As published in Business Daily
Author: Nigel Austin
July 23, 2016
A DREAM by MECHVAC Engineering managing director Byron Burridge to run their own lean manufacturing company building industrial processing plant, air conditioning and fume/dust extraction facilities for major South Australian companies which is proving to be the key to the success of their many customers.
While the company is relatively little known to the mainstream public, its work is so important in some sectors that it is critical to the future economic success of South Australia.
Using knowledge gained from the automotive industry, its strength involves providing lean manufacturing plant layout design for industrial processes such as mineral extraction plants and factory production lines. This provides their customers with significant benefits for improving their bottom line including productivity improvements of up to 50%, inventory reductions up to 80% and factory floor area savings up to 25%.
Mr Burridge said they had identified the mining and energy sector, together with defence, water, manufacturing and food as key opportunities for their engineering firm.
Its client list reads like a who’s who of major South Australian businesses such as Holden, ASC, Oz Minerals, SA Water, Bureau Veritas Minerals, Orora, Viterra and BHP Billiton.
Its key projects involve building a mineral extraction pilot plant for Bureau Veritas Minerals, a signature project for the State’s mining industry, to investigate the feasibility of opening up mines and proposed mine expansions in outback South Australia using new technologies and processes.
Mr Burridge started the business, initially as Burridge Engineers in 2003, when he finished working as a consultant to the Centre for Innovation Business and Manufacturing where he ran a Manufacturing Engineering graduate training program.
They have since transformed the business from its initial focus on mainly supplying the automotive sector until the work started to drop off in about 2012-13 by diversifying into a range of other industries.
“We’ve been preparing for the closure of the automotive sector for years and our largest job this year has been for SA Water and GPA Engineering at the Glenelg Waste Water Plant installing a major ventilation system to improve their environmental health and safety,” he said.
Their work has included significant projects in the food sector for companies such as Coca-Cola Amatil, Dairy Farmers, Orlando Wines, Thomas Foods International, Viterra Australia, Orora Packaging, West End Brewery and Primo Smallgoods.
MECHVAC is currently working across all industries and is planning to further expand and improve its services to its customers. They pride themselves in being certified to the highest quality, environmental and safety standards which provides their customers with the assurance of a high quality, low risk outcome. Their motto is “Engineering Your Success”.
“We’re a bit hostage to the local economy so we are also spreading our wings interstate to get more work,” Mr Burridge said.
“We want to establish ourselves where we can now when the cycle is low, so we are there to ride the wave.”
Its other big advantage is its work as a turnkey contractor, responsible for designing projects and carrying them through from start to finish. This allows their customers to concentrate on their core business while MECHVAC looks after the project.
MECHVAC was highly commended in the South Australian Resources Industry Awards earlier in the year in the Ocean Partners Commercial Achievement Award, the first time it has entered any award.
It employs 11 people at its Pooraka base, but expands by up to 30 to 40 contractors during busy times.
“We tend to keep ourselves small and employ a core group of contractors and subcontractors,” he said. “It’s been hard work, but it’s been good fun.”
Employees: 11 people.
Keys to success:
- Diversification — don’t rely on one industry.
- Engineering expertise.
- Ability to do turnkey work — from start to finish of a project.
- Long-term very loyal workforce and good track record with contractors and suppliers.
- We do what we say we will do. We don’t let anyone down.