Bulk handling: How local sourcing reduces downtime

Australia appears to have disproportionately high requirements in materials handling systems compared to other, more populated countries.

Uninterrupted supply is extremely important. One of the more common factors negatively impacting bulk materials handling operations is downtime.

The fear of downtime is not new. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars per hour, such is the large scale of the operations.

But where are all these components, systems and engineered solutions coming from?

This question is now being given more media time. Various industrial groups in Australia have considered how we operate our bulk handling and have determined the one specific area in which we can grow to help ourselves is in ensuring our bulk materials handling technology is sourced domestically.

This is not to suggest that there is anything wrong with imported technology. The overriding factor is that imported technology can take time to reach us and may not have direct technical representation for implementation, thereby adding to lost time in production.

One local company heavily involved in expanding the local technology supply chain for bulk materials handling in Australia is Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd (ICA).

Considering ICA supplies to mines and quarries, it has been able to expand successfully due to the demands of those industries for a complete local supplier of turnkey projects.

Managing director of ICA, Don Erskine, said it had been the push to develop in-house as well as call in as many viable technologies from the supply chain that had consolidated the domestic growth.

?It?s no accident that our company has grown with the influence of the global market on Australian business,? said Mr Erskine.

?Most Australian industries that use bulk materials handling equipment have found that our place in the global market is one for niche quantity supply. But in world terms, these quantities are too small for profit for big countries such as China.

?As a materials handling specialist, we knew the time was right to identify all viable technologies that serve the bulk handling sector and equip ourselves with a design team that can incorporate those technologies and deliver turnkey projects as required.

?The overriding factor is that we have grown our business significantly. By identifying a technology base which wasn?t afforded due respect, we have sold those technologies domestically, and for the first time, given Australian industries the option of sourcing complete solutions from here rather than waiting on imported solutions.

?The supply chain for bulk materials handling always existed here, it was just never properly utilised. Taking nothing away from overseas suppliers, the biggest problem they face is time.

?Our companies just cannot afford to wait until solutions are shipped in. They cannot expect consultants to drop everything and come to their aid in a hurry. And they definitely cannot function properly if the technical support line is at a distance, not at the plant itself.?

Mr Erskine believes the direct involvement of companies such as ICA is cutting down delivery times for bulk materials handling solutions. Mines and quarries, it has been found, are to some extent moving away from fixed handling systems and, wherever possible, implementing mobile or relocatable technology for faster productivity.

?It is beneficial to the Australian economy that local companies can engineer all types of materials handling solutions and still rely on second and third tier technology suppliers to help bring about anything that is required,? said Mr Erskine.

?In an ironic development, the onset of the global market has shown us that the ideal way to best serve Australia with bulk handling solutions cost effectively is to source domestically.

?It is providing the best timeframes, by far the most competitive prices, and it links the end user directly with the company that actually supplies solutions so the technical support will always be at a premium.?

Source: Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd

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