Industry News, Latest News, Machinery & Equipment, Road infrastructure, Traffic Management and Safety, Victoria

The future of Flocon

Flocon’s new internal system aims to increase the efficiency of operations within a machines cabin.

Flocon Engineering has a rich history in Australia’s road maintenance sector. Director and third generation employee, Rory Knight, reflects on the past and opens up on the company’s future. 

Rory Knight is proud of his family’s heritage. 

Flocon’s new internal system aims to increase the efficiency of operations within a machines cabin.
Flocon’s new internal system aims to increase the efficiency of operations within a machines cabin.

More than 40 years ago, his grandfather, Jim Knight, founded Flocon Engineering in his backyard. It was the beginning of what is now a fourth-generation family owned and operated business.

The first unit manufactured under the Flocon Engineering name was delivered to Moorabbin City Council in 1982. In the years following, the company grew, increasing its portfolio of road maintenance machinery, as well as staff numbers.

Jim Knight’s sons, Peter and Steve (Rory’s father), would eventually succeed him as the leaders of the company, during a period  which saw growth for Flocon Engineering both nationally and internationally.

Now the next generation of Knight’s is ready to make its mark. 

Director Rory Knight says the company’s past has laid the foundation for the enterprise’s future.

“From my grandparent’s backyard, and since the delivery of the first unit, things have really taken off and boomed,” Knight says.

“We now have multiple representatives across a number of states nationally. We’ve also serviced the needs of the international market for some years now in New Zealand, Samoa, China, United Kingdom and the Philippines.”

Flocon Engineering manufactures a range of road maintenance equipment out of its headquarters in Melbourne, including aggregate spreaders, road patching and repair units, cement or lime spreading units, bitumen emulsion sealing units, forward moving spreaders and more. 

Its road maintenance equipment has been manufactured and developed to handle hot mix, cold mix or premix asphalts, cement lime, aggregates and bitumen emulsions soils.

Each of Flocon Engineering’s products are backed by more than 40 years in research and development, including close consultation with industry stakeholders to improve the performance and safety of each machine.

Flocon Engineering also used a hire fleet for 20 years, providing a platform for research, evolution and improvements to its products.

This includes field testing with Federal, state and local road authorities. Rory Knight says the result is safe, comfortable and easy-to-use equipment.

“One of our biggest strengths is our experience. We’ve learnt a lot from our time in the industry,” he says.

“We also get very positive feedback from our customers on the simplicity and ease-of-use which our units provide for the operator. We also manufacture and develop our equipment in-house, meaning our customers can have a one-stop-shop for purchasing, repairs, and general enquiries.”


 

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Embracing the future

Flocon Engineering has never been afraid of adapting and embracing new technologies, according to Knight.

The company’s newest innovation reflects its commitment to pushing the boundaries of technology in the road maintenance sector. 

As Knight explains, the technology will open new doors for the company and operators alike.

“We started development and planning for a new internal system for our machines in 2019. We worked closely with one of our main suppliers to move away from the old switch system. We wanted to streamline the controls and make it easier for ourselves and the operator,” he says.

Using a new system from the supplier, Flocon Engineering has implemented its own program to deliver an intuitive operating platform.

Via an LCD touch screen, operators can control all operations of the machine from within the vehicle cabin. The rear button control pads are remote controlled.

Knight says the system provides the full picture for operators on the performance and operational status of their equipment.

“The system can give you information on hydraulic pressures, mechanical faults, operational hours, temperatures, oils and more,” he says. “If an operator was using an attachment or was spraying on our old system, they’d have to manually select which options they wanted to use. Now, with this system, our customers can select these options just by swiping their finger.”

“It simplifies everyday operations and fault detection for the user.”

Knight acknowledges that the introduction of new technology can cause hesitance among customers. But he says the biggest priority during development was to deliver a simple and easy to understand system, which could be used by operators of all ages.

“It’s as simple as selecting the options that you need. It’s not daunting to look at, with screens and buttons staring back at you,” he says. “We can also spend some time with the operator to familiarise them with the system, to make sure that they can make the most of it.”

The product also underwent testing in the field. Knight says the findings from these trials were “really pleasing”.

“Our first unit was trialled in 2020 by a local operator in their spray sealer. We received fantastic feedback; those guys absolutely loved it,” he says. “Some of our larger clients are now requesting for the units to be installed into their trucks.”

Knight says the next step for the system will be remote logging, a feature which Flocon Engineering is developing with a technology provider. 

“This will allow our maintenance team to rectify machinery issues remotely, making it simple to send across spare parts or whatever the customer requires,” he says. 

This article was originally published in the March edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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