Ree­fi­na­tor a cut above for growth

Countryman - - MACHINERY AND TECHNOLOGY - Cally Dupe

The bur­geon­ing com­pany be­hind the rock-crush­ing Ree­fi­na­tor ma­chine has won the growth cat­e­gory of the WA In­no­va­tor of the Year Awards.

Rocks Gone, founded by for­mer Chap­man Val­ley farmer Tim Pan­nell, took out the ac­co­lade at a pre­sen­ta­tion cer­e­mony in Perth last Wed­nes­day.

Judges as­sessed Mr Pan­nell’s flag­stone Ree­fi­na­tor ma­chine, a hy­brid de­sign be­tween a rock rip­per and a rock roller re­leased in 2014, and has been de­signed to be towed be­hind a trac­tor.

Mr Pan­nell said the ma­chine’s key part was a heavy grate, which he said worked “a bit like a cheese grater” to “grate the rock” in­stead of try­ing to crush it.

The in­no­va­tion award was an­other feather in the cap for Mr Pan­nell, whose busi­ness also scooped best new re­lease at Newde­gate Farm Machin­ery Field Days.

His Welsh­pool work­shop is also manned full-time by his daugh­ters Amy Pan­nell and Jo Pan­nell, while his youngest daugh­ter helps out on univer­sity break. Mr Pan­nell’s jour­ney into in­no­va­tion came af­ter he spent more than 30 years farm­ing near Ger­ald­ton, where he faced var­i­ous prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with rocky ter­rain. He was ini­tially in­spired to search for so­lu­tions to rocky soils on the in­ter­net.

Af­ter trav­el­ling to look at the ex­ist­ing ma­chines, Mr Pan­nell even­tu­ally pur­chased a ro­tary rock crusher and started a con­tract­ing busi­ness crush­ing rocks on farms and gravel roads for lo­cal coun­cils.

But he found the ro­tary crusher had its prob­lems, so de­cided to de­velop his own con­cept — the Ree­fi­na­tor. In­no­va­tion and ICT Min­is­ter Dave Kelly con­grat­u­lated Mr Pan­nell on his achieve­ment.

“The WA In­no­va­tor of the Year pro­gram recog­nises com­pa­nies and ideas that are re­shap­ing our econ­omy and cre­at­ing new jobs for West­ern Aus­tralians,” he said.

“The McGowan Govern­ment is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing the in­no­va­tion sec­tor through ini­tia­tives such as this.”

Other win­ners were emerg­ing in­no­va­tion win­ner Safescape, en­cour­age­ment award win­ner Pi­cosat Sys­tems, de­sign­ing for ex­cel­lence en­cour­age­ment award One­sun and young in­no­va­tor of the year Como Sec­ondary Col­lege’s TOLKA. The Ree­fi­na­tor has pre­vi­ously been named best Aus­tralian-made ma­chine at the Yorke Penin­sula Days and best new re­lease at Newde­gate Machin­ery Field Days in 2015.

Pic­ture: Lau­ren Calvin

Rocks Gone founder Tim Pan­nell (right) and Bal­lidu farmer Phil Mincher­ton stand with a Ree­fi­na­tor.

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