With the new Airtec AXS SmartOBM, made with components from all over the world and assembled in Noosa, Queensland, Airtec moves to an Australian made Smart OBM. In the past, the company had been manufacturing in Singapore.
“We identified that with this whole OBM regulatory scheme and changes around the whole new revision of the product, meant the next iteration needed to be made closer to home,” says David Hewett, Airtec Corporation Director. “So we’ve been developing this new system specifically for what operators want to do with it.”
Production of the main components is actually handled on site, in the Airtec facility in Noosa, Queensland, populated with the various elements needed to make the systems work using one assembly machine.
The process involves a screen printer, pasting the solder onto the correct spot, followed by a pick and place machine which picks up all the components and then places them on the board. Once it populates the entire board with all components that then runs through the oven and it gets baked.
“Essentially, in Noosa, we are still a research and development house, and we’ll run this through till we’ve got it all locked down,” says David. “So we’re also trying to bring jobs back to the Sunshine Coast. It’s part of our plan. Currently, there’s a dozen of us, six on the Sunshine Coast and six in Adelaide. We are in an expansion phase. We’ve got dealers to install the equipment and work with auto electricians.
“We are getting people in each region to make sure the products are fully supported, with things like firmware updates and little tweaks for regulatory compliance. There’s going to be a massive spike in the need for that kind of thing.
“We’re expecting changes, in connecting with different telematics companies. Six of them are approved, with another six in the pipeline of the approval process. It’s now got to a tipping point with the regulations, where operators will need OBM for their truck, and we’re going to be set up for that.”
The AXS SmartOBM system is already integrated with telematics providers, then there are new products and the AXS units need to communicate to other devices, with some of them now going wireless. Airtec need to be able to update those products in the field when there is a new telematics device or a new integration partner.
The units mainly find their way onto new PBS approved combinations, with the fitting made as the trailer is manufactured, or on a new truck before it is delivered. Part of the process is getting the trucks and trailers fitted with the OBM being operational and with the tools and training needed. There is training for fleet managers and the drivers, everyone’s got a part to play.
Over time David expects organic growth of 10 per cent per annum in the use of OBM. Most fleets grow at around that rate as they replace trucks.
“We just want to maintain the customers we’ve got and grow slowly,” says David. “I’m really concerned, if we were to double the business, can we give that level of support and service?” says David. “We don’t want people to lose that original Airtec experience.”
OBM system needs to be installed by authorised installers. It is no longer possible for operators to self install and the work has to be done by authorised techs, this is due to compliance regulations. The amount of support required is also becoming a lot higher. This has led to Airtec looking for technically minded people to support the product out in the industry, not an easy task in the current labour market..
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