Celebrating 25 Years of Machining Evolution: A Conversation with HSA’s General Manager

Continuing the celebration of HSA’s 25th anniversary, we sat down with Dayne Applebee, General Manager of Hydraulic Seals Australia, to discuss the growth in machining capabilities across the company. In over 10 years at HSA, he has seen the company grow from one machine in 2013 to now 7 machines across 6 locations, allowing us to service our clients in a way no other seal company in Australia can offer.

A Journey of Evolution: From Client to General Manager

I was working for one of HSA’s clients and after 10 years with the same company thought it would be a good time for a change. I had handed in my resignation with the plan to move to Melbourne and take a short break while I decided what my next career path would be. HSA heard about my pending move and offered me a spot in their Brooklyn branch doing internal Sales. There were only about 10 staff in the company at this stage and only the 3 branches.

After 2 years of unlearning what I thought I knew about hydraulic seals and diving into more technical applications, I had the chance to return to Newcastle and eventually step into the Operations Managers Role.

We were able to build an incredible team over the next 6 years including in the Newcastle office which allowed myself to get involved with larger projects including: doing the background research for opening new locations, acquisitions of other seal companies and bringing them under the HSA banner, developing new products with suppliers, and implementing custom seal machinery into the business.

In 2021 after a strong growth period though Covid, Managing Director, David Blake, decided to take a step back from the day-to-day operations of the company and I was offered the position of General Manager. I’m really enjoying the position as HSA continues its incredible growth year after year as Australia’s leading seal supplier.  We see our biggest opportunities still in the near  future so it’s an exciting time to be part of such a great company.

Embracing Machining: Strategic Decisions and Expansion

HSA purchased its first machine in 2013 and was commissioned into our Newcastle branch to help service the Hunter Valley Coal mining repair industry. It was a small 400mm diameter capacity machine which we still use today.

Like most strategic decisions we went down this path from the growing needs of our clients. They want options which allow a quicker turnaround.  If we can offer a reliable machined seal solution that gets the equipment back into service in the smallest time frame you’re onto a winner. Also having the control of quality of the product that the client gets is a huge factor.

Just over 10 years on from the purchase of our first machine, we currently have 7 machines across our 6 locations.

The reason for having a machine in each branch is the same reason HSA heavily invests in its stock for each branch. You need to have the product as accessible to the client as possible. The old saying ‘time is money’ is never more relevant. The industries we service rely on HSA in servicing their needs in the shortest time possible. This has been a focus for us in the last 10 years especially. We now sit at delivered in full-time figures of 98% across the branches with a same day dispatch fast approaching 90%.

We have onsite machining capacity currently up to 760mm in Diameter. We have machines that offer live tooling for oil paths for certain applications and also a production machine with bar feeder for large volume jobs in the 10s of thousands.

Materials and Innovation: Setting Industry Standards

Central to HSA’s machining capabilities is its use of the highest quality materials sourced globally. We offer a full range of sealing materials including Rubbers, Polyurethanes, Plastics, Composites and Teflons. We are lucky to have access to some incredible product, mainly sourced from Europe and the UK. This includes Teflons from Accoufluor Denmark,  Composite Bearing materials from ACM in the UK and some industry leading polyurethanes from Alpana Slovenia in which we helped develop the core product for the Australian market over several years.

Looking Ahead: Future Growth and Innovation

As Australia's infrastructure projects expand, so too must HSA’s capabilities. Larger equipment calls for larger seals. We are looking into larger diameter machines as well as ways to cut down machining times and costs.

Recent expansions include the acquisition of a second vulcanising machine to expedite custom O-Ring production.

Looking forward, HSA plans to expand our footprint with at least two new locations, each equipped with additional machines to support its growing operations. Collaboration with clients remains paramount, ensuring that we continue to exceed expectations in custom sealing solutions.

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