AN audacious gamble backed by a quest for perfection and commitment to adaptability is now paying huge dividends for a water tank maker in South Australia.
In 2011, Managing Director Danny Di Iorio and his team at Aquamate risked everything in a pitch to mining giant Santos, which could have left the manufacturer high and dry.
“In 2011 we approached Santos and proposed that if our tanks were to leak more than 10 litres, we would call them non-conforming – we would go away and you would never hear from us again,” explains Di Iorio.
A bold statement by any measure, especially when the tanks in question hold a staggering 16 million litres combined.
Aquamate’s focus is on quality of product, and Di Iorio is in full control with the company’s South Australian warehouse manufacturing its product from start to finish.
The 6000-metre-square warehouse features the longest fabrication facility in the country with a 120-metre-long section specifically for the production of the geomembrane linings that hold the water in the tanks.
In 2001, Danny and his wife bought the business as sole operator, just months after their second child was born.
“Back then we were servicing the farming industry and housing market. We then carefully evolved our business by adding specialised sectors to meet demand,” Di Iorio says.
In 2004 they added a steel fabrication facility to assist with quality control and in 2008 they created a liner fabrication process which helped to manufacture critical components of the tanks’ structure.
Aquamate first aligned its strategic objectives to the resources sector in 2010 and within two years their first 1-million-litre tank was on the ground in the Cooper Basin in the north of South Australia.
In 2013, an ongoing operation was in place and 2014 saw Aquamate employ full time workers in the Cooper, with its own warehouse and training facilities for the geomembrane installation.
Now 95 percent of each tank is made in South Australia, and much of it is made on site.
“It’s something we are very proud of. We try, as much as possible, to take the factory into the field, that way we can do a large percentage of the work in a controlled environment leaving just the install of the tanks on site,” says Di Iorio.
Another important part of the Aquamate model is its zero leaks culture.
“We saw an opportunity in the industry to raise the bar and do things better than were previously being done. In the early stages of our operations we took a no tolerance approach to leaks in our tanks. It’s something we still hold in high esteem today.”
It’s by that method and cultural background that has Aquamate ahead of the pack when it comes to manufacturing processes.
Another evolving practice has been the employment of skilled people.
Between 2001 and 2008 Aquamate employed between 6 and 12 people depending on seasonal demand.
Since targeting the resources sector in 2010, Aquamate’s workforce has increased to 40 full time employees, including those based in the Cooper Basin.
“It’s no secret the resources sector is a key component to our business. We have come a long way since 2001, bringing in varying roles and diversifying our approach for new skills within our organisation,” says Di Iorio.
Last year expansion was created through the installation and lining of a 40-million-litre pond in the Cooper Basin, to address the lack of water storage there.
Applying the same technology used on their tanks, Aquamate was able to prepare the linings while the civil work was completed to line the ponds, immediately saving valuable time.
“It worked really well for us. While Santos was laying the civil work we were able to do all of the manufacturing at our warehouse in Adelaide and could then begin laying the lining at a rate of 10,000m2 a day.”
The persistence, quality of product and pride of workmanship credits Aquamate with their portfolio of work in the resources sector throughout South Australia.