Some of the unsung heroes of aviation doing it all from Docklands
When most people imagine a jet plane and the many parts that go into completing one, the wings or the engines are likely to be among the first notable pieces of the puzzle they consider. But what about the crucial components that join everything together?
In what will come as a surprise to many, Docklands is home to one of the world’s leading suppliers to the aviation industry of the critical custom fasteners, widgets and hardware that allow the likes of today’s aircraft to be assembled and repaired.
Whether it be a bolt capable of withstanding supersonic speeds, or specialised drilling equipment fit for high accuracy applications, AFT Applied Fasteners and Tooling contributes many of the pieces to these incredibly technical puzzles.
Originally founded by Sue Campbell in her Docklands apartment in 2014, the business now supports design, assembly, and repair of some of the world’s most sophisticated aircraft, spacecraft and defence programs from their Harbour Esplanade office.
Just last month, as part of the Avalon Airshow, the company hosted several North American-based manufacturers it represents in the aerospace and defence industries, which was the source of great pride for this fast-growing local business.
“The show was epic. One of our suppliers from Canada said it was one of the best run events that he’s ever attended worldwide, so it was credit to Sue who organised it all beautifully,” Colin Campbell told Docklands News.
“Sue can run a small country by lunchtime – that’s my tagline for her! Everything just ran so smoothly,” adding that Avalon was the fourth air show the business had taken part in.
Combining Sue’s background in business administration with Colin’s expertise in mechanical engineering, as well as Sue’s sister, Lorraine’s background in logistics, this family business was set up for success from day one.
While the aerospace and defence industries are the source of most of its clients, AFT has now grown to support a wide variety of sectors, including solar, electric vehicles, marine and land vehicle programs.
“Sue set up AFT to basically be a specialist for design, manufacturing and assembly of aircraft and space components. By default, we do some defence projects, so we support this industry as part of the supply chain,” Colin said.
We support all of the airlines, and they lean on us pretty hard, because it’s often all last-minute support so we have a great relationship with all of them and that’s been going since day one.
“But there are lots of different areas where they need specialised products. It’s been a good story and we’ve had a lot of support from our customers.”
“A lot of places don’t really put much emphasis on the widgets, but it’s an important part of the assembly process as without those widgets, everything stops.”
With innovation at its core, Colin said the business was also passionate about supporting the next generation of engineers, sponsoring Monash University’s Rocket, Mars Rover and the Motor Sport clubs.
And while the group are Docklands residents themselves, he said the business was also committed to the area long term, given its location to industry and the new University of Melbourne engineering campus soon to open in neighbouring Fishermans Bend. •