100 Australian Engineering Leaders Featuring Ampcontrol Co-Founder

This year Engineers Australia turns 100. In celebration they are showcasing Australian Engineering Leaders who “pushed boundaries, defied odds, and came up with innovations that no-one could have imagined 100 years ago”.

At Ampcontrol we’re proud our co-founder Peter Cockbain is featured in the Engineers Australia publication “Anything is Possible 100 Australian Engineering Leaders”. The book celebrates 100 Australian engineers past and present who have made a difference.

Peter is featured as a leader in manufacturing and strong champion of the Australian advanced manufacturing industry as well as one of the founders of the international business that is Ampcontrol. He’s in esteemed company, featured alongside engineering leaders such as Sir Peter Nicol Russell whom Australia’s highest recognition of individual engineering achievement is named and Sir Ernest Fisk who introduced Australians to the airwaves.

Peter joined Engineers Australia in 1966 and started volunteering around 50 years ago to return some of the benefits that Engineers Australia had given him. Peter’s voluntary contributions include National President of Engineers Australia in 2006, a member of the University of Newcastle Council, the Engineering Faculty Advisory Board and the University Student Services Board, a member of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, Senator Kim Carr’s Future Manufacturing Industry Innovation Council, a Director of Standards Australia and Chairman of the Standards Development Committee. In 2015, he received a Member of the Order of Australia honour for his significant contribution to the mining and energy sectors and professional organisations. Find out more about Peter’s voluntary roles.

Congratulations to Peter and all of the 100 Australian engineers past and present, who have the honour of being included in this publication.

Let’s get flexible – how plug and play cables could be the secret to securing mining communications

In a world of deeper mines, rising energy costs and infrastructure shortages, mining companies remain under exceptional pressure to control costs, heighten efficiency and improve safety performance. Although there is no single easy solution, it is becoming increasingly apparent that technology will play a growing role in the mining industry of the future.

As the fourth industrial revolution progresses, data connectivity is taking a more pivotal role – information from sensors, data-heavy automation solutions and data analytics must be conveyed across large distances and through challenging environments. The mining industry is deploying automation technologies at a rapid rate, meaning the demand for flexible and high-bandwidth communication is soaring.

Fiber optic networks are a critical enabler of this bandwidth, providing a bridge between devices, data processing units and control systems which are increasingly being adopted across many sectors. With fiber optics come additional benefits including immunity to electromagnetic fields, galvanic insulation and future-proof advantages with regards to bandwidth extension. But mining environments pose a risk for the physical integrity of these networks.

With mines reliant on their communications infrastructure for essential safety systems and the critical link between operations underground and those working on the surface, network failure is not an option. So how can mining companies ensure high-performance, quality, reliable and long-life solutions that enable seamless underground communication networks?

 

Rapid and easy to deploy 

In mining, production depends on full and continuous availability of the network to ensure reliable communication with sensors, between machines and workers. Any damage to a mine’s fiber optic network, therefore, translates into significant expense and potential safety hazards. Hitherto, fixing damage was time-consuming and dependent on the arrival of a qualified fiber optic technician with suitable and calibrated termination tools and components.

Today, while network failure and damage cannot be avoided altogether, mining companies are able to massively reduce downtime as a result of network outages. This is due to a new solution created jointly by HUBER+SUHNER and Ampcontrol to enable rapid deployment of fiber optic networks in mines.

Leveraging the extensive experience of HUBER+SUHNER in providing solutions for optical connectivity in harsh environment conditions and Ampcontrol’s renowned expertise in providing integrated electrical and electronic equipment and power solutions for mines in Australia and elsewhere, the harsh environment reticulated fiber optic solution – H3RO – enables fast deployment of fiber optic networks in mines. The solution is based on standardised components that can be combined in a tool-box like manner. The solution’s modularity implies it is flexible in design, allowing for dynamic and easy modification and expansion of network architectures. This is critical in mines, where the network topology changes continuously as the mine grows/moves along. Also, because mine workers are frequently unskilled in communication technologies, simplicity of use and robustness against mishandling is essential.

Putting the theory into practice

The benefits brought by solutions of the two companies have been experienced by many mining customers, one reference case being an underground gold and copper mine in Western NSW, Australia when an existing communications cable was severed.

H3RO was deployed from an existing FOBOT (fiber optic break-out terminal) panel for a distance over 1 km along the roof, through a number of vertical drops and into another existing FOBOT enclosure. The solution’s plug and play cables and modular components made it the ideal choice for the fast deployment of cabling for this work. The IP68 connectors and bulkheads allowed a neat, maintainable solution that integrated seamlessly with off-the-shelf IP68 bulkheads and pigtails to match the existing patch panels.

Due to the modular installation and low-loss connectors, network expansion and recovery from similar incidents in the future is now hassle-free. The entire cable run consists of a quantity of four 260 m 12-core H3RO cables, making swapping any section out easy, rather than replacing the entire run or requiring expensive and time-consuming fiber field splicing in the mine’s harsh environment. The H3RO cables allow the addition of break out terminals (BOTs) at any cable joint allowing standardised and flexible network access/extension as requirements evolve.

H3RO components are manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities, all items are tested and shipped with quality reports. This offers a more cost effective, reliable and risk-free solution to field splicing in an underground mine where constraints such as time, darkness and the dirty working environment all affect the quality of the job.

Find out more about H3RO 

Replacement Transformers On The Road To Western Australia

During the latter part of 2018, Ampcontrol was approached to supply a range of drop-in replacement transformers as part of a major upgrade of an iron ore mine in Western Australia.

This mine was looking to source reliable and robust equipment that was proven under onerous site conditions, including various levels of harmonics, ensuring continuity of supply and maximum product lifespan. Ampcontrol’s proven transformer designs and manufacturing credentials made us the ideal supplier.

In 2019 Ampcontrol delivered 20 transformers to the project ranging from 1000kVA 33kV to 10,000kVA 33kV all designed to suit existing mounting positions and cable connections within 5mm tolerances.

Production has been staggered to minimise site shutdown requirements and will be ongoing into 2020 when another 31 transformers will be manufactured, as well as routine and type testing to AS/NZS 60076, in our Tomago NSW transformer facility.

Fan’stash’tic effort by Movember Fundraisers

Throughout the month of November the Ampcontrol ‘Stash of the Titans Movember network raised a whopping $12,811 to help address health issues facing men including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide.

Our community fundraisers pulled out all the stops including everything from raffles to bake sales, while growing mo’s or racking up the kilometres all to support men’s health during Movember.

At Ampcontrol we’re proud to encourage and support our team members who get involved in local community fundraising initiatives, this year we’ve supported the Mark Hughes Foundation, Camp Quality esCARpade and Movember just to name a few.

We provide our people with opportunities to be the best they can – because we know that we are stronger together.

If you’d like to join the Ampcontrol team, there’s currently a range of professional and technical roles available on our careers page.

Celebrating 100 years of history and new beginnings in Prestwick, Scotland

Formerly known as Allenwest Wallacetown, the origins of this Scottish pioneer in the design and manufacture of flameproof switchgear and control systems began simply enough in 1918 when Mr William M Ritchie decided he would start Wallcetown Engineering Company Limited (WECOL) with a non ferrous foundry and general machine shop.

Over the decades, the business experienced the vast highs and lows of being subject to the volatility of the domestic and international coal market while still delivering world class, innovative technology. Built on the backs of employees at numbers that can only be counted in the thousands since its inception; the business is defined by its legacy of hundreds of installed products dotted across the mining regions of China, Turkey and India which are still regarded as the best in their class.

“Our business history has certainly shaped who and what we are as a business and in many ways, it is this resilience of character which defines us today as we celebrate 100 years of history” says Mr Steven Edmund, Managing Director, Ampcontrol UK.

And although it is a time for nostalgia and reflection, the business has firmly set its sights on its future as part of the Ampcontrol Group.

“In many ways, we have been a traditional manufacturer and this impacted us when the downturn hit the coal market. Because of our connection with Ampcontrol we were able to survive and ultimately, reinvent ourselves for the future” said Mr Edmund.

And it was all about the future on Friday 29 June when the team welcomed over 100 guests to the official opening of the new 20,000 sqm facility at Prestwick, complete with 25 tonne crane and CNC machining capabilities. The facility was officially opened by South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie.

“Being able to showcase our new products and technology, expanded capabilities and greater access to sophisticated engineering support from across the globe is immensely satisfying and something I think all employees at Ampcontrol UK are very proud of” said Mr Edmund.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said:“Ampcontrol UK is an excellent example of an innovative and growing Scottish-based company that offers the products and services required in a modern and global marketplace.

“I am delighted that the business is expanding its operations by the opening of these new premises in Prestwick, which will make a significant contribution to the South Ayrshire economy.”

Supporting our customers across the world – onsite commissioning and testing

The Zonguldak Region comprises five coal mines along the Black Sea coastal line. Ampcontrol has been a long term supplier to this region, with the support of local agent, MTM. Ampcontrol was contracted to deliver the
following power distribution equipment from its UK operation:
• 30 x 3.3kV Motor Starters (Karadon Mine)
• 2 x 3.3kV Circuit Breakers (Amasra Mine)

In addition to the equipment, two service engineers were sent to the sites to carry out the commissioning and testing.

For more information about this project, please read the case study.

Another accolade for Ampcontrol’s rising star

Ampcontrol employee, Joshua Nott has been named Engineering Fabrication Trade Apprentice of the Year and Stan Rippon Perpetual Award winner at the 2017 Hunter Region Apprentice and Trainee Awards (HRATA).

Joshua is no stranger to accolades for his hard work. In the last 12 months, Josh won the Central Coast and Hunter TAFE Excellence Award for Fabrication, Ampcontrol’s Apprentice of the Year and a bronze medal in the 2016 National World Skills Challenge held in Melbourne.

Ampcontrol CEO and Managing Director Rod Henderson said, “It is wonderful to see Joshua’s hard work and dedication recognised by the training community. Having started my own career as an apprentice, and employed many apprentices over the course of my career, I can say that Joshua exemplifies the value of apprenticeships, becoming a valuable member of our fabrication team and an asset to Ampcontrol.”

Joshua is employed full time in Ampcontrol’s fabrication team at Tomago where he fabricates a range of customised specialist electrical enclosures, switchrooms, transformer tanks and skids.

Completing his Certificate III in Engineering Fabrication through TAFE NSW in 2016 Joshua has since completed a certificate IV in Engineering and is currently completing a Diploma in Engineering.  Josh now moves onto the NSW state awards.

Celebrating 50 years in 2018, Ampcontrol is proud to have been a part of the career journey of hundreds of Hunter locals like Joshua.

Looking to take the next step? See what current opportunities we have available.