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Induction melting specialist thrives in tough times

Supplier: Inductotherm
26 April, 2012

Australian manufacturers are now facing more challenges than ever before.

The robust Australian dollar, cheap overseas labour, cheap imports, chronic skills shortages and more recently the global economic crisis has put enormous pressure on many businesses to survive.

To survive, companies must be innovative.

One company that has defied the current trend is Inductotherm, an induction melting and heating technology specialist.

Established in Australia 43 years ago, Inductotherm now employs 49 people at its Melbourne plant including administration staff, sales and design engineers, a full service department and a factory with about 20 tradespeople of various disciplines.

"I am an engineer, I like to build things," Bill Henry, managing director of Inductotherm Group Australia said. 

"Yes, with Australian manufacturing economy sliding downwards and the strong Australian dollar making our costs higher, it can be difficult, but we're here to stay."  

Inductotherm is part of the global Inductotherm Group, which turns over more than $750 million in sales annually and employs over 4000 people worldwide.     

"It is all part of the global yet local approach that has been so successful for us over the years," he said.    

Inductotherm offers a wide range of equipment for the thermal processing industry, including furnaces for melting metals from gold to steel and aluminium to zinc, as well as forging systems, annealing systems, welding systems, brazing (air and vacuum) systems, heat treatment systems, cap sealing systems, pipe heating systems and more.   

The company recently made the furnace for the Perth Mint so that they could make the world's largest coin, weighing more than 1 tonne of pure 24k gold.     

"One of our best products is our high speed ACR copper tube annealing line," Henry said.  

"We specially developed this product here in Australia and we are now exporting this all over the world.

"Almost every air conditioning system uses copper tube, and that copper tube needs to be annealed to form the coils in the air conditioning systems.

"With global warming, the world is getting hotter, and when you start to think of the number of air conditioners currently sold around world, you can see why we are busy with this product at this time."      

Around 20-30 per cent of the company's work is local, with exports throughout the world, mainly to south-east Asia.  

"We have recently exported copper tube annealing lines to Chile and China and furnaces for melting gold and silver to Mexico and the UAE and iron melters to Saudi Arabia," Henry said.

To control our costs Henry says the company imports equipment and sub-assemblies from sister companies in the US, UK, China, India, and even Turkey.  

Inductotherm also offers an outstanding support service: as well as its Melbourne headquarters, Inductotherm has service experts in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Auckland, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Bangkok.

This is a key to the company's huge success, Henry says.  

"It's the support that we can provide that makes our customers confident and is often the key to the project."

Henry says there are not many suppliers in today's market place that really understand their products.

"These are our challenges as we move deeper into the 21st century," he said.   

"In our planning for the future, we know that there will be all these pressures as well the continual pressure to reduce our costs and improve the efficiency and reliability of our products.      

"Our goal is to grow, not just survive, and we are now trying to broaden our market. 

"Induction heating is perfectly controllable to a place, temperature and time – a precision heating process that can be used time and again to minimise energy loss, reduce manufacturing time, and maximise productivity.    

"We find new applications almost every day, and are willing to talk to anyone who needs some sort of thermal processing."