Equipment & Technology

Kotzur signs on for Australian made silos

The Kotzur Group has registered with the Australian Made Campaign, earning the green and gold logo. ABHR learns why the company is proud to be known as a local manufacturer.

The Kotzur Group has registered with the Australian Made Campaign, earning the green and gold logo. ABHR learns why the company is proud to be known as a local manufacturer.

According to the 2016 Census, 836 people live in the southern New South Wales town of Walla Walla. It was here in 1953 that Ray Kotzur founded his family business with the aim of supporting the local farming community through general engineering services.

Since then, the company has grown significantly, transforming from a generalist fabrication shop to a specialist manufacturer of equipment for the storage and handling of bulk solids.

Raquel Kotzur, Marketing & HR Officer of the company, says more than 20 families in the town are involved in the business, either via direct employment or as part of a local small businesses supplying to Kotzur.

“At Kotzur, we employ close to 200 people, with around 125 working at the Walla Walla site,” she says.

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“Wherever possible, we perform the task in-house instead of relying on external providers. It’s part of our values as a company – we’re family owned and run in a regional town and we want to support the local economy.”

The Kotzur Group registered with the Australian Made Campaign and have been approved to bear the green and gold kangaroo logo. The logo, a registered trademark, can only be used on approved products that meet the criteria set out by the Australian Consumer Law.

For a product to qualify as Australian made, it needs to have had its substantial transformation in Australia. This means that the goods are fundamentally different in identity, nature, or essential character from any input items that have been imported into the country.

Raquel says registering with the Australian Made Campaign helps customers recognise instantly where the company’s silos are manufactured.

“As soon as you see that kangaroo, you know you’re supporting an Australian business,” she says.

The primary material used in manufacturing silos is steel, which Kotzur tries to source as much from local sources as possible. A small volume of product needs to be imported where Australian suppliers are unable to meet certain specifications.

Andrew Kotzur, Managing Director of the company, says Australian steel is a world class material.

“It’s also important to know the origins of your raw materials. When we buy steel made in Australia, we have direct access to the manufacturer and can build a relationship with where the steel is made,” he says.

“This allows us to source materials in particular sizes that normally aren’t available. Strategically, we’re also a lot closer to our suppliers meaning that if something were to disrupt global trade – like the blockage of the Suez Canal or COVID-19, we are less likely to be affected.”

Kotzur also works to reduce its emissions by minimising international shipping and the use of solar panels at its factories. At its Walla Walla sites, renewable energy makes up around 35 per cent of the electricity used. The company has also begun using electric forklifts and electric laser cutting machines.

Building to Australian Standards

Because Kotzur equipment is built locally, the business adheres to relevant Australian Standards. These include AS 3774-1996, which specifies loads on bulk solids containers, AS 2628-2010 which specifies sealing requirements for grain-storage silos, and AS/NZS 1170.2:2011 and AS 1170.4-2007, which specifies procedures for determining structural designs to resist wind and seismic forces.

Andrew says these design standards are tailored for the Australian environment and are some of the only standards in the world that provide guidance for designing silos for these conditions.

“The Australian Standards were some of the first to provide solid guidance on the design, fabrication, erection, and modification of steel structures and silos,” he says.

“There is no legal requirement for an imported silo to meet the Australian standards, which are relatively conservative. This is important when it comes to safety.

“When designing to the code, particular attention is paid to vertical axial load – the load trying to drag the wall of the silo down. Building with this in mind provides a higher level of safety than what has been used in the past.”

Designing silos that meet these standards does add a level of cost to the process. Thicker and heavier materials provide greater levels of durability and safety, but often cost more.

However, Andrew says Kotzur is focused on driving costs down to provide the best value for money over the total lifespan of the asset.

“Another area we focus on is gas sealing and fumigation. Doing that well and with a system that lasts adds costs, but it then becomes a value proposition for the end user. Reliable insect control adds to their bottom line and will likely be more cost effective in the end.”

The company aims to continue improving its manufacturing facilities in Walla Walla and in Toowoomba and is working to increase its throughput to meet high levels of demand.

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