South Australian manufacturers enter the US market


The Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide, South Australia. Source: Lead.

Global engineering, technology and manufacturing companies based in the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide, South Australia, are among those expanding their reach across the Pacific and opening offices in cities across the states -United.

XFrame chief executive Carsten Dethlefsen said the company launched in the United States last year at NeoCon in Chicago, one of the nation’s largest commercial furniture conferences.

Without using a single nail or screw, the Tonsley-based company has invented an interlocking plywood system that can be used to build shelters, office pods and studios.

“Within two weeks of this conference, we had projects on our books,” Dethlefsen said.

“We delivered those projects within four weeks, so ramp up the commercialization there. I think the type of customers also took us a bit by surprise. »

A phone booth made by XFrame, which can be easily dismantled and moved around.

Dethlefsen said there was a “great appetite” for their work after COVID-19 as many offices needed reconfiguration. Their product allows companies to modify their layout along the way without costly renovations.

Dethlefsen said the construction of trade show booths and retail displays was in high demand. As a result, the company now has manufacturing partners in Michigan, Oregon, and Grand Junction, Colorado.

He said the companies also wanted XFrame to build auxiliary housing units to meet the huge demand for housing in the United States.

“The booth we made for this conference was entirely made in the United States, so we used local manufacturing, local supply chains, and local labor.

“We designed it, sent it across the desert, they cut the components delivered to our team, they pre-assembled it and put it in place at the conference.

“This is how we carry out projects. We don’t need to invest in manufacturing facilities there, we just partner with existing companies that already have that capacity and capability.

Dethlefsen manages these projects from its base in the Tonsley Innovation District, a huge redeveloped area that once housed a Mitsubishi car assembly plant, but is now home to over 1,700 workers in key industries including clean technology and renewable energy, medical devices, mining and energy. services and automation and simulation.

More recently, XFrame began working with prisons in California that train inmates by paying them to learn basic crafting skills.

The company builds phone booths that can be used by prisoners to have private conversations.

“The conversation we have there is that they can actually manufacture, assemble, install and distribute and we just provide them with the ingredients and the parts to deliver that product,” Dethlefsen said.

Technology commercialization company Innovyz recently opened an office in Chicago to meet growing demand.

Co-founder Brett Jackson said the Tonsley-based firm helps tech companies like XFrame commercialize their ideas and turn them into structural businesses.

“We’re going to double our footprint in Chicago over the next 12 months and we’ll be doing 12 techs a year,” Jackson said.

“Thanks to COVID-19, we’ve been able to create a phenomenal innovation commercialization process, and we have a great model to accelerate commercialization.

“We couldn’t do it face-to-face, so we had to do it through Zoom and Teams, and those are the stepping stones because that’s been a huge advantage for us.”

Micro-X, an X-ray technology maker also based in Tonsley to take advantage of the proximity of complementary businesses and the expertise of Flinders University, opened an office in Seattle due to an increased appetite for their work in the United States.

Founded more than a decade ago, Micro-X manufactures portable X-rays and devices with similar technology used in the detection of improvised explosive devices.

They are currently working with the United States Department of Homeland Security on some self-checking airport scanners.

Micro-X develops self-checking airport scanners for the US Department of Homeland Security.

The redesigned checkpoint system uses advanced backscatter X-ray imaging technology to find explosives or contraband in a traveller’s bags.

The scanner performs an identity check using the passenger’s boarding pass, passport and facial recognition before examining their baggage.

While the scanner examines hand luggage, it also checks whether the traveler has any hidden prohibited items.

Managing Director Paul Rowlands said Micro-X was the only company with the technology to develop this product.

“The idea is that everything happens without human intervention,” Rowlands said.

“The images will be read using automatic threat detection software and if the software shows something it doesn’t like it can send the image back to the central control room where someone can examine it.”

Rowlands said seven of Micro-X’s baggage gates have the same footprint as a traditional X-ray lane at an airport.

He said there was a “giant market” to tap into, given that more than 2,500 such government-run X-ray lanes across the United States.

“Homeland Security is confident that this is the way forward for all airports in the United States,” Rowlands said.

“But what’s exciting is passenger safety, passenger experience and improved safety because you get a CT image.”

While the core technology is still sourced from Adelaide, their Seattle office enables a team of 12 people to implement the systems overseas.

In the coming years, the company expects the US market to account for a larger share of its revenue driven by demand for security and medical products.

“The revenue we get from the United States will grow much faster, it’s just a giant opportunity for us,” Rowlands said.

A South Australian government spokesperson said the state’s economy was not only feeling Tonsley’s local impact, but also its reach into global markets.

“Tonsley’s vision was to create an engine of economic development with global reach. Seeing so many Tonsley businesses expand across the United States shows us how that vision has turned into reality,” the spokesperson said.

“Exporting is an important aspect of a healthy economy, so it’s fantastic to see this level of outsized export activity, especially to countries like the United States.”

This article was first published by The head.


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