High Tech Heat Treatment

Heat Treatment Australia

Heat Treatment Australia has grown from a humble start up into the nation’s largest commercial heat treater. In 1979, the company’s founder recognised a crucial gap in the market and struck out on his own to take advantage of the opportunity…

The risk paid off and Heat Treatment Australia has cornered a key market niche ever since. Still family owned and operated, the Brisbane based success story now has branches in Sydney and Melbourne and serves clients throughout Australia, Asia, the UK and the US. The company’s focus has expanded along with its footprint, and the team is active across multiple industries including aerospace, aviation, defence, medical, rail, automotive, mining and agriculture.

Some of Heat Treatment Australia’s most noteworthy expansion took place in the early 2000s when the company entered the aerospace and defence markets. Industry giant Lockheed Martin and the US government approached Heat Treatment Australia regarding the new work, and the team recognised an ideal opportunity to fill another lucrative market niche. “The owners of the business decided that it was worth the investment to change the direction of the business, knowing that manufacturing in Australia was slowly dying through traditional markets,” recalls Business Development Manager David Faglioni. “We decided to invest in the time, people, money, and accreditations [needed].”

These accreditations include the coveted NADCAP accreditation, which recognises quality processes relating to heat treatment within the aerospace and automotive industries. “We are the only company in Australia in our field to hold a NADCAP accreditation,” Mr Faglioni reports. The international accreditation gives the company a substantial advantage, he adds. “It is recognised by every major aerospace or defence manufacturer in the world,” and allows the team to carry out services without external supervision.

As a result, Heat Treatment Australia has quickly become the facility of choice for the heat treatment of aerospace and defence components for the American, European, and Australian market. Specific services for this industry include vacuum aluminium brazing, vacuum copper brazing, aluminium heat treating, cryogenic treatments, and metallurgical services. The company has stayed active in many other sectors as well, and remains the preferred supplier of heat treatment for a roster of big names including Aurizon, Arrium, Rio Tinto, Bradken, Victa Lawn Care, Harris Corporation, and Australian Aerospace.

Heat Treatment Australia’s leading edge technology has been key to the company’s success. Global competition is tough, especially from developing nations, where labour costs are outrageously low. “You have got to try and compete with technology rather than trying to compete with labour,” Mr Faglioni insists. “The biggest challenge that we have at the moment is the manufacturing environment worldwide. In emerging economies like China and India the wage rate is very, very low, which enables them to produce work at a lower rate than the US, UK, and Australia. The way that we compete with those emerging economies is that we automate as much as we can.” Of course, this means that the company must focus on high tech sectors like aerospace and defence where automation will provide the greatest edge. “We attack markets that are in high end applications, where we know that [developing nations] haven’t quite got the technological advancement to compete,” Mr Faglioni explains. To stay ahead in today’s world, “you really need to work at the high end.”

At Heat Treatment Australia facilities, human hands do little more than load and unload product; machines do virtually everything. This level of automaton is not only cost effective, it also eliminates human error and guarantees quality. “The skillset in our country has been lowered because we are outsourcing everything to emerging nations,” Mr Faglioni points out. By relying on automation, “you ensure that you get it out right the first time,” and bypass the problems that a dwindling workforce presents.

Not surprisingly, Heat Treatment Australia has earned an international reputation for its leading edge technology. “The international aerospace and defence companies that come through here, the one thing that they say is that our technology is some of the best that they have seen anywhere in the world,” Mr Faglioni reports. “And they can’t believe that a medium sized operation in Queensland, Australia can generate such a high level of technological application in our field. What we can do is fifteen or twenty years more advanced than what they have ever seen before.” Furthermore, the team is able to specially tailor this technology to fit the needs of an individual customer. “We design and develop our own processes based on what our customer’s requirements are,” Mr Faglioni reports. “So if there are certain aspects that our customer wants, we will actually build that into our software and our interfacing and our furnace programming.”

Heat Treatment Australia has also just developed a state of the art Customer Information Portal (CIP) to better assist customers. The custom built CIP allows customers to access an array of information around the clock. “A customer can log in to have a look at their own account and get live, up to date information about any job they have with us,” Mr Faglioni explains. “We give them free access through a secure login and they can download all their own information.” The job tracking feature allows for a quick review of order progress or processing operations via a dashboard style interface, all while this information is also sent via regular email alerts. And, once the job is complete, the CIP allows customers to track the shipment during the delivery process. As a part of job tracking, furnace availability is an important aspect of the heat treating process, so furnace schedules and maintenance plans are also published to the CIP so customers can better plan their jobs. Accounting is also a snap with CIP; the system provides downloadable PDF invoices and statements as well as secure online payments. Customers can even schedule their own work using the online order system through the CIP, or request a subscription newsletter that delivers information about upcoming projects to their inbox. The team has spent the last two years developing the new portal and is currently rolling it out at its Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne locations.

Another technological advantage that Heat Treatment Australia enjoys is the ability to automatically regulate energy use. Concern over low cost energy is growing, Mr Faglioni explains, so the company is looking to increase efficiency and lower energy use as much as possible. “Energy around the world is becoming in short supply,” he points out. Moreover, “the switch to green energy is driving up baseline costs. So we have just put in a system that controls the amount of [energy] that our plant calls for at any one time. It switches electricity from one furnace to another so we don’t use too much in one area. We are actually limiting the amount of power that goes to each of our units.” Processes are not affected, only cost, with electricity bills slashed by as much as 30 per cent each month.

Utilising technology has been absolutely essential to staying ahead, Mr Faglioni believes. “In the last 12 months, four of the biggest competitors in Australia have merged into one company and five competitors have decided to shut shop. When you look at a market as small as Australia – with maybe 30 or 35 shops – to have eight or nine of them disappear, it shows what tremendous pressure is on the market at this present moment in time.” Heat Treatment Australia, however, has continued to forge ahead, despite the market pressures. “It’s just due to really good strategy [regarding] our electricity, our staffing, our automation, and the target markets that we have gone after.”

With so much already accomplished in Australia, the team is ready to expand abroad. “We are looking at applying our high end skill base in competitive markets throughout the world. We are looking at putting branches into other countries because we know that the technology that we have run here for the last 25 years is higher than some of the technology that is available throughout the US and the UK. And we feel that, by taking our skill and our knowledge into those markets, we can create a niche for ourselves and actually deliver those services better, cheaper, and faster than what the traditional suppliers are doing now.” Armed with the world’s leading technology, Heat Treatment Australia is more than ready to write the next page in its 35 year success story.

For more information about Heat Treatment Australia, please visit http://www.heat.com.au/.

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