Local design and advanced manufacturing – it never died

The SITORO innovation at work in the field.

Despite fears about the demise of Australian manufacturing, Tricycle Developments has highlighted what the local sector is still capable of. Austmine talks with the company about its approach.

Speed, quality and expertise are more important than ever for design and advanced manufacturing.

Local award-winning studio, Tricycle Developments, has more than 15 years of experience in innovation and bringing technically challenging products to life.

Born from Swinburne University’s Product Design and Engineering course in Melbourne, Tricycle Developments blends the industrial design disciplines of human factors, product form, user interface and user experience with the technical disciplines of manufacturing and mechanical engineering.

Austmine sits down with Tricycle Developments director Mat Trainor to gain his insights on the company’s unique approach to developing solutions, as well as to discuss the company’s partnership with Southern Innovation.

Enabling rapid technology deployment

Tricycle Developments has an ongoing relationship with leading mining equipment, technology and services (METS) company Southern Innovation, which it assisted to rapidly develop, build and test products for minerals exploration and mining.

Southern Innovation’s SITORO technology provides real-time XRTS (x-ray transmission spectrometry) for the analysis of exploration drilling as the sample comes out of the ground, reducing waste and impact, increasing efficiency and accuracy, and improving mapping.

For this program, Tricycle Developments worked closely with Southern Innovation in a true collaboration to facilitate mechanical requirements for ongoing technology development, design and manufacture of custom equipment.

Tricycle Developments assisted with research and development and was responsible for mechanical design and engineering related to the product, including early lab test prototypes to the production ready, field tested units.

De-risking technology development

Tricycle Developments’ team of problem solvers, designers, engineers and makers was able to provide certainty to a complex process through a practical, rapid and applied problem-solving approach to robust engineering.

“Our team was able to assist by bringing simplicity through the design process to a complex, technical and risky venture,” Trainor says.

“The key element to our process is identifying, mitigating and validating any high-risk areas within a program.

“These may be technology, manufacturing or even human related, but all programs go through a process of risk analysis and project planning to make sure that any identified unknowns are investigated as a priority within the program.”

Tricycle Developments was able to assist with developing mechanical manufacturing IP by investigating the unique requirements, as well as providing support through field testing and internal pre-compliance testing.

“Our facility is designed for rapid development and testing, both virtual and practical,” Trainor says. “As the team is able to not only design but also manufacture and test this removes any communication, time zone or shipping issues from a program.

“When programs are technically challenging these issues can quickly become amplified, creating massive problems. As we have the facilities and diverse experience to conduct this ourselves those issues don’t even surface with our team.”

Investigating and testing prior to compliance testing allowed space for research into new materials and manufacturing techniques that delivered advances across mechanical outcomes.

As such, the team was able to develop a cost-effective, complex electromechanical solution rapidly with Southern Innovation, an ongoing, happy and growing customer.

Delivering a world-first product to the market

Tricycle Developments’ multidisciplinary approach means the team was able to rapidly develop a cost-effective, complex electromechanical solution.

“The whole team has a multidisciplinary background, which allows us to easily and rapidly customise our process to each client and technical challenge,” Trainor says.

“The development process requires so many interfaces between design requirements, production, materials, capabilities, environment, commercial and other areas.

“Being able to quickly and efficiently reach alignment between stakeholders and solve problems is key to not only a fast, but also a successful development program.”

The final units were mechanically designed, engineered and built at Tricycle Developments, with the x-ray elements commissioned at Southern Innovation.

They feature a ruggedised design to withstand the unique, harsh Australian mining environment, including a vibration dampening, dust and water ingress sealing and cooling systems.

Giving confidence to technology ventures

The team’s multidisciplinary experience and skillsets uniquely position Tricycle Developments in the market to assist Australian mining and METS companies looking to improve products and systems to new and novel products.

Further, Tricycle Developments understands the key element of a successful development process is the ability to address the difficult or unknown things upfront.

“Our development process focusses on identifying and mitigating risks related to unknown or complex elements, as early as possible in order to ensure that ongoing development decisions are based with confidence on ‘knowns’ rather than ‘unknowns’,” Trainor says.

This article also appears in the September issue of Australian Mining.

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