Hew McDonald, Operations Manager at Evolving Workshop Technologies, has a wealth of mechanical and engineering experience behind him. Of his many achievements, perhaps the most notable is his invention and development of the Elevating Work Platform for workshop pits.
Hew McDonald started life as a Queenslander, growing up on his parents’ cattle property near Gladstone. This imbued in him a very strong work ethic, resilience and self-reliance in order to make things happen.
He started an automotive apprenticeship in a car dealership in the late 1970s, later transferring to Perth to help out his brother in his expanding general mechanical workshop.
“This was a huge step for me as we repaired everything from chainsaws to a racing Torana L34 touring car, trucks, tractors and my own race motocross bikes,” Hew says.
Following the completion of his apprenticeship, Hew moved headlong into earthmoving equipment – both operating and repairing – in the Kimberly region of far north Western Australia. It was here that his inventive mind was piqued to the possibility of making things easier and safer for mechanics.
“In the workshop there was a pit that was never the correct depth for the many different types of trucks, bulldozers, loaders, graders and Toyotas,” Hew says. “I’m surprised no one ever fell into it either as there were never any barricades put around it. This is even more remarkable considering the many Friday afternoon ‘sessions around the pit’ after someone rocked up with a ‘Kimberly cool carton’.”
This got Hew thinking about how it could be so much better with a height adjustable floor that also acted as a lid when not in use.
With a ‘hold that thought’ mindset, he went on to study for a diploma in Business Administration before moving to the oil exploration industry in Canada where he was introduced to the marvels of Computer Aided Design (CAD).
“I bought a computer and taught myself entry level CAD and proceeded to conceptualise my ideas for an Elevating Work Platform (EWP) for pits,” Hew says. “This took place after I moved to Darwin.”
He says the first designs and prototype had some over-the-top ideas that were soon refined into the very simple, robust unit available now.
Hew’s company Evolving Workshop Technologies subsequently appointed Bruce Rock Engineering as an agent for its pit EWP, and the company also builds the pit shells into which the EWP is installed.
Hew says this has been a great partnership as BRE has introduced the innovative pit EWP to clients in Port Hedland who were surprised to find great time savings and morale boosts among mechanics through using the product to service the huge number of road trains there.
Made possible by Smedley’s Engineers. Industry Icon is a series dedicated to honouring the unsung heroes of the commercial road transport industry.