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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 12

I The First Half Century - The Initial Struggle

II The Second Fifty Years - The Start Of Expansion

III The Third Fifty Years - Federation And The First World War

IV The Fourth Period - Second World War To The Present
i General Conditions
ii Iron and Steel Production
iii Aluminium Technology
iv Innovative Copper Refining Process
v The EDIM-4WD Load-Haul-Dump Vehicle
vi Copper Rod Production
vii Copper Wire and Cables
viii The Diecasting Industry
ix Automotive Components
x Whitegoods or Consumer Durables
xi Hardware
xii Some Recent New Industries
xiii The National Measurement System
xiv Manufacturing Industry in this Decade
xv Acknowledgements



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Wire products (continued)

Developments in open-cut mining led to the use of cable belt conveyors requiring wire ropes not previously made in Australia, together with provision of the subsequent steel reinforcing of the conveyor belt.

The plant at Newcastle was largely related to older technology and it was decided to erect a new modern plant at Geelong, Victoria which took its first shipment of rod coils from Port Kembla in 1953. The Geelong plant became a high speed production facility while Newcastle remained the centre of technical developments.

The gradual development of wire producing capacity and technology by BHP had been handled, basically, as separate companies, Rylands, Lysaght Bros. and Co., A.W.R.W. and Bullivants. These were drawn into one company, Australian Wire Industries Pty. Ltd., incorporated in 1959, which resulted in this Company becoming the third or fourth largest wire producer in the world, both by size and product range. From this time, major advances in technology have occurred in the areas of galvanizing, rod preparation and computer process control.

The most significant technological achievement has been the development of the AWI Gas Wiping Process for high speed wire galvanizing. This process revolutionised the manufacture of heavy zinc-coated wires not only in Australia but also in the numerous countries abroad where this technology has since been licensed. It established AWI as a world leader in wire galvanizing. The new process enabled production speed to increase by a factor of three whilst maintaining the quality of the finished product. The enormous speed increases required changes in plant design and further advances have been made with the introduction of vertical pad wiping, again improving plant design over the old inclined withdrawal system, giving ease of operation and flexibility of plant loading. Quenching systems associated with vertical pad wiping now allow a particularly bright finish on this type of wire. The Company is now able to offer a wide range of services covering technology, plant design and commissioning to prospective galvanizing licensees.

A novel development called Fibresteel has made an impact on fibre reinforced concrete technology through a subsidiary, AWI Fibresteel. This Company produces steel fibres with enlarged ends that overcome the problems of inadequate mixing and insufficient bond strength formerly associated with these products. The technology has been licensed to Norway, which is the centre of a large market for fibre reinforced concrete.

Drums and pails

Some of the manufacturing areas where there was no Australian production were filled by overseas companies. In 1937, the Rheem Manufacturing Company of USA began making, in Australia, large steel containers such as the familiar 44 gallon (200 litre) drum; two years later the Company was joined by its steel supplier, BHP, to form Rheem Australia Pty. Ltd. During 1939, the Company started making gas water heaters together with small drums or pails as they are called in the industry.

During the war, Rheem made a wide range of products for the allies including boom defence buoys, bombs, smoke containers, shells, aircraft parts, ammunition boxes and water bottles, of the latter, 319,000 without a single leak. Following the war, Rheem returned to the more traditional products and introduced the electric water heater to their range.

Rheem expanded into packaging products and in 1970 it acquired the National Bag Company of Australia. Its main operating company was A. Abrahams & Sons Pty. Ltd. which had begun in 1908 as a sack and bag company and became the national leader in flexible packaging.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - A. Abrahams and Sons Pty Ltd; A.W.R.W. (Australian Wire Rope Works Pty Ltd); Australian Wire Industries Pty Ltd; Australian Wire Rope Works Pty Ltd; AWI Fibresteel; CSIRO; Lysaght Bros. & Co. Pty Ltd; National Bag Company of Australia; Rheem Australia Ltd; Rylands Bros., (Aust.) Ltd

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 892 - 894, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher