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Episode 31 of the Australian Power Transmission Podcast
Episode 31 of the Australian Power Transmission Podcast
In this episode
It’s been a while – AGAIN – so I’ll try to catch up with the latest news in power transmission
Thank you for tuning in to episode 31 of the Australian Power Transmission Podcast, where it is Monday, July 1st, 2013. You are listening to Damian Harris - who is absolutely freezing – coming to you from Melbourne, Victoria.
Before we get started, if you would like to contact the show, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow on twitter, @ozptpodcast. I’ve got the world’s WORST facebook page, I just have to get it ratified by the Guinness Book of Records to make it official. If you would like to check it out before it gets any better, be my guest.
Well, the name of the show is the Australian Power Transmission Podcast, so let’s see what’s been going on in the last little while.
*Australian government ministries have had a full switcheroo, following the leadership spill that saw Prime Minister Juilia Gillard finally ousted by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who had been agitating around the edges for a while.
Prime Minister Rudd has his favourites who have made their make their way back into senior portfolios, with supporters of former Prime Minister Gillard finding new seats on the backbench. Most of them have already tendered their resignations and a couple of major players have stated they are quitting politics entirely at the coming federal election. In this list, include Greg Combet, the former minister for everything to do with the carbon tax and industry.
Senator Kim Carr has thrown the innovation and industry cape back on, and takes science, research and higher education with him. Mark Butler in the minister for climate change and Richard Marles is the new minister for trade.
Treasurer and Deputy Leader Wayne Swan is also gone, with Chris Bowen taking over as Treasurer, whilst Craig Emerson’s time is also over. No matter who takes over what role, all ministries will be in more-or-less ‘caretaker mode’ until the election.
*The ABB board has been quick to replace outgoing CEO Joe Hogan, announcing Ulrich Spiesshofer as the new person in charge. Spiesshofer will take up his new post on September 15th, and comes to the top position from ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion division, being primarily responsible for the synergisation of Baldor into the ABB fold.
ABB Chairman Hubertus von Grünberg is on the record as always looking to promote from within. The press release announcing the Speisshofer appointment quotes von Grünberg... “ABB has developed a strong bench of talent: I am extremely pleased that the new CEO comes from within the company, and brings a solid track record and deep knowledge of the portfolio.” Although, I’m guessing he said it with a Swiss-German accent.
Spiesshofer is well-credentialed, having spent 11 years at AT Kearney as a consultant and a fair bit of time at the University of Stuttgart along the way, gaining an MBA and PhD in Economics.
*On the Mergers and Acquisitions front, ABB has agreed to buy Dynamotive, of Coalville, in the Midlands of the UK, adding its 40 staff to the Drives and Controls strategic business unit.
Dynamotive was founded in 1998, focusing on value-added engineering services to the automotive, industrial and marine sectors. The purchase will add strength to the total offering ABB has in the sector.
From the ‘about us’ on the Dynamotive website, I can tell you that their slogan is “Technology, People and Processes = High Value Low risk solutions”. Well, you guys will be dropping that one soon enough, to be replaced by ABB’s “Power and productivity for a better world”. I think I need to come up with a motto for the Australian Power Transmission Podcast.
*And finally, whilst I’m still talking about ABB, they have come up with a new app and website tool that allows users to identify the differing requirements for minimum energy performance standards in electric motors from different international jurisdictions. It’s not bad on the iPad, having given it a try, so full kudos to any company that not only keeps up with technology but uses it to advantage.
*The Timken Company has been in the news a fair bit over the past month or so, for a variety of reasons. Probably most significant is the fall in revenue for the first quarter of 2013, by a staggering 23% year-on-year. The reductions reflect a softening in demand in oil and gas and industrial distribution.
The second reason Timken has been in the news is because of the acquisition of Standard Machine, a gearbox manufacturer from Saskatoon. Standard Machine has 125 on its payroll and recorded revenues of $31 million in 2012. The main product lines are open gears and large reducers for the mining industry.
Standard Machine started in 1967, got into gear manufacturing in 1981, and purchased Hamilton Gear in 1985, a founding member of the American Gear Manufacturers Association.
Timken has also earned a position on Ethisphere Institute's World's Most Ethical Companies list, the third such nod since 2010. Ethispehere named 145 on the list for 2013, which honours consistent demonstration of integrity in business practices and initiatives.
*The president of Boeing Australia & South Pacific, Ian Thomas, has spoken in defence of automotive industry protection in his role as the head of the Prime Minister’s Manufacturing Leaders Group. Speaking back in April – before the decision by Ford Australia to cease its local operations in 2016 – Thomas pointed to the fact that many of the technologies, suppliers, capital and ecosystem of the automotive industry are shared with the aviation industry, and its perceived connection with innovation.
The Ford decision obviously took a bit of wind out of the sails of Thomas’ statement, but since making it and the references to the Australian dollar trading at 105 US cents, the dollar has lessened in value by 15 percent and now hovers around the 90 cent mark, with more to come.
In almost the same breath, Boeing is investing $1 billion in South Carolina, establishing an ICT hub that will employ 1000 and expanding 787 production facilities, where another 1000 will pick up a pay cheque. My guess is a fair swag of them will be employed in battery inspection roles.
As usual, there is a small amount of state government seeding money, which is rumoured to run at around 10% of the total investment.
*Taking a quick journey up the I-95 – see, who says I don’t pay attention – from South Carolina to Virginia, and the home of Sumitomo, where president and CEO Ron Smith opened the doors a couple of months ago to show everyone how good their expansion efforts have been.
I think it’s worth quoting the press release directly for the next bit. “Sumitomo has invested nearly $6 million in brand new state-of-the-art machine tools. For the first time in over 14 years, we are cutting gears right here in Chesapeake, Virginia! I mean no disrespect when I say this, but let China make stuff for China. The Bevel Buddybox is now made in the United States of America!”
I can only ask, where were they made before? It’s probably not smart business to go caning your own older models.
*Brevini booked the Park Royal in Parramatta for a two day junket over May 14 and 15, disguised as the Brevini Heavy Duty Mining and Global Customers Conference. Noteworthy attendees included Renato Brevini, president and CEO of the worldwide Brevini Group and company director Nazarro Paroli, as well as a host of Brevini sales people from across the globe.
Brevini has been in Australia for 20 years.
*Tsubaki has announced a new range of Troi Drive and Worm Power Drive reducers, which utilise the company’s design philosophy of economy and ecology. The under-driven (and some would argue, ugly) units go all the way to 3600:1 in double-reduction form, with capacities up to 5700Nm for Worm Power Drive.
The Troi Drive series is for bigger units, with the name coming from the design’s usage of troidal drum-style worm gearing. Output torques range from 1,100Nm up to 47,000Nm, and Tsubaki claims that the troidal design enable smaller units to be specced in to higher-capacity applications.
*GAM Gear has announced the release of the 2013 GAM catalogue; 102 pages long and featuring the entire product range of the Mount Prospect, Illinois gear reducer manufacturer.
New inclusions in the 2013 edition are the EPL-A which is an inline planetary gear reducer with metric outputs and the EPL-F which has a compact flange output. Check out www.gamweb.com for more information.
*Mid-April saw the purchase of Barnes Distribution by MSC Industrial, for $550 million. MSC and Barnes are players in the MRO space, with Barnes specialising in lean inventory management, which I’m sure will have been of interest to the MSC management. Probably also just as interesting is a $16.5 million tax bill from a decade ago that the US Tax Court says is now due.
Barnes turned over $300 million in 2012, with 1400 employees.
*Moog has paid $34 million to Pentair to acquire Aspen Motion Technologies, manufacturers of brushless DC motors and controls. Aspen Motion Technologies, originally from Aspen and now based in Radford, Virginia, manufactures units that integrate its technology with OEM designs.
The purchase is coming from Moog’s bank balance, with Aspen turning over $36 million a year. The reason I mention this figure is the fact that the Aspen website looks like something that the work experience kid did back in 1999. Come on guys, $36 million a year.
Former Aspen owners Pentair enjoy revenues of $8 billion, whilst new owners Moog expect 2013 turnover to be $2.6 billion.
*Following on from recent writedowns and impairments by European steel manufacturing giants ArcelorMittal, ThyssenKrupp, Indian firm Tata has also recorded an impairment against its European steel operations, of $1.6 billion. Tata paid $13.1 billion for the business in 2008, purchasing it from Corus, and making a steady set of losses since the GFC.
*The Australian Industry Group has announced the formation of a new business group, the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, which will include industry heavy-hitters Cochlear and Dow Chemical. They can battle it out with the Prime Minister’s Manufacturing Taskforce for supremacy, just like the People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s Front.
I’m sure other names will be announced to the Council in due course, although I think there will be short odds that one of the key objectives for the AAMC will be a reduction in pricing of LNG for Australian manufacturers.
*The board of the freshly-minted Manufacturing Precinct initiative met at Monash University, ahead of its actual opening in July. The board is chaired by Albert Goller, formerly of Siemens, whilst the precinct network’s chair is John Grill, formerly of WorleyParsons.
The full board is as follows:
• Christine Bridges Taylor, General Manager and Director, B&R Enclosures
• Paul Bastian, National Secretary, Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union
• Dr Fred Davis, Vice President of Business Development, Universal Biosensors
• John Dixon, Managing Director, Silk Logistics Group
• Dr Calum Drummond, Group Executive, Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals, CSIRO
• Mike Edwards, General Manager, Boeing Research & Technology Australia
• Professor Paul Greenfield AO, Chair, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
• Michael Heard, member of South Australian Premier's Science and Industry Council and former CEO of Codan Ltd
• Dr Frank Koentgen, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ozgene
• Rhett Morson, General Manager, Morson Engineering, and
• Mike Rausa, Executive Director Corporate Services, Toyota Motor Corporation Australia
According to former Industry Minister Greg Combet’s press release, the board will meet to “enable firms to collaborate and build scale with each other and researchers both at home and abroad to improve knowledge and skills, deploy technology and develop a cohort of growth-oriented businesses.”
Well, they’ve got $500 million to play with so we’ll see what the come up with.
*That brings episode 31 of the Australian Power Transmission Podcast to a close. There haven’t been any calls for a leadership spill in this podcast, so I’ll be back soon for the next episode. Even if there was a vote, I’m sure I’d have the numbers.