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UK market beckons grain cleaner

A SMALL Dongara-based agricultural machinery manufacturer, Nufab Industries, is on the brink of breaking into lucrative markets in the UK and Europe.

The company, established about 20 years ago by Nufab managing director and engineer Peter Dunn, specialises in designing and manufacturing a range of agricultural machines but mainly a screen grain cleaning machine with vacuum aspirators. This improves the grade of the grain and boosts the return to farmers.

Since Mr Dunn started concentrating on the grain machinery side about five years ago, his business has expanded rapidly. To date the company has sold 121 machines valued at about $7.2 million.

The main growth market today is the eastern states and potential export. Nufab production manager Mark Stevens said the company is in the early stages of establishing itself in the UK and is also looking seriously at Europe.

“We believe there is a market there for our machinery,” he said. “It’s looking good.”

Recently, WA-based Cooperative Bulk Handling representatives undertook a world tour inspecting grain cleaning plants throughout the western world’s grain producing areas, and rated the Nufab grain cleaner as “addressing an increasingly important international market niche”.

While its office and workshop is in Dongara, it maintains a contract grain cleaning division in the wheatbelt of Western Australia, Queensland and northern NSW.

Mr Stevens said the contracting operation would soon be operating as a separate company and will take delivery of a new six screen machine to be based in Toowoomba.

The machines’ technology and use have also started a whole new contracting industry, with contractors buying the machines and going into business for themselves cleaning farmers’ grain. Mr Stevens said while the capital outlay was high, some farmers had managed to pay off their machine in the first season.

The Nufab grain cleaner is fully self-contained, folds up into a compact unit and can be set up and run by a single operator.

It cleans grain at a top rate of 60 tonnes per hour, averaging about 40 tonnes per hour, which is between two and five times as efficient as other equipment. It can also grade seed up to an accuracy of 0.1mm.

Since its inception Nufab has also won numerous awards and recommendations. One of its apprentices, Scott Hall, was apprentice of the year for the Mid West last year, and Robyn Parson won the achievement award from the Institute of Professional Secretaries and Administrators. Nufab was the 1998 regional winner of the Telstra Small Business Award for the Mid West region.

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