established in 2003 by Jon and Grant Kemp, Aluminium Dynamics has drawn on its expertise in the supply of CNC boat kits to the marine industry to expand into the supply of engineered products for the defence, mining, transport and marine industries — both locally and internationally.

“Our primary role was to sup ply the aluminium boat building industry in the form of fully-cut CNC aluminium kits,” explains Aluminium Dynamics general manager, Tony Pal.

Grant started his first busi ness, Oceantech Design, in 1996, which grew steadily for the next seven years. However, it wasn’t until he decided to establish Aluminium Dynamics together with his brother in 2003 that the business took off with its in- house aluminium cutting capa bilities.

“Oceantech Design used to outsource all the aluminium cut ting, however, delivery quality and finish were an issue with the plasma-cut parts. The decision was based on several key factors, such as no heat-affected parts, clean-cut edges and dimensional accuracy. Most importantly, cut ting in-house also meant delivery and quality were now under our own control,” said Pal.

“Since using the CNC router the quality improvement has been incredible.”

Hence, it comes at no surprise that it didn’t take long until the team at Aluminium Dynamics decided to invest into a second router from Brisbane-based Advanced Robotic Technology (ART).

The decision to buy ART machines came at Austech 2005, where Grant met ART director Peter Nolan and was soon con vinced of the high quality and capabilities of ART’s Australian- made machines.

“For us it is very important to support the Australian industry, hence we always look for high- quality locally-built machines, and ART fits these criteria per fectly,” Pal said. And though he admits they had to dig a bit deeper into their pockets, he knows that “you do get that additional value on the machine, it is as simple as that.”

“We find ART’s service excel lent. Most issues are solved over the phone and more serious problems are treated with urgency to minimise our down time. Moreover, Peter Nolan is very upfront and an honest and decent guy to deal with, which makes all the difference when making an investment decision,” Pal said.

Aluminium Dynamics runs two ART routers, while the latest addition is the 9-metre 10000SX router specifically designed for the boat- and shipbuilding indus try which typically processes a huge amount of aluminium sheets and plates. With a process area of 9200x2500x250mm, the machine features a 16hp 25,000- rpm liquid cooled spindle, an automatic rotary tool changer for 10 tools as well as a 360-degree inkjet head for plate marking and an integrated swarf system.

All these features ensure increased productivity, reduced labour costs, a maximised mate rial yield and great flexibility while maintaining a high quality standard.

“The accuracy, repeatability and ease of use of the ART machines is great and make a huge difference to our business,” says Pal.

“Lead times are very impor tant for us — if the machine does not run for a day, the downtime costs are significant. Contributing to machine up-time is its build quality and perform ance as well as the fact that we do not continually push our machines. We are conscious of the wear factor and work at about 70% of capacity, some times up to 90%.”

ART has developed its CNC routers and plasma cutters through continual feedback and dialogue with past and present customers. Its association and support from a variety of con tractors and support businesses enables ART to respond to their customers’ needs and wish lists in developing its machines. With every machine, the company looks at ways to further stream line the construction process and endeavour at every mission to set a high standard of quality for Australian-made machinery.

One example of the continual development of its machines to increase its customers’ profitabil ity is the integrated swarf trans fer system, eliminating waste.

“The investment in the swarf extraction system and in particu lar the liquid-cooled spindle has made a huge difference, it’s just a ripper. Also, the extra rigidity in the bridge and frames are noticeable — it is just a very good solid machine and it all comes down to ART’s experience and service,” Pal said.

Leave a Reply