Darwin manufacturer meets cyclonic standards, eyes volume production

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Northern Territory company Arctic Installations has cleared serviceability and wind pressure tests at James Cook University (JCU), taking a step towards large-scale production of its structural panels tailored for tough tropical conditions.

The Darwin-based manufacturer is engaged in a $2.9 million collaborative project with JCU, production machinery company MDI Systems, and engineering service provider Rapid Engineering NT. 

This project receives support through a $500,000 co-investment from the Northern Territory’s Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem Fund (AMEF), administered by the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC).

The project’s second milestone, involving simulated cyclonic-wind testing of insulated panels, was achieved with steel sheets bonded to both sides of an expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam core provided by Arctic Installations. 

These tests, conducted in JCU’s NATA-accredited Cyclone Testing Station laboratory, confirmed the panels’ ability to withstand severe weather conditions.

Already exporting to East Timor, Arctic Installations’ locally designed and manufactured panels eliminate the need for interstate or overseas imports, particularly from China, while offering a superior product suited to Northern Australia’s humidity, heat, and cyclonic conditions. 

Following the successful testing, Arctic Installations is now listed as a manufacturer with the Insulated Panel Council Australasia.

The project’s final milestone focuses on upskilling staff, a crucial aspect of establishing new manufacturing capabilities in the Territory. 

Upon completion, the project is expected to create 25 additional jobs at Arctic Installations and generate $15 million in revenue over five years.

“This is an important step for us,” said Gary Burns, managing director of Arctic Installations. 

He explained, “We set up in 2015 and moved into a new East Arm property in 2021, and since then, we’ve been laser-focused on being an NT manufacturer and installer of insulated panels. We have been hugely fortunate to have the support of our expert project partners as well as the NT government and AMGC.”

Northern Territory Investment Commissioner Kelly Ralston praised the initiative, stating, “Gary and the team at Arctic Installations are a leading example of how the Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem Fund supports collaboration between local and interstate businesses, which results in the Territory increasing its capability and capacity. This in turn will grow investment opportunities, skillsets, and jobs, whilst also developing new supply chains across Northern Australia.”

Charmaine Phillips, AMGC’s director for the Northern Territory, added, “It has been a joy to help another local business commercialize a superior product and lift industrial capability in the NT. Arctic Installations’ efforts mean that Territorians now have a locally-made option, created by people who understand the particular challenges of building in the Top End.”

The AMEF has assisted nine businesses across Darwin, Katherine, and Alice Springs, spanning industries such as heavy machinery equipment, construction, and carpentry. 

These investments are projected to create over 160 new jobs and generate more than $84 million for the Territory’s economy within the first five years.

Valued at $7.5 million, the AMEF aims to build the advanced manufacturing ecosystem in the Northern Territory by enhancing manufacturing capabilities, increasing investment, and boosting the output of advanced manufacturing activities.