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SpanSet Australia – taking a stand for local manufacturing

SpanSet is an Australian manufacturer and it wants the crane industry to support Australian manufactured over imported products.

SpanSet is an Australian manufacturer and it wants the crane industry to support Australian manufactured over imported products.

SpanSet has been manufacturing quality synthetic products for the crane and related industries globally for over 50 years. Kristian Pritchett is the managing director and has been with the organisation for 17 years. He is passionate about Australian manufacturing. Pritchett wants the crane industry to understand more about SpanSet, what it offers, and he is encouraging the industry to support Australian manufactured over imported products.

SpanSet’s head office and purpose-built manufacturing facility is located in Emu Plains, Western Sydney. Approximately 50 employees work in the facility, with 40-plus working on the manufacturing aspect of the business, says Pritchett.

“We support more than 50 employees, that’s over 50 families in NSW. In addition, we have a branch in Perth and specialist sales representatives around the country. We predominantly use Australian manufactured webbing with the balance being specialised webbings, produced by SpanSet in Germany.

“Wherever possible we use Australian made products throughout our manufacturing processes, which means we are supporting Australian families across our entire supply chain, we consciously purchase Australian Made wherever possible; for me this is very important” he said.

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“At SpanSet, safety is the major driver throughout the business. The company ethos, “SpanSet Certified Safety”, is at the core of everything we do. We place a tremendous emphasis on the quality of our products to ensure end user safety. This is why we have all the required ISO accreditations including ISO 9001-2015 Quality Management System, ISO 14001 Environmental Management, OHAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management and AS/NZS 4801 Occupational Health and Safety Management. We are also NATA accredited to ISO 17025 for tensile testing,” he said.

“A number of our products are third party certified by British Standards Institution (BSI), these include lifting slings and height safety products. It is our compliance credentials that provide our customers comfort when using our products. Third party certification and accreditation is essential and expensive, and this is often overlooked by customers, who often, only purchase on price,” he said.

SpanSet boasts three manufacturing divisions including Height Safety/Industrial Fall Protection, Synthetic Lifting Products including round, flat, boat and gang slings, lifting nets, helicopter nets and lifting mats. In addition, SpanSet manufactures load restraints systems, which range from a 25mm Ratchet right up to specialised bespoke, heavy-duty lashing to hold a military vehicle to the deck of a Navy ship, explains Pritchett.

“We also have test beds and a dedicated Height Safety drop test tower that enables us to meet our third-party certification and Australian Standards requirements,” he said.

In addition, SpanSet is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) delivering training programs around safety management processes and procedures. This includes a nationally recognised unit of competency for inspection as per the requirements of AS4497:2018 Round Slings Standards in regard to a competent person.

“Being Australia- based and having Australia-wide representation, we can engage with customers in their offices or onsite. Alternatively, they can visit us with enquiries and see our Australian manufacturing facilities firsthand. With our ability and knowledge, we can take an enquiry from concept, through to prototype, test it in-house and then take it through to production. Importing products can take months with no guarantee the product will meet the customer’s needs and safety requirements upon arrival,” said Pritchett.

Pritchett doesn’t shy away from educating people on quality. He constantly strives to inform industries about the value of purchasing premium, Australian-made products over cheaper imported ones.

“We are constantly faced with the argument that our locally produced products are sometimes more expensive than inferior imports. With our Australian made products, the test certificate supplied with the goods is not just a “piece of paper”, it means the slings have been individually tested on a calibrated test bed, by a trained technician. With some of the cheap imports, we do not believe they have been tested as per the requirements of Australian standards.

“Generally speaking, the industry tends to view smaller imported synthetic slings as disposable. It is frustrating to hear it is cheaper to replace these slings compared to having them inspected and re-certified every three months. I understand that after use in a toxic or dirty environment, slings must be disposed of, but the general throwaway approach needs to change,” he said.

“Synthetic slings should not be viewed as disposable. We want the market to know that if they are used appropriately, maintained and serviced properly. Premium synthetic products, like ours, will perform at optimal levels over the long term.

“Don’t think of them as a product which is frequently swapped out, as this will cost more in the long term and is false economy. The other aspect to consider when disposing of slings unnecessarily, is the environmental impact. A quality Australian manufactured sling will last and should not end up in land fill after only a couple of lifts,” he said.

When buying a premium sling, customers should look at edge protection, as this goes hand in hand to increase sling longevity, says Pritchett.

“Generally speaking, a synthetic sling will be damaged because no edge protection has been used. Our specialised edge protection business, including Secutex and NoCut is growing. The use of edge protection is highlighted and referenced in Lifting, Load Restraint and Height Safety Australian Standards,” said Pritchett.

With its German engineered round sling machines, SpanSet has the ability to manufacture slings from 400mm up to a massive 60 metres effective length.

“To our knowledge, this is the longest capacity of any round sling machine in Australia. Our round sling machines are computer controlled to ensure quality and consistency.

“SpanSet is an agile manufacturer, and we understand the demands on the cranes industry. There isn’t always a lot of time when planning a lift and there is often a need for us to urgently respond to enquiries. We offer customers a fast turnaround on bespoke slings, helping them to meet their demanding schedules,” said Pritchett.

With the advent of larger cranes in Australia, lift loads are getting bigger, which means sling capacity needs to increase to meet these new challenges. SpanSet Australia, in conjunction with SpanSet Germany, has developed several new, high capacity, low weight slings to keep up with market demands.

“Our Magum X and Magnum Force range is a great example of this. A big percentage of our business is bespoke synthetic slings where companies are replacing chains or wire ropes slings with synthetics,” said Pritchett.

“Much of this business is due to manual handling concerns and damage to machinery, but it is also a result of customers understanding the fast turnaround and manufacturing times available when ordering synthetic lifting products manufactured by SpanSet Australia.”

SpanSet also offers an expansive range of industrial fall protection products, the majority of which are manufactured in Australia, says Pritchett.

“We manufacture a full range of harnesses from entry level, hot works, water works, tower, wind, mining, all the way up to bespoke climbing products. With products manufactured locally, we can customise for a customer’s site-specific requirements,” he said.

SpanSet manufacture a range of rescue products, and was the first company to release the Gotcha Rescue Kit, which has become a generic name for pre-assembled rescue kits globally. As a result of this success, several companies are offering a similar product, ‘often imitated, but never replicated’.”

SpanSet also manufactures bespoke load restraint systems, says Pritchett.

“With our load restraint business, we attract customers who aren’t price sensitive about the product, they are looking for a specific solution to their restraint problem. It’s generally a customer who understands load restraint and is transporting a specific load. Typically, they expect quality, compliance with the NTC Load Restraint Guide and the regulations associated with securing a load correctly,” he said.

SpanSet recently launched a load restraint App which is available for both Apple and Android devices, free of charge. This is designed to assist customers to secure their goods correctly. The App was developed to ensure the outcomes meet the information contained in the NTC Load Restraint Guide.

“The ratchet market is absolutely flooded with cheap imported products. What delineates SpanSet is the quality of our hardware and our patented Tension Force Indicator (TFI), which is fitted to a number of our ratchets. SpanSet promotes pre-tension, which is the major factor in load restraint,” said Pritchett.

“The TFI shows true pre-tension, which means it is now objective and not subjective, which takes the guesswork out of pre-tension. We find customers are demanding ratchets and components of a higher quality. We use Australian made webbing in our locally produced ratchets and our customers are happy to pay a premium knowing they will get longevity from our product. We are confident the product will do exactly what they want, and now they have visual indication of pre-tension,” he said.

As a local manufacturer, SpanSet Australia wants more industry interaction. Pritchett is encouraging customer/supplier relationships and wants the industry to pick up the phone and talk to him or any one of his passionate staff. “Together, we can find the solution,” he said.

SpanSet is also able to draw on a wealth of experience right across the business, says Pritchett.

“We have many long-term employees with 10 to 30 years of service with the company. For example, there is over one hundred years of combined experience on the manufacturing floor.

“Our team draws from the experience and technical expertise of individuals like Jeff Pogson. He has 30 years of industry experience and represents a number of industry bodies on several Australian Standards Committees.

“Jeff has an incredible wealth of knowledge in the lifting and rigging, load restraint and industrial height safety sectors, he is also a licenced rigger and dogman and adds a huge amount of technical expertise to the business. Knowledge is becoming increasingly hard to find in the industry, because it only comes with years of experience. I cannot overstate the importance of having staff who are passionate about lifting and rigging and supplying the right product, for the right job,” said Pritchett.

“Our company ethos, ‘SpanSet Certified Safety’, can only be attained with the help of passionate staff who understand industry and customer requirements. We value our team and the diverse skills and experience they bring to the organisation.

“We are extremely proud to be an Australian manufacturer and a licenced Australian Made business under The Australian Made Campaign Limited. By supporting Australian manufacturing, you are supporting the Australian economy. At SpanSet Australia, we believe now is the time to make the conscious decision to buy Australian Made,” he said.

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