Rubicon expands into China

June 27, 2017

Rubicon water equipment operating in China.

Matt Sutton with a glue gun inside the Shepparton fabrication plant.

Peter Moller with three metre high gates destined for the Murrumbidgee irrigation area.

Rubicon Water meeting with Indian agriculture minister.

Flume gates under construction at the Shepparton factory.

The announcement of a new joint venture agreement in China is the latest development in a string of expansions pursued by Rubicon Water.

After the Chinese deal was signed, Rubicon chief executive Bruce Rodgerson left for India, where he met with the national water minister.

The company sees opportunities for water efficiency technologies in a country with high demands on water use, but with some different infrastructure issues.

The Shepparton factory employs technical and trades staff to manufacture the automated irrigation gates and the radio-based technology to remotely control and manage the operation.

The company now sells into 10 countries and has offices in New Zealand, the United States, India, Spain and China.

Mr Rodgerson said one of the big impacts for the Shepparton factory would be a more even production schedule with steady export contracts evening out the peaks and troughs of Australian domestic demand.

While some of the heavier work, including assembly, will be carried out in China, Mr Rodgerson said the more sophisticated technology work would continue to be done in Shepparton, resulting in future jobs in the ‘‘white coat’’ sphere.

In the new joint venture in Gansu province, north-west of Beijing and bordering on Mongolia, some of the larger components manufactured in Shepparton will be assembled in a new joint facility in Gansu.

The province of about 26million people grows cotton, linseed oil, maize, melons, millet and wheat.

Mr Rodgerson said their technology would enable them to significantly improve water-use efficiency, making more water available for increased agricultural production or for industrial or environmental uses.

Gansu province vice-governor Yang Zixing said the joint venture held exciting possibilities for economic development.

‘‘Water plays a key role in economic development and as a water-scarce province we need to use our water much more efficiently than we have done in the past,’’ he said.

‘‘We want to transform traditional irrigation practices and this joint venture will give Gansu province’s irrigation districts access to the best technology in the world.’’

The deal follows on from the successful implementation of Rubicon’s technology in Gansu’s Chang Ma Irrigation District during a three-year pilot project in collaboration with the Australia-China Joint Research Centre on River Basin Management.

Chang Ma’s channel network has been automated using TCC Network Control and manages the water supply to 4900ha of farmland.

Gansu is an arid province in which part of the Gobi Desert is located. Water scarcity currently acts as a brake on agricultural productivity and economic development, and Rubicon’s technology will enable the province to produce more agricultural output while using less water.

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