A laser focus on production

EB Engineering operations manager Nick Wansink uses their new tube laser cutter, watched by...
EB Engineering operations manager Nick Wansink uses their new tube laser cutter, watched by engineer Jeremy Holden. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
It's a sizable bit of kit.

EB Engineering recently installed a tube laser cutter — believed to be the first of its kind in Dunedin — at a cost of about $750,000, in a move which operations manager Nick Wansink describes as a "game-changer".

The firm also recently moved from Wilkie Rd, South Dunedin, where it had been for about 30 years, to a much bigger workshop in Devon St. It had outgrown its premises about three years ago and had been looking to build, but could not find the right site.

When the Devon St property — once a workshop for Farra Engineering — cropped up, it was "almost ready to go" and it was ideal to house the laser cutter, which required about 120sq m.

Its installation allowed EB Engineering to increase production; work which would previously take a week to do could now be done in four or five hours.

The laser cutter in action. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The laser cutter in action. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
On its own, the firm did not have enough work to justify the cutter, and so Mr Wansink said its goal was to be a "hub" for it in the city, allowing other manufacturing businesses to also utilise it.

"If you want to be competitive in the global market, you’ve got to invest in this type of technology", he said.

The cutter did not replace anyone; rather it increased production.

EB Engineering Solutions, which was established as E B McDonald Ltd in 1945 as a tractor-farm machinery repair shop in Crawford St, employed 16 staff.

About a third of its business was manufacturing Perkinz sheep handling solutions, turning designer Wayne Perkins’ concepts into reality, and Mr Wansink saw that growing to a majority stake in the business.

Perkinz products were exported to Australia, where there were "huge" opportunities for growth.

While sales had declined in July last year with the state of the Australian sheep industry, it was starting to turn.

Mr Perkins, who used to have a shearing run and had a strong understanding of the sheep industry, was working closely with Australian Wool Innovation around a race system for shearing.

One of the benefits of being based in Dunedin, a smaller centre, was the co-operation between businesses. Engineering was a close-knit industry in the south.

Mr Wansink is a committee member of the Southland Otago Regional Engineering Collective (Sorec), which was established in 2019 with the objectives of improving resilience and growing the manufacturing engineering sector through attracting more apprentices, supporting business transformation and promoting regional capability.

It was doing "wonders" for the industry, he said.