advantage welding

Advantage Welding, Rockhampton

Doing things “The Advantage Way” – by going solar and slashing electricity bills!


Starting as a small engineering firm in February 1995, Advantage Welding and Machining have grown steadily into the flourishing regional solar manufacturing business they are today. Based in the industrial precinct of Kawana just north of Rockhampton CBD, Advantage Welding employ more than a dozen staff, many of them trained in-house through apprenticeships. The company consistently delivers high-quality components, precision engineering, and repairs to their customers who operate mainly in the Australian mining and trucking sector, an area with notoriously tight deadlines.

Advantage Welding’s commitment to meeting the sectors’ high expectations has translated into strong, long-term working relationships with distinguished clients such as Hastings Deering, Brown & Hurley, and Mack Trucks. The company’s management and foremen are always on the lookout for innovative ideas and new technology to make their operation more efficient and uphold their spot on the leading edge of the industrial maintenance and repair sector.

Owner Simon Walford is active in the local business community in Rockhampton, adding a voice to the regional manufacturing sector which is often battling with illogical council decisions and, of course, rising energy prices.

Advantage Welding & Machine

Business Problem

Rockhampton is one of many regional areas serviced by Ergon Energy, where electricity costs have been rising steadily for the past decade. A manufacturing business like Advantage Welding operates many different types of powered machinery to get the jobs done. Welders, mills, lathes, and borers all use substantial amounts of electricity. Absorbing these price rises only works for so long before businesses have to come up with ways of slashing costs to balance their budget.

But simply raising prices is not the answer in the highly competitive business environment manufacturing firms find themselves in today. For Advantage Welding’s owner Simon Walford it was paramount to stick to his company’s high-quality standards in regards to plant and equipment, raw materials, customer service, as well as staff training, development, and expertise.

Advantage Welding needed a more innovative solution than that, and a solar system that was cash flow positive from the first quarter provided all the answers they had been looking for.

 Financial Data

Total project cost: $39 850 incl. GST

ROI: 23.8%

Simple payback: 4.2 years

55% reduction in electricity consumption in year 1

$8 615 cash flow positive in year one


System size: 33 kW

System components:

132 x Phono Solar Diamond 250w solar panels

1x ABB Aurora Trio PVI 27.6kW TL-OUTD-400 3-phase inverter

The Solution

GEM Energy installed a 33kW solar system on the roof of Advantage Welding’s manufacturing shed in March 2016. The decision to turn his company into a solar manufacturing business was a no-brainer for Simon Waldorf, and the project was very straight forward to design and implement. Advantage Welding’s shed roof faces almost perfectly due north, catching the bulk of the sun’s rays throughout the year. The firm’s daytime operating hours mean that most of the power produced can be used up right there and then. And because Advantage Welding’s power consumption profile is fairly smooth there were no extra challenges for modern solar power technology.

GEM Energy strives to make the project planning and implementation process as easy as possible for our clients. As part of our turn-key project package, GEM Energy assisted with the finance application for the Advantage Welding project and secured an excellent loan with NAB, one of our commercial finance partners.

The Phono Solar panels chosen for the Advantage Welding system offer an amazing cost-benefit performance, and together with their reliable commercial ABB Aurora inverter, Advantage Welding have got themselves a solar system that will keep them powered for decades to come.


In its first year, the solar system reduced Advantage Welding’s electricity consumption by more than half, with an expected payback period of just over four years. The project was cash flow positive from the first quarter, a guarantee that we give to over 90% of our commercial clients. The first year saw a cash saving of $8 615, putting the return on investment (ROI) at 23.8%.

Once the system is paid off in a couple of years time, Advantage Welding will not just own their solar system outright, but also have a nice amount of extra cash to play with. Most importantly, they are now cushioned from the inevitable further energy price rises and can focus on what they do best, welding, machining, and keeping their customers happy!

There is also the opportunity of adding a battery such as Tesla Powerwall 2 to give the business more flexibility, should they want to add an afternoon shift for example. All of GEM Energy’s solar power systems are ready for future expansion and upgrades.

Advantage Welding owner, Simon Walford, commented,


“The solar system is working well. It is offsetting at least 50% of our bill, and is producing more than we are using at the moment.”


GEM Energy are thrilled to share this solar manufacturing business project with you to showcase how solar power can slash electricity bills in every sector. With easy and affordable finance options available, and network and wholesale costs set to rise, the time to go solar and future-proof your operation is NOW!

We are proud to support regional manufacturing businesses and would like to thank Simon Walford and his management team at Advantage Welding for their trust in our company. Also a big shoutout to our hard-working installer teams out in the field for their excellent work on this, and many other jobs!


GEM Energy are dedicated to bring off-grid, hybrid, and grid-connected solar installation to more Australian businesses, families, and community organisations. 

Get in touch to receive your free quote and feasibility study. Be more energy independent!

Look No Further. Get Started Today.


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