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Hi-Tech Impresses Engineers

Hi-Tech Impresses Engineers

The age of smart fabrication is well upon us as previously covered with the Maintenance Engineering Society (MESNZ) network evenings as we stride across the regions but the opportunity to bring the Kaeser Compressors Network Evening series to industry leading Hi-Tech Metals in East Tamaki was an opportunity to understand a little bit more about how this industry sector is coping with its growth pains.

Edan and Michelle Newell created Hi-Tech Metals in 2005 based on an ethos of quality machines, quality staff and fast turnaround times. The investment in single brand capital plant (Omada) is a reflection of this commitment and the range of fibre cutting, laser cutting and press brake plant in operation on the night certainly impressed the turnout of attendees. The speed of the flat sheet fibre laser was seriously impressive with its high speed linear axis drives, while the accuracy, (as experienced by the attendees with their own personalised trinkets), was breath taking.

Hi-Techs clients appreciate the quality and speed of delivery and the knock on effect of the ensuing market demand is a need to run the plant on a shift basis. This is where the growing pains of this industry become evident; skilled staff and raw materials supply.

The inability of the local market to supply sheet stock at the quality and delivery times required in this fast moving flexible market result in Hi-Tech having to hold higher than desired stock levels and having to carefully police the quality standards. As Edan puts it “We cannot supply high quality finished components when some clown has left boot prints across the sheet.” Hi-Tech is not alone in satisfaction issues with the local steel suppliers with MESNZ receiving similar complaints about one company right across the country.

The skills shortage is a resounding echo of every facility (and trade) MESNZ has visited in the whole of New Zealand. There is a shortage in incoming apprentices; absolutely no training in relevant smart skills and the limited options available to businesses are unorganised.

Whatever the reasons, the universal frustration experienced by these operations suggests that no-one has their hands on the steering wheel at a time when these smart companies are laying the foundation for our future. What do arise from these situations are reactive solutions, so companies like Hi-Tech hone employment and core training skills well beyond their expectations and alternative and more efficient steel supply companies that understand the market eventually outpace the current dinosaurs. It does however remain frustrating to see such potential hampered by poor leadership.

The MESNZ Kaeser Compressor Network Evening series are hosted to showcase local operations and provide networking opportunities for engineers across all regions of New Zealand. The evenings offer the opportunity to take a look at the host operation and discuss common issues and solutions in a relaxed after work environment. Open to interested members of the public, the nights are well patronised. There is no cost to attend and non-MESNZ can attend up to 2 meetings. Readers can find the latest schedule by going to http://www.mesnz.org.nz/activities/network-evenings/

The Maintenance Engineering Society is active across New Zealand, providing opportunities for maintenance engineers and manufacturing operations to network and share innovations and experiences; both at a national level at their annual national conference or at these regional events. The 2018 National Maintenance Engineering Conference will be held at the Energy Events Centre, Rotorua on November 13-15

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