Footscray – Celebrating 80 Years of Manufacturing
From humble beginnings to becoming a reliable, quality brand, Fenner Dunlop’s Footscray rubber ply belt plant is celebrating eight decades of industry success.
The company's roots can be traced back to 1890 when two British belting tradesmen, Arthur and Charles Hopkins began manufacturing leather belting, not far from the site of today's main plant. They were joined in 1891 by Australian George Odlum. The company of Hopkins Bros. & Odlum prospered during one of the most exciting periods of Australian mining history, making belting for Mt. Morgan in Queensland, Broken Hill in New South Wales, Mt. Lyell and Mt. Zeehan in Tasmania and Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
In the 1920s, rubber and textile began to be used (instead of leather), and those belts were the prototypes of the products in today's market.
In 1940 manufacturing operations commenced at the West Footscray site, only 8km from Melbourne's Central Business District and deliberately located with easy access to all main highways.
In 1952, the brand Apex Belting – for Hopkins Bros & Odlum was formed and is a name that is still synonymous in Australia with high-quality conveyor belts. All Fenner Dunlop's belts are still branded Apex celebrating the heritage and passing on the values and pride of such an iconic brand.
Weaving capacity was established in 2003 in a significant strategic move making a powerful statement about the organisation’s commitment to local manufacturing. Producing the fabric in-house allows for compliance to Fenner Dunlop’s stringent quality standards, reduces lead times for the customers and reduces material waste. The manufacturing and technical team embraces ISO 9001:2015 that forms the basis of the Quality Management System. The system is also well supported by Continuous Improvement initiatives to increase overall performance, enhance customer satisfaction and design/develop new procedures.
Today the building is of regional historical and architectural significance preserved by the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC), and the original Apex conveyor neon sign is still standing, it is believed to be one of the oldest neon signs in Melbourne.
"We're proud to be celebrating the 80-year milestone of our plant in Footscray. Our commitment to customer service is stronger than ever, and we have a plan for growth which will see us deliver even more for our valued customers" said Hong Koh, Manufacturing Manager.