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The dawn of a new process era

March 2010 will mark the ‘beginning of the end’ of the global financial crisis and the start of an exciting new era for process and instrumentation suppliers, says AMS Instrumentation & Calibration managing director, Dirk Kuiper. Sarah Falson reports.

After weathering the most economically-challenging work environment in 20 years, with activity falling for 11 consecutive months to April 2009, the manufacturing industry is shaking-off the dust from its boots and is once again gearing itself for growth in 2010.

Foremost on the minds of manufacturers around Australia and New Zealand are two questions: how can we economically increase the quality and yield of our output, and how can we reduce our harmful emissions at the same time?

One company that understands not only what manufacturers want, but also what government instrumentalities, miners, and chemical and petrochemical processers, etc. are looking for from suppliers is Victorian distributor AMS Instrumentation & Calibration (AMS). AMS has offices throughout Australia to fulfil these needs.

Based in Boronia, the company offers customers industrial instrumentation and calibration equipment designed to improve processing capability and capacity, and also to address ongoing environmental issues that plague manufacturers and energy suppliers.

“Our mission statement promises to improve our customers’ processes, address any environmental concerns and increase safety at the same time,” said AMS general manager, Dirk Kuiper. “I feel this is an important statement, particularly in today’s environment where the global warming phenomena is of concern.”

Instrumentation know-how

AMS was developed over 30 years ago but has been under Kuiper’s ownership and jurisdiction for 11 years. With only four staff members when purchased by Kuiper, the company has since grown to employ 20 people, and will expand even further early this year to cater for its latest contract to supply GE Sensing products to its customer base in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

As general manager, Kuiper’s day-to-day job is to run the business strategically, to consult with staff to ensure the company mission statement and quality system are being adhered to, and to give guidance and provide marketing collateral for the media.

Educated in Holland, Kuiper has a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering, and has been involved with the instrumentation industry for the majority of his working career.

“I have been in the instrumentation industry for most of my life, having started at Foxboro at the age of 13 during the holiday periods. I worked in various countries in Europe before deciding to emigrate to South Africa and from there moved to New Zealand and finally ended up in Australia in 1977,” Kuiper said.

“My work history has been varied having worked for several major instrument companies, like Foxboro, Kent, Taylor and Rosemount in various positions from commissioning engineer to national sales manager. I feel that this has given me a good background in running AMS. I also had a stint as project manager for the installation of fire systems.”

Driving down prices

AMS is a niche supplier in the industrial marketplace, with brands including FCI, Beamex and now GE Sensing. According to Kuiper, the company has long-standing relationships with several overseas suppliers who lean on AMS to provide good-quality product service and after-sales support to its customers.

“After-sales support is very important to AMS. I tell our staff that one should never walk away from a problem, but instead should ensure that customers are fully informed of the state of their systems. We have a special section in our quality area that deals solely with after sales service to ensure that correct procedures are followed,” said Kuiper.

From Kuiper’s point-of-view, most industrial instrumentation providers in Australia are essentially competitors to AMS, but this scenario is actually a benefit for customers.

“This is an advantage to the end-users as it keeps the pricing competitive,” he said. “As mentioned before, several of our products are unique in the marketplace or are of a patented design. AMS is also able to offer complete packages, in particular in calibration equipment where we are able to offer the complete range from a simple calibrator to a fully multi-function calibrator linked to an extensive software package.”

Being able to drive down costs for customers is imperative in today’s industrial climate. Kuiper sees an increasing desire from his customers to cut costs but still to provide industry-leading products.

“Many industries are looking at cost savings, through full calibration packages from hardware to software. Of course, as always, the industry is looking at the most economical way to produce their end products, whether it is chemical, fuel or food,” he said.

Growth plans for 2010

In 2010, AMS will be expanding its existing customer base off the back of its new GE Sensing distribution contract, and will also be growing its staff numbers to cope with the increased requirements. Under the GE Sensing portfolio are the product lines of Panametrics, General Eastern and Rheonik, which will fit in with AMS’s commitment to flow technology solutions.

“With the GE Sensing appointment, AMS has now become a ‘one stop flow’ provider, being able to offer flow devices from the most simple to the most complicated custody transfer equipment,” said Kuiper.

“Of course, this does not mean that we will not concentrate on the other product-lines that we offer: we intend to grow these as well. To enable this growth, AMS intends to put more staff on early in 2010 to cope with the increased requirements.”

According to Kuiper, the automation and process control market will recover in 2010, with March expected to represent the ‘beginning of the end’ of the global financial crisis.

“Many companies are getting ready to start their expansion programs again, and in my opinion, our industrial market will notice this from March onwards,” Kuiper said.

“One of the main challenges to our industry will be the stricter demands on the environmental issues that we are currently facing and many instrument companies will be gearing-up to cover that demand. AMS will be well-paced with their equipment range to fulfil these needs.”

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