ZCG News Archive

ZCG featured in Critical Comms article

Original article by Critical Comms can be found here.

Article written by Jonathan Nally on 4th April, 2016.

Taking Australian technology to the world

ZCG Scalar has successfully carved out a specialist niche in both the domestic and export markets.

Antenna manufacturer ZCG Scalar was founded at Lindenow in Gippsland, Victoria, in 1970 by Gregor Cox, a ham radio enthusiast with the call sign VK3ZCG. Cox had identified a gap in the market for amateur radio antennas, but the business soon expanded its scope, supplying users such as the police force and emergency services, and essentially anyone else in the region who needed an antenna.

The business was bought by Garry and Sally Kelly in the mid-2000s. At that stage it still had a heavy focus on mobile antennas for land and marine vehicles, but Garry’s experience with broadcast and base stations meant that the company started getting a lot of work from the broadcasters. Although the business today still has a niche within the mobile antenna market, it is no longer reliant on it, having long since broadened is remit to cover broadcast television and radio, telcos, marine, backhaul, military users and other sectors.

Lindenow is located near Bairnsdale, about three hours’ drive from Melbourne. “It’s rural — if you came down here, we’re in the middle of Victoria’s veggie bowl,” said Trevor Small, ZCG Scalar’s general manager. “One of the reasons we’re here is that we get ‘clean air’ for antenna design and development and testing. We don’t get radio interference.

“Our test range fires out over 100 acres of vacant land,” he added. “We can spin the antennas and see what they do on a 360.”

Aerial view of ZCG Scalar head office building

ZCG Scalar’s head office and manufacturing facility at Lindenow, Victoria.

As well as the manufacturing base and head office in Lindenow, the company has warehousing and sales offices in Perth and Brisbane. It also has a technical services division at Lindenow, responsible for research and development, site coverage predictions and radiation exposure testing.

Despite its rural location, the company has built up an enviable reputation in the export market. “We’re certainly not exporting our mobile antennas; the market’s so flooded with cheap Chinese [antennas],” said Small. “But our specialised antennas are being used in South-East Asia, and we send products to Africa, Afghanistan and many other countries. Some of it gets used for military purposes, but it also gets used for mining communications, transportation fleets, tracking, taxi fleets and so on.”

Closer to home, Small said the company sells a lot of antennas into the agricultural sector, for instance for telemetry in vineyards. Vineyards are very sophisticated these days, with moisture sensors in the ground, taps that need to be turned on and off at certain times and so on. Data and commands are collected and sent wirelessly.

An unusual job was contributing antenna technology to a radio device that can counter the kind of improvised explosive devices found in hotspots such as Afghanistan. The two variants — Greengum for soldiers and Greygum for fitting to light vehicles — are seeing service on the frontline.

According to Small, one of the biggest constraints on antennas in this day and age is transportation. “Long, thin tubes are expensive and difficult to transport, so we’re always looking at how to make [our antennas] more compact for shipping,” he said.

When asked about where ZCG Scalar sits in the market, Small said, “We’re big enough to handle high-volume builds, but we’re small enough to do custom builds and do flexible designs for customers’ particular needs.

“A lot of companies can’t do that,” he added. “They’ll do it if you’re going to order 10,000, but if you don’t need 10,000 then [they’re not interested].

“[For instance] we did a custom antenna for a US warship. They needed it to ‘fit here’, and they needed it ‘this long’, and ‘this particular bandwidth’… and it bolted straight in, so they were pretty happy,” he said. “We’ve [also] made some prototypes for the ANZAC frigates. That’s the sort of thing we’re capable of, and that’s where ZCG’s niche is.”

“We have one customer who wanted an antenna that was just pretty much bulletproof, to put on the survey buoys that are around the top of Australia for tsunami warning and surveillance and tracking,” said Small. “And he said, ‘I can’t afford to have it fail. I’ve got a 50-nautical-mile journey out there in a boat, so I need an antenna that’s really bulletproof [and] I need a custom mount to fit on the buoys. Can you help me out?’ Two weeks later we had a design for him, and he said ‘You beauty!’ He said no-one else was going to be able to do that for him.

“We get a lot of those kinds of requests, and in most cases we can help them out.”

ZCG assisting in keeping troops safe from I.E.D. threats

ZCG supply antennas to protect soldiers from the on-going threat from I.E.D.S.

ZCG along with other Australian based industries were one of many collaborative partners in a new technological advancement titled ‘REDWING’ in a life-saving, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) protection system. In a first-of-its-kind technological protection upgrade, ZCG antennas have been implemented in both personnel mounted and vehicle mounted IED protection.

Two systems have been developed to counter radio controlled IEDs: GREENGUM (for use by dismounted elements) and GREYGUM (for fitting to light vehicles).

The Defences ‘REDWING’ program was initiated to find a low-cost, robust yet lightweight force protection system for soldiers/vehicles in high IED conflict zones around the world. The new technology titled Greengum (for dismounted personnel mounted units) and Greygum (for light vehicles) is designed for use by Police or military forces in high IED threat locations.

Australian Army Major Christian Van Den Bosch (right) demonstrates theAustralian-made ‘Greengum’ systemto Afghan National Army Sergeants Abdullah (centre) and Ahtram Shimwary (left) form the 205 Hero Corps.

The Greengum and Greygum systems are currently being utilised by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in the current conflict season, their first without significant coalition support. The design and manufacture of the Greengum and Greygum systems allows for minimal operator training and limited logistic support.

Chief Defence Scientist Dr Alex Zelinsky(right) demonstrates the new counter improvised explosive device(IED) equipment to (from L-R) Federal Member for Bass, th Hon Andrew Nikolic MP and the Minister for Defence the Hon Kevin Andrews at Russell Offices, Canberra.

The $50 million investment by the Australian government will ensure both safety to troops and civilians as well as a domestic investment into creating local employment for Australia.

Close collaboration between all of the Australian industries evolved, led to an accelerated production schedule which led to implementation for the Afghanistan defence forces within 5 months of the pre-production design.

ZCG are an Australian based antenna and RF solutions company based in East Gippsland Victoria. ZCG has collaborated with other Australian Industries to produce high quality RF solutions and our technical RF knowledge on time and on budget, to ensure the safety of troops in conflict zones.

 

Read DSTO article here:

http://www.dsto.defence.gov.au/news/2015/06/17/dsto-expertise-addresses-ied-threats

 

ZCG Invests in Renewable Energy for the Future

 

Production Roof Solar Panel Array

With energy costs rising and the cost of manufacturing on the increase, ZCG decided to reduce our reliance on greenhouse emission energy and move to renewable energy in the form of a solar panel array.

ZCG understands that a stance on climate change needs to be undertaken by all businesses to take whatever measures we can to ensure the environment is here for future generations. ZCG has always strived to be environmentally friendly, changing our CNC cutting fluid to environmentally friendly liquids, so no harm is done to our fauna and flora. We have reduced our energy needs by replacing outdated fluorescent lighting with modern low powered LED lighting throughout our manufacturing facility and office. We strive to reduce our waste into landfill by using all available recycling processes for our waste. We hope that all these small steps and steps in the future will reduce our impact on the local and wider environment.

ZCG Roof with Solar Array

ZCG Roof with Solar Array

With ZCG manufacturing happening between the hours of 7.30am – 3.30pm we understood that this is when the sun is shining and at its strongest, so why not use this to our advantage and use a free source of energy to power our facility during these hours THE SUN! During these hours ZCG will not be reliant on outdated technology of burning fossil fuels to power our facility, but our solar array on the roof of our facility covers all our energy needs from our CNC machines, lighting down to our administration computers.

Being a business, the government incentives to install a renewable source of energy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuel is minimal. ZCG took it upon itself to invest in renewable energy and assist in protecting the environment and the air we breathe. With the added benefit for you our customers in allowing ZCG to halt price increases due to rising energy costs.

ZCG believes that with little steps within all Australian businesses, we can reduce our Carbon Footprint as a nation and ensure that this wonderful country of ours stays beautiful for future generations.

ZCG visit CommunicAsia 2015 & BroadcastAsia 2015

CommunicAsia2015 and BroadcastAsia2015 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore has come and gone.

ZCG visited this vast exhibition from the 1-3 June 2015, to not only visit and expand our current relationships with both suppliers and customers but also introduce and expand our ever growing partnerships throughout Australia, Asia and the rest of the world.

ZCG did not present a stand within the last two years CommunicAsia2015 or BroadcastAsia2015, but maybe In 2018 you might see a friendly ZCG stand, watch this space.

The CommunicAsia2015 and BroadcastAsia2015 exhibitions gave an insight into global movements on broadcast technologies, wireless data transfer and satellite communications capabilities currently available, and where it is heading.

As a company, we use these exhibitions to broaden both our technical and product range for the ever expanding communications market. We also use them to ensure ZCG produces or supplies the best products available. Ensuring ZCG stays on the forefront of communications technology for our world’s ever expanding communications needs.

ZCG as a company would like to thank all current customers and suppliers who took some time out of a very successful exhibition to allow us to connect with them. And a big thank you to all new and future customers and suppliers for insight into your business and products and allowing us to introduce ourselves and our business.

Introducing the full range of RF MAX Products

ZCG would like to introduce the full range of RF MAX products.

The RF MAXbrand prides itself in supplying high quality components with robust, reliable construction in mind. RF MAX understands that installation should only happen once and maintenance kept to a minimum.

“Install once, maintenance at a minimum”

All components that have to face the harsh conditions of the Australian weather are designed and manufactured to resist the harsh UV environment Australia is well known for.

When looking for performance and reliability orientated installation accessories and antennas, RF MAX is the brand you will be wanting and requesting next time you have to install/upgrade your antenna or installation hardware.

RF MAX products are put under strict scrutiny by ZCG to ensure only the best for you the customer, to assist in hassle free installation, maintenance and service life.

ZCG offers the following RF MAX products, with the range growing so keep an eye out for new additions.

– Connectors & fittings

– Coaxial Cable

– On-Glass Antennas

– Low Profile AVL management antennas

– Data/Modem Antennas

– M.I.M.O. Panels

– Installation Accessories

The newest addition to the RF MAX catalogue are the ZD8Z-XP-716-MIMO & ZD8Z-XP-MIMO, which are purposely built for MIMO applications within the GSM, NextG, 4G and 3G frequency range with the added benefit of future proofing for the up-and-coming 700MHz addition to the cellular band.

The RF MAX brand, prides itself in supplying high quality, reliable products for all applications.

ZCG Scalar antennas used for railway level crossing warning system trial

In an Australian first, Lindenow company ZCG Scalar is part of an innovative railway level crossing warning system trial that can prevent collisions between trains and road vehicles.

The “Road Break-in” collision warning system warns drivers of approaching trains at level crossings and is a new level crossing safety system.

ZCG antennas installed onto railway crossing lights

ZCG antennas installed onto railway crossing lights for the automated warning

During a trial of the system late last week, Minister for Public Transport and Roads, Terry Mulder said the Radio Break-in system broadcasts messages to local vehicles to warn them of the hazards, such as approaching trains at railway level crossings up to one kilometre away.

Directors of ZCG Scalar, Sally-ann and Garry Kelly said the company was proud to be involved with the trial that has the potential to save lives.

The only Victorian company involved in the trial, Sally said it would be of great benefit to the area if the system was rolled out.

“The system also has other possible applications such as warning drivers of approaching emergency vehicles such as Ambulances,” Sally said.

Mr Mulder said in Victoria between 2001 and 2009 there were 120 people killed and 172 injured in vehicle crashes involving collisions with trains at level crossings.

“If this system has the ability to reduce the amount of people killed or injured, that is a great benefit to everyone,” Sally said.

A receiver is fitted to the road vehicle and an audible warning message is played through the vehicle’s speakers regardless of whether the radio is switched off, or set to other inputs such as an MP3 player or CD.

Hi-Rail landcruiser. 002

The NFA system installed into a trial vehicle. This system sends an audible system warning the occupants of the oncoming train.

“This innovative approach captures the driver’s attention before the vehicle reaches the railway level crossing and ensures early driver awareness of an approaching train,” Sally said.

The trial is an initiative of Brisbane based company NFA Innovations in conjuction with VicRoads and the State Government, which requested that a Victorian company supplies the antennas.

ZCG Scalar said it developed a range of antennas specific to the trial, they had to be frequency specific and something that worked with NFA Innovation’s system.

With around 1,300 level rail crossings in Victoria, Sally said if rolled out, this would be one of the biggest projects the company had been involved in and would ensure ongoing employment for people in Gippsland.

A road-train testing the system

A road-train testing the system at a trial location