Image for Kilic Engineering – From Adelaide to Iowa with Australian steel

Innovative engineering with Australian-made steel has positioned Kilic Engineering, a family-run business from northern Adelaide, to break into the lucrative US Midwest grain market.

Kilic Engineering (KE) manufactures smart, flexible and high-capacity bulk handling equipment. With just-in-time delivery of high-quality Australian-produced steel supplied pre-processed by Adelaide steel supplier Liberty OneSteel Metalcentre, the business is set to transition from a domestic to a global market. 

KE has been in business for 35 years, during which time it has serviced customers in sectors from minerals processing to glass manufacturing, air-conditioning to abattoirs and food processing, including Inghams Chickens. The business has also seen considerable growth in the agricultural sector with its high-volume self-propelled ‘Big Roo’ BunkerStacker3000 and its smaller, more easily transported ‘Joey’ BunkerStacker2000.

Now thanks to the development of its BunkerSweeper500, KE is set to meet growing customer demand in both Australia and the United States for equipment to facilitate grain recovery from bunkers and sheds.

Engineering firm KE is set to break into the US market
with its grain recovery equipment

KE CEO Jason Kilic, son of founder Tony, has led the company’s shift in focus from major projects in the manufacturing sector (KE formerly supplied conveyor systems to General Motors Holden) towards a productised approach to the agricultural sector and has delivered significant growth along the way.

General Manager Craig Dennis says the firm has sold its first unit in Vietnam to facilitate the transfer of soy bean meal to river freight vessels. And with the interest shown at a series of agricultural trade fares in the US Midwest, there are expectations of sales of up to 100 units of the BunkerSweeper500 to follow.

Craig confirms that ninety per cent of the steel used in the machine delivered to Vietnam was Australian-made and supplied by Liberty OneSteel Metalcentre.

The company relies on Australian-made steel
supplied by Liberty OneSteel Metalcentre

“Our customers have always expressed their preference for Australian-made steel for its quality and reliability. Increasingly, they are now insisting on it,” he says. “It’s exciting to see that our products, designed and manufactured in Australia with Australian materials, are now being exported.”

The relationship between KE and Liberty OneSteel Metalcentre goes back almost as many years as the business has been in operation.

“Metalcentre supplies us with all of our straight, rectangular, channel and plate steel. We know that when we place an order they will process and deliver it to us within 24–48 hours – and we can begin fabrication almost as soon as it arrives,” Craig says.

“We’re able to utilise Metacentre’s processing capacity and scale to our advantage. Product quality and rigour with paperwork are two important reasons we are happy with our relationship with Liberty OneSteel Metalcentre,” he says.

KE is able to supply its customers with
full product traceability and certification

Full product traceability and certification are important to KE’s customers. Data sheets and documentation confirming the chemical composition and batch details of all steel supplied are made available at short notice and often up to a month after delivery.

Kym Hutton of Liberty OneSteel Metalcentre in Adelaide says KE is a strong supporter of Australian-manufactured and supplied content for its products.

“We supply KE with the bulk of their steel requirements,” Kym says. “They appreciate the benefits of good local service and believe in supporting local businesses and employing local people.”

Kym confirms the importance of Metalcentre’s processing capabilities and capacity to KE. “They call us with their requirements, send us their plans and we cut, process and deliver the required products to them the next day. They appreciate the just-in-time delivery and consistently high-quality products and service provided by Metalcentre.”

With its increasing focus on the manufacture and export of a range of products, KE is seeing strong growth and reduced volatility in its business. The impact on the local community is a welcome outcome.

“There’s more to business than the price – at KE we have a strong sense of community. It makes us feel good to see Metalcentre’s car park full and busy as we drive past it every day,” Craig says.