ABB keeps expanding

Extension to factory sees big rise in staff numbers

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 07:40 24/12/2012
abb stand
ROBERT CHARLES
ABB Ltd general manager Deane Hogg, senior vice-president Mario Corse and New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young in the $1.5 million factory extension at ABB's New Plymouth plant.

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Securing new Australian markets has given New Plymouth transformer manufacturers ABB the confidence to hire 25 new staff and build a $1.5 million factory extension.

Last week the New Plymouth ABB plant celebrated the completion of a 600 square-metre factory extension and the installation and upgrading of 16 significant pieces of equipment.

The extension increased production capacity by about 30 per cent to support the Australian market.

This increase in production led to the employment of an extra 25 Taranaki employees to cater for a second production shift.

ABB New Plymouth general manager Deane Hogg said in the process of the restructure six employees from an internal welding shop were made redundant because the company decided to outsource.

New Plymouth sheet metal and engineering fabrication outfit Rivet Fabrication By Design had taken on four of those staff.

Rivet owner Steve Scott said the contracts were signed last week.

There could also be room to hire the other two in the near future, he said.

"We haven't got positions for them now but we might still look to take them on later."

ABB produced small distribution transformers for the New Zealand market, as well as internationally for Australia and the Pacific Islands.

The power and automation technology specialists owned companies in about 100 countries and employed about 145,000 people.

ABB factory sales manager Tania Lindsay said next year ABB might employ another 20-odd people if it went ahead with plans to add a third shift to its production.

If the production volume increased for ABB it could also look at becoming a 24-hour operation.

"We could run the plant for 24 hours and that's maybe what will happen in the years to come," Lindsay said.

ABB had recently secured a new portion of the Australian market, she said.

"Having that Australian market come our way has allowed us to do that extension and have the capital spend."

In the past ABB was producing about 2000 transformers per annum. It was now doing 4000 a year, she said.

"'We want to move up to be doing 10,000 per year. To do that we would go to a 24-hour operation."

Its Australian exports were mostly smaller transformers to utility companies and industrial customers including mining, oil and gas.

"Basically any company that's big enough that they need their own transformer."

ABB had been at its Paraite Rd site in Bell Block under various names since 1959, Hogg said.

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The addition of 25 staff meant its payroll now sat at 100, he said.

The extension cost $1.5m in total.

About 30 per cent of ABB's revenue came from Australia, 10 per cent from the Pacific Islands and the rest from New Zealand, he said.

Australia was a growing market for ABB because production costs in New Zealand were much cheaper than in Australia, he said.

"I think oil and gas business over there drives up a lot of the costs," Hogg said.

The new business in Australia had increased ABB's revenue by about 30 per cent, he said.

Last year the ABB Group decided to move some production from Australia to New Zealand, he said.

Work on the extension started mid-way through this year.

- Taranaki Daily News

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