Munro Engineers driven to succeed

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Munro Engineers is continuing to develop easy to use solutions for building fences

Munro Engineers is best known for its post drivers and fencing solutions, but across more than 150 years of history it has plenty of stories, which even involve beer drinkers nationwide owing it a vote of thanks.

Nowadays, the Ballarat-based manufacturer produces a range of post drivers, the Wire Winder to bring in old fence lines and the Fence Boss to create temporary electric fencing.

Founded in the 1860s as George Munro Agricultural Implement Maker and Smith, the range of agricultural equipment originally produced included wooden wall presses, tobacco presses, shearing handpieces and chaff cutters.

The Fence Boss can be used to both lay out and reel back in a fence

Fast forward about a century, and current company owner Warren McLean explains how Munro Engineers played a part in production at one of Australia’s most famous breweries.

"My father came to Ballarat in about 1960 and worked for a little factory beside where Munro was then," he says.

"He got poached by Munro, worked his way up and ended up owning the company.

"At the time, they were an expert in conveyors, so every CUB beer you possibly drink from aluminium cans were running down Munro conveyors.

"He made conveyors for SPC and others, so they were making equipment in the 1960s and 1970s worth a million dollars, and then came along the opportunity to make these post drivers."

The next step involved a bet between two mates about who could make the best post driver.

A man named Alastair Mackenzie won the bet, before teaming up with a hydraulics engineer called Max Brooke.

"They did some drawings and decided they wanted to go into manufacturing, and they approached my father at Munro," McLean says.

"They all teamed up and finished the machine and started manufacturing it.

"Back in those days, because it was a little sideline, Munro was probably only making one every couple of months. It was not all that important because they were making million-dollar equipment."

McLean’s father later sold the factory and machinery but retained the licence to make the post drivers, before McLean became involved in the mid-1980s and has remained ever since, helping the company to evolve its product base.

He is not the only stalwart of Munro Engineers, with office manager Gail Nichols having also been with the company for about 40 years.

"Since then, we built a factory and have continued to expand," McLean says.

"We now employ about 30 people making fencing equipment, of which versions of post drivers are our main product.

"We also make the Wire Winder for winding in old fence lines, and we’ve recently got into the Fence Boss product, which is assisting people using temporary electric fencing for regenerative and sustainable farming."

Munro’s post drivers evolved from a bet and are now the company’s main seller

The Fence Boss has been Munro’s latest addition and was originally created by dairy farmers in Victoria’s Gippsland region who were seeking an easier way to put out and wind in temporary fences.

"They built a frame and racks that can sit on the front of a quad bike," McLean says.

"The racks are a portable carrying device for carrying your posts for your temporary electric fencing.

"You can take the rack off the bike and put it back on. You can keep the posts stored in your rack or hanging on your shed, gates or fence, so they’re tidy and not all tangled up into drums as most people store them.

"They also developed a feed-out cradle for the reels, so you could click your reel into these feed-out cradles, hook the end of the wire and just drive along and feed it out."

Munro has since evolved the Fence Boss to the point it can be used as a powered system for Gallagher and Speedrite standard geared reels.

"We’ve turned it into a powered cradle so you can not only feed out your reel but you can turn around when you’re finished and want to retrieve your fence," McLean says.

"You click your reel back into the powered cradle and it has a layering system on it, so when you click your remote button it winds the wire up and also layers it onto the spool.

"This means you get a lot less tangles and it’s a lot easier to maintain your tension when winding it up.

"It’s a better way and more efficient way of carrying and storing all your items, and it’s a much easier way of deploying and retrieving your wires and posts than doing it manually, which means you’re basically walking your lines two or three times."

Munro’s next step will be widening the range of reels that are compatible with the powered cradle.

Thanks to a prototype currently undergoing testing, that step may not be too far away.

"The prototype is suitable for large geared reels, standard geared reels, non-geared reels and other varieties that we’ve been able to test," McLean says.

"Once testing is complete, it appears we have a cradle that can handle almost every reel that has a diamond of approximately 250mm.

"That will be a good advantage and it’s very simple and very easy to use."

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