Global made local: inside Hardi's Adelaide factory

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Farms & Farm Machinery magazine toured Hardi Australia’s factory and spoke with operations manager Des Ramsey about the production process

Spread across 10 hectares in Adelaide’s northern suburbs is the engine room of Hardi Australia, where sprayers carrying the manufacturer’s signature red colour are built, assembled and tested.

It is a significant operation, with more than seven tonnes of welding wire consumed and eight tonnes of red powder coat sprayed and baked every year in the production process.

The numbers are impressive.

More than 100 people are employed by Hardi Australia including production staff, administration, warehousing, engineering and research and development personnel.


Sprayers are meticulously built inside Hardi’s factory

Continuous improvement

Far from resting on its laurels, though, Hardi Australia has a plan to increase its manufacturing capabilities, which is being spearheaded by operations manager Des Ramsey.

"We do a fair bit of our own metal manufacturing, which is a lot more than people think we do, and they are usually surprised at how much when we bring them through the factory," he says.

"At the moment, we’re in the process of moving more of our manufacturing from Denmark to Australia so we can create more local jobs here in Adelaide. We are a strong believer in growing manufacturing in Australia.

"It also means that we can produce our machines faster because we don’t have to wait 10 to 14 weeks for a part to be made in Denmark, put on a container and shipped to Australia.

"Some of these parts are quite significant components and are only used on Australian machines, which means we are investing heavily in our infrastructure and recruiting more welders and assemblers.

"Not all steel is equal. Moving our manufacturing to Australia also means that we need to change our engineering processes so ensure the components are based on Australian-profiled steel.

"Our objective is to manufacture as much as we can in-house here in Adelaide. We don’t do a lot of outsourcing; we try to manufacture it all here. If we can’t do it ourselves we outsource it to local manufacturers.

"The flow-on effect of increasing local manufacturing is that we also have to increase our assembly capabilities. All this, combined with an increase in sales, means that we are very busy in setting us up for the future."


Each aspect of production is a ‘cell’ with quality checks

Making it happen

Every day is busy at Hardi’s headquarters in Adelaide, particularly with agricultural machinery demand being so high. Orders are already out for the rest of the year, Ramsey says, which means having an efficient production process is crucial so that Hardi’s customers can take delivery of their machines as quickly as possible.

While touring the Adelaide factory, Farms & Farm Machinery got an insight into how many different processes are undertaken to get a part ready for assembly.

"There is an immense amount going on. It starts with the steel that is already pre-cut to whatever size it needs to be," Ramsey says.

"Each individual component is then welded to become a part and then it moves through the rest of the process.

"First we metal shot blast the part so that it is clean for the powder coating process. Next we prime coat the part, after which it gets baked to 220 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes to ensure the prime is baked onto the steel.

"After that, we put on our final top coat and bake the part again in 220 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes for the final result.

"To ensure the highest levels of quality at every step of the process, we do quality checks before a part or machine goes into the next work cell.

"The way we see it is that each work cell is a customer of the previous cell, and they are allowed to reject the part if they are not happy with the quality.

"However, they are also a supplier of the next cell, which means they need to ensure the quality of ‘their’ product is top notch.

"When the machine is completed, it goes across to our test shed for a full functional test.

"Our test shed can fit all Hardi sprayers, including the giant 9000L Rubicon self-propelled sprayer and its 48.5 metre boom.

"With a full water recovery system, Hardi is able to run spray tests for 24 hours and longer."


Eight tonnes of red powder coat is used every year

Quality in every step of the process is a major part of what Hardi does, Ramsey says, to ensure the final product will be to a customer’s satisfaction when it eventually reaches the farm.

"We have a really strong focus on quality from manufacturing through to assembly through to the quality assurance functional testing that happens on a machine at the end of the whole process," he says.

However, quality is not Ramsey’s only focus.

"We’re also big on safety and providing a safe working environment for our people," he says.

"That’s very important in an environment like manufacturing, so safety stands there right next to quality.

"The end game for us is all about providing the best possible product to our customers.

"That doesn’t just mean the physical product, it also means we want to give our customers the best experience in every dealing they have with Hardi Australia and its dealer network," he says.


Hardi’s test shed has room for even the biggest sprayers

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