Combining a thermoplastic interior with a high strength carbon reinforced fibre external, Omni Tanker’s patented technology has revolutionised the movement and storage of dangerous chemicals.
Omni Tanker is constantly innovating in chemical testing and manufacturing processes. Omni Tanker identified two opportunities where a collaborative relationship with a research organisation would help achieve their objectives: one in chemical test methods to demonstrate liner compatibility, and the other in process automation.
The Omni Tanker thermoplastic lining has extremely broad chemical resistance, which is well documented in open literature. Many chemicals are moved internationally, and occasionally, Omni Tanker is approached by a company with a specific need to move a specialised chemical cargo. In these instances, a rapid and reliable form of testing is needed to prove the compatibility of the liner and cargo.
As the Omni Tanker business expands, old manual processes can be a bottleneck to growth. Using traditional processes, the production rate of a new product, the Omni TAINER would be half that required to meet anticipated demand. Omni Tanker therefore began to investigate the potential for automating or semi-automating aspects of the process.
Omni Tanker is also constantly assessing potential to adapt its products to new markets. Having successfully entered the European market, Omni Tanker identified an opportunity to address hazardous materials and dangerous goods transportation in the United States. However, it did not have the bandwidth across its existing workforce to carry out such a focussed development.
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Omni Tanker accessed the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, an Australian Government initiative which is funded and supported by the Australian Government. Two Innovation Connections Business Researcher Placement grants were granted to work with Professor Gangadhara Prusty and his team at the UNSW Centre for the Automated Manufacture of Advanced Composites to address the chemical testing and process automation opportunities. The grants allowed an Omni Tanker staff member to access specialist equipment at UNSW and work in close collaboration with the university researchers to develop solutions.
Omni Tanker utilised a third Innovation Connections grant, a Graduate Placement grant, to employ a graduate to support the design and development of a tanker for the United States marketplace.
Omni Tanker's first project with UNSW successfully developed methods of undertaking rapid chemical resistance testing of polymer liners. Two aggressive corrosive chemicals, Sodium Hypochlorite and Sulphuric Acid, were used to demonstrate effectiveness of the methods.
The chemical test methods enable evaluation of thermoplastic liners in a highly efficient manner, to demonstrate the compatibility of liner and chemical combinations, which is often the requirement of international buyers and regulators. These new chemical test methods have been used to broaden the documented chemical compatibility of the thermoplastic liner and increase the breadth of addressable markets. The workforce has been upskilled to utilise these new test methods.
The second project with UNSW developed new cutting processes and methods for an advanced waterjet manufacture cell, now successfully commissioned at Omni Tanker.
This project has improved efficiency and reduced the cost of production, which is vital to Omni Tanker as it faces ever increasing demand for its products.
The US Road Tanker project was a success, with first units entering service in 2020. In addition, there have been significant improvements to management of quality within Omni Tanker, to facilitate the USA and other worldwide location expansion. The graduate was a significant contributor to this.
Omni Tanker are also recipients of grants from the Accelerating Commercialisation fund, Manufacturing Modernisation Fund and AMGC Commercialisation Fund.
We have a very strong internal R&D team, but these grants enabled us to access high level, specialist expertise and equipment at the University of NSW, and to employ a talented graduate who has since become a valuable full time member of the team.
— Dr Luke Djukic, Chief Technical Officer, Omni Tanker