Our team at HERA wanted to take the time to wish all of our members the best as we break for our Christmas holidays. We look forward to seeing you in the new year!

We’ve had a milestone year with some great new initiatives which we’re proud to have achieved.

We embedded a new focus on automation and industry 4.0 within our strategy, a move that has seen us look to build a community hub for innovation.

Excitingly, we announced the build of a new Innovation Centre. This will address the strategic need for the physical facility to facilitate technology transfer, prototyping, research and training to prepare our member companies for the Industry 4.0 transformation. This will also propel our NZ Welding Centre into the only Welding 4.0 facility in New Zealand – and support its rebrand to the Centre for Innovative Fabrication.

Supporting the creation of the Innovation Centre was the appointment of our new Innovation Centre Manager, Greg Buckley. He’ll work closely with Holger Heinzel, our Industry 4.0 Engineer and will see him oversee construction of our Innovation Centre which will commence in early 2020, as well as enhance industry engagement in Industry 4.0, and create a community of practise around this thinking.

We also launched “Stirring the Pot”, our new industry-focused podcast. Episodes include:

Improving productivity and capability

This year we also initiated welding productivity and automation capability assessments for our members. This identifies improvement opportunities and benchmarks performance relative to the rest of the industry.

Supporting this focus on improving productivity, we hosted world renowned international expert on the Theory of Constraints (bottlenecks), Arrie van Niekerk. He delivered training in Auckland and Christchurch.

In addition, we commenced a multi-year quality and productivity research program. This program aims to establish a system for continuous monitoring of quality of fabricated steelwork, optimising inspection requirements and managing compliance risks based on big data analysis. This includes a number of sub-projects in co-collaboration with the University of Auckland. For example, we are undertaking a multi-year research project on Industry 4.0 and in-process quality control using advanced welding power sources and digital twins.


The Diversity Agenda

Recognising that greater workforce inclusion will be a pre-requisite for addressing the skills crisis, we focused on diversity and inclusion.

Launching our Whanake scholarship to support greater Maori inclusion in Engineering, becoming a founding member of the Diversity Agenda, and carrying out a whole lot of advocacy work in this area.

This included joining the Diversity Panel at the 2019 Manufacturing and Design Conference and ensuring our podcasts included a diversity focus. We also ran another Women in Engineering campaign, showcasing the amazing leaders in our industry who also happen to be female!


Industry focused initiatives and connections

We’re glad to have re-invigorated the Sustainable Steel Council, with our CEO, Troy Coyle, elected as the new Chair. This aligns strongly with the research and work we’ve done to increase awareness of metals contribution to the New Zealand Economy using the Living Standards Framework as the assessment tool.

We also ran our second cohort of Innovation READY training, with three companies progressing to Innovation SET from the first cohort. Participants in Innovation READY this year included MJH Engineering, Atlantic Engineering, Otahuhu Engineering, Dixon Engineering, Stainless Engineering, and Jensen Steel Fabrication.


A team transitioning to meet our member needs

This year we had four new staff join the team.


Together we’re looking to the future, and 2020 will be another big year for us.

Kicking it off in February with our Future Forum – 20/20 VISION conference in Auckland. This has a line-up of several international key-note speakers, such as Australian-based futurist Chris Riddell; CEO of Dutch leader in additive manufacturing, MX3D, Gijs van der Velden (know for printing the steel footbridge in Holland); and Des Watkins from Des Watkins Steel (who is an amazing and passionate case study for digitalisation).