27/06/2013 - 14:32

Immersive going strong, 20 years on

27/06/2013 - 14:32


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Immersive going strong, 20 years on
APPLICATION: The Perth company’s PRO3 simulator is designed specifically for the surface mining industry.

Perth technology boffins tinkering away in their parents' garages had a good year in 1993, if iiNet and Immersive Technologies are any guide.

That was when Michael Malone and Michael O'Reilly famously established iiNet, which has gone on to become Australia's second largest internet service provider and one of the country's major telcos.

The same year, brothers Peter and Wayde Salfinger established another technology business in their parents' suburban garage.

Their company, Immersive Technologies, has since become the global leader in the development and sale of mining equipment simulators.

Its most recent financial results, for the year to June 2012, show a period of outstanding growth, with sales up 47 per cent to $77.6 million and profits also up strongly.

The growth means Immersive now has more than 750 simulators in use by 200 customers in 33 countries.

It has also become a significant employer, with more than 300 staff.

Like many other companies servicing the mining industry, Immersive's growth prospects are unclear in the current environment.

Chief executive Peter Salfinger argues that Immersive can help miners achieve better outcomes.

"We understand the current challenges the mining industry faces and the longer-term drivers to improve efficiency and reduce costs," Mr Salfinger said.

"Our solutions are specifically aimed at delivering measurable improvements to the cost base of mining operations whilst improving safety and sustainability results."

Mr Salfinger said that, through each of the industry cycles of the past 20 years, Immersive had reviewed its R&D activities to meet client needs.

At the moment he said there was a focus on real problems like reducing fuel usage, increasing tyre life, and reducing unscheduled maintenance costs.

Among the major initiatives undertaken during the company's recent growth period was a move into a new, larger headquarters in Osborne Park.

Immersive also has a factory in Malaga, and sales and service offices in 12 other cities around the world.

Last year it moved into new offices in Monterrey (Mexico) and Lima (Peru), and expanded its premises in Santiago (Chile) and Indonesia.

Other offices are in Brisbane, Salt Lake City in the US, Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver in Canada, and Germany, South Africa and India.

Mr Salfinger said the global network was key to providing the service and support levels demanded by its customers.

He emphasised the role that research, product development and technical support had played in the company's achievements.

The signing of licensing and technical information alliances with major equipment manufacturers Caterpillar, Hitachi, Komatsu, P&H and Liebherr had helped in this regard.

Immersive said these alliances gave it exclusive access to the manufacturers' proprietary technical information, required to correctly simulate their machines.

The company doesn't just develop the simulators. It also invests in training programs, resulting in about 1,200 certified trainers worldwide.

While Immersive is exporting its simulators across the globe, other sectors need to import similar products.

Challenger Institute of Technology announced last week it had spent $1.7 million on a suite of maritime simulators produced by Norwegian company Kongsberg Maritime.

The ship bridge simulator will be used to train future shipmasters.



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