06/07/2004 - 22:00

EPM takes aim at oil, gas

06/07/2004 - 22:00


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EPM takes aim at oil, gas

Gaining ISO 9001 certification has cleared the way for engineering firm EPM to become a player in the oil and gas industry.

The family-owned business, which started life as Esperance Precision Machining in 1986, has already forged a place in the mining indust-ry and is doing work for companies such as Haliburton and Alcoa, although the latter receives the products through an intermediary organisation.

So why go down the quality assurance route after the pasting QA received in the late 1990s.

Back then quality assurance and certification to a number of inter-national standards had been a popular step for businesses.

However, many soon found them-selves suffocating under the weight of procedure manuals and other paperwork, and QA started to get a bad name.

They also discovered that docu-menting processes – a key tranche of the QA process – was not always the best way towards business success.

Acting managing director Matt Miles said the company had taken the QA step to make itself more competitive.

"Besides, we’ve been wanting to break into the larger oil and gas market. If you don’t have ISO 9001 you’re not in the game," he said.

"We’re looking to establish and grow a presence in that sector of the market.”

Mr Miles, who originally acted as the consultant helping EPM manag-ing director Mark Hanks prepare for the certification, said QA had gained a bad name due to the practices of some of the consultants trying to push the cause.

"You can’t improve the business without improving its systems," he said.

Mr Miles said the QA step was already showing signs of paying off.

"We’re getting work from quite a few large organisations," he said.

While the business makes some products, it also manufactures a lot of custom products for its clients from engineering drawings.

However, even with the QA process in place and orders piling up, things are not as easy as they could otherwise be.

Mr Miles bemoaned the lack of skilled staff in Western Australia.

"One problem we’re facing, like just about every other business in WA, is getting staff," he said.

"Although we have good people, we don’t have enough of them.

"We can only work one shift at the moment but we have enough orders to be running two shifts."

EPM operates predominantly from its Welshpool facility but remains true to its roots in the fishing and farming town of Esperance. The company has a one-hectare facility there which provides engineering support to existing and developing businesses in the region.

In its early days the agricultural and fishing industries were two of its prime markets.


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