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Wind tower manufacturing drives fabrication growth

Supplier: Fabrication Equipment Supplies By: Graham Smith
30 September, 2011

Old fashioned customer service, a belief in Australian industry, and the booming wind tower manufacturing sector are combining to give one local metalworking firm a competitive advantage.

Mike Dye, founder of Fabrication Equipment Supplies (FES), is seeing wind tower manufacture driving strong growth of his DAVI range of plate rolling machinery.

Clients like Haywards in Tasmania, RPG in South Australia and Major Metals in Queensland are fabricating wind turbines cones with the DAVI MCB 3060 wind tower lines.  According to Dye, these companies are seeing significant production efficiencies as a result.

"DAVI has a patented materials handling system and when you’re rolling 10 or 12 metre long plate which is 50mm thick that’s where you make or lose money -in the materials handling," Dye told IndustrySearch.

"We can roll a wind tower conical section well within 20 minutes."

Worldwide DAVI holds 80 per cent of the wind tower manufacturing sector

Dye has been in the machine tool business since 1997 and has been marketing DAVI since 2002. As well as the from the wind turbine sector, FES also supplies DAVI machines to hot water system company Rheem and Tasmanian ship builder INCAT.

Dye is a passionate advocate for Australia’s manufacturing sector.

"Another side to my company trying to source machinery made in Australia. I’m doing the marketing for Scalen in Perth, who make fabrication machine tools. How many other Australian machine tool manufacturers are there? They’ve all gone broke. I hate seeing our country going down the tube," he said.

Dye says that he supports machine tool peak body AMTIL’s advocacy for Australian manufacturing.

"They’re pushing the bandwagon to try and buy local. So many things are being manufactured overseas and our workers are getting the chop. There’s no confidence in our industry anymore. Manufacturers are not taking on apprentices or investing in capital machinery and that affects all of us," he said.

"With our dollar at 77 to the Euro and about parity with the US dollar it’s hard to export. It is a very tough environment and people are saying it will get tougher still."

Dye says that despite a tough business environment FES has had one of its best trading years.

"I keep my costs down and my company’s strong. Last year was the best year I’ve ever had and 2012 is shaping up to be very strong well as well," Dye said.

Dye believes his focus on service rather than price has allowed the company to prosper in difficult conditions.

"I don’t get involved in Dutch auctions. I sell high-ticket items where there are some margins," he said.

"In my business when the customer rings there is an instant reaction and I’ll work day and night to make sure we come up with the solution they’re looking for. It may not be a DAVI machine, it maybe a machine at a lesser price which I will source for them. I’ll look after them no matter what the enquiry, I treat them like gold."

Dye told Industrysearch that after sales service forms a key part of his business philosophy.

"Parts have to come from overseas and usually a customer is on his own once he’s bought a machine. I say to my customers when you’ve got a problem you ring me," he said.

"When you’ve got a breakdown, like in wind tower production, it’s 10,000 dollars a day minimum. I identify what the problem is, identify what the part needed is and I buy that part that day and it’s sent that day via DHL. I get parts sent from Europe direct to the customer quicker than from say Melbourne to Perth."

Dye said this wouldn’t be possible without a committed OEM.

"DAVI know what I sell and they support me accordingly, and the support is exceptional," he said.