Protecting Your Assets

B&R Enclosures

The company has built up a strong rapport with customers for reliability, quality and knowledge which has enabled B&R Enclosures to be top of the Australian league in the business of electrical enclosures, switchboard building systems, racks and cabinets.

Mining and infrastructure, data and ICT infrastructure, residential and commercial buildings all depend on tough, secure and weatherproof enclosures supplied by B&R. Marketing Manager Ben Bridges explains that, “Our core business is recognising where enclosure solutions are required and then being able to develop, in consultation with customers, solutions that meet or exceed expectations.” The company spends time talking to customers to establish what their needs are and what they are looking to achieve. “We are always prioritising communication with our customers to help us unpack the problem and design great solutions.”

Indeed, there are a number of factors to consider, including different climatic conditions to which the enclosure will be subjected, such as how humidity may affect the cooling or heating of the equipment inside the enclosure. These variables are carefully studied to ensure reliability and failure-proof operation over many years. Very often there is an additional requirement to not only protect the equipment inside against failure but also ensuring the enclosure cannot be broken into, vandalised or removed.

Enclosures, often containing sensitive monitoring equipment with a narrow temperature tolerance, are required to be installed in exposed places where its protective enclosure might be subjected to extremes not only of radiating heat and cyclones but other tough environmental conditions.

B&R can develop customised designs for any specific application, but as Ben says, part of the company’s unique product offer is its wealth of experience. Founded as far back as 1955, B&R is proudly Australian, with a number of family members still working in the business which employs nearly 400 staff. Present in the mining, commercial, residential, data and hazardous infrastructure sectors for many years, B&R has developed extensive knowledge of specific applications, making sure their products comply with all standards and regulations specified by supplying authorities.

With its historic foundations in Adelaide, growth has seen the company broaden its capability to include a state of the art manufacturing facility in Brisbane and sales locations across Australia. Operating out of Riverwood, a division within B&R specialise in developing solutions for hazardous area environments. In addition, B&R has a manufacturing facility in Suzhou, near Shanghai in China which a manufactures a small proportion of total product output. As an important global sourcing division, B&R actively ensures that all products are quality controlled but is still able to deliver maximum price-competitiveness for all manner of components.

Ben explains that B&R is not looking to simply ‘move offshore’ but to remain competitive when the company’s rivalry includes many multinational organisations which compete on foreign prices. “If we were not investing in protecting our position in these markets we would run the danger of being overrun by multinational organisations on our commodity lines that provide us with a really good presence in some of our core channels of operation,” he explains. Broadening the supply base also gives rise to many more opportunities outside the traditional supply channel.

Of course there are strategic considerations that need to be taken into account regarding labour and distribution costs of exporting out of Australia. To overcome such a challenge, Ben suggests “we need to have an international presence to be able to explore international sales channels as well.” Much thought and analysis goes into evaluating which products are better manufactured in China, he adds. “Only a small percentage of our total product offering is manufactured in China while we want to make sure that new customised products requiring close monitoring are designed and manufactured in Australia.”

Wherever they are manufactured, B&R knows perfectly well that short lead times are crucial to customers. Time is of the essence for nearly all of its clients. Indeed, “the decision-making process in relation to project execution is quite detailed and when a decision is made to go ahead, people want to reap the benefits in the shortest amount of time.”

Lead times in this category of electrical services are short even though full specifications are often not available until a late stage in a project. “Having stock available where lead time is critical is a condition we understand and achieve by having warehouses across the country, with stock ready to service orders on an urgent basis,” says Ben. Many variables are often in play until the late stages of a project and it may not be possible to finalise the design any earlier, so B&R’s manufacturing facilities remain as flexible and responsive as possible to produce highly customised work as quickly as the client needs it. “We respect and understand what is required for the job and we are flexible as to how we can develop different solutions. But we always ensure we make product that is fit for purpose.”

B&R Ex Systems for hazardous areas have been developed with the mining and resource industries in mind, and are relied upon to meet precise safety standards. The equipment specifically designed to suit hazardous locations includes hazardous area lighting such as, fluorescent, LED, well glass, emergency exit, tank inspection and floodlights.

In addition to its hazardous-area products, B&R’s main ranges include general purpose enclosures designed to suit a variety of applications. These are generally wall mountable and manufactured from powder-coated steel, carbon steel, 316 stainless steel, or plastic. B&R also offers special purpose enclosures which are designed to meet the specific needs of particular applications.

Multiple application enclosure systems are also available such as server racks, wall and floor mounted cabinets, secure and IP rated enclosures for both network and server applications. These all come with a wide variety of accessories so that they can be configured to suit the specifics of an application. Often enclosures can also require additional equipment for installation, maintenance or correct running, so B&R provides climate control, locks, touch up paint and other critical components. Finally, the B&R domestic and commercial range is designed for non-industrial applications, typically meter boxes for the domestic application and group metering enclosures for commercial applications.

As these sectors grow and change, B&R wants to ensure the B&R brand is right alongside. Strategic branding developments are being focussed on which will enable the business to leverage its strengths within specific markets. This year the residential and commercial building product line will be sold through selling channels managed by the B&R brand. Most importantly, B&R will be focussed on continuing to build relationships with customers both within Australia and internationally.

While the existing brandmark has carried through strong family orientated values over the last couple of decades, it was recognised that B&R would need to take on a fresh approach that would be capable of standing tall in “all the different markets and sectors we operate within now and in the coming years,” according to Ben. More than just cosmetic changes, the rejuvenation of the brand will be combined with internal strategies to help B&R compete for and win projects, such as those that are issued in Australia but with foreign ownership and international involvement. “The supply opportunities and challenges that we are confronted with also lead us to need a better presence in international segments,” Ben explains. “The new branding came about because we want our business to evolve and better represent the direction we are travelling in.”

All the core values, however, will remain. “We are still at heart an Australian manufacturing organisation, still family owned and family run.”

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June 19, 2018, 10:38 AM AEST