Some people will know Bradken's Launceston facility as Johns Perry Castings or even Phoenix Foundry. However they may not know that the business, now operating out of two sites, the foundry in Youngtown, and machine shop in Invermay, originally began operating in 1833.
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John Williams, a convict from Warwick in England, established a small iron foundry in Wellington Road in 1833. The business has a history of continuous operation from then, to the present. There were many name changes and ownership changes in that time, but perhaps the early company was best known for its range of kitchen stoves, which were sold first under the "Peter" name, then later under the "Phoenix" brand.
Steel castings were not produced until the 1960's following the relocation to Franklin Village, Youngtown from Wellington Street. Steel castings now comprise a majority of the production, which has risen to 4,000 tonnes per annum.
The longevity of the business can be attributed to the loyalty, skills and experience of the employees. Almost a quarter of the workforce has over 20 years service and there are two employees with over 40 years service.
In the 1980's, Dale B. Elphinstone Pty Ltd started producing their own brand of underground mining loaders and dump trucks in Burnie. Their support for Tasmanian manufacturers provided a valuable market opportunity for the Launceston foundry to specialise in high strength steel castings. Caterpillar Underground Mining now takes 35% of the output.
National Castings foundries in Welshpool, Western Australia and Launceston were acquired by Bradken in 1997 to meet the growing needs of the mining and industrial markets.
In order to satisfy Caterpillar's requirements and the increasing demand for a variety of Bradken products such as dragline rigging and rotary coal breaker components and other steel castings, mainly from the mining industry, Bradken has embarked on a major investment program to spend $15M over two years aimed at improving quality, reducing waste and increasing output by 50%.
In 2007, Bradken acquired the business of TMS Engineering in Invermay, to provide in-house capabilities for finish machined steel castings, and as a further investment in modern CNC machine tools.
The next stage of the investment is a semi automatic fast loop moulding line to be operating in early 2009. The equipment will be the largest and most modern of its type in Australia and is designed to quadruple mould production rates, while at the same time reduce waste generated by about 70%.
Launceston operations ceased in 2016.