LKL takes on imports

LKL’s trenchless machines, the Aussie Mole pneumatic punch and the Aussie Burst hydraulic pipe burster, are still manufactured and assembled in Victoria.Managing directors Lindsay and Lois Schultz founded the company in 1994 after becoming frustrated with the quality of the tools they were importing, LKL International manager John Butterworth told Contractor.“There were several imported moles out there on the market, but they had different aspects that contractors didn’t like, and backup support was something that did not exist,” he said. “With much consultation with our customers Aussie Mole is what it is today. We have developed a fast, reliable tool that can put metres of pipe, cable, etcetera in the ground day after day.”The Aussie Mole uses pneumatic pressure to punch a straight compact underground bore underground. It is typically used to install conduit and pipes for electrical, telecommunications, gas and water utilities underneath streets, footpaths and driveways.Butterworth said the technique had been around for years. “Although several companies advertise that they are the founder of moling, it was actually developed by the Russians back in one of the earlier wars for putting explosives under railway lines, buildings etcetera,” he said. “Basically we expanded on the product, making it more user-friendly and cost effective for the contractor to use.”LKL and a local engineering company trialled several prototypes before settling on the Aussie Mole design. Butterworth said conventional pneumatic tool principles did not apply to moling tools. “They look so simple but believe me they are not,” he said. LKL’s Aussie Burst equipment, which hydraulically bursts old pipes and installs new pipe into the existing bore, hit the Australian market in 1999. Butterworth said there were several similar products on the market but LKL’s machine was designed for tough Australian conditions. He said LKL’s quality control was better than the imported competition, and its designs were simpler.“A lot of our opposition have very complicated mechanisms for working the tools, as well as several intricate parts inside them, so more moving parts mean more things that can break,” he said. LKL exports Aussie Moles and Aussie Bursts to many countries around the world. Butterworth said it had been difficult when the US and Australian dollars were closer in value.“Now the dollar is working to our advantage, exporting is more competitive,” he said.

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