As Australian mining companies become more reliant on durable equipment, NSE Group’s engineers have made strides in a domestic market traditionally dominated by overseas manufacturers. Australian Mining writes.
Companies within the Australian mining sector often enjoy buying equipment and having services provided locally.
Generally speaking, it gives them access to quicker delivery, reliable materials and compliance with local regulations. The only issue is cost.
For emerging engineering company Nu Style Engineering (NSE Group), this has been a crucial opportunity to leverage off and provide its products and services at an acceptable price.
This gap in the market allows the company to compete with manufacturing giants in China on popular mining products such as belt and chain conveyors and lifting equipment.
NSE also specialises in structural steel, chute and plant design alongside improving process flow and plant optimisation.
The company’s push into the mining sector has started to thrive, given the humble beginnings NSE’s founder Evan Joyce evolved from.
Equipped with a design background and an extensive network, Joyce launched NSE’s journey through processing engineering and shop drawings, initially targeting the automotive industry.
“I began to work in different sectors and working with different customers and as each project grew, so did the opportunities,” Joyce says.
“Some of the smaller projects led to bigger opportunities; there’s often an opportunity with smaller clients as they can lead to something larger to spin off them.”
With this logic, Joyce expanded his services from working as a consultant in mechanical design and project management to adding manufacturing and complete plant design to the company’s repertoire.
Alongside this growth in skills was a need for more staff, taking NSE to where it is today, with 14 factory and office staff and a dynamic business that is shifting focus to the Australian mining industry.
Joyce feels as though the time is right for NSE to assist mining companies with equipment that is safe and reliable.
“We see a lot of structures, conveyors and guarding within the industry now that are ageing and need updating – some that have been cheap versions that have come from overseas and do not meet the current AS standards,” he says.
“As the sector grows and ages it’s so important to make sure plants are kept compliant and also that they are running to their fullest potential.”
One of the most popular areas of business at the moment is conveyors that appeal to the Australian mining sector given their homegrown design, build quality and unique ability to retro fit additional sections.
Additionally, platforms, stairways and walkways are all designed and manufactured in Australia, meaning NSE is often able to leverage off price differentiation compared with cheaper and inferior overseas products.
The benefits of having the entire supply chain within Australia coincides with the ability Joyce has to design products in-house.
“We are competitive based on design through utilising our labour input to build machinery the way we want it built,” he says.
With regard to the conveyor market, NSE has capitalised on its design ability to supply conveyors that provide optimum safety while reducing costs.
The introduction of a conveyor body that also acts as a guard has been revolutionary in the mining sector.
“Where there’s a walkway on conveyors and it normally needs guarding on it, companies often have to put up a lot of mesh guarding up and around pinch points,” Joyce explains.
“We have been able to be competitive in the supply of conveyors because our conveyor body also acts as a guard.”
Innovations such as this have been at the forefront of NSE’s growth as the company looks to expand its mining customer base.
Joyce and his team now regularly get calls from operations to find solutions for aging or existing structures that will make them compliant with local regulations or make the necessary changes in design and fabrication.
A key aspect of the business is working closely with clients to tailor designs individually with a high level of flexibility.
While modest at the moment, NSE’s future looks bright as it begins to pursue contracts from more of the major players in the industry.
“In the last few years we haven’t really been chasing the bigger clients, we’ve just been doing more local work. At the end of the day, people will always be happy to buy Australian made products as long as the price is right,” Joyce concludes.
This article also appears in the October edition of Australian Mining.