Michael Larkin, CP Eng. B Eng. UNSW (Hons)
History of Tortech
My name is Michael Larkin, I am the Managing Director and owner of Tortech Pty Ltd.
As a young teenager I was always interested in electricity, my spare time was spent fixing and adjusting old valve radios. My hero was Nikola Tesla and I studied all his work. I completed my HSC at Christian Brothers Lewisham and was fortunate to win a scholarship to UNSW sponsored by Sir William Tyree, owner of Tyree Electrical. At University, my major was in power engineering and I graduated with honours. On completion of my Degree in Electrical Engineering, Tyree Electrical offered me a position at the large Moorebank transformer factory. I was always grateful to Sir William Tyree for helping with my career.
At Tyree Electrical, my training was scheduled from the ground up – starting from the shop floor in the electrical wiring department for the transformers to the Tyree engineering office. Here I worked with many experienced overseas transformer engineers, learning from the “Masters”, before I was allowed to design a transformer. Transformers were designed by hand in those days using a slide rule. My education in power transformers was developed with my first design of a Oil Natural Air Forced 10 M VA and 15 KVA at 33Kv medium size power transformers. Later I progressed to the instrument transformer division, where I designed 3150A line traps, single phase 66 kv + 132 kv voltage transformers, plus high voltage current transformers. In this capacity, I was given the task of designing the first 500 kv current transformer in Australia (for ECNSW and SECV) plus the second 500v capacity voltage transformer (for SECV) in Australia. This involved extensive testing and proto typing and was a great experience for an electrical engineer at the age of 28.
Later I was involved with an R & D project to build a 500kv cascade magnetic voltage transformer at 500kv. This was the most challenging and most interesting project. This High Voltage Transformer was later calibrated by the Natural Measurement Labs in Sydney, NSW. I also contributed to the design of the new high voltage laboratory and the new vacuum/autoclave to allow impregnation of the large HV current transformer. This involved new knowledge about pumps and vacuum, plus an understanding the drying process of insulation and how moisture must be removed from large insulation structures.
At the age of 30, I was invited to join a new company called Ferguson Transformers. The highlight of this experience was being able to design the WACCA cricket ground light control equipment using 2000W Metal halide high power lights. These lights are still working today 30 years later.
At Ferguson I learnt about conventional transformers inductors and chokes for lighting products, including HID lights and fluorescent lights. This was a new and exciting world for me, where I learnt the art of thermal design and thermal cooling, for transformer products. While at Ferguson, I completed a post graduate degree at Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education in Marketing and Finance and was mentored by Mr Les Terrans, who taught me the art of Sales and Communication.
In 1987 after 9 years at Tyree and 3 years at Ferguson Transformers, I saw a “void” in the Australian marketplace for supplying toroidal transformers and so decided to start my own business, setting up Tortech Pty Ltd, specialising in Toroidal Transformers.
It was an exciting time, the best of both worlds as we set up local manufacturing and also imported transformers from Europe, Asia and New Zealand.
Today (2017) as we provide employment for the newer generation of Electrical engineers, we are also proud of our employees who have worked with us for 20+ years’ experience.
In 2012, we diversified into the LED lighting business. Offering LED tubes, and then LED high bays LED panels keeping pace with the Energy efficiency opportunities in the market place.
With the growth of the solar and wind power sector, we are now expanding into the large 3 phase transformer market, supplying the outdoor transformers for the railways in NSW and QLD. We also built and designed a 1.6 MVA 6.6 KV / 400v custom dry type transformer. This project was for the SQUARE KILOMETER ARRAY in Western Australia. It was part of the largest radio telescope built in the world, (half in Australia, and half in South Africa). It was managed by the CSIRO.
This year we have built a high current and voltage testing laboratory to test 3 phase transformers. This testing consists of no load and full load temperature testing, high frequency induce testing, 100 KV High Voltage 50 Hz testing equipment, plus the introduction of partial discharge testing for 33KV rated 3 phase transformers.
In the coming years, as energy efficiency becomes more important to the world, Tortech will be keeping abreast of the changes and challenges with technical innovation in manufacture and design at both a local and global market level. I enjoy all aspects of Tortech Business and look forward to passing on my knowledge to the young engineers of the future.
At Tortech we have the facility to teach university students about 3 phase transformer manufacture and testing. In conjunction with the UNSW, we provide a mentoring program. We also have a formal internship program to give young under graduates the chance to learn “at the coal face”, developing skills in electrical engineering, receiving formal and practical training.