THE NEXT BIG THING
OUR FOCUS IS FIRMLY ON INNOVATION, AND WE BELIEVE THE ENVIRONMENT IS RIGHT FOR US TO APPLY WHAT WE’VE LEARNED IN THE CHEMICALS SPACE TO THE WIDER TANKER MARKET.
The transport of Dangerous Goods is subject to intense scrutiny from authorities, so most companies in the field outsource the transportation of their products to satisfy the complex safety requirements bestowed upon them. However, one Sydney-based family business has gone the opposite way and set up its very own Dangerous Goods transport service.
Formula Chemicals provides a vertically integrated service for its customers from production through to delivery of specialise hemicals to the end user. According to Managing Director, Leigh Smart, running its own transport service allows it to investigate new, efficient systems for the Dangerous Goods transport task.
Recently, Formula Chemicals’ search for new concepts brought it to fellow Sydney-based business, composite tanker specialist Omni Tanker. Leigh says that the Omni Tanker product was something of interest for some time, but newly increased order volumes from mining and industrial customers sparked the move to go ahead.
Since then, much has changed. The start-up has gone through a successful maturation process that has seen it establish a highly capable executive team and Board of Directors to help it take on the next, crucial growth phase. To mark that new chapter for the company, CEO Daniel Rodgers has launched a new logo and rebranded the company as Omni Tanker – a name which he says points to the “extensive potential” for the company’s technology.
Backed by a suite of patents granted on the Omni Tanker technology, the company is now making the move to extend its reach to a more broad-based audience – both locally and abroad. “Until now, we’ve been tightly focussed on the Australian chemical transport industry, where aggressive liquids such as strong acids and oxidants place extreme demands on the equipment and the standards call for very safe designs,” Rodgers explains. “On the basis of the Omni tank’s advantages of very high chemical resistance and light weight,
Rodgers adds, “Our focus is firmly on innovation, and we believe the environment is right for us to apply what we’ve learned in the chemicals space to the wider tanker market – both here in Australia and around the world. It’s time to make the next move.”
Omni Tanker’s next move will be two-fold, he elaborates, with a strong push into the European chemical tanker market and a broadened product range locally. “The new factory is now up and running, so we have the capacity to significantly increase production for Europe while also enabling improved delivery to our existing customers and the development of new products for the Australian market,” he says.
With the first shipment of five tanks for the European market due for export any day now, he says reaching the next level in Omni Tanker’s evolution is well on track: “As an Australian company, exporting manufactured products to a major overseas market is pretty significant, and it’s taken a big effort to get here. There are a lot of moving pieces, from finding the right partner, to securing IP and patent protection, through to completing product development to suit the varying market needs. It’s been a massive team effort and together we have achieved a huge amount in a relatively short timeframe.”
The European model will be marketed under the name the Omni L4 tank and distributed by German tanker specialist, Kurt Willig, which will also provide the chassis and running gear assembly. “We have formed a new, jointly owned company named Omni Willig Carbon that will take care of the European business,” says Rodgers.
He adds that the new Omni L4 model is designed to comply with the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) and Rail (RID), and has been certified by the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), with engineering oversight by TÜV SÜD.
“We chose to approach European certification in Germany and with TÜV SÜD fully aware that we would have to work to the most rigorous testing, and it has certainly proved to be so,” he explains. “The advantage, however, is that the technical credentials of the product will be recognised as having met the high bar of German homologation.”
After a strenuous 18-month certification process, Rodgers says Omni Tanker’s first Type Approval has now been issued, allowing the company to take its game-changing technology to the Eurozone. In Australia, meanwhile, a new general-purpose model is now in the works, with the company targeting launch in 2017.
The new model will be based on the chemical tanker design, albeit without the equipment required to achieve Dangerous Goods rating. The result, he says, will be a lightweight, yet robust tanker that will “provide a highly significant payload advantage” at a competitive price. “What we are aiming to create is a general purpose tanker with excellent resistance and food grade rating that will deliver superior economic performance,” he says.
While there is still some time before the new model hits the local market, Omni Tanker’s international expansion is already well underway, with the official launch slated for the 2016 PetroTrans show in Germany, which will take place parallel to the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in September.
“There is an incredible energy in the business knowing we are about to write a whole new chapter in our story. In a time where local manufacturing is under pressure, being able to stand tall and represent Australian innovation on the global stage is something we are very proud of.”