@AVNHQ Business Bulletin, 18 January 2021

By Leo D’Angelo Fisher

Top stories in @AVNHQ Business:

  • Adelaide welding technology company targets global defence market

  • Victoria vies for $27 billion ADF Infantry Fighting Vehicle project

  • Small businesses receive funding to boost export opportunities

Adelaide welding technology company targets global defence market


Adelaide-based, ASX-listed K-TIG, which manufactures a patented, high-speed precision welding technology known as Keyhole TIG, has identified defence as one of its key global markets.


Keyhole TIG welds up to 100 times faster than traditional tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, achieving full penetration in a single pass in materials up to 16mm thick and typically operates at twice the speed of plasma welding. K-TIG is well suited to corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel, nickel alloys and titanium alloys as well as carbon steels.


In addition to speed advantages, the technology reduces power and gas consumption by up to 95 per cent.


K-TIG managing director Adrian Smith says the company is redoubling its marketing in the United States, its biggest market, but Australia remains an important market.


K-TIG has partnered with Adelaide-based advanced defence manufacturer Axiom Precision Manufacturing and Wollongong, NSW-based Bisalloy Steels to develop an advanced capability in the fabrication of hardened steels, which includes defence-grade ballistic steel. The development of this capability opens up opportunities for the technology to be used on significant defence contracts in Australia and overseas.


In the US, K-TIG recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Houston-based automatic welding and robotic welding company Key Plant Automation.


Key Plant designs and manufactures welding automation, handling and positioning equipment, robotic welding cells and turnkey solutions in 45 countries and services a range of markets, including defence, aerospace, oil and gas, and renewable energy.


Under the terms of the MOU, Key Plant will establish an in-house technical capability to market and deliver welding automation solutions that incorporate K-TIG’s products. Key Plant will also house a demonstration facility for K-TIG’s products in its Houston facility.


“Our US development strategy is to drive revenue through on-the-ground direct marketing as well as the execution of strategic partnerships and distribution arrangements,” Smith says.


Following a $5.6 million capital raising of in 2020 K-TIG plans to further develop opportunities in the global and domestic defence markets.

Victoria vies for $27 billion ADF Infantry Fighting Vehicle project


The Victorian government has signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean conglomerate Hanwha to build and maintain Australian military vehicles in the regional city of Geelong.


The MOU is part of the Andrews government’s support for Hanwha Defence Australia (HDA), which is bidding for the $27 billion Land 400 Phase 3 project to provide the fleet of Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) that will replace the M113AS4 fleet. This will be the first time that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has a dedicated IFV.


HDA managing director Richard Cho says the MOU provides “a strong platform” from which to establish an advanced manufacturing facility in Victoria.


As well as being South Korea’s largest defence company Hanwha also operates in advanced materials technology, aerospace, fintech and solar energy.


In January, HDA and “Team Redback” – a group of Australian defence-technology companies led by HDA – launched the Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Three Redback vehicles will compete in the ADF’s test and evaluation trials to be conducted in 2021 as part of the Risk Mitigation Activity for the Land 400 Phase 3 project.


Hanwha has been chosen as one of two final tenderers for the project, along with German company Rheinmetal Defence, which is being backed by the Queensland government.


Victoria’s defence sector contributes $8.4 billion annually to the state’s economy with 6300 businesses involved in aerospace components, digital and cyber security, maritime design, military vehicle production and munitions.


A PwC report commissioned by Hanwha estimates that the LAND 400 Phase 3 manufacturing program will contribute $5.7 billion to the Victorian economy.


If selected for Land 400 Phase 3 Hanwha will construct the vehicles at a purpose-built facility in Greater Geelong and create up to 1000 jobs.

Small businesses receive funding to boost export opportunities


Four diverse defence-related businesses will share more than $360,000 in funding from the federal government’s Defence Global Competitiveness Grant program.


The grants, aimed at supporting small businesses to pursue global markets, have been awarded to Sydney electronics engineering company Advanced Power Drives, Brisbane aerospace engineering company Ferra Engineering, Adelaide electronics manufacturer Redarc Electronics, and Queensland company Safe Defence Australia.


Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price says the grants, totalling $361,116, will assist the businesses to “increase their manufacturing and production capabilities to tap into new markets and grow their business”.


Advanced Power Drives will use its funding ($71,672) to increase its manufacturing capability for parts used in tank gunsights and unmanned aerial vehicles. The company is exploring opportunities in the United States.


Ferra Engineering ($115,227) will use its funding to purchase equipment to machine aerospace components for the Europe and UK markets.


Redarc Electronics ($150,000) plans to upgrade manufacturing processes to make its printed circuit boards suitable for use in commercial military vehicles.


Safe Defence ($24,217), which markets emergency and life-support equipment, plans to move into in-house production to meet demand from Canada, Japan and New Zealand.


Defence Global Competitiveness Grants are available to Australian small and medium businesses to invest in projects that help to build their export capacity.


Grant applications can submitted at any time through www.business.gov.au/dgc.

Leo D'Angelo Fisher is a regular columnist and Editor-at-Large at Australian Veteran News. Connect with him on Twitter: @DAngeloFisher.


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