Cultural Transformation Program Developed by Ampcontrol Awarded Industry Safety Award

‘Live Work Better’, an employee safety and wellbeing program developed by Ampcontrol, was awarded Best WHS Improvement Award at the 2023 Hunter Safety Awards on Friday 17 March.

Designed in conjunction with EY Psychologists, the Live Work Better Program proactively addresses risk through attitudes and behaviours to build a better and safer workplace for its people.

Tailored uniquely to suit its diverse workforce of over 1000 employees in different geographical locations and operations across Australia, the psychology-based program is provided to all employees. It aims to shift towards a culture of shared responsibility, ownership, and positive health, safety, environment, and quality (HSEQ) outcomes.

Accepting the award at the gala presentation night, Simon Coleman, Ampcontrol General Manager – HSEQ said,

“We are thrilled to see our Live Work Better Program receive industry recognition for the significant improvement it is making to our workplace and the wellbeing of our people. The program challenges everyone at Ampcontrol, including me, regarding how we think, act, lead, and foster a culture of shared responsibility. Live Work Better is all about living and working better together, and it’s working.”

Live Work Better

Since being launched in November 2020, 95% of the workforce has completed the program, comprised of online modules and face-to-face sessions varying between 4 – 8 hours.

In just two years following the implementation of Live Work Better, Ampcontrol has seen a cultural shift in how HSEQ is managed throughout the business. From 35 employees accessing and using the HSEQ management platform annually, to over 750 employees. From under 2100 HSEQ conversations conducted and recorded, to now more than 5000; from under 1000 inspections completed to over 9000.

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Ampcontrol Group Engineering Manager Ian Webster Appointed as International Technical Expert

We’re passionate about our #PeopleOfAmpcontrol and proud of what they achieve.  Ampcontrol Group Engineering Manager, Dr Ian Webster, has been appointed as an Australian delegate to the international IEC/WG4 Spark Test Apparatus Work Group.

Dr Webster has been a part of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for eight years, after being invited to join as a recognised technical expert at the international level. The IEC is the premier body for electrotechnology and sets the standards for a broad range of technical equipment. The working group Ian has been invited to join oversees the design and operation of spark test apparatus to validate intrinsically safe equipment.

Ian says he is privileged to join the SC31G/ WG4 as an international delegate.

“The appointment offers the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing development of conventional spark testing and to push the introduction of electronic spark test methods that will bring greater objectivity and consistency into testing” says Ian.

The commitment as an Australian Delegate to the IEC means Dr Webster will attend international meetings several times a year and participate in the development of technical standards. He is one of three Australian delegates on the working group. This participation will be alongside Ian’s existing role in developing international standards for gas detectors on IEC MT 60079-29.

Ian has a special interest in making testing equipment more scientific and repeatable. He understands the importance of getting it right and knows people’s lives depends on the testing regimes. Ian’s goal in this role is to increase the accuracy and repeatability of spark testing apparatus to enhance the safety of personnel who work with electrical equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres.

Supporting Women in STEM: Ampcontrol Announces Partnership With HunterWiSE

Strengthening its commitment to providing a diverse workforce and the next generation of innovators, Ampcontrol has announced its sponsorship of Hunter-based industry schools outreach program HunterWiSE.

HunterWiSE is an initiative for women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) aimed to positively impact perceptions of STEM careers amongst school-aged girls to increase overall participation by women.

According to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science and Resources The state of STEM gender equity in 2022, released 23 September 2022, women only make up 27% of the workforce across all STEM industries. In the past 12 months, Ampcontrol has seen a 24.1% increase in female employees within its global workforce.

“Ampcontrol is serious about creating diverse teams with women an important and integral part of the vibrant engineering and technology world.  We recognise the need to engage students at an early stage in their learning before they reach their final years in school. There are a number of career pathways we offer at Ampcontrol, and we have strong ties with local schools and The University of Newcastle to get young people excited by a career in STEM. We believe it’s vitally important for industry and education to work together,” said Mikhaila Halford, Ampcontrol Capability Development Manager.

“Our involvement in the HunterWiSE Program will allow Ampcontrol to partner with students from a local school, where we can provide mentoring and support to inspire young women to pursue a career in engineering.”

Professor Anna Giacomini is a co-founder of HunterWiSE. She is also the Director of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Geotechnical Science and Engineering. She recognises that the success of HunterWiSE initiatives is due in part to the contributions of industry partners, who provide opportunities for students to learn about and explore a wide range of STEM careers.

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Working in the In-Between of Electrification

The global energy crisis has hit, and the world is faced with the dilemma of how we solve it.

The NSW State Government is making moves to explore what energy in the future can look like. They announced an investment in clean manufacturing precinct projects launching both in the Hunter where Ampcontrol Head Office is based, and in the Illawarra.

“Part of Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program’s Low Carbon Foundations, the first stage will help regions identity and develop decarbonisation plans that recognise their unique economies and business communities.”

Full media release from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment can be found here.

The Next Five to 10 Years

There is talk around a future state. Hydrogen. Net Zero. Carbon Neutral. Carbon Free. All lofty and necessary aspirations, but what happens before we can get from here to there?

Rod Henderson, Ampcontrol Managing Director & CEO was a guest speaker at the inaugural Hunter Hydrogen & Energy Symposium, hosted by NewH2, 20 to 22 February 2023 in Newcastle, NSW.

“There is a world of opportunity in the next five to 10 years to fill the gaps. We cannot forget about the interim. There is work to be done in the in between,” says Rod.

The Hunter Region: Energy Manufacturing Powerhouse

At Ampcontrol, we are supporting the national energy and low carbon economy transition, positioning the Hunter Region as an energy manufacturing powerhouse.

We believe this will come out of collaboration from across the region. Ampcontrol thrives on collaboration. Within the Hunter, we’re involved with Hunter Innovation Foundation, HunterNet, Committee For The Hunter, Beyond Zero Emissions, Business NSW, Business Hunter, and NewH2 to name a few.

“There is so much potential and so much happening within the Hunter region in the renewable energy space. Some of our most innovative products within the renewable energy space have come about due to collaboration and partnership with other companies in the industry,” says Rod.

Beacon on the Hill

Within Ampcontrol, we refer to hydrogen as a ‘beacon on the hill’. It’s a future state, one we’re already making great in-roads into the development of commercial products to be applied across the industry.

“We believe very strongly as we get to that beacon in the hill of hydrogen, that new energy is what helps to get us there,” says Rod.

Beyond talking about it, Ampcontrol is well underway in the doing.

Already our dedicated people of Ampcontrol, alongside industry partnerships, have created solutions to these growing problems.

Solar Qube, a stand-alone power system (SAPS) created by Boundary Power, our joint-venture with West Australian utility Horizon Power, was born out of Horizon Power saying “there has to be a better way”.

Already we’ve deployed more than 60 units already installed, with more than 120km of powerlines removed. The market is ready for off-grid power suppliers to solve the growing energy crisis.

Steps to Electrification

In addition to stand-alone power systems, Ampcontrol has developed solutions for electrifying mine sites and reducing diesel emissions.

There’s the creation of DRITEX, a battery electric vehicle for use in underground mining applications, removing the use of diesel. Our battery, developed in partnership with Tritium, can be charged in only 10 minutes.

There are around 2000 underground diesel vehicles being using across Australia; what could the introduction of DRIFTEX mean for reducing diesel emissions?

We have teams of dedicated research and development engineers at ResTech, our joint venture with The University of Newcastle.

“How do we optimise existing infrastructure as we move to fully electrify mine sites?”

Ampcontrol is here to support our customers through this.

“One of the areas Ampcontrol identified as a need of the industry was assisting businesses with the next steps to get to the future state of electrified mining operations. When businesses think ‘I need energy’ to perform certain functions, the first instinct is often to acquire more energy. Our expertise at Ampcontrol is to help businesses use the materials they already have available, in a different way,” says Rod.

How Collaboration Gets Us There

We recognise the importance of partnerships and collaboration in developing technology solutions to enable a competitive advantage in a net-zero carbon environment.

“It is important to demonstrate we work alongside other businesses to contribute to the low carbon economy transition and to the responsible sourcing of prime materials to enable a competitive advantage in a net-zero carbon environment,” says Rod.

This means more manufacturing jobs kept within Australia, collaboration between Ampcontrol and other businesses within the industry who are all looking to achieve the same goal.


First Solar Qube® Stand-Alone Power System Deployed to Australian East Coast

Ampcontrol and Boundary Power, our joint venture with West Australian utility Horizon Power, has successfully deployed the first onsite Solar Qube® in regional NSW.

This marks the first time an off-grid Stand-Alone Power System (SAPS), manufactured onsite by Ampcontrol, has been deployed on the Australian East Coast.

Solar Qube® is a self-sufficient renewable power generation unit that incorporates solar photovoltaic panels, inverters, battery storage technology and a backup generator.

The solution is fully workshop assembled, with all electrical testing and commissioning completed before the unit arrives at the deployment site.

The innovative solution is designed to withstand extreme Australian conditions and will provide the end user with the confidence of continuous, reliable renewable power throughout the year.

“To have Boundary Power’s very first Solar Qube® deployed into New South Wales, a market that is seeing significant growth, is exciting for the team who designed the product here in the Hunter Valley,” says Rod Henderson, Ampcontrol Managing Director & CEO.

“We look forward to seeing the increase in demand from the east coast as they follow in Western Australia’s footsteps and embrace off-grid renewable SAPS to deliver energy into remote communities.”

The award-winning Solar Qube® was recently featured on Channel 10’s innovation showcasing series, Australia ByDesign where Ampcontrol Chief Technology Officer, Tim Wylie and Project Manager Jessica Irvine-Brown showcased the under 90-minute deployment ability of Solar Qube®. You can watch the episode here.

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Joining BHP in Canada on Project Vital to Global Food Supply Chain

Ampcontrol has been named the supplier for conveyor control systems for Stage 1 at the BHP Jansen Potash Project in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Predominantly used as a fertiliser, potash provides a rich source of potassium which keeps soils fertile and maximises food production. Potash demand is set to increase with global population growth and food demand. This will benefit global crop production through the sustainable intensification of agriculture and the optimisation of crop yields.

iMAC has achieved Canadian Standards Approval

The Ampcontrol iMAC monitoring and control system has achieved Canadian Standards Approval (CSA) and will be used for conveyor controls onsite. This marks the first time an Ampcontrol product has been used in Canada.

Ampcontrol Managing Director & CEO, Rod Henderson, said the opportunity to work with BHP in Canada is an exciting one.

“We have a solid history of working with BHP in Australia for over 50 years. We are looking forward to furthering our relationship by participating in the Jansen Potash Project and are eager to share our world class electrical solutions with the broader Canadian market,” added Mr Henderson.

Designed to maximise productivity while maintaining the highest level of safety, the Ampcontrol iMAC system is customised to the unique requirements of sites and provides features such as high integrity emergency stop, broadcast messaging, and belt hazard identification functionality, with remote interface capabilities.

Working with BHP

“Ampcontrol was selected from a number of different vendors to supply conveyor control signal line equipment for the underground conveyor systems, consisting of upwards of 35 kilometres of conveyor belts,” said Jamie Scheffer, Integrated Project Team Manager Underground BHP.

“The Ampcontrol iMAC was the successful solution because it provided a remote interface which gave us the ability to link in remotely and help fault find should issues occur. This is particularly important for this site due to our remote location” continued Mr Scheffer.

BHP has announced an investment of US$5.7 billion in the Jansen Stage 1 project, which is located 140 kilometres east of Saskatoon.

Work will start on the conveyor system in late 2022 with the current project expected to be completed by 2025.

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The Energy Transition Begins With A Single Step

The energy transition is here and it’s not going away. With businesses built around fossil fuels and high-emission sources of energy, the thought of transition is overwhelming. Especially when you consider what it takes to get from here to there. But change doesn’t have to happen all at once. It can be as simple as a single step.

Take an idea that seems crazy and break it down into a bite-size chunk.

What would it look like if every business in Newcastle NSW opted into ‘Transformation Tuesday’, an idea from Dr Glenn Platt, Ampcontrol Non-Executive Director, Chairman of the Ampcontrol Innovation Steering Committee, and Executive Director – Strategy and Innovation at the Emergent Group.

Transformation Tuesday is where every business commits to an entire day each week where their business is carbon free, getting all their energy from renewable energy sources found here in the Hunter Region NSW.

It seems almost too big, but is it? With the right planning and restructuring of business activities, why couldn’t this concept be achievable? And once you’ve done it on a Tuesday and adapted your business to work within this change, it’s easier to do it on a Wednesday and then a Thursday.

Opportunity right here in the Hunter

Ampcontrol has been around for 54 years and our roots are steeped deep within the Hunter where we were founded by a crew of incredible engineers who saw the potential of this region to service all of Australia, and the world.

We could see as far back as 2007 that there would be a shift in energy sources, a little bit earlier than was achievable for traction. From 2014, we shifted our business strategy with our sights firmly set on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on the horizon.

Innovation is at the heart of Ampcontrol, in fact it’s one of our core values.

Take a look at the creation of DRIFTEX, the world’s first intrinsically safe vehicle Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) for use in the mining industry. It was developed in collaboration with our joint venture with the University of Newcastle, ResTech, where a team of dedicated R&D engineers worked together to create a solution for a problem.

It was born out of a conversation with a customer where we asked the simple question: what’s your biggest challenge in the next few years? The answer was a need to be greener and make the mine site safer for workers through reduced diesel emissions. Enter DRIFTEX.

DRIFTEX was recently on show in Wheeler Place, Newcastle as part of the Hunter Innovation Festival with both Ampcontrol and ResTech in attendance.

Do Something

There doesn’t need to be an all or nothing approach when it comes to innovation. Doing something is better than doing nothing and every small step taken makes innovation and change less daunting.

“The Hunter couldn’t be any better positioned for leading the energy transition. We have infrastructure to reutilise, we have a great university which is graduating incredibly gifted students. I’m sick to death of talking about what we could be doing—just do it. We won’t get bigger opportunities than we have right now,” says Rod Henderson, Managing Director & CEO of Ampcontrol.

The opportunity is here; and the transition isn’t happening in the future, it’s happening right here, right now. The only question left: what are you going to do?

Peter Cockbain AM Wins Major Award at Engineer Australia’s Excellence Awards

On behalf of Ampcontrol, we wish to recognise and congratulate Peter Cockbain AM, Co-Founder of Ampcontrol who was awarded Engineers Australia’s most illustrious individual accolade, the Peter Nicol Russell Career Achievement Memorial Medal, at Engineer Australia’s Excellence Awards, in recognition of his lifelong dedication to the field of engineering and the broader community.

With a career spanning decades, Peter is a distinguished innovator, entrepreneur, industrialist, philanthropist, and one of Australia’s most highly regarded and influential engineers. He has been a passionate member of Engineers Australia for more than 50 years, including a stint as National President and has served as a board member of Standards Australia, the University of Newcastle Council and the Prime Ministers Science, Engineering, and Innovation Council.

In 2010, Engineers Australia named Peter one of Australia’s 100 Engineering Leaders of the past century. In 2015 he became a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant services to

On winning the Peter Nicol Russell Career Achievement Memorial Medal, Peter Cockbain AM said, “I have only ever been a willing participant in very talented teams. Collectively, we’ve achieved a lot. Ampcontrol’s company motto is: ‘I can’t do it. You can’t do it. But we can’. It’s always been about what we could achieve together, not the individual achievement of one person.”

With the many collaborations and partnerships Ampcontrol is part of, the aphorism “I can’t do it, you can’t do it, but we can” attributed to Peter is representative of how Ampcontrol values collaboration and group innovation, both internally and externally.

Peters vision, energy and determination to continuously improve and innovate is supported by Ampcontrol’s investment in research, development and commercialisation practices that have seen the company thrive over the last 50 years to become the global success story it is today.

The long list of high-profile awards Ampcontrol has received for innovation, design, and technology is a testament to Peter’s founding philosophies set down when he and fellow Co-Founders established Ampcontrol in 1968.

Earlier this year Washington H. Sul Pattinson acquired 100% of the shareholdings from other investors including Ampcontrol Co-Founder Peter Cockbain.

Read More Here.

Showcasing Australian excellence in mining innovation to Canada

Thanks to our partnership with Austmine, Ampcontrol has joined their trade mission to Canada this month to showcase the iMAC monitoring and control system which recently received Canadian Standards Approval (CSA).

Representing over 630 METS companies nationally, Austmine are Australia’s leading not for profit industry association for the Australian Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) sector. Austmine provide opportunities to build relationships, understand industry needs, and boost industry profile.

Ampcontrol Strategic Sales Manager Stephen Sneddon is part of the Austmine delegation to Canada where he is speaking to miners and suppliers about our Canadian Standards Approved (CSA) iMAC monitoring and control system.

Achieving Canadian Standards Approval

Canadian Standards Approval is another achievement to add to iMAC’s growing list which includes a National Engineering Excellence Award won when it was first developed in 1998.

Having more than two decades of use within Australia, iMAC helps to meet the challenges of maintaining safety within a mine site, while maximising productivity on complex conveyor systems.

What sets Ampcontrol products apart is how they are tailored to meet the unique needs of each client. Our unique iMAC system is customised and includes features such as emergency stop, prestart warning, intercom, and broadcast messaging functionality.

Complex conveyor systems are easily controlled using the iMAC remote I/O modules, so high integrity E-stop can be undertaken even with multiple drive locations. The system is designed to minimise conveyor downtime and streamline work processes with advanced self-diagnostics assisting in maximising conveyor equipment availability.

iMAC is our first Canadian Standards Approved product. It will be used for the first time at a large Potash mine in Saskatchewan Canada with work commencing on this conveyor system in late 2022.

Aligning Our Business Strategy With SDGs

COVID-19 has been a black swan event, disrupting supply chains globally. Rather than focusing only on the negative, we recognise times of great disruption are also opportunities to innovate and implement change.

With our business focused on applying the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we utilised this disruption by looking at our overall supply chain management, and how we can achieve cleaner consumption and production (SDG 12) through responsible supply chain management.

Not only does this minimise supply chain risk long-term, but securing reliable and ethically sourced materials develops resilient supply networks which remain steadfast in times of instability.

Ampcontrol and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

When looking at the Ampcontrol supply chain, the SDGs were front of mind for Simon Coleman, our Executive General Manager –Health, Safety, Environment & Quality.

Speaking at the Hunter Business Development Forum on Wednesday 14 September, Simon spoke on how businesses can apply the SDGs within the Hunter Region NSW, alongside CEO of Wavia Global, Christina Gerakiteys and Executive Manager of Strategy & Engagement of Hunter Water, Emma Berry.

Simon emphasised the importance of collaboration when  mapping the trajectory of SDGs across the business. Working with our industry partners and other members of the Hunter Region SDG Task Force to determine the best business practices integrating the SDGs for the Hunter Region is a big part of the Ampcontrol business looking to the future.

Beyond augmentations to supply chain, the SDGs are prominent in business practices within Ampcontrol. It’s no secret Ampcontrol is rapidly growing our presence within the domains of renewable energy and electrification of mining. These areas speak directly to two of the SDGs: Applying innovative engineering solutions to act on Climate Change (SDG 13), while expanding access to affordable and clean energy (SDG 7).

Ampcontrol is committed to fostering good health and wellbeing for our employees (SDG 3). We promote wellbeing and ensure the healthy lives of our people through an internal program ‘Live Work Better’. Since we launched it in November 2020, we’ve had 816 Ampcontrol employees attend 62 Live Work Better sessions to learn about living and working better together. This extends to caring for the mental health of our employees.

We are taking the pledge as individuals in our everyday lives, and as an organisation with responsibilities to our communities, to setting the standard in implementing the SDGs within the Hunter.

Learn more about Ampcontrol’s role in the Hunter region SDG Task Force.