Hofmann Engineering’s success in industrial manufacturing in Australia, and worldwide, cannot be ignored. This engineering firm has come a long way since its establishment in 1969. In response to a local downturn, Hofmann Engineering looked ahead and chose to diversify into new markets. They made the right choice.
The expansion of Hofmann Engineering products, including precision replacement parts and components, made sense for this innovative manufacturing company. Some of these stand-out engineering products include gearboxes for wind turbines, and the world’s biggest forged steel ring gear; custom made for a mine in China. As aptly stated by Hofmann Engineering’s Chief Executive Stephan Kirsch, “We’re going against the trend.”
Going Against The Trend
Despite the mining downturn in 2010, Hofmann Engineering continued its global expansion. This manufacturer of industrial engineering products specialises in engineered precision replacement parts and components for the mining and heavy machinery industry. Although, they are particularly focused on transmission gearing for mining companies.
Interstate & Global Expansion
Since 2010, Hofmann Engineering has expanded its facilities; opening workshops and factories in Bendigo (VIC), Newcastle (NSW) and Cheltenham (VIC). Globally, Hofmann Engineering opened a factory in Chile in 2011, and in 2014, another large workshop in Peru. Speaking on their success, Stephan commented, “Success is all dependent on your business model. The market is challenging, yes, but if you have the right business model and you apply the right tools you can be successful… in this environment.”
Keys To Success: Targeting Niche Markets
So what is Hofmann Engineering’s secret? What’s their key to success? Stephan claims it’s their strategic targeting of niche markets in the mining and industrial manufacturing sectors. With the world’s leading miners in iron ore, copper, bauxite/aluminium and gold already among their customers, Hofmann Engineering began targeting niche market sectors with their manufacturing of planetary gearboxes used in wind turbines.
“Versatility is a key to success. We have quite a vast product portfolio and, in particular, for mining, our concept is improved engineering and operating cost-saving,” says Stephan.
Keys To Success: Innovating & Extending Product Lifetime
A long product lifetime is essential in heavy machinery and mining industries. Having to replace components can be a notorious time-waster because it imposes downtime on the team, thereby stalling production. Hofmann Engineering expanded the product lifetime with a specialised heat-treatment process. They also rely on high quality, customised alloy steel.
Training Up The Next Generation In Industrial Manufacturing
Hofmann Engineering has also demonstrated a commitment to training up the next generation in industrial manufacturing. Over the years, they have trained up hundreds of apprentices. In fact, approximately 20% of their staff across all of their factories are trained as part of Hofmann Engineering’s apprenticeship program.
Manufacturing With AI
While Hofmann Engineering tends to manufacture items in small quantities, they do rely on robots, particularly in their manufacture of trackpads, which are utilised for the undercarriage of earthmoving equipment.
Using robots, the Hofmann Engineering facility in Bassendean, Perth, manufactured the largest forged steel ring gear in the world. It had a diameter of 13.2 meters and weighed a hefty 73.5 tonnes. The ring transmits 17,000 kilowatts when it is driven by two 9 tonne pinions that Hofmann Engineering also manufactured. It is currently used in a China mine for a grinding mill.
Manufacturing In Australia
Stephan explained that State and Federal Government organisations and representatives routinely approach Hofmann Engineering, seeking suggestions to improve manufacturing in Australia. Stephan believes that more importance must be placed on “value add” to bolster employment levels and boost tax income.
Looking To The Future
Stephan believes that Hofmann Engineering could add more value in the future by “refining certain resources into finished or semi-finished products.” With heavy investment in research and development, Hofmann Engineering will continue to innovate in the industrial manufacturing sector.
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