Metal Casting Technologies : Whos who September 2012
30 www.metals.rala.com.au By Gordon Muldrew I n researching this article I looked back on some previous versions. All of them start out how tough the last year has been and that the economic outlook is grim etc. But yet here we still are (well most of us) making castings and hopefully a dollar or two. Henry Ford once quoted “Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching around for what it gets”. New Zealand’s GDP increased in the March quarter by 1.1% with manufacturing up by 1.8% being the largest contributor. So there are some signs of life but the general feeling is that it is a tough environment for New Zealand foundries. Earthquake-related rebuilding is expected to provide substantial impetus to economic activity in coming years, even though recent aftershocks are likely to delay some rebuilding by 1 to 2 quarters. However we don’t expect this to have a big impact on the foundry industry. There have been a couple of closures of smaller foundries with their work being absorbed by other existing foundries. One foundry has recently changed ownership and another larger foundry is currently up for sale. It is an uncertain time for the staff at this particular foundry. We hope that it will be sold and that the new owners can take the foundry forward into the future. Investment in plant and equipment has typically been low but some of the larger foundries are investing in new equipment this year which is good to see. Foundries associated with the extractive/mining industry seem to have better workloads at present than most others. This will of course depend on China and its continued growth. Our export market has continued to be challenging due to the high exchange rate of the New Zealand dollar. CTNZ hosted the annual AFI conference in Queenstown last October/November. Attendance was good with many Australian companies making the effort to visit the conference and one of our top tourist attractions. Feedback from the participants was excellent and all had a good time. We would like to thank all those that attended. We have just held a smaller conference in Taupo with speakers from Australia and local experts presenting papers on a range of topics. Attendance was good with a couple of Australians making it over once again. We encourage CTNZ members to return the favour and attend the upcoming AFI conference in Sydney. The annual AFI conferences always have excellent technical content and it is a good opportunity to network and catch up with old friends. There is no foundry training school in this country and the current level of those involved in formal training is low. For many years we have relied on skilled migrants to top up the trades and tertiary trained technical positions. We have even let some Australians in! The size of our industry makes it difficult to develop training to a higher standard and this isn’t likely to improve. In spite of the difficulties faced by our industry some companies are leveraging their competitive advantage, and they are prospering. In many cases the successful business is high value, niche focused and operating where design and services are bundled in with the castings. We are extraordinarily good at problem solving and devising innovative solutions. Our successful operations are the ones that offer small run, highly technical, high value castings or are foundries owned by business that manufacture their own high value niche product that incorporate castings and hold onto the foundry for strategic reasons. “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill NEW ZEALAND NEW ZEALAND iNVEsTMENT iN PLANT AND EQUiPMENT HAs TYPicALLY BEEN LOW BUT sOME Of THE LARGER fOUNDRiEs ARE iNVEsTiNG iN NEW EQUiPMENT THis YEAR WHicH is GOOD TO sEE.
Whos who September 2011