Written by Kerryn Caulfield, Executive Director of Composites Australia Inc.
Composite Stands is a Brisbane based company established in 2018 to produce a range of innovative lightweight jack stands that are used to raise and support industrial equipment and vehicles during service and maintenance activities and/or while in storage.
Conventionally made of steel, regular jack stands are heavy and cumbersome and pose a risk of personal injury during manual handling. Most larger stands need to be lifted into position by forklifts or loaders which are slow, awkward and costly. “In industrial workplaces, workers are prohibited from working on or under a machine or vehicle unless it is supported by a stand. The reality is that everything that moves must be elevated and then supported on a stand, but the stands that workplaces are compelled to use were, at times, not fit for purpose,” says Matthew Dow, Composite Stands company founder.
With safety his paramount objective, Matthew set out to design and develop a robust, ergonomically and operationally safe jack stand.
Harnessing the lightweight and corrosion resistant properties of composites, Matthew chose an FRP pultruded profile to develop columns which have significant compressive strength for use as the main post in the support stands.
Matthew’s research had also identified the adjustable height mechanism system of conventional stands as a probable failure point. This problem also had to be reimagined with a safer solution.
The stands have been designed to meet the requirements of Australian Standard AS/NZS 2538:2016 and were independently tested and subsequently certified by the University of Newcastle, NSW and the University of Southern Queensland.
“A single idea morphed into a single product which has since developed into a full range of products that are fully certified and compliant. Their lightweight nature makes them easy to transport. With the addition of the new wheel kit, they can be unloaded and wheeled into place, hassle free. We’re not standing still. It’s a range that’s constantly developing and expanding to meet specific applications as customers’ expectations increase,” advises Matt. The heaviest jack stand produced by Composite Stands is 1000mm high, weighs less than 80kg and is rated to hold 75 tonnes. Their lowest capacity Jack Stand is 140mm high, weighs less than 3kg and is rated to hold 8 tonnes. The tallest stand is 2200mm tall, weighs 65kgs and has a safety rating of 12.5 tonnes.
At great expense and effort, the company has since patented its technology in Australia, South Africa, the United States and Europe and has applications pending in a number of other countries.
Matt acknowledges that the last few years have been challenging. “Cashflow is always worrying for a start-up; particularly with funds tied up in R&D and patents. Jack stands are an industrial product in an established market. Obstacles to getting an idea fully commercialised are considerable. Even with the best business plan, it always takes longer than you planned for an innovation to get acceptance in a market.”
Composite Stands products are now being used in maintenance fleets for mining equipment, construction equipment, forklifts, machinery, on and off-road trucks, buses, cranes and even aircraft. The company’s many customers include industrial giants like HASTINGS DEERING, KOMATSU Australia, HITACHI, SANDVIK, FMG and BHP.