BENDIGO is famous for many things, but few would be aware the city is home to the largest lathe in the southern hemisphere.
It sits in Hofmann Engineering’s factory in North Bendigo, and is a crucial component in the business’ recent transformation into an advanced manufacturer.
Yet just a few years ago, the facility was struggling to win contracts with ageing machinery and technology.
Managing director Erich Hofmann said it took a $26.2 million state government contract for 882 bogie frames for the High Capacity Metro Train project to help the business invest in modern machinery, and win even more large contracts.
“It has allowed us to invest $8-9 million in new plant and equipment into the facility, that allows us to be truly world competitive,” he said.
“Just for the rail project it will be 30 jobs, but by investing in this and having the machinery and training and the skills that we’ve developed with our team, we’ll be able to do a lot of other work.”
Hofmann Engineering is now building hydro turbines for the Snowy Hydro project and is involved in the Land 400.
The massive lathe is used for components in the SEA 5000 project – the construction of nine frigates for the Royal Australian Navy.
Purchasing the modern equipment meant the company had to shed 15 jobs earlier this year, but it added 30 jobs for the construction of the bogie frames. Hofmann Engineering predicts even more jobs will be added in the future as it continues to take part in major government infrastructure projects.
It is the first time bogie frames have been built in Victoria for nearly two decades, and the first time at the North Bendigo facility – formerly the Australian Defence Industries – for 30 years.
Premier Daniel Andrews toured the facility on Friday, touting the government’s decision to build the high capacity trains using 60 per cent Victorian content. The bogie frames contain 87 per cent Victorian content.
“This capability means that Hofmann is well placed to win more contracts, and create more jobs, not just for Victorian work, but for jobs and clients right across Australia,” he said.
“Indeed there are export opportunities.”
The bogie frame contract runs until the High Capacity Metro Train project is complete in 2023. The trains are scheduled to be ready for testing by the end of the this year.