The city of Burnie, located in northern Tasmania, has taken a few blows in recent years. The local manufacturing industry has shed many jobs due to offshore moves and a downturn in forestry and mining activity, which has severely impacted the region. In the mean-time, aquaculture (marine farming) has expanded rapidly in Tasmania since the 1990’s and is now one of the State's major industries.
A Burnie based business is thriving on the transition to manufacturing for aquaculture.
General Manager Lindsay Malley (right) and CNC Machinist Stephen McLaren (left) in front of one of two recent additions to Maltec's Mazak fleet, the Quick Turn 200MY.
“Once we knew what parts were required by our prospective customer, we were able to increase our competitive advantage by relying on John Hart to help us create a world class solution with the most efficient machines for the task. Once the installation and training had been completed by John Hart, we were able to jump straight into the production and dispatch parts.”
Locally owned and operated, Maltec Engineering is a family business providing cutting-edge engineering solutions for clients across multiple industries including mining, construction, forestry, agriculture and aquaculture in both Australian and international markets since 2001.
The company’s modern workshop provides a full range of services, including CNC and manual machining, fabrication, profile cutting, robot welding, sandblasting and painting, utilising both lean and advanced manufacturing principles.
Maltec's General Manager, Lindsay Malley, identified improved growth opportunities in manufacturing for the aquaculture sector three years ago through his involvement in a local industry networking group, where he was invited to submit a tender to a Tasmanian based aquaculture company looking to manufacture their own components due to problems they suffered with the quality of imported parts.
The parts required by the customer are for use in extremely corrosive environments and require machining to high tolerances. Drive shafts, mounts and enclosures made from a mix of plastics, stainless steels and aluminium form the main components of the final assembly.
Lindsay commented: “Once we knew what parts were required by our prospective customer, we were able to increase our competitive advantage by relying on John Hart to help us create a world class solution with the most efficient machines for the task. Once the installation and training had been completed by John Hart, we were able to jump straight into the production and dispatch parts.”
Maltec Engineering invested in two new Mazak machines.
The Mazak Variaxis i-500, a 5-axis machining center designed for multi-surface machining, delivering reduced in-process time, high accuracy and unrivalled machine ergonomics. It features a max spindle speed of 18,000 rpm and a table size of Ø500mm. The high speed spindle and an optional pallet changer deliver faster material removal and reduce part changeover times.
Although Maltec already have two Variaxis 730 BT50 machines on the workshop floor, it was decided that a smaller BT40 machine would be far more efficient in machining these smaller components in the large quantities required for each delivery.
The Mazak Quick Turn 200MY CNC turning center with Multi-Tasking capability brings together advanced technology, productivity and value to deliver exceptional performance. As an MY configuration, the machine features milling capability and Y-axis functionality along with a standard through-hole chuck package, and integral turning spindle motor to process a wide range of parts in a single set-up.
The Y axis functionality has reduced the number of machining operations needed to make a single part, and increased machine utilisation.
Both new machines have provided an increase in efficient manufacturing and have accelerated rates of production for complex parts in a single set-up, allowing Maltec Engineering to support an ever-expanding demand to supply growing orders to strict delivery schedules. The company runs two shifts to keep up with the customer demand for parts.
Lindsay added: “Utilising the full potential of both these machines has helped us to realise our production goals whilst maintaining adequate staffing levels to cover both shifts. By investing in quality machinery, we have ensured that we will have maximum machine production availability both now and into the future.”
Today the shop boasts 9 Mazaks, including the Mazak VTC 200B that the business started with in 2001.
Lindsay explained: “Two of the main reasons we started with Mazak back in 2001 was the ease-of-use and the reliability of these machines. This is still the case today. The controllers are quick to learn and easy to use which has always made training new users an easy task. It also allows us to move our operators around to other Mazak machines as required, as they are quickly able to understand and operate the other types of machines at other stations.”
Lindsay cited another important benefit: “Moving programs from the older machines to the newer machines is easily achieved. This allows us to make full use of the improved features on the newer machines and reduces the need to completely reprogram these jobs without wasting valuable time and resources.”
When asked about the relationship with John Hart, Lindsay responded: “Operating from Tasmania can sometimes be frustrating with Bass Straight being an obstacle for out-going goods and also for receiving timely service. This has never been an issue in our 18 year relationship with the John Hart team. Be it via phone or in person, they have always provided prompt and knowledgeable service from our first machine purchase and installation, right up to our last.”
Maltec Engineering, Burnie Tasmania.