New melting pot as WA manufacturer consolidates

A WA aluminium manufacturer is merging its three operations into one site and upping the ante with its new equipment.

From supplying materials for the Optus stadium façade to artworks at Cottesloe and Border Force Patrol vessels, Capral Aluminium has left its mark across the state in many ways.

The Australian manufacturer has three centres in WA – Bibra Lake, Canning Vale and Wangara – from which it manufactures and distributes aluminium products.

With more than 900 employees across the country – including around 100 in WA – Capral is set to improve its processes with some new equipment and consolidation of its three operations to the Canning Vale site by next year.

The first major undertaking will be the installation of a vertical powder coating paint line – a state-of-the-art machine imported from Italy.

WA Extrusion Business Manager Aiden Birch says it will be the first vertical paint line of its type in WA and will replace two horizontal lines. It should be up and running by the end of the year.

Facilities upgrade

As part of the consolidation of the three centres into one, 7000sqm will be added to the existing 11,500 sqm Canning Vale facility.

Birch says the consolidation will create greater efficiencies and quicker lead times to meet customer requirements, something that all businesses have to do, to remain competitive in increasingly tight markets.

Capral’s existing 7-inch extrusion press – also the only one in the state – can produce sections up to a circumscribing circle diameter of 160mm for use in window, door and other building products.

The Canning Vale manufacturing plant produces up to 8000 tonnes each year, depending on orders, with the majority supplied to WA companies.

Up to 80 per cent of what is manufactured at the Canning Vale plant goes into residential and commercial developments.

Birch says with a flat housing and commercial market he’s not expecting a significant improvement until 2020, with business dropping down a few notches over the last few years – a common theme for many WA companies.

“Until the beginning of 2016 it was very busy. Then in March 2016 there was a downturn in market activity,” Birch says.

“We think it’s bottomed out and will eventually start to pick up. We’re going OK and it could have been worse. We didn’t have any redundancies. We have a labour hire component so we flex up and down depending on requirements.”

Capral’s State Manager Industrial Products Nigel Williamson, who is based at the Bibra Lake distribution centre, says his workplace is like a ‘supermarket for aluminium’, stocked with products manufactured by Capral across the country.

“We are a major supplier to ship and boat builders in WA, large or small. Our major market segments are marine, transport, sheet metal, signage and original equipment manufacturing,” he says.

The company has been supplying WA’s shipbuilding giant Austal with aluminium components for more than 25 years.

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