With the GFC biting into both sales and profits, mining companies are looking to reduce costs and are increasingly looking to lower priced suppliers. Decisions need to be made in terms of purchasing from a product developer and manufacturer versus purchasing from a copier with substantial offshore manufacturing.
Some will see their main responsibility as being reduction of direct costs to their company, whilst others will see the erosion of Australian design and manufacture as a major concern. In the midst of this, with an increasing number of copiers of all types, ESS Engineering has maintained sales and market share by constantly improving and developing their range of materials handling products.
Patented innovations to belt cleaner design have seen improvements in cleaner performance, wear life of components, reduced maintenance and most importantly, safety. In making purchasing decisions, the end user needs to be aware not only of the initial purchase price, but of ongoing costs. ESS developments that allow a blade change in minutes from outside of the chute will more than pay for the cost difference of a copiers set of blades, and will eliminate most job hazards as a bonus.
ESS mounting systems encourage full use of blades as opposed to a copiers wear indicator system that encourages a blade change with 35% of the blade remaining. During the period of effect of the GFC, ESS has lodged several new patent applications for product improvements. Development projects in conjunction with major industry bodies, such as TUNRA, have continued.
The rail wagon dust spray system by DuPont at Callide Coal in Queensland, which won awards at both the Australian Mining Prospect Awards and the Australian Bulk Handling Awards, was designed, built, installed and maintained by ESS.
A new slider bar material that has the ability to handle very high belt speeds and constant loading is under development by ESS in conjunction with Dotmar. Whilst some clients have chosen the cheaper alternatives, ESS is buoyed by the number of clients who have recognised the benefits of dealing with an innovative, problem solving company, and have chosen to stay with ESS.
Has the GFC signalled the end of innovation in Australia? Absolutely not according to ESS.