When leading sheet metal company Interfab was approached by Clive Wilson Switchgear to re-design and produce fifty new external electrical control kiosk enclosures located at various Sydney Water sewerage pumping stations, the company was faced with a new design and manufacturing challenge.
“Sydney Water external electrical control kiosks had traditionally been extremely labour intensive to produce. They were a custom designed, hand-made exercise that could take around 20 weeks – just for one item. Now, we had fifty to produce in as much time – it was a tall order but one which we were keen to tackle,” said Rob Schild, general manager, Interfab.
One hundred years of an expanding population coupled with changing environmental considerations, had lead to a rapid increase in the number of Sydney’s sewerage pumping stations.
The problem was that over the years, they were each different in the way they operated and there were more than 600 different types, all ages and styles, each requiring specialist maintenance.
“The brief was to standardize the kiosks so that they were easier to manufacture, maintain, manage, fault-find and ultimately, reduce life cycle costs,” said Kevin Mahoney, managing director Clive Wilson Switchgear.
Crucial to the job was ensuring that the external kiosk enclosures that housed the electrical control equipment could be manufactured to meet the strict criteria required.
“We approached Interfab because we needed a professional, solutions lead team that were committed to high quality and that had the know-how and machinery to deliver,” said Mr Mahoney.
“The Interfab team faced a big design challenge - we needed to work out a way to manufacture the enclosures on a scale that had never been accomplished before. The modular design had to encompass the range of sizes required and maintain the complete standardization of each item,” said Rob Schild.
Each enclosure was assembled from up to 100 individual components and hardware items. All required to fit together to form one integrated switch board enclosure. Additionally, the cabinets had to be able to stand up to Sydney’s variable weather conditions and operate as successfully at 5°C as it did at 45°C.
Aesthetics, serviceability, public security and vandalism were also factors that influenced the enclosure design.
“We sat down with Interfab’s designers and senior management, who were involved from the beginning. They made valuable recommendations as to the type of materials used, the finish adopted and the manufacturing requirements,” said Kevin Mahoney.
The result was that 50 units were delivered on time to Sydney Water. Some seven years later, more than 800 units have been produced.
The design has proved resilient and cost effective and is still keeping pace with the growing needs of Sydney’s expanding population.
“I have dealt with sheet metal manufacturers for over 30 years and Interfab has the highest quality standards I have ever met. They kept striving for the highest quality to ensure they could meet our brief. Their design-lead solution was innovation in action and, in the end, they helped us do our job better. Sydney Water has remained a client of Interfab for more than 10 years,” said Mr Mahoney.