FGI’s expansion in Asia

For information on the latest resin infusion products contact FGI
2007 was a huge year for FGI, Australian’s largest manufacturer and supplier of composite materials to the marine industry. Early in the year they opened their first Bangkok office and the company reports that their manufacturing plant in Vietnam continues to perform extremely well. FGI (fiber glass international) plans to continue their Asian expansion in 2008 as well as injecting a massive $16 million dollars into their Australian manufacturing operation.

The company’s Asian expansion is driven by a desire to better service local boat builders. These include some Australian companies who have moved part or all of their manufacturing offshore. FGI General Manager David Hay explained that:

‘We export a lot of products, particularly some of our gel coats and cosmetic finishes and quite a few resins, to boat builders in Asia. We figured that we really do have to be there if we’re going to continue to grow that business.’

‘We’re looking at expanding through a range of countries that is yet to be announced. We will be putting more personnel into those regions so that we’ve got the Australian base covered and at the same time we’ve got the expansion into Asia.’

FGI’s presence in Asia will benefit customers by ensuring a reduction in freight costs, a stockpile of locally manufactured FGI products and high quality technical support. It’s a formula which has helped ensure the company’s commercial success in this country:

‘Virtually what we’re doing is replicating what we do here with some minor changes to fit in with specific cultures.’
FGI supplied materials for James Castrission and Justin Jones in their successful Tasman kayak crossing: image courtesy of http://crossingtheditch.com.au
The $16 million dollars that FGI is investing into its Australian operation is earmarked specifically for the development of new manufacturing technologies, further expansion and greater product capacity. FGI is keenly aware that for the company to remain at the top of its game, it needs to adopt techniques designed to streamline production and make it more efficient. It’s all part of the ‘work smarter’ ethos that many of our most successful manufacturers have embraced.

‘It’s basically so we can cover our customer’s needs both now and into the future’ commented a company spokesperson, noting that the massive injection of capital will benefit FGI’s manufacturing plants in Canning Vale (WA), Botany Bay (NSW) and Wacol (QLD.)

This is good news for FGI’s long list of customers which reads like a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of the Australian marine industry and a reaffirmation of the company’s commitment to support local manufacturing.

‘We supply just about every major marine manufacturer in this country’ he added, explaining that as many of these manufacturers export their products it made sense for his company to back them up.

‘We’re a pretty strong advocate for manufacturing to remain in Australia and we’re also promoting exports from Australia.’

FGI’s is a major sponsor of AIMEX (the Australian International Marine Export Group) which is the peak body representing the Australian marine export industry. The organisation aims to develop and promote the industry by offering a unified political voice and greater international marketing power.

FGI: Australia’s one stop shop for composite materials
Another way that FGI supports local businesses is via an arm of their business named EMP (Engineering, Materials and Processes); ‘essentially it’s a business of composite engineers’. EMP is dedicated to R & D and improving composite techniques and materials. But it also provides technical training for FGI’s customers, particularly following the release of a new product.

Hay observed that the training has been very popular and is a major contributing factor to FGI’s market dominance.

‘It’s probably been the basis of FGI. I guess it’s the reason why FGI’s become the biggest composite manufacturer and supplier in Australia. Most of our people are very hands on people, a lot of them are boat builders, so they can use all the materials competently and can confidently talk about them to customers and demonstrate their use.’

‘We can talk to the customers about processes and we can demonstrate processes in front of the customers and help train their people in new processes.’

FGI: Australia’s one stop shop for composite materials
This level of technical expertise has been appreciated by boat builders introducing the latest resin infusion techniques. With strict EPA regulations driving the uptake of resin infusion vessel construction techniques across the US and Europe, some Australian boat builders are adopting this form of construction in anticipation of predicted tougher environmental legislation.

‘There are several reasons it’s on the rise; one of the primary drivers is EPA and State and council legislation in certain areas affecting resin and styrene emissions.’

But it’s not the only reasons boat builders are increasingly turning to resin infusion techniques. (Resin infusion is when dry fibreglass is placed inside a female mould, the whole part is enclosed in something that looks like a giant plastic bag, and resin is drawn through the part saturating the fibreglass in the process.) Resin infusion is a much cleaner process than existing hand lay up or chopper gun techniques and minimising resin emission creates a better workplace.

resin 2
An additional advantage is that once resin infusion techniques are mastered:

‘It will give you a more predictable outcome and a more consistent outcome on parts. Basically you’re building a part with a given amount of reinforcement and a given amount of resin, so you end up with a very predictable product.’

‘Depending on what the product is (there can be) a lot of investment in getting that process right. The reinforcement and materials selection: they’re all primary things that we get involved with.’

For more information about the huge range of services and products that FGI provides, visit their website at http://www.fgi.com.au or any of their retail outlets across Australia and New Zealand.

FGI - Brookvale
14 Clearview Place
Brookvale NSW 2100
Tel: (02) 9939 1399
Fax: (02) 9938 5826
Postal: PO Box 392
Brookvale NSW 2100
http://www.sail-world.com/41368