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South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

‘‘When New Zealand farm­ers in­stall equip­ment they ex­pect to be able to just press a but­ton and not have a tech­ni­cian come to visit too of­ten. That has be­come the mantra of our de­sign phi­los­o­phy – we en­gi­neer the com­plex­ity out.

‘‘All our prod­ucts are de­signed and built here. We have been able to build a strong pres­ence in New Zealand and use that to leapfrog into in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.’’

The com­pany has four New Zealand man­u­fac­tur­ing di­vi­sions, all in the Waikato, hir­ing 130 staff. It also has a wholly owned sub­sidiary in the United States, set up four years ago.

Seventy-five per cent of the com­pany’s over­all busi­ness is de­sign­ing and build­ing rotary milk­ing plat­forms, which farm­ers put their milk­ing ma­chin­ery on. The com­pany also makes milk­ing ma­chine com­po­nents in­clud­ing pul­sators and clus­ters.

One of its di­vi­sions in Hamil­ton is Stain­less Innovations, pro­vid­ing stain­less steel for the com­pany’s prod­ucts.

‘‘By own­ing our own man­u­fac­tur­ing process, qual­ity is ab­so­lutely para­mount.

‘‘We also have our own rotary plat­form fab­ri­ca­tion com­pany in Mata­mata. We re­cently in­stalled ro­botic weld­ing sys­tems to get con­sis­tency and pre­ci­sion.’’

Rotary plat­forms are be­com­ing the milk­ing plat­form of choice, as herd sizes in this coun­try grow, with the av­er­age herd size now more than 400 cows.

One of the com­pany’s lat­est innovations is a rotary plat­form made from nine lay­ers of lam­i­nated ma­te­rial in­clud­ing Kevlar – a light­weight but durable ma­te­rial used in bul­let­proof vests, yachts and For­mula 1 rac­ing cars. Kevlar­was about five times as strong as con­crete but about five times lighter, Mr Bell said.

‘‘An av­er­age-size composite Kevlar rotary plat­form is about 22 tonnes lighter than a con­crete plat­form.

‘‘This means you can in­stall a Kevlar rotary plat­form in ar­eas where there are geotech­ni­cal is­sues, such as soft soils. And we can now ex­port a com­plete rotary plat­form around the world.’’

A young Waikato man, Josh Jan­maat, came up with the idea of us­ing Kevlar and ap­proached Waikato Milk­ing Sys­tems with the idea. They liked it so much, they hired him, bought his com­pany and built a man­u­fac­tur­ing space for him to ex­er­cise his cre­ativ­ity.

Mr Bell said a key to run­ning a suc­cess­ful busi­ness ‘‘is hav­ing the right peo­ple and the right tal­ent, and giv­ing them the en­vi­ron­ment to thrive’’.

The com­pany’s rotary plat­form innovations have driven in­ter­na­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly in China. A deal has just been signed with one of the big­gest dairy com­pa­nies in China – Meng­niu. The deal is worth about $5 mil­lion for the Waikato com­pany, and came from a visit by an 18-strong trade del­e­ga­tion from China.

‘‘New Zealand has a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the best dairy pro­duc­ers in the world so we’re able to trade off that NZ Inc rep­u­ta­tion. Dairy com­pa­nies over­seas want­ing to in­vest in new tech­nolo­gies look first to New Zealand.’

Mr Bell said Waikato Milk­ing Sys­tems plat­forms suited the in­ten­sive Chi­nese dairy sys­tems.

‘‘They are milk­ing cows 24 hours a day with shifts of milk­ers and with cows typ­i­cally milked three times a day. The equip­ment has to be very high per­for­mance with short ser­vic­ing in­ter­vals, which is what we pro­vide.’’

Waikato Milk­ing Sys­tems has part­nered with an Is­raeli com­pany, Afim­ilk, in the Meng­niu deal. Afim­ilk will pro­vide com­put­erised herd man­age­ment sys­tems.

Mr Bell is Waikato-born and bred. He stud­ied man­age­ment diploma at Waikato Univer­sity and has an MBA.

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