New Articles

Wine is Key to Australian Auto Parts Manufacturer’s Diversification

Australian auto parts manufacturer diversified its shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Wine is Key to Australian Auto Parts Manufacturer’s Diversification

Conma Industries has made components for the car industry for 35 years but as the Australian industry winds down it has had to diversify.

It began making parts used to repair metal vineyard trellis posts for another Adelaide company Ocvitti about six years ago. The products have enjoyed success in California following a ban on toxic wooden vineyard posts there in 2000.

However, the introduction in 2015 of Ocloc trellis posts and entire vineyard systems designed for Australian vineyards has seen business boom.

Conma Industries General Manager Richard Rebbeck said he expected vineyard products to soon become the largest part of the business. He said although there was still demand for after market car components the new car component side of the company was almost finished.

“It used to be the biggest part of our business but over time Mitsubishi closed and then Ford went last year and production is winding down at Toyota and Holden so it’s been drying up over a period of time,” Rebbeck said.

Conma Industries has also diversified into other industries such as the manufacture of heat exchangers for air conditioning units and metal pressings for rural pipefittings.

“It’s always a challenge, you’ve just got to get out there and be known as a good supplier and innovative and people come and talk to you,” Rebbeck said. “The more these products get out in the field the more people see them and want them.”

This week the company received a $328,700 grant from the South Australian Government’s Automotive Supplier Diversification Program to progress its diversification into the wine sector.

Conma will use the funding to help manufacture specialized tooling and to modernize and expand machinery to develop additional products that will enhance the Ocloc steel trellis system range and support further growth in the horticultural market.

The company manufactured about 100,000 posts in the past year and will have the capacity to produce up to 250,000 posts next year. The metal posts can be used to replace broken treated pine posts, of which there are millions in Australia every year, or be used as a cheaper, more durable alternative to the traditional toxic wooden posts when establishing new vineyards.

Design features include soft wire holes to stop wire from wearing, high-tensile steel and a zinc-aluminum alloy coating, Galfan, which gives the posts twice the lifespan as galvanized steel.

Ocvitti has more than 200 Australian vineyards on its books and also has a company in California manufacturing its products under license for the American market.

Hydroflex device reduces fuel consumption when transporting shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Fuel Saving Device to Cut Transportation Costs

A device to cut fuel use by 10 to 15 percent while reducing the exhaust emissions of internal combustion engines will be targeted at the mining and transport industries.

Hydroflex is preparing for final trials of its version one hydrogen-based fuel reduction system in South Australia ahead of a commercial launch.

The systems can be fitted to any internal combustion diesel or gasoline engine ranging in size from a car to a ship.

The company is initially focusing on large engines such as generators on mining sites, long-haul trucks, ships, and diesel trains because they represent the biggest opportunities in terms of fuel savings and emission reductions. Independent testing will begin on generators for the mining industry and trucks for the transport industry in the coming weeks. The first commercial units are expected to be available for sale before the end of the year.

Hydroflex, formerly known as Hydrogen Power Systems, relocated from San Diego, California, to the Tonsley Innovation Hub in the South Australian capital Adelaide in April.

Chief Technology Officer and inventor Richard Connors has been working on the device for a decade.

He said unlike catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters that treated emissions “after the fact,” this device used hydrogen and oxygen to increase the amount of fuel burnt in the combustion process.

“We have a device that is cost effective and delivers value to the bottom line of the customer and at the same time reduces all seven types of pollution that normally come out of the back end of an exhaust pipe – we positively reduce all of them at different ratios,” Connors said.

The device includes a 1.5-liter tank of water with an electrolyte in it. A small voltage of electricity is applied to the water to initiate electrolysis that creates hydrogen and oxygen vapor. The vapor is then piped through a standard rubber hose to the front of the air filter where it is combined with normal air to produce a hydrogen enhanced combustion process.

“So our hydrogen and oxygen is not a fuel, it is an accelerant that is consumed in the process and thereby because it moves the flame front faster it burns more of the fuel leading to more power and less pollution,” Connors said. “To run this thing all they have to do is add 1.5 liters of ordinary tap water every 2000 km.”

Connors said previous hydrogen systems relied on pressurized gas cylinders, needed operator intervention and had safety issues requiring certification.

The Hydroflex device has been vetted by government officials and does not need any special approvals before being fitted to an engine.

Pricing will be dependent on the size of the engine and the level of after sales support required, but payback periods would average about 12 months for most engines. The reduction in carbon emissions could also make companies eligible for carbon credits. The device can be moved from one vehicle to another and updated as new versions are developed.

Connors said each device had an expected life of at least five years. “If a part wears out you put another part in,” he said. “If it’s properly maintained it can last as long as your truck and then some.”

Hydroflex Chief Operator Officer Ron Basset said payback times would also depend on vehicle usage. “A truck driving from Adelaide to Melbourne goes through $100,000 a year in diesel so even at a 10 per cent saving that’s $10,000 a year,” he said. “What we want to do initially is work very closely with two or three companies in the mining and transport industries.”

Hydroflex received positive feedback when it launched its promotional video was launched at Entrepreneur’s Week in Adelaide this month. “The benefit of our system is that if something goes wrong for whatever reason, the only thing that happens is the motor continues to run normally, it just doesn’t get the extra fuel savings,” said Basset. “A lot of the other technologies out there are years away from commercialization, this is ready now and that’s the most exciting thing about this project.”

Version one is for vehicles manufactured up to 2010. Version two, designed for more modern engines, is about three months away.

“Then we will see version three in 18 to 24 months, which will fit in everyone’s car and we envisage that people will be able to buy it and get it installed for between $300 and $400 that’s our target,” Basset said.

The company is looking to raise up to $750,000 in capital in the next month or so to help accelerate the commercialization.

Simulation hub in South Australia helps manufactuers advance, allowing them to ship more export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Linking Into the Global Supply Chain

A simulation hub to help Asia-Pacific businesses break into the global supply chain has launched in South Australia.

In a partnership between global advanced manufacturing giant Siemens, the South Australian government, and Simulation Australasia, the hub will deliver advanced system simulation software training to companies and universities.

“There is an understanding that industry, particularly manufacturing, require assistance to transition from traditional to advanced,” Simulation Australasia chief executive John Stewart said. “The problem has been that there was no training to assist in this transformation. The solution was to develop a training package that is tailored to assist manufacturing in understanding what they are actually capable of and linking them into the global supply chain.”

Stewart said the training would initially target companies struggling to coming out of the defunct car manufacturing business but was available to anyone in the Asia Pacific region as long as the training was delivered in South Australia.

He said virtual and constructive simulations could be used to create prototypes quickly and cheaply and help realize savings.

“We’re using simulation as a productivity tool for economic development,” Stewart said. “In manufacturing, a prototype might cost you $500,000. The simulation tool can let you rapidly prototype something for a fraction of the cost. You can test, retest and get it ready for market without any of the expense you would have previously had and that’s part of the advanced manufacturing process.”

The three-day training course educates companies about the possibilities of the Siemens simulation software to create prototypes, quickly and cheaply, and use modelling to make efficiency savings.

“We might say to a mining company ‘we can load your ships faster’ and we’ll prove it to them that by using the simulation software they can load that ship so much faster,” Stewart said. “By making tiny tweaks they can increase their productivity by massive amounts.”

The South Australian Government contributed $250,000 to help establish the hub. The approximate value of the 10 Siemens LMS technology licenses and support is in excess of $2.7 million.

“It’s the only training package in Australia designed to give them a rapid hand up into the global supply chain,” Stewart said. “We want to bring organizations in from overseas and train them here. We can bring people in from anywhere around the world.”

Siemens Limited chief executive officer Jeff Connolly said the partnership would prepare industry to participate in global supply chains. “Access to advanced system simulation software,” he said, “means that South Australian companies can now apply their ingenuity and knowhow using globally recognized tools to bring their ideas to life and fully simulate and test them in a virtual world.”