March 8--It is the Rolls Royce of lasers--a $1.5 million cutting machine that slices through stainless steel like a knife through butter.
And it is the future of metal work and Townsville where engineering companies are gearing up to snare millions of dollars worth of work now on the horizon.
"When I came through the trades it had nothing like this," the owner of North Queensland's first German-made TRUMPF industrial laser Bill Nochevan of Townsville Laser Cutting said.
"Seeing this work makes you think differently, it's totally different. We can do things now that we can't do manually."
Townsville Laser Cutting, associated with engineering firm NEM Welding Services at Stuart, has fine-tuned its new baby since taking delivery last December.
The laser cuts up to 20mm-thick steel and pipe to an accuracy of 0.01mm and at increments of 0.001mm at speeds of up to 60 m a minute.
Mr. Nochevan said the laser delivered incredible speed and accuracy to the most complicated cuts, saving time, money, and labor.
It also eliminated the repetitive grind of drilling, cutting, and finishing metal workers hated.
"We've had a lot of interest from other companies and we've got a lot of work from it," Mr. Nochevan said.
Townsville Laser Cutting is a member of the Townsville Regional Engineering Cluster which has helped with the purchase of the new machine.
TREC managing consultant Barry May said investments in new technology were critical for Townsville companies to compete for projects such as the PNG to Queensland gas pipeline, the AGL power station, and the CHALCO alumina refinery project.
"We want to get our share of that work for Townsville and we are not going to get it with a spear. We have to move to new technology," he said.
The laser cutter was an example of how companies could combat skill shortages from the demand rather than the supply side of the equation by reducing the need for repetitive metal working tasks.
Source: Townsville Bulletin--www.townsvillebulletin.news.com.au