Kiwis make sound wavesMounted in the dash – a Fusion 700 Series control at lower left

High-end New Zealand developer of marine entertainment systems Fusion Electronics has beaten aside the global industry big four to take away major industry awards.

Fusion Electronics’ line of high-performance marine-grade stereo system, the 700 Series, received the 2012 National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) Technology Award at its conference and expo.

The Technology Award is the NMEA’s most prestigious honour, singling out the overall best marine electronics product in the industry, based on a combination of innovative design, benefits to boaters, practicality and value.

The Fusion 700 Series has been an ongoing winner for the company. It has also taken Fusion Electronics to a finalist placing in the 2011 Marine equipment Trade Show’s DAME design awards, as well as an honourable mention at the Miami Boat Show.

“Our Fusion 700 series is being hailed as the most innovative marine entertainment system in the world,” Fusion Electronics chief executive Chris Baird says.

“Among its standout features are NMEA 2000 connectivity, wireless ethernet control via iPad and iPhone Fusion Electronics chief executive Chris Baird with the NMEA award and a Fusion 700 series control panelapp, Fusion-Link connectivity and control of four independent audio zones of the vessel.”

NMEA 2000 is the standard marine protocol that gives boats wired into it the ability to communicate with each other.

Fusion-Link allows compatible Multi-Function Displays (MFD) the ability to interface and achieve full control of FUSION’s specialised marine entertainment equipment. By using a MFD as the entertainment control centre for the vessel a simplified and integrated entertainment experience is created.

Fusion Electronics was formed to meet the demand for top quality acoustic systems for cars, boats and lifestyle situations. The company is owned by Kiwi entrepreneur Sir Peter Maire, who earlier founded and developed Navman into a global brand.

The core of Fusion Electronics is a team of 19 specialist engineers who have established an extensive R&D capability and developed significant intellectual property.

Fusion is currently on a growth path for its Auckland R&D base as well as its outlets in Europe, the US and Australia.

“We are particularly proud that our small multinational team has taken on the big, very well-resourced players in the marine market and forced a prominent niche for Fusion,” Mr Baird says.

“Not only have we shown that top New Zealand engineers don’t have to leave the country to work at the top of their profession, but we are among the companies that have shown there is a place for well-qualified Kiwis to come home to.”

The products Fusion has designed for the car and lifestyle audio market have The fusion 700 Series mounted in a harsh marine environment – a jetskibeen recognised for their quality, but there have been many added hurdles to overcome in developing robust, ease of use and pristine sound systems for marine applications.

Fusion requires its products to perform season after season even in some of the harshest marine conditions. With this longevity in mind, all marine products are designed and engineered from the ground up specifically for use on the water.

Environmental protection is at the heart of all its product designs and only after each product has been subjected to rigorous testing to extreme conditions are they marketed with a three-year worldwide consumer warranty.

Fusion did its market research carefully when designing the 700 Series marine stereo.

One fact that emerged was that potential buyers preferred a turning button volume control rather than a touch pad.

The problem with button controls is that they are hard to make waterproof, but the Fusion engineers managed to circumvent water ingress as well as any hazards that can occur.

Making any Fusion marine product safe requires a thorough understanding of the hazards that exist in electrical products – risks surrounding Fusion Electronics mechanical Engineer Nisarg Acharyaelectrical shock, mechanical or physical injury, low voltage/high energy, or fire. Fusion takes the evaluation of these hazards even more seriously when testing their marine electronics.

“We ensure that electro static disturbance does not affect the operation of any FUSION device and we are proud to say that all electronic products adhere to global industry guidelines," Mr Baird says.

All Fusion marine products, whether they be entertainment systems, speakers, subwoofers or wired remote control solutions, are IP (Ingress Protection) rated to at least an IPx5 level.

This indicates a product’s protection against both solid foreign objects and moisture intrusion – both important factors for a product’s durability and lifespan on the water.

“Fusion is on a mission to become an internationally successful brand that is proudly based in New Zealand and taking on the world’s best,” Mr Baird adds.

“The markets overseas are tough to break into and then it can be equally hard to maintain that business, but if done successfully the rewards are large.

“A good spread of business is probably the most important area to concentrate on for all international companies. Kiwi businesses can get out there and succeed against the ‘big boys’ and then also teach them a thing or two!”


James Dyson Award doubles the prize fundCurrent harvesting methods require return visits to a forest, causing soil erosion and damage to surrounding trees. Nick Ross, an industrial design graduate from Massey University, has devised Axolotl – a solution that cuts trees right from ground level, and feeds them straight into the machine. An extraction process is then engaged to return needles back to the soil for nutrients, while the branches gathered in a separate container can be re-used as an alternative energy fuel

The 2013 international James Dyson Award is open for entries. James Dyson is challenging young engineers and scientists in New Zealand and around the world to “design something that solves a problem”.

This year the award’s prize fund has doubled to help winners meet the costs associated with developing their ideas.

The international winner will receive depending on sterling exchanges about NZ$55,000 to develop their invention, and a further $18,000[will be provided to their educational institution.

“Young design engineers have the ability to develop tangible technologies, which can change lives. The award rewards those who have the persistence and tenacity to develop their ideas – it is an exciting but challenging process. Often the simplest ideas have the biggest impact,” says James Dyson.

The Award is run in 18 countries and celebrates ingenuity, creativity and sustainable engineering - inspiring young people to think differently and invent.

The James Dyson Award in New Zealand is hosted in association with Dyson in New Zealand, British Council New Zealand, The Designers Institute and Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand.

Inventors are encouraged to design and develop their ideas, doing more with less. This leads to fewer raw materials and the consumption of less energy, creating a technology that will perform better and last longer, while having less environmental impact.

One of the judges in the New Zealand leg of the competition, British Council New Zealand country director, Ingrid Leary, says the New Zealand judges will look for interpersonal qualities as well as talent in design.

“While judges will be looking at whether the designs solve a problem, the entrant’s ability to articulate their vision and creativity will also be an important factor of the judging criteria."

Last year’s international winner, Dan Watson, engineered a device to increase the sustainability of fishing.

The New Zealand winner was Massey University industrial designer Nick Ross who designed Axolotl – a solution that cuts trees right from ground level, and feeds them straight into the machine.

An extraction process is then engaged to return needles back to the soil for nutrients, while the branches gathered in a separate container can be re-used as an alternative energy fuel.

Another kiwi finalist James McNab was the international runner up with his design Revival Vest - a safety vest worn by free fall divers.

Many divers have drowned after blacking out while under water. Revival vest uses smart fabric technology to monitor respiration and changes to the body caused by the stress of drowning.

Once it detects a change, Revival Vest inflates bringing the user safely to the surface.

Entrants have until August 2013 to enter by submitting prototypes along with stories detailing their design process and inspiration.

New Zealand’s national winner will be announced in mid-August and the international winner, on 7 November. The New Zealand winner will travel to the UK to meet with key members of the British design community.

The award is open to any university level student of product design, industrial design or engineering, (or graduate within four years of graduation) who is studying or studied in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA.

Entrants can submit footage, images and sketches of their ideas to the website,, along with stories detailing their design process and inspiration.

Please contact Lisa Joe on 021 326 662 or lisa [at] joepublic [dot] co [dot] nz

The James Dyson Foundation Facebook page is here and Twitter is here


Clarion call to revive manufacturing sectorDavid Shearer

By David Shearer

A few weeks ago the Parliamentary Inquiry into Manufacturing started hearing submissions.

I have been keeping a close eye on developments. That’s because a thriving manufacturing sector is at the heart of my vision of a strong, diversified New Zealand economy. One that doesn’t rely on the price of milk in China.

There have been two big themes coming through the inquiry hearings so far. The first is a clarion call for change to revive the sector. Manufacturers are a proud bunch. They don’t want a hand out but they do want a government that will listen and take their ideas on board.

As Gordon Sutherland from AW Fraser said, manufacturers know their business, ministers don’t. It’s an important lesson for all politicians.

The second theme emerging from the inquiry is the passion running through the industry. This is a sector that has no intention of waiting for the “economic tide” to go out as some commentators have told it to do.

Steve Wilson, director of Talbot Technologies in Christchurch, made a strong defence of manufacturing, saying government and society no longer value the sector. He highlighted the different attitude in Germany where, as he said, “their engineers have a title that is more revered than a doctor".

I agree with Steve. We need to value manufacturing and engineering jobs. They should be held up as quality careers for our young people and given the status they deserve if manufacturing is going to succeed.

The problem is that manufacturing, especially outside agriculture processing, is struggling. The numbers are truly staggering. In the last year the sector lost 17,000 jobs. Many of those people will have taken their skills and experience to Australia.

During the last four years 8000 companies have closed their doors. The industry is being hollowed out. It’s a big blow to the development of a skilled and well paid workforce.

We’ve had 140 submissions from companies and associations and hundreds of submissions from individuals. Submitters have brought real ideas and compelling honesty to the table. The big message we’ve heard time and again is the crippling effect of the high dollar.

Gordon Sutherland from AW Fraser laid the dollar problem out clearly. At 0.70c exchange rate he can make an eight percent return but that dwindles to zero percent at 0.83c. That’s where we are now.

Many of the submitters were quite open in admitting that they may need to shut their doors if the exchange rate remains this high. Our Reserve Bank has a tunnel vision mandate to focus primarily on inflation. That’s old thinking. We need to give it a 20/20 perspective to consider major issues such as the exchange rate and employment. That will help bring the dollar down.

There have been many calls for more government procurement to support Kiwi companies. The Manufacturers and Exporters Association is a big advocate of this. Bruce Moller from Howard Wright suggested we adopt the New South Wales model. I am a firm believer in using Government procurement for the benefit of our economy, not someone else’s.

Labour will ensure that government agencies do business with Kiwi companies wherever possible and in return those receiving significant contracts will be required to take on apprentices or trainees. That will build businesses, jobs and skills.

The third major point is research and development. With margins so tight it’s extremely hard for companies to invest in the new technology and ideas the sector needs to compete globally. Support for research and development, such as the tax credits we advocate, has been a strong refrain from the submitters.

The Parliamentary Inquiry will report back in the first half of this year with recommendations. What this inquiry has reinforced is that we do have an exciting manufacturing sector, with innovative, ambitious companies.

But they need to be able to compete. Otherwise all we’ve got is selling milk to China.

David Shearer is the leader of the Opposition, as well as being the Labour Party’s spokesman on science and technology


Remote access from isolated mines to Metaltek modular CNC system boosts operationsAdvanced Robotic Technology (ART) says its remote access to the new Metaltek modular multi-function CNC machining systems can alleviate mining operators operational and financial issues

Advanced Robotic Technology (ART) says its remote access to the new Metaltek modular multi-function CNC machining systems can alleviate mining operators operational and financial issues.

Today’s mining industry does virtually everything on a gigantic scale with mines on almost every continent producing everything from coal, ore, and minerals to other natural resources. These sites must work around the clock to be operationally efficient and productive and must experience minimal downtime due to machine breakdowns.

Many mines are located deep in Australia’s outback, where 24/7 internet connectivity is the only way to have connectivity to the outside world and to training, assistance, updates and maintenance services.

As a result, mining operations in Australia and around the globe have turned to wireless technology to help alleviate operational and financial issues caused by machine breakdowns by streamlining communications and providing real-time telemetry to help identify and stop problems before they cause costly operational shutdowns and delays.

ART’s remote access to its machines can alleviate operational and financial issues. ART sees the advantages of interactive networking with its CNC routers, plasma cutters and the new Metaltek modular multi-function CNC machining systems in three categories: before, during and after production or operation.

ART is an Australian manufacturer of CNC routers and plasma cutters, based in Brisbane. ART’s range of CNC routers and plasma cutters are custom-built to meet industry specific requirements. Most machines in the CNC router or plasma cutter range can be modified to customers’ specific business needs in regards to material dimensions and additional tooling requirements.

Before jobs start, ART’s remote access technology can provide job scheduling and production control. It can access tooling databases, verify CAD/CAM, or train operators, to name only a few.

During machine operation, the direct connection to ART’s headquarters in Brisbane can provide remote diagnostics and remote operation. Real-time monitoring of position, program and displays is possible from any PC on the network. Machine data can be efficiently gathered and remote monitoring at the management and supervisory level is also possible.

After the job, ART can provide data for productivity analysis along with a permanent record of all machine data before, during and after completion of the job.

One area where the PC-based control is invaluable to remote operations such as mines or oil and gas fields is serviceability. Because so much of the machine’s functionality is determined by software – and because that software is externally accessible via the internet – it becomes possible for troubleshooting diagnostics as well as software upgrades to be executed remotely.

The diagnostics screen gives readouts on internal machine information. It displays gas selections, inlet pressures, flow settings, temperature and coolant flow. Real English pop-up messages and automatic tests help to verify correct operation.

That’s allowing users to secure a significantly greater measure of ART’s repair and application support without the physical presence of a service technician. Combining remote PC-access software with multimedia capabilities, ART’s ProfileShop V3 touchscreen controller allows a service technician to examine virtually any aspect of control functionality as well as many aspects of the machine itself – regardless of where the machine is physically located – while also interacting with the machine operator via voice and video links.

The service engineer can diagnose and troubleshoot problems or issues with the machine, decreasing service times by providing accurate and real-time information.

0061 7 3393 6555


Top engineering training at BOP PolytechnicAt work in an engineering workshop

Bay of Plenty Polytechnic has the largest purpose-built engineering tertiary training facility of its type in New Zealand, with workshops covering a staggering 3000 square metres and housing some equally impressive machinery.

The workshops cater for training for all skill levels, ranging from full-time pre-trade engineering and welding programmes to apprentices returning to industry block courses to complete qualifications.

The facility enables Competenz ITO apprentices to work alongside the full-time students. This ability to merge the two groups creates a great learning environment where the full-time students can observe and experience the requirements of industry apprentices.

The ground floor mechanical workshop houses modern machining equipment including 28 lathes, 13 milling machines, specialist grinding machines and latest technology CNC lathe and machining centre.At work in an engineering workshop

The large fabrication workshop houses the most up-to-date industry standard fabrication equipment including an 80 tonne press brake, 10mm capacity guillotine, large plate rolls and universal punch and shear machines.

Included in the workshop are two welding areas with 28 independent welding booths that have the capability to teach all welding processes.

Students enjoy the great learning environment – they’re able to progress through their tasks unhindered by cramped conditions and shortage of equipment creating the down time experienced by some other providers.

Upstairs, there are specialist labs and teaching areas for the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering, incorporating the latest technology testing and experimental equipment. Spacious teaching rooms which allow combined class teaching complete the overall learning capability.

Right from the word go the polytechnic consulted widely with industry, local advisory committees and suppliers in creating a facility that would provide both regional and national benefit. Many were so impressed that the majority of the equipment housed in the facility is sponsored by industry and machinery providers.

Shortages in qualified engineers, as identified by the Department of Labour, along with the enlarged facilities, has provided an opportunity for the polytechnic to offer a unique cluster of engineering programmes, from entry-level Level 2 right through to Level 6 and pathways into degree programmes.

“As well as offering mechanical and electrical engineering, we worked with local industry and IPENZ to be able to offer the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (Civil) in 2013. This has proven very popular with our local market and numbers have exceeded budget expectations for 2013,” says Malcolm Hardy, head of school applied technology.

The polytechnic’s mechanical and electrical engineering diplomas pathway into the University of Waikato’s Bachelor of Engineering provides a full suite of qualifications for students.

The polytechnic is also the only institution in Australasia where students can specialise in metallurgy, delivered by the polytechnic through a strand of the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering. Developed in partnership with the Titanium Industry Development Association (TiDA), the idea for the specialisation came about through the initial consultation process.

TiDA was keen to work alongside the polytechnic in not only developing the metallurgy strand but also housed its national headquarters and prototype centre in the new training facility.



Overwhelming “Yes’ to forest levy on forest productsTimber products

A referendum of forest growers has shown strong support for a levy on harvested forest products. 

“We have been given the thumbs-up to introduce a funding system that will provide greater certainty, equity and commitment for activities that benefit all growers, such as research, promotion and forest health,” says Forest Growers Levy Trust chair Geoff Thompson.

“At this stage we expect the levy to be introduced on 1 January 2014.”

The audited referendum results reveal that 502 growers (86.3 percent) voted yes and 80 (13.7 percent) voted no. There was the same percentage support when the votes were weighted by area, with 947,762.71 hectares (86.3 percent) in favour and 149,926.91 ha (13.7 percent) opposed. Mr Thompson said having identical percentages for voters and area was “simply a fluke”. 

Under the Commodity Levies Act, for the levy to proceed it must have the support by number and by area of more than 50 percent of those forest owners who voted.

The Trust believes the turnout was about 15 per cent of an estimated 4000 eligible voters, but their votes represent more than two-thirds of the eligible forest area.

“This was quite a good turnout, compared with other recent primary sector referenda,” says Mr Thompson. 

“The key message is that those who will be paying the vast majority of the levy are strongly in favour of it. This is the green light we had to see before we progressed any further. Now we can get on with groundwork and consultation that is still needed before we can ask the Minister for Primary Industries to put a Levy Order in place.”

He said assessing the turnout was complicated by the fact that only those forest owners who own a plantation forest 10 years or more in age and at least four hectares in area were eligible to vote.

“Based on national age class statistics for forests, between 3095 and 5095 forest owners (a mean of 4000) could fall into this category. This is a generous estimate, given that only 350-400 forest owners harvest in any one year and that only 1838 forest owners are listed on the Ministry for Primary Industries national database. 

“We need to bear in mind that the owners of many small farm forests will not have been motivated to vote. Also positive votes have been received from some owners where a single vote was for forests on many properties.”

The month-long referendum was conducted for the Trust by Research New Zealand, which has audited a random sample of votes, as well as the final results. Their audit report is posted on the Forest Voice website.

Priorities for the Trust include on-going communication with potential levy payers, further consultation with data collection agents, an application to the Minister for a Levy Order, trialling and implementation of the levy collection system, and a transition from the board that organised the referendum, to one representing levy payers.


University of Auckland engineering applications reach recordUniversity students

The University of Auckland has received a record 2283 applications to its Bachelor of Engineering programme, a rise of nine percent from this time last year. This is a trend which has seen the number of undergraduate engineering students go from 2213 five years ago to 2730 expected in 2013.

The high level of interest in engineering has been matched with an increase in standards and students obtaining marks above the university’s guaranteed entry threshold. The growth has also seen a record 118 engineering places offered to Maori and Pacific students, and coincides with an all-time high in the number of new women engineering students.

Early indications are that 180 women will enrol in the first year of the university’s engineering programme - a nearly 20 percent rise from the 151 students in 2012.

“Nearly 800 new students will enter the university’s engineering programme this year and the growth in applications reflects, in part, our commitment to reaching out to students who would not normally consider Engineering as an option,” says acting dean of engineering professor Gordon Mallinson.

“The strong demand in engineering will easily fill the additional 150 places funded by government this year, and will ensure that the country produces the high-calibre engineers it needs.”

To help support the expansion, the university is embarking on a $200 million upgrade of its engineering facilities including construction of a new research facility to cater for its roughly 3700 undergraduate and postgraduate engineering students.

Applicants from out of Auckland have increased by six percent over 2012 and account for 32 percent of all engineering applications. The three biggest regions supplying applicants are Waikato, Wellington and Bay of Plenty.

The Faculty of Engineering is ranked alongside the best engineering schools in Australasia and is 68th in the QS global rankings.


Major corporation supports aspiring school students

Rockwell Automation has extended its support of the global FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) programme to Australia and New Zealand, opening up new opportunities for school students aspiring to become engineers.

Rockwell Automation’s sponsorship of the FIRST programme within Australia and New Zealand builds on a 10-year association between the two organisations in the United States.

“We are happy to be supporting FIRST locally. The organisation addresses the need for strong preparation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to improve our communities, create jobs and educate tomorrow’s workforce,” said Matthew Treeby, Commercial Marketing Manager, Rockwell Automation South Pacific.

In Australia, FIRST is co-ordinated by Professor Michael Heimlich, of Macquarie University’s Faculty of Science. FIRST offers three programmes: The FIRST Lego League, the FIRST Tech Challenge and the FIRST Robotic Challenge. All three programmes use robotics to teach the principles of real-world science and engineering to young people aged between nine and eighteen years. Last year, approximately 300 teams, or 2,500 students across Australia, participated in the FIRST programs.

“Rockwell Automation are more than sponsors - they are allies. In addition to contributing towards operational funding, they are providing mentors which are a big part of the FIRST program. Connecting students to engineers in the community provides them with important insights into real life engineering,” said Heimlich.

Rockwell Automation sponsors the FIRST Lego League and the FIRST Tech Challenge, and is the premier sponsor for the FIRST Robotics Challenge, which targets upper secondary school students. As with all FIRST programmes, the challenge changes each year. In 2012, students competed in the Rebound Rumble, a game of extreme basketball. FIRST displayed one of its robots at Rockwell Automation on the Move in Sydney last year. This gave visitors the opportunity to meet team members and gain an understanding of the capabilities of these incredibly talented students.

“We are enjoying getting involved with FIRST and assisting them with direct sponsorship as well as competition events and family fun days,” said Treeby.

“Our involvement with FIRST really demonstrates our company culture of innovation and is part of our Engineering our Future program to promote science, engineering and technology to the next generation.


Unexpected resignation of IRL chief executiveShaun Coffey

Statement by IRL chief executive officer Shaun Coffey:

After careful reflection, I have decided to pursue new career directions. In the last week the position of Industrial Research Ltd (IRL) as a significant contributor to the NZ innovation system has been further acknowledged through a series of Awards and Medals, including one of the PM’s Science Prizes. IRL is now well recognised for its work with industry. I am confident that I will be leaving IRL in a sound state and well positioned for the future.

I will step down on the 31st of January next.

There are very many people I must thank for the assistance and support they have provided as we have reinvented IRL over the last six-and-a-half years. Successive Boards have provided guidance and direction and I thank all present and past Directors for their work for the company.

A special thanks must go to my work colleagues – especially my senior executive. The collective knowledge and abilities of our people, and their intense desire to put science to work for New Zealand, are constant sources of inspiration and motivation. It has been my profound privilege to serve them, and through them to serve New Zealand.

The establishment of the new agency, Callaghan Innovation, is a major challenge and I pass on my best wishes to all involved in achieving a successful outcome.


Australasia success at IChemE Awards

Chemical engineers from Australia and New Zealand have celebrated success at the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) 2012 international awards event staged in Manchester, UK with blood, salt and sustainability at the heart of winning entries.

The trophy haul was Australasia’s largest in the 19-year history of the IChemE Awards. Queensland’s SUSOP (SUStainable Operations) won the Sustainable Technology Award and chemical engineers from Monash University lifted the Chemical Engineering Innovation for Resource-Poor People Award. New Zealand’s multi-disciplinary engineering services organisation, Aurecon, won the Food & Drink Award.

SUSOP’s winning entry was based upon the organisation’s new sustainability principles technique, a systematic and rigorous framework to identify and evaluate sustainability opportunities and risks. Somewhat analogous to HAZOP (hazard and operational studies), the technique is a guiding procedural framework that enables a proper contribution to sustainability by the industrial facilities being studied, designed, built or operated.

Monash University was recognised for the development of a bio-active paper blood test that can distinguish blood-types in some of the world’s poorest countries. The technology was partly inspired by the Harry Potter film series and the award winners received a US$10,000 donation to help further the successful project. As part of Aurecon’s Dominion Salt vacuum plant upgrade, employees identified, designed, engineered and project managed the installation of an innovative process to cost effectively and continuously manufacture an additional 20,000 t/y or more of pharmaceutical and food grade salt at the company’s Mount Maunganui site.

GlaxoSmithKline clinched this year’s top prize in recognition of its radical change in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. The organisation won the Outstanding Achievement in Chemical Engineering Award alongside project partners GEA, Siemens, Sagentia and the Universities of Newcastle, Warwick and Surrey. The winning entry, which also earned the Chemical Engineering Project of the Year Award, demonstrated that tablet production can change from stepwise and time-consuming batch processing with intermediate material transfer steps and frequent testing. The outcome was a fully integrated and closely controlled process that ensures consistency, reducing costs by 20 percent, the process equipment footprint by a factor of ten and the capital cost by a factor of three.

IChemE chief executive officer David Brown says the range of award winners highlight the diversity of the profession: “Chemical engineers are working all over the world on innovative projects and finding solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing society today – a growing demand for secure and sustainable energy, access to clean and plentiful water supplies, food and nutrition and societal health and wellbeing. The IChemE Awards give us a platform to recognise some of the best work taking place all over the world throughout the chemical and process engineering community.”

More than 500 chemical engineers and invited guests from around the world attended the event in Manchester, UK which was hosted by journalist and TV presenter Colin Murray.

For more information:


Put party politics aside when dealing with the engineering and manufacturing sectorDavid Shearer

By David Shearer

Recently I sat on a panel with Winston Peters on one side and Russel Norman on the other, announcing a Parliamentary inquiry into the crisis in manufacturing.

Instead of arguing across party lines, we were there to work collectively on something positive that’s important to us all. It’s a style that appeals to me and that I used a lot in my pre-politics humanitarian work – building bridges for the greater good.

Ideas are already arriving from workers, businesspeople and academics around the country – people who want a smart, modern manufacturing sector delivering better jobs and higher wages and keeping Kiwis in New Zealand.

The inquiry became the obvious thing to do as the number of Kiwis giving up on New Zealand and heading for Australia continues to increase. It’s now over 170,000.

That’s more than the total population of Hamilton, or for a South Island comparison, that’s more than Dunedin and Invercargill combined.

This matters because those Kiwis have skills and talent and we need them working in our businesses.

Around 17,000 skilled tradesmen and builders have left in the past two years. They are essential to supporting the engineering industry.

No western country can prosper without a thriving manufacturing sector and the well-paid jobs and quality exports that go with it.

Manufacturing generates around 12 percent of our GDP – more than farm-gate agriculture and tourism combined.

It employs 11 percent of our workforce – that’s more than agriculture, forestry and fishing combined.

And for each manufacturing job, 2-5 jobs are generated in all sorts of other areas. You can see why it’s so critical.

I want New Zealanders to be confident and proud of our manufacturing, rather than government excuses for why we’re not doing better.

Government needs to get alongside workers, businesses and our heartland communities to help them grow a New Zealand where we are patriotic, trust in our ability to get ahead, and beat the odds, as we have done in the past.

We need to ensure our high and volatile dollar doesn’t undermine the competitiveness of our exporters. We are a trading nation. We can only grow wealthy if we export.

That means an independent Reserve Bank that’s given a wider mandate to support exporters and jobs, not just focus on inflation.

We need to pursue a research and development tax credit that rewards ingenuity and encourages innovation in our businesses. Great new products create better jobs and higher wages.

We want to ensure government agencies award major contracts to New Zealand businesses wherever possible.

Government spending is 40 percent of our GDP. That taxpayer money should stay here creating jobs, keeping specialist skills in the country and offering opportunity to our young people.

President Obama brought in a “25 percent rule” for stimulus projects. Unless a foreign company is 25 percent cheaper making a product, the work should be contracted to a US company.

From talking to companies across the country I don’t believe employers are crying out for lower wages. I believe what they want are people with skills. And young people want those skills so they can grow their careers.

That’s why I want to foster learning on the job.

As engineers you know the value of a great worker. I believe paying the dole to employers who are willing to hire and train apprentices is a way to encourage businesses to take a shot on a young person wanting to learn the skills to get working.

That helps businesses get the skills they want by providing on-the-job training, and gives young people the experience and skills they need to start on a good career. Hopefully one they will pursue in this country.

It’s time we took pride in the achievements of our businesses and celebrated our engineering and manufacturing smarts.

It’s time we backed New Zealand, our businesses, our communities and workers.

Comments and articles within NZ Engineering are generally a reaction or commentary on the policies of the government of the day. We believe it is a helpful planning tool to gain insight into the policies planned by a potential government in the future. David Shearer is leader of the opposition Labour Party and shadow minister for science and innovation.


New training available for advanced trade qualification

A new training programme has been launched enabling maintenance technicians to achieve the national level five advanced trade qualification through a structured programme of block courses and distance learning.

Skills4Work Maintenance Training Centre has put this programme together based on their existing Maintenance Excellence training courses.

The programme runs over 18 months and is split into three six month long semesters.

Each semester starts with a five day block course and is followed by two or three additional unit standards that can be achieved through distance learning.

“Skills4Work have been running courses for maintenance technicians, supervisors and managers for several years and these are becoming ever more popular with over 100 people attending them this year,” says Skills4Work maintenance training manager Phil Hurford.

“We have now taken these courses as the core component of the training to achieve the National level five Certificate in Maintenance & General Engineering.

“Most people know this simply as the advanced trade certificate. Until now, the only way to achieve this qualification was through distance learning by correspondence, but without tutor support and direction this is not an easy thing to do. With this new programme, distance learning plays a much smaller part and there is a dedicated tutor available to help with any problems.”

Skills4Work are taking enrolments for this programme now with the first semester scheduled to start in March 2013.

For more information:
Phil Hurford, Skills4Work
Tel: 027 488 6446
Email: p [dot] hurford [at] skills4work [dot] org [dot] nz


Thermal imaging can reduce fire riskThermal imaging

When buildings burn and people die, the inevitable questions come thick and fast. How did this happen? What caused this? And the big one – how can we prevent this from happening again?

More often than not it’s the insurance underwriters who are probing the cause of the blaze and asking the questions, looking for any maintenance negligence or ways it could have been avoided in the first place.

Meanwhile, as a preventative measure, more and more business owners are required to provide thermal switchboard survey reports to insurance companies as part of their commercial premises fire risk assessment.

Thermal survey switchboard reports have become a valuable business document that can lower insurance premiums and help businesses save money.

Thermal imaging cameras produce images of invisible infrared or “heat” radiation. Based on temperature differences between objects, thermal imaging produces a clear image.

It is an excellent tool for predictive maintenance, building inspections, research & development and automation applications.

It can see in total darkness, in the darkest of nights, through fog, in the far distance, through smoke. It is also used for security and surveillance, maritime, automotive, firefighting and many other applications. Faults that can be detected with a thermal imaging camera are indicated by elevated heat coming from the problem area. The causes of these faults range from a loose connection on a circuit breaker, an over current problem on a circuit or simply a loose screw – normally faults undetected by the naked eye.

With a 40 year history of infrared innovation, 100,000 systems in use worldwide and development centers and sales offices in over 60 countries, FLIR is a world leader in thermal imaging technology.

FLIR thermal imaging cameras are at the forefront of switchboard surveys. They allow inspectors to see hot spots which are generally traced to a high resistance connection with multiple causes of failure. Thermal imaging

Detecting hot spots allows people to see faults before they become a problem and predictive maintenance reports involve taking an IR image accompanied by a visual image.

They can provide an electrical systems report for the customer and insurance companies. As well, repairs can be scheduled to fix potential problems before they become costly failures like fires.

The commercial sector is valuing the use of the infrared technology as it calculates the cost savings associated with reduced breakdown maintenance and lost production downtime.

The use of thermal imaging identifies faults at an early stage, enabling remedial work to be planned around business operations.

Also as faults are found early, the cost of remedial works is far less than if left to the point where equipment fails.

Thermal imaging surveys include both infrared and visual images to provide those without electrical knowledge, a better understanding of the problem and its implications.

The annual switchboard and electrical distribution system thermography surveys are giving facility managers a vastly improved picture of the condition of their assets leading to better asset-related business decisions.

And as thermography surveys can be completed with no interruption to business operations, it presents as a very valuable and cost effective package to many businesses.

It’s a similar story in domestic situations. If you’ve noticed your power dropping out, electrical appliances not working or the household lighting playing up it could be a fault in your switchboard which can easily be identified by a thermal imaging survey.

For more information:
Tel: 0800 785 492, 03 9550 2800
Fax: 03 9550 9853
Emaill: info [at] flir [dot] com [dot] au


Engineering companies open doors for mechanical engineering studentsEngineering companies open doors for mechanical engineering students

Two engineering companies and an equipment supplier opened their doors in a recent Competenz careers open day giving Year 12 mechanical engineering students a peek behind the scenes.

The objective was to show students how a chosen vocational pathway can link up with a trades apprenticeship, and what subjects, such as maths, English and computing, they should focus on at school to prepare.

Nineteen students from Manukau’s Aorere College and Papatoetoe High School spent a day visiting Grayson Engineering, Stevenson Engineering and Blackwoods Protector Safety accompanied by their technology teachers and Competenz staff.

“The careers open day was a chance for these mechanical engineering students to have a look at industry close-up and see tradespeople at work,” explains Competenz trades training general manager, Fiona Kingsford.

“The students were given sound advice by tradespeople on becoming an apprentice, what an apprentice does and what they need to study at school if they want an apprenticeship. I believe this is invaluable in helping students choose a pathway towards a trades career, and in addressing New Zealand’s trades shortage.”

Aorere College deputy principal Stuart Kelly thought the careers open day was brilliant.

“It helps bridge the gap between industry and school. With these onsite visits teachers and students can see the trades career pathways more clearly, especially when they are given a talk by someone like Jason Cancare at Stevenson Engineering.”

Stevenson Engineering is a 100 year-old family firm that specialises in servicing mining equipment, engine overhauls, hydraulic engineering, auto electrical and other trades.

The students were given a tour of the plant, observing the many trades up close. Technical account manager Mr Cancare told the group what Stevenson looks for in apprentices.

“Stevenson only recruits top-level apprentices. Maths, English and computing skills are really important. Pre-trade training helps, as it shows an employer you’re keen.

“You have to have the right attitude. You have to be passionate. You have to be prepared to do overtime. A trade can be stressful, but also very satisfying. The time to prepare is while you’re still at school, choosing the right vocational pathway.”

The day began at Grayson Engineering, one of the largest structural fabrication companies in the country, responsible for landmark projects like Auckland’s Sky City complex, Otago Stadium and Eden Park for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

General manager David Moore explained to the students the type of work Grayson does, the skills needed, and the background on several large projects.

Students were then given a tour to see Grayson Engineers fabricating project components. They were impressed with the fabrication of a 2.5 metre high I-beam for a bridge being built near Taupo.

At Blackwoods Protector Safety students were given a hands-on power-tool demonstration and a talk on eye safety before moving on to Stevenson Engineering. Summing up the day Papatoetoe student Viddhant Patel thought it had been great.

“The careers day and site visits gave me a really good idea of what I could be doing when I leave school. The work environments are pretty cool and everyone helps out.”

All students attending the careers day are enrolled in Year 13 mechanical engineering for next year.

Competenz is the Industry Training Organisation for the Engineering, Manufacturing, Baking, and Food and Beverage Manufacturing industries. Through its network of offices, Competenz looks after the needs of nearly 2,000 businesses, helping 12,000 people develop their skills on the job each year.


Competenz calls for engineering scholarship applications

The Competenz Scholarship for 2013 is now open for applications. There are 10 awards of $1000 each for ambitious engineering individuals.

The scholarships are designed to advance the careers of those working in the engineering and manufacturing sector.

A scholarship can be a huge help. Just ask Connor Farrell, who is studying toward a National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering (Level 5) in Engineering Fabrication.

He was awarded a scholarship earlier this year.

“I applied for this scholarship because I have a young family and have very little extra money,” says Mr Farrell.

“Receiving this scholarship meant a lot to me because if I didn’t receive it I most likely wouldn’t have been able to sit the qualification.”

Competenz scholarships are for those enrolling in a Level 5 Certificate and Level 6 Diploma or a Level 4 Assessment of Prior Learning. To be eligible candidates must have completed, or be due to complete, a Level 4 National Certificate in fabrication, refrigeration and air conditioning, locksmithing or fire protection, or Level 4 or 5 in mechanical engineering.

“Alternatively, candidates might be skilled in their trade, but they missed gaining a qualification when they were younger,” adds Competenz trades general manager, Fiona Kingsford.

“Candidates will also be considered if they were enrolled in an eligible course August 1 this year.”

Receiving a scholarship benefits both the employee and the employer, and it is also hugely inspirational.

“After achieving this qualification I plan on working towards a higher leadership role such as head foreman,” says Mr Farrell.

“Then, long term, I want to branch out on my own and start my own engineering business.”

Those wishing to apply for a 2013 Competenz Scholarship must be enrolled in their chosen course by March 1 2013. Application forms are available at

And if ambitious mechanical engineers need further inspiration to apply, we’ll let Mr Farrell have the last word.

“If it wasn’t for the Competenz Scholarship I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now, so a big, big thank you to all.”

For further information:
Robert Hamlin
Tel: 09 539 9813
Email: r [dot] hamlin [at] competenz [dot] org [dot] nz