Pambula is set to become the hub of a high technology recycling business following a business deal between Pambula Engineering and AKT Evolution Pty Ltd (AKTE), which is based in Sydney.
The deal promises investment, extra jobs and an ongoing apprenticeship scheme and has already delivered a job for new apprentice, Will Hodge, of Merimbula.
AKT Evolution Pty Ltd (AKTE) is an Australian owned and operated waste management/recycling company with a unique and patented technology for extracting nutrients from waste products.
Pambula Engineering has already built several of the Kix dehydrators for AKTE over the past 18 months, after the chairman of AKTE and scientific brains behind the machine, Joe Ruiz-Avila, moved to Cobargo.
No longer wishing to travel back and forth to Sydney for business, he decided to look for local companies to build his designs and in doing so found Peter Ballantyne and his company Pambula Engineering.
With increasing interest in recycling and the possibility of carbon credits, the Kix dehydrator is gathering serious interest from industrial concerns both overseas and now here in Australia.
A growing order book at AKTE and the proficiency of the small but dedicated team at Pambula Engineering put the two organisations into talks with the result that AKTE has taken a majority stake in Pambula Engineering.
Mr Ballantyne said: “Effectively they have bought the business from me but I will stay for at least two years to manage the business.
AKTE director, Anthony Hartman, told the News Weekly: “We are so impressed with the quality of work by Pambula Engineering that AKTE has decided to acquire it, invest in it and expand the productive capacity of this firm. This is a major positive for Australian manufacturing and the local economy. AKTE will acquire these skills, enhance the capacity for output and also provide extra services that will increase employment and training in the local economy. Pambula Engineering will be the point of manufacture, research and development, and staff training for AKTE.”
Mr Ballantyne said: “This is the best outcome I could have hoped for. We didn’t have the cash flow to expand but now I get to oversee that. It’s all good on my part.”
He did set some conditions though. “I insisted that I wanted to keep the local business continuing and wanted to service the local builders who have been loyal to me.”
It was a condition that AKTE was happy to accept. Mr Hartman said: “AKTE recognises the role Pambula Engineering plays in servicing its current client base in the Bega Valley, especially in the building industry. Pambula Engineering has its own client base and that will continue. We’re not going to interrupt that.”
Work that has gone to sub-contractors in the local area, such as Jeff Carter who produces much of the steel casings for the Kix dehydrators, will continue and is likely to increase. Mr Hartman said: “We want to give local sub contractors first rights to work not currently available regionally.”
At Pambula Engineering the existing three staff will be retained and AKTE has promised that others will be joining the team. In fact this has already happened. On Monday, February 4, Will Hodge, of Merimbula started his four-year apprenticeship as a metal fabricator/welder, with the company which will include one day a week at Bega Tafe for three years. This week Mr Ballantyne was in the process of finalising an offer to another apprentice and knows that he will probably need some more qualified fabricators and an electrician, if not immediately, later in the year.
“This is going to be a fairly significant fabrication output for this area,” he said.
In the past dehydrators have been used to process the organic waste from the shrimp industry and turn it into fishmeal for salmon farms. More recent plans related to supermarket food recycling.
This is food, Mr Ruiz-Avila explained that would normally end up in landfill, costing both the supermarket chain and the local landfill operator. Landfill over 25,000 is now subject to carbon tax but there are carbon credits for those reducing their footprint, adding incentives for the manufacture and installation of the latest development of the dehydrator which will separate out paper and plastics from the food, to turn it into aquaculture or animal feed.
The company now has another three machines to build for this specific application.
Mr Hartman said: “The cost of landfill will underscore a more effective treatment of waste. This technology can dramatically reduce part of a company’s bottom line. It can even be revenue positive. It’s only in the last few years that circumstances have changed to allow us to take advantage of this trend,” he said in a reference to the cost of waste, the carbon tax and interest in recycling.”
Material passes through the dehydrator carried by an airflow that is generated by the exhaust fan. As the fan is at the end of the process, the material is processed under a vacuum. The patented agitator keeps the incoming material in suspension whilst subjecting it to a high temperature, air stream. In the case of shrimp waste, the result is a high nutritional value fishmeal that can be used in salmon farms. The machines are installed on site where the waste is produced.
AKTE has big plans for Pambula Engineering and in addition to the extra staff, wants to conduct research at the site dedicated to the refinement and development of AKTE technology. The company has also said it would like to establish a school for machine operators nationwide with priority going to local candidates.
Notwithstanding the current Australian dollar value, AKTE sees a promising decade ahead and said it expects double digit growth of at least 20 per cent per annum.