27/03/2013 - 09:21

Hatch, Williams want pole position

27/03/2013 - 09:21

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Hatch, Williams want pole position
OFF AND RACING: Kirsty Andrew says the racing team’s alliance with Hatch is a powerful partnership. Photo: Bohdan Warchomij

WHAT do Formula One racing and mining services have in common?

If your answer were not all that much, then the good people at Hatch and Williams Advanced Engineering would like a quick word.

Engineering and project services group Hatch’s senior management met with their motor racing team counterparts about 18 months ago.

The internationally headquartered companies worked on the assumption they were essentially engineering firms, with a heavy focus on project management.

But they also found sharp Formula One technology developed by Williams could play a role in the resources sector.

Hatch and Williams have established a technical partnership, to exchange technologies and ideas to improve performance in three areas – asset management, energy storage and energy management, and transport safety.

Williams Advanced Engineering head of commercial operations Kirsty Andrew said the company’s expertise extended a long way past the track. 

“We have experience in all of the areas that are relevant to other industries because we design, we manufacture and we operate our product, and not every racing team does that,” Ms Andrew told WA Business News.

“That’s what makes the partnership powerful; it brings our type of innovation and methodology and couples it with Hatch’s innovation, methodology and market expertise.

 “Our timescales are different, our products are different but a lot of the challenges we face are similar.”

Hatch technical partnerships coordinator David Delves said a key driver for Hatch was how the company could stimulate innovation within its ranks.

“We are in an industry where we have to differentiate what we are delivering,” Mr Delves said.

“Looking to Williams and the way they go about their business, the focus on a singular goal within their organisation drives everything they do.

“Everybody knows that their job is to focus on getting the car around the track faster, and that drives the speed of development and the speed of innovation. 

“We are drawing a lot of inspiration from that.”

One of the first initiatives developed from the partnership is the Race to Reliability program, which is based on predicting where defects may happen throughout work processes and eliminating them before they occur.

Hatch internal research has shown about 80 per cent of defects in its processes are self-induced.

As part of the program, Hatch and Williams have been touring to Hatch sites in Australia with the front end of a Williams Formula One car, pitting employees against one another in a race to change tyres to teach a hands-on lesson in process refinement.

Mr Delves said the pit-stop exercise provided important information relating to performance improvement, safety and asset management.

“If you want to do something quickly, you have to physically design components to get the task done quickly, you have to train people to do it and you have to practice it,” he said.

“These are all things that can improve any activity you perform on a mine site.”

Both companies are applying their knowledge to safety; an area Hatch and Williams agree is crucial for smooth operations in the resources sector.

Hatch and Williams are looking specifically at road safety, working to reduce risks associated with road travel to and from project sites.

“We are trying to improve drive behaviour and even drive selection, which correlates to what we do with Formula One cars,” Ms Andrew said.

The final area of focus for the partnership is on energy storage and energy management. 

Williams has been manufacturing ‘kinetic’ energy recovery systems for its cars following Formula One rule changes, with Hatch keen to apply the technology to wind power generation.

Mr Delves said the flywheel-based technology developed by Williams could be used to increase the amount of wind that could contribute to power generation and drive down the cost of energy.

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