Casting Done to Perfection

Northern Iron & Brass Foundry

In the demanding world of foundry moulding and casting, products need to be precision made and last for years. Few companies realise this better than North Queensland based Northern Iron & Brass Foundry Pty Ltd. Offering free, no-obligation quotes, the company wide range of services and capabilities ensures it is able to meet the casting needs of all clients.
With a product distribution base that reaches throughout all of Australasia and South East Asia, Northern Iron & Brass Foundry is one of the most respected manufacturers in the region for castings used in a variety of demanding industries, ranging from mining to agriculture, marine, sugar and products for general industries.

From farm implement attachments, boiler parts, bearing housings, jaw crusher parts, pulleys, capstans and BBQ plates to pump components such as impellors, casings and wear plates, Northern Iron & Brass makes castings for a number of applications. The company is involved from the concept stage all the way to successful completion.

Able to handle producing one item or, with its high-volume production runs, over a thousand, Northern Iron & Brass has a metal pouring capacity of thirty tonnes per day. Its coreless induction furnaces are used for effective efficient control of all metal grades.

A large machine shop outfitted with a Mazak Horizontal machining centre – capable of high speed quality machining with five micron repeatability – makes sure dimensional accuracy is maintained. Accuracy is also provided through the company’s green and chemical sand moulding lines for both small jobs and larger production runs, along with its sophisticated in-house pattern-making facilities.

Other services, including heat treatment in an oven for stress relieving, annealing or hardening, and protective coating application, help to ensure product durability for years to come.

This year marked eight decades that Northern Iron & Brass Foundry has been in business, providing a range of high quality products, superior service and expertise to a variety of industry sectors across the whole of Australia. Founded in 1934 by the Schmidt family, the company has grown significantly over the years, adding new services to meet the needs of its many clients.

In 2011, Northern Iron & Brass Foundry, a public company, was purchased by Fletcher Building Limited. Fletcher, operating in over forty countries, traces its roots back to 1909 with its first creation of a timber weatherboard house in Dunedin, New Zealand. Fletcher Building is today listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and widely recognised as a world-class manufacturer and distributor of quality building and construction products. Fletcher Building’s brands and businesses include Iplex Pipelines, Kingston Bridge Engineering, Key Plastics, Gatic, Crevet Pipelines and Northern Iron & Brass Foundry.

A Tradition of Quality Products and Service
Originally geared towards making components for machines in the sugar industry, Northern Iron & Brass Foundry has considerably expanded its capabilities over the years. As an integral part of Fletcher Building Limited, the company works to design and manufacture products intended for applications such as water reticulation and waste water applications, which are then distributed by Iplex Pipelines and Crevet Pipelines.

“The industry has changed over the years,” says company Manager Joe Vecchio. “Originally, Northern Iron & Brass Foundry was set up for supply to the sugar industry. That moved on. There was a joint venture made with (building products manufacturer) James Hardie to supply products to the water industry, which was a larger part of our customer base for a long time. Now it’s mixed a lot more across a broader spectrum, which is water industry, general engineering, railway parts, truck parts and wear plates for the mining industry as well.”

Mr Vecchio, who started his career as a foundry Pattern Maker and has been with the company for twenty-six years, estimated that about fifty per cent of Northern’s present-day work is for the water sector, about fifteen per cent for mining and the remainder divided across other industry groups.

From Single Items to Multiples
The company’s highly-experienced staff consists of approximately seventy permanent workers and another ten casual. Northern Iron & Brass Foundry employs trained persons from a variety of disciplines, including tradespeople, Boilermakers, experts in fitting and turning, foundry moulding, Pattern Makers and numerous skilled labourers.

Creating a wide variety of precision-made components and casings for numerous industries, the company’s flexibility helps to distinguish Northern Iron & Brass from its competition. “We create quality products with a very short lead time, if required,” says Mr Vecchio of the company.

Working primarily from client designs, but sometimes from its own, the company is able to create a wide range of products – in any number. “We can make thousands, that’s no problem,” comments Mr Vecchio. “We have a high production line, and we also have a jobbing line as well for low volume.”

Owing to recent expansion and investment in the business, Northern Iron & Brass has increased not only its existing range of products, but also its capabilities. On 2.59 hectares of extensive facilities at its Innisfail site, the company is outfitted with fully-equipped pattern and machine shops. The range of tools at the state-of-the-art manufacturing facility includes CNC horizontal bores and CNC lathes. In addition, the company has a smelting capacity of up to five tons.

To further benefit its clients by reducing labour costs and to bolster its capabilities, Northern Iron & Brass recently purchased and installed an automatic moulding machine from a Melbourne-based manufacturer. Its strategic investment in equipment, as well as hiring and retaining highly-experienced staff and keeping on top of changes in the industry has allowed the company to offer clients top-quality products at the best available price.

Northern Iron & Brass Foundry works to exacting client specifications and requirements to ensure quality for all its manufactured products. The company has been accredited with AS/NZS ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems certification since 1988. “We are accredited to ISO 9001 Australian standards, and we have a full-time quality coordinator on site,” says Mr Vecchio of the company’s commitment to its clients with each and every job.

In addition to all staff being trained in quality control processes, Northern Iron & Brass strives to make other quality assurance procedures are followed and maintained from start to finish. Spectrographic metal analysis is used to ensure correct metal composition is maintained; the in-house use of tensometers tests tensile properties and strength; and Brinell hardness and microstructure examination is used in metallurgy and engineering.

Sourcing locally whenever possible, Northern Iron & Brass Foundry ensures products meet applicable standards. Flake graphite iron, produced in general engineering grades to A.S. 1830, conforms to both Australian and international standards. Others, such as spheroidal graphite iron (ductile cast iron), abrasion-resistant white iron, corrosion-resistant iron (Austenitic), and heat-resistant irons are produced to applicable standards and grades.

In addition to casting different grades of steel, the company provides many other specialised casting services, including: austempered (a heat treatment used to improve mechanical properties) ductile irons, flake graphite irons, ductile irons, corrosion resistant irons, five ticks, bronze and aluminium, heat resistant iron and abrasion-resistant white irons.

To meet the needs of all clients across a diverse range of sectors, Northern Iron & Brass Foundry professionally manufactures a wide number of products, with some surprises. Casting water fittings (according to AS/NZS 2280 standards for ductile iron pipes and fittings), the company creates a variety of pump components, casings, wear plates and impellors. In addition, Northern Iron makes a variety of street castings, ranging from hydrant boxes to manhole covers and frames, all the way to durable outdoor street furniture.

After more than eighty years in business, Northern Iron & Brass Foundry continues to provide the finest quality cast products to a range of clients across the nation. “In a nutshell, we pride ourselves on quality products supplied on time, every time, for a very competitive price.”

Strategic Resources

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February 27, 2020, 2:50 AM AEDT


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