“Get Inspired” is a Regional Development Australia Moreton Bay feature telling the stories of Moreton Bay region people and their businesses and the lessons learned on the journey along with the recounting of successes and challenges
I recently caught up with Carlos Ortega of Electronic and Mechanical Calibrations to talk about his passion for business and the recent success of a grant through the Queensland Governments’ Advancing Regional Innovation Program.
NG: Your website has an explanation for what it is you do but I think a lot of people would, like me, only have a vague idea of what it all means. So for the record can you please explain in plain language what dimensional metrology and force measurement are?
CO: Calibration is the test of any device or instrument that is used to make a measurement, it could be force, weight, length, pressure, temperature or even light intensity.
Dimensional metrology is the measurement of length. Devices which measure length can be micrometers, vernier calipers, tapes, rulers, or even depth microscopes, it can range from metres to millimetres and we can even test down to micrometers, ie, 0.001 of a mm.
Force Measurement is classified as anything related to weight, it can be weighing a hair to weighing a locomotive or an aeroplane, devices which measure force may be scales, weighbridges and even force generated by pressure systems such as brakes on trains. Will the force applied on the train brakes be enough to stop the train?
NG: : So how did you get into this field? Was it always something you were interested in and wanted to do?
CO: I learnt the trade by working with another calibration company in NSW and worked throughout NSW in the mining industry, livestock yards, test labs and processing plants. It’s a trade that can only be learnt by watching other calibration technicians and reading many instrument manuals.
I had no idea what calibration was when I started out. Now I know it is a requirement in our society as it ensures systems, machinery, equipment and operations run smoothly, accurately and how things are meant to run. There are standards and reference units to which everything is referenced.
EMC has now been operating since 1999.
NG: : I understand that you recently won a Queensland Government Innovation Grant. Congratulations. Can you tell me a little more about that please?
CO: The unique Wireless Brake testing system, that we developed, replaces the Canadian and European systems used in the railway industry for many years. These systems were heavy and unsafe to use and, as I previously mentioned, the maintenance of the system in Australia was not possible. Our locally made system can now be serviced easily and focuses more on the safety of the engineers. So far companies such as Pacific National, Aurizon, Progress Rail and QLD Rail have purchased our system.
NG: I am certain that over the years you have had lessons that others shared with you and things that you learnt the hard way. What do you think were the most important lessons, for you, on your business journey?
CO: No business can ever grow unless it has community contacts and liaisons with other industries; diversification is the key to staying alive. There are great resources throughout our community via groups such as local council, chambers of commerce, business groups and networks and the state government. The many links with these networks has been one of our reasons for success.
An example of successful linking is how we launched into the international market. The Queensland Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry & Development, together with local councils and business promoters, provide opportunities for small businesses, like ours, to launch into international markets. Those opportunities allow unique and locally made products and innovative designs compete against international products and in international market places allowing us to be known outside our small city. This led last year to us being able to take part in a Queensland Government sponsored aviation trade exhibition to Singapore. That, and the recent involvement with the Myriad Showcase, has allowed us to have exposure to markets we normally would have some difficulty approaching.
Another important learning I would like to share is the value of long term customer relations and a commitment to that and to quality performance. These are the elements that have created our successful operation. Remember that with customers it is harder to obtain a customer than to maintain one. So look after your current customers well; a returning customer is the golden nugget in any business.
One of the most important lessons in business, for any company, are to manage your finances well and always have your finger on its pulse. Know to cut back during low cycles, manage well and conserve during the peaks.
Lastly, but not least for me, is the value of good staff. Our people are all local and all dedicated.
NG: What is the most satisfying thing about this business?
CO: Most satisfying thing about our business is that every day is different. We work with over 300 clients every year across a huge variety of industries. The types of industries range from military to civil aviation, heavy transport and engineering, test labs, food processing and even beer producers. That is huge diversity but they all have one thing in common – their calibration requirements.
Our business also maintains strong links to various community groups. We value what they do for the community and it gives me great pleasure to be a strong supporter of education via our local schools and youth support networks.
NG: What then is the most difficult thing about running a business like this?
CO: Most difficult thing about running a calibration company is keeping up with technological changes, changing standards and calibration requirements, body regulators such as CASA and similar aviation bodies, and the customer requirement for better and more efficient equipment. Along with this is finding staff with the experience in these fields. I have been doing this for 25 years and I am still learning. Our employees have all been internally trained and are still learning today. You just never know what is about to walk in through the door!
NG: Do you still work actively in the business, on the factory floor, or are you now too busy running the administrative side?
CO: I work in all areas, administration, development, marketing, sales, technical, but I work alongside other people that back me up. I need to be able to delegate for the business to progress. I cannot always be doing everything. Our staff range from 17 years old to 71 years of age and they are from diverse backgrounds. We do however work as a team; it is the only way to be efficient.
NG: Any closing thoughts to share?
CO: We listen to our customers, provide what they need, and if we can develop something the markets lack, we will try to find a solution.
You will find Carlos and his team doing amazing things Monday to Friday at:
Electronic and Mechanical Calibrations,
Unit 3, 293 Macdonnell Rd, Clontarf QLD 4019
Phone: 07 3284 6748
or get more information from their
If you would like to be featured on “Get Inspired” give me a call on 0437 080 986 or by email at email@example.com.