Liebherr-Australia: Technology and Innovation Driving Efficiency in Manufacturing for Mining

Liebherr-Australia: Technology and Innovation Driving Efficiency in Manufacturing for Mining

Mining is a major part of Liebherr-Australia’s business plan, although the company has several other divisions successfully operating in the country. Since the onset of the mining boom, Liebherr has been extremely successful with earth moving, mining and crane sales, leading to an expansion of their facilities, including a recently completed, dedicated remanufacturing location in Adelaide.


Liebherr-Australia, part of the global, family-owned company Liebherr Group, began its tenure in Australia in the 1970s with the dealership network. In 1981, the Australian affiliate of the company was officially incorporated, and the commencement of their own operations under the Liebherr name. Liebherr-Australia Head Office moved to the current location in Adelaide in the 90s.


Remanufacturing c allows Liebherr to repair of all of their own components, which offers the customer a quality end product at a reduced cost.  Liebherr promotes a vertical integration model which allows l control of our cost and component life, in turn reducing costs for the end-user.


“Our key customers that Liebherr-Australia predominately work with are tier-one mining houses which largely deal in iron ore and coal said David Pichanick, the general manager of sales and marketing at Liebherr-Australia. “The company has been very successful with the likes of BHP, Glencore, Fortescue Metals Group, Leighton Group, and Downer to name a few. We’ve put such a big installed population of machinery out in those two commodities of late, and that machinery is working even harder now, despite the price of both coal and iron ore dropping. Both our parts and support business will continue to grow”


New Facilities


Liebherr-Australia recently invested over $170 million to complete new support facilities in Sydney and Newman Western Australia. Existing properties in Mackay, Mt. Thorley, and Perth were expanded to accommodate the company’s goal of continuing to meet our customer needs.


The crowning jewel of the company’s expansion efforts is the remanufacturing facility in Adelaide. Construction started in January of 2013 and was completed in August of this year to a cost of around $80 million. The facility will be hiring around 138 new employees over the next year and a half out of the South Australian job market.


“The rebuild centre focusses on all of our major components for our mining operations in Australia and New Zealand,” said Pichanick. “All of the spare parts and components from the machinery will be sent back to Adelaide for remanufacture and then go back into the distribution outlets around Australia. Our business had a very decentralised model previously; however we are now consolidating everything under the one roof. The disassembly area includes a wash-bay, shot-blast, disassembly work-cells, quality control station and machining. There are over 2,000 locations for pallets in the SEU warehouse, as well as cylinder and rod storage, a place for REMAN planning and a production office. The assembly area includes a paint booth, another quality check station, 12 wall-travelling cranes and four overhead gantry cranes.


100 Percent Liebherr


Vertical integration is one of Liebherr Group’s strategies. As the Liebherr family built the brand and the business, they have consistently found ways to develop the company’s own technology in house; the machinery the company offers is much more efficient and cost-saving for the end-user because of this business strategy.


“The most important thing for us is controlling the quality and reducing the cost where we can,” shared Pichanick. “We can do this because of our vertical integration model. We want to be able to provide our customers with the lowest cost per tonne on the market through the product lifecycle You’ve got to have a good quality machine that’s reliable, but to maintain our reputation it has to be the most cost-effective machine on the market. Liebherr-Australia has built that reputation.”


A way the company successfully reduces costs is through their innovation process. When a prototype is made, it’s already been well designed and engineered that it goes to work right away. With research and development undertaken in house, and a high regard for innovation, Liebherr-Australia are able to produce the right machinery the first time around, instead of needing several prototype models. This success is only possible with direct customer feedback and input through the research and development process phase.


Partnership with Detroit Diesel


Although the goal of Liebherr is to design and produce 100 percent company-made products, they still work with outside suppliers on some components. Detroit Diesel is a major supplier for engines, and supplies the engine for the previous generation of the company’s electric powered mining truck; the largest in the world.


“This specific truck is very dependent on the engine,” commented Pichanick. “The reliability and the innovation that Detroit Diesel supports us with is incredible. They make a very good product, and are on the same wavelength as Leibherr-Australia when it comes to making sure we are delivering what we need to for our customers.”


Evolution of Product Life


After fourteen years in production and over 350 units globally, Liebherr ensures its T 282 Series Haul truck continues to provide business partners the latest in technology, through strategic investment in product evolution. The highly efficient IGBT Drive System and its class-leading payload to weight ratio ensure maximum productivity and performance.

In May 2014, Liebherr proudly launched the next exciting evolution for the T 282 Series Haul Truck: the T 282 C Extended Life Profile, which is the result of an extensive Liebherr international collaboration project, focussed on enhancing and increasing the T 282 C product life cycle. This delivers increased economic machine life, resulting in substantial reductions in total cost of ownership for Liebherr business partners.


A Passion To Work


“The most important thing in any business is you have to value your people. A lot of companies forget they are successful only by the great people they have. You have to give them a career and an exciting and enjoyable place to work. Liebherr-Australia does that.”


Pichanick was very passionate when talking about how the company treats its employees. Liebherr-Australia has many employees that have length of service dating 10 to 20 years at the company, and one man who just celebrated his 50 years of service with the company this year!


“You know what sets Liebherr apart? We have a culture where everyone is driven by the customer’s needs and passion for the long term outcome. It’s all about our Core Values! “Our employees just want to be people that serve their customers” said Pichanick. They want to do a good job and are very proud of what they do. We all build trust in, and we respect each other for who we are and what we can bring to the company. If everyone's committed 100 percent every day to giving the customer what is promised, and people enjoy what they're doing, we consider it a success.”


The Liebherr Way


Like any successfully run company, Liebherr is in the business of meeting the high expectations of their customers. The company is not only selling a product, but the support and maintenance of the product for its lifespan. To keep their customers coming back, Liebherr provides not only exceptional service but also high-quality customer support and interaction.


The company provides almost complete visibility into the design process for the customer, allowing them to provide feedback throughout the process.


“We listen to the customer and develop a product they really want,” said Pichanick. “There’s so much passion in the business, and that’s a big part of the reason we’ve become so successful and enjoy what we do. Everyone that works at the company is proud and really wants to become part of that journey to become successful. The customers really enjoy it as well; they get great visibility into our business. They see the simplicity: if there’s a problem, it gets fixed very quickly. That's just the way the business works.”


Liebherr-Australia doesn’t offer the whole range of products their competitors have. Although they manufacture for the niche market of digging and hauling dirt, it’s one of the most important parts of the mining process. Their goal throughout is to offer the most cost efficient and effective model that produces throughout its entire lifespan. By developing their products alongside their customers, they produce the product that the customers need and want, not a product the customer must adapt to.

As for growth, the Liebherr organisation thinks long-term for the strategic plans.


“The third generation of the Liebherr family is now coming through the business,” said Pichanick. “. We must continue to build our reputation in order to grow and continue our success. If the family continues to invest the way they do, we will always be one step ahead of the pack. All of the company’s research and development is self-funded. For an innovative, technological efficient company like us, this strategic plan will carry us far.”


For the Future


Liebherr’s goal is to be the best leading supplier and to support business for mining equipment.  This goal isn’t just for Australia, either.


“We want to not only to continue to supply the Australian market, but grow our product and position from a global perspective Australia is somewhat of a benchmark for the rest of the world in mining, so if we get it right here we can get it right for the rest of the world. As there are a lot of Australian mining companies that are mining and other parts of the world. That’s why we put so much energy into doing so well in Australia.”

David Pichanick