Australian Scientific Instruments

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Australian Scientific Instruments (ASI) specialises in the development and manufacture of specialist scientific instruments for geochemistry and geomechanics. ASI’s flagship products are the SHRIMP IIe and SHRIMP IV sensitive, high resolution ion microprobes. These instruments, developed at the Australian National University (ANU), sets the standard for accuracy, reliability and productivity in instruments for geoscience around the world.

ASI also manufactures the Alphachron™ automated helium thermochronology instrument, under licence from the CSIRO. This innovative instrument allows the thermal history of rocks to be determined, with applications for petroleum exploration, searching for ore deposits, understanding mountain building, and in conjunction with the SHRIMP, exploring for diamondbearing kimberlite pipes.

Australian Scientific Instruments (ASI) is a subsidiary of ANU Enterprise Pty Ltd (ANUE), the commercial arm of the Australian National University (ANU). ASI was established to commercialise the ground-breaking work undertaken at the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University in the late 1970s. Professor Bill Compston proposed a high mass resolution, high sensitivity secondary ion mass spectrometer in order to perform analysis of minerals, particularly their dating, at microscopic scales.

This work evolved as part of the Apollo lunar program, along with novel high resolution optical designs from Japanese physicists. SHRIMP I was commissioned in 1980, was highly successful, and led to the development of SHRIMP II.

SHRIMPs I and II have proved highly marketable. The first exported SHRIMP machine was to Ottawa, (Canada), with subsequent sales to Beijing, Stanford, Sao Paulo, St Petersburg, Ochang (Korea), Hiroshima, Tokyo and Granada, (Spain).

Reflecting its success in manufacturing and exporting scientific instruments, ASI grew steadily. In 1998, ASI itself became a proprietary company able to commercialise products not only from the ANU but also from other Australian scientific organisations.

ASI now markets its range of instruments throughout the world and has won a justified reputation as a first class manufacturer in a very competitive marketplace. ASI is supported by the world-class capabilities and research strengths of the Australian National University. The company’s commitment to excellence in advanced technology has been acknowledged in many awards, including the ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards 2010, the Rolls-Royce - Qantas Award for Engineering Excellence and the Institution of Engineers Australia, Engineering Excellence Award.

“ASI is successful because it recognises that world class researchers value and demand quality instrumentation with full technical and scientific support,” said Ed Roberts ASI CEO.

“ASI has built high scientific and manufacturing credibility with its international customer base because of its emphasis on testing, working directly with scientists, customer service and warranties. This is a major achievement given the physical distances from its marketplaces and the specialised nature of the products.”

ASI has a flexible management structure which enables opportunities to be exploited with success and strategies appropriate to the product to be put in place swiftly and efficiently. The company’s close relationship with university scientists confers an advantage over many of its competitors because new concepts can be evaluated in a research environment recognised in academic circles as world class, and the results are communicated widely by scientists to their scientific counterparts via journal articles and conferences, reinforcing the equipment’s scientific credibility.

Today ASI’s High Temperature Patterson Rigs are exported to the US, China, Germany and France, and its Alphacron, automated uranium-helium thermochronology instruments, to the US, China, Germany and France.As a company marketing to a highly specialised niche market, ASI found that winning the ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards, brought many rewards.“It is an absolute necessity for ASI to export in order to be successful,” Ed said.

“The market for scientific instruments is a highly specialised niche market and the local market in Australia is extremely limited.“Involvement in the Chief Minister’s Export Awards has been most useful for sharing lessons in the export business, networking and gaining publicity for potential overseas customers,” Ed said. “This tick of approval by a recognised government authority is well received by overseas customers, many of whom are government bodies themselves.”

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