World-first gas heater wins top award

SEELEY International won this year's Endeavour Award for Consumer Trade Product of the Year sponsored by Blackwoods for its 'world-first' Braemar 6 Star Ducted Gas Heating Range, which was launched earlier this year.

The new heaters are the highest rating available with the lowest costs associated. They also have zone heating capability and a corrosion-resistant heat exchanger.

Frank Seeley, founder and chairman of Seeley International was very excited about winning the award saying "it's wonderful, it's fantastic, it's even better than that but words fail me."

Seeley International has two manufacturing plants in Australia, Lonsdale in South Australia and Albury in NSW, and employs more than 300 staff. Its products are market leaders in energy efficiency with the Braemar range Australia's most efficient range of ducted gas heaters. 

All Braemar heaters also feature the InShot Burner, combustion inducer fan, electronic ignition, Home/Away setting, heat exchanger, multi-level safety controls as standard and flexible installation. 

In 2009, the Braemar's ducted gas heating range hit 5.6 stars. However, the company did not stop there and continued to invest in product development to improve the energy efficiency of the ducted gas heating range.
The engineering team faced many challenges including the design and optimisation of the control system to achieve the correct balance of gas input, combustion air flow and burner stability to achieve optimum efficiency over a much wider modulating range than other ducted gas heaters on the market.

The team overcame these issues, and more, and now has the world's first six star heaters, however, Seeley is encouraging his team to create even better products.

"When we achieved the six stars, I said to the guys now go back and make a seven star heater, so the challenge is there."

Seeley International has a strong focus on research and development, investing more than $4m annually. This ensures it meets its corporate vision – "to lead the world in creating climate control solutions which continue to be highly innovative, of premium quality and inspirational in their delivery of energy-efficiency". 

Braemar ducted gas heating offers two zoning options: standard zoning and Spectrolink Multizone zoning, which allows users to have different temperatures, and different user-programmed automatic operating times, in each zone. All Braemar heaters also feature the InShot Burner, combustion inducer fan, electronic ignition, Home/Away setting, heat exchanger, multi-level safety controls as standard and flexible installation.

According to Seeley, the company relies on continuous innovation and being the first to market as the company's competitive advantage over companies that manufacture products overseas with lower labour costs and poorer quality.

"Each extra star rating represents a 10 to 15% drop in running costs which shows the savings that can be made through the new Braemar range which is especially important with the increase of electricity prices.

"The fact is, it is the most energy efficient product in the world. And with the cost of energy going through the roof, couple that with what our government is doing is going to take prices higher and higher, no wonder Australians are concerned.

"But here we have a product that will out perform anything in the world in terms of energy efficiency. It has to be a plus for Australia and for all those who buy it," he said.

Seeley was moved by Dick Warburton's keynote speech at the start of the Awards ceremony and believes that Australian manufacturing needs to keep creating better ways of doing things in order to survive the current tough climate.

"I appreciated what Dick Warburton had to say, he's right as always. I am also passionate believer in Australian manufacturing." 

"I believe that we can compete with anybody in the world if we do just two things; we've got to innovate like crazy as if there is no tomorrow, and we have to automate.

"And ladies and gentleman if we've got the guts to do those things really well and keep on doing them we can be there," Seeley said.

Armstrong Worldwide won the highly commended award in this category for its Eco-Terazz End-of-life tile. The development of Eco-Terrazz with 60% recycled content, has saved thousands of tonnes of material from landfill, as well as creating a new product for valuable export and local markets.

Image: Manufacturers' Monthly Anthony Head (left) congratulates Frank Seeley on winning the Award.