Home Articles Victorian Technology Profiles Oct/Nov 06

Victorian Technology Profiles Oct/Nov 06

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The path from start-up to success story can be a challenging journey. These two Victorian innovators are taking the path less travelled, turning good ideas into profitable international businesses, and they’re not looking back!

PIVOTAL CRANE LIFTS PRODUCTIVITY

The path from start-up to success story can be a challenging journey. These two Victorian innovators are taking the path less travelled, turning good ideas into profitable international businesses, and they’re not looking back!

Most manufacturing and assembly plants use manual overhead cranes to lift and move heavy loads around the factory. These cranes require significant effort from the operator to initiate movement as the crane bridge can tend to screw, causing the crane to jam.

Geelong-based crane designer Greg McKay decided there had to be a better way. At 2am one morning, he dreamed up a prototype set to revolutionise lifting and moving on the factory floor. The Global Track Pivotal Crane System minimises the effort required to move a load and is specially designed to avoid jamming. The end result: increased efficiency, improved production and fewer workplace injuries.

“The secret is the progression of movement. The crane swings on a ball pivot so you get a progression of movement, with better control of the load,” says McKay.

The Global Track Pivotal Crane System uses fixed side rails with an oscillating, articulated and pivotal bridge. Less effort is required to move the load, due to the U-hanger design which allows the bridge to be articulated, enhancing functionality.

“The longest bridge anyone else in the world can build is ten metres. We are now out to 15 metres and we don’t know how long we can go,” he says.

McKay currently designs and manufactures crane systems with up to two tonne lifting capacity, as well as producing specialist lifting equipment to complement the Pivotal Crane System. The Pivotal System adapts to the majority of existing manual crane systems.

Manual bridge cranes are used in factories throughout the world and McKay’s company, Global Track Pty Ltd, holds a number of international patents. With interest from the United States, France and Hong Kong, McKay manufactures for local and export markets, and intends to license manufacturing rights to overseas companies.

globaltrack.com.au

THE FLAME CATCHER

While prevention is better than cure, when it comes to fire, containment is also highly desirable. If a fire breaks out, the damage can be minimised with passive fire protection measures, such as fire-resistant walls and floors and fire-retardant cable coating.

One Melbourne company is taking the concept of passive fire protection one step further, with the development of a polymer which solidifies into a ceramic fire-protection barrier at extreme temperatures.

Ceram Polymerik Business Development Manager Fenton Long believes the technology has the potential to radically change passive fire control in buildings.

“The material can be processed like a normal polymer, is flexible and can be extruded or moulded into complex shapes,” he says. “As a foam or rubber, it can be used to seal gaps or fill penetrations. It begins to change into a ceramic at 400 degrees, and completes the transition at approximately 600 degrees.”

The resulting ceramic material is solid or semi-porous, fireproof up to 1200 degrees and counteracts the movement of heat and smoke between floors, rooms or compartments. By contrast, conventional plastics or rubbers crumble to a powdery ash when burnt.

Ceram Polymerik’s technology is the result of several years’ research and development at the CSIRO and Cooperative Research Centre for Polymers.

“The original trigger for the research came from cable-maker Olex, which required a means to protect cables in the event a fire. Ceram Polymerik was established in 2004 to commercialise other aspects of the research,” says Long.

With five international patents, the company is exploring ceramifying polymer fire protection for doors and windows, structural steel, ceilings and wall linings for applications in marine, mass transit, automotive, aircraft and defence industries. Ceram Polymerik will manufacture in Australia for domestic and global markets, and also aims to develop new products with strategic global partners.

cerampolymerik.com



IXC INTERMEDIARIES

In September 2006, the Victorian Minister for Innovation, John Brumby MP, launched the IXC Intermediaries programme, an initiative of the InnovationXchange whereby specialist innovation, commercialisation and business development support staff work inside member organisations under a strict code of ethics and unique confidential structure.

They search for and create deep connections for business growth without prematurely exposing sensitive internal information.

Confidential information is not seen by other client-members, but when an opportunity is found, IXC Intermediaries then help the members engage directly through a step-wise disclosure process. Visit the IXC website at www.ixc.com.au for further information.

Two For The Road editorial is sponsored by the Victorian Government.

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