SME History

History of the S.M.E Group Pty Ltd

About S.M.E. Systems
S.M.E. Systems business operations are well diversified within the computer industry providing customers with a complete solution to all their computer needs. The diversification also ensures corporate viability through difficult economic times. This document is intended to provide readers with an insight to the company operations and to understand its areas of business in a highly competitive and constantly changing industry.

Company History
The history of a company often determines the way the company operates all through its life, often to the detriment of the company. In view of this, S.M.E. Systems have been fortunate not to let their history blind them to the ever changing industry that they are in.
S.M.E. Systems were founded in 1976 to manufacture hobbyist electronics products and do it yourself electronics kits, the most noticeable of which was a digital tachometer for cars of which some thousands were sold. Other products such as a paper tape reader, EPSOM eraser and other small computer related products were gradually introduced. During this time of rapid expansion, the company was run from two rooms in a private house.
By 1978 the product range and increasing sales had forced the company into full time operation, a staff of four and required the company to move into new and larger premises in Doncaster. The expansion was caused by the rapid growth in demand for computer systems, the start of the small computer era had arrived. To fill this new and growing demand, S.M.E. Systems designed and manufactured their own S100 bus based products around Z80 microprocessors and the CP/M operating system. At this time, these products were at the leading edge of small computer technology.
It was during this period that S.M.E. Systems decided that the technical marketplace was to be its target and the means by which the company could ensure its long term survival. By maintaining a strong technical bias, S.M.E. Systems have been able to better gauge the ever changing industries direction and have been able to more readily service customer needs.
Over the ensuing two years, the continuing expansion forced another move in 1980 to the even larger premises at Queen Street in the nearby suburb of Mitcham.
Around 1985 S.M.E. Systems were forced to cease manufacturing S100 products and to concentrate on the IBM-PC/AT systems marketplace. Since the first computer was sold in 1978, over 1000 complete S100 computer systems and more than 5000 computer related cards were manufactured. The designing and the manufacturing were all done in-house and by S.M.E. Systems staff so that expertise and experience were constantly being used and enhanced. It was a sad realisation at this time that the imported IBM compatible products could be purchased for less than our cost of parts.
With the transition to a new computer technology, S.M.E. Systems were very careful that the cessation of S100 manufacturing did not disadvantage existing users, some of whom are still using their old CP/M machines. In fact S.M.E. Systems staff still use these old CP/M work- horses for in-house source code development and debugging of embedded microprocessor designs.
In 1985 S.M.E. Systems started providing a range of IBM-PC Shareware software to the end user as an extension to the CP/M library it created in 1979. This started out as a small side line with only a few dozen disks and a dozen or so members. In 1991 the membership of the library exceeded 5,500 and over 4,000 different software disk titles are available. S.M.E. Systems has now been recognised in the industry as having the best service and lowest priced Shareware in Australia and in fact are responsible for keeping the price low!
In August 1991 S.M.E. Systems moved to the premises at 666 Whitehorse Road Mitcham. This site was chosen because it offered a far superior position for capturing passing trade, especially with large eye-catching signs. Internally the premises offered a far better layout to suit the ever changing nature and mix of company activities.
To the present day, S.M.E. Systems continue to manufacture a range of specialist computer based products as well as being importers of a range of compatible hardware and software. One-off designs and manufacturing runs of projects using microprocessors are still being undertaken. The contract programming and design section of S.M.E. Systems is growing and shows no evidence of slowing down.

Company Policies
The way that a business conducts itself dramatically affects its viability and for this reason S.M.E. Systems company policy is a critical factor in its ongoing survival.
Customer Care and Attention
A Complete Customer Service
Quality of Product
Technical Ability
Integrity is the number one concern of this company. No customer will put up with being told lies; being sold blatantly incorrect or inferior products or being advised badly.
Integrity to S.M.E. Systems is the philosophy of treating the customer how we would like to be treated as a customer; advising to the best of our ability; always stating advantages and disadvantages.
Integrity to customers means that they can be confident that they will receive honest service, value for money in the products they purchase and that they will be treated with respect.
Customer Care and attention is the foundation upon which any successful company that wishes to retain and increase its customer base must build upon. S.M.E. Systems own perception of customer care may differ widely from other computer companies and hence is outlined here. It has been our opinion that what customers require is a company to listen to and be attentive to the customer’s needs, then to analyse their requirements, and to provide a solution at a cost effective price. The company must be approachable in the future when ongoing assistance, service and advice is required.
A Complete Customer service entails that the company must be able to provide a range of products, training, support, service, backup and continuity so as to meet all of a customer’s requirements. It is these things that brings customers back and produces ongoing future sales. It is for this reason that the re-structuring of the company took place in mid-1988 so as to ensure that the best possible service was afforded to all customers. This policy is aimed at making S.M.E. Systems a single stop computer shop so that customers know that all their needs will be met in the one place.
Quality of product at an affordable price is one of S.M.E. Systems prime concerns. It has been shown time and again that a cheaper lower quality product always costs more when down time, service and replacement costs are factored in. This not only applies to the customer but as well for the company as when a free service call is being performed, other higher paying tasks are not being performed so the customer loses.
When equipment fails it also leaves the customer with the feeling that they made the wrong choice of a computer company and that in the future they should shop elsewhere. This is a major concern to a company whose major source of new sales is customer recommendations.
It is for this reason that S.M.E. Systems uses its technical experience in the selection of all products that are offered for sale instead of shopping for products on a short sighted cost alone basis.
Technical ability has been a recognised speciality of S.M.E. Systems that has set it apart from many other small and indeed large computer organisations. S.M.E. Systems have adhered to the policy of being technically based rather than marketing and distribution oriented so as to provide better customer support and to be able to support computer products better. The technical ability of the company is seen as being crucial to the survival of the company as this fills a niche in the market place that is not well addressed by other companies. It also provides a depth of support and wide range of knowledge that is used to assist customers in their choice of hardware and software components and to give good ongoing service and support.

Company Profile - General
S.M.E. Systems operates in many distinct areas of the computer industry providing customer services and support and hence an income diversification all in the same industry. These areas all integrate well together and ensure the company's financial viability in the rapidly evolving computer industry. This diversification of the company within the industry has been seen as an important aspect of its growth.
The prime operating areas are:-
IBM Compatible Sales and Service.
Retail Computer Goods
IBM Shareware Library.
PlumRite Accounting
Computer Training.
Special Projects.

IBM Compatible Sales & Service Division
The IBM compatible sales section of S.M.E. Systems provides computer systems as well as after-sales service and support. As one of the very few companies selling this kind of equipment with in-house technical people, S.M.E. Systems are able to market their computers to the technically aware and the service and support critical customer who appreciates quality and value for money. It has always been a prime concern that honest and accurate customer needs analysis is always done.

Retail Computer Goods
A wide selection of computer supplies, blank disks, stationary and general products are stocked for retail sales. This assures customers that all their needs can be met by shopping at just one place. After purchase of their computer, they can be assured that only the best computer parts and supplies are always available from the one location and at a good price.

IBM Shareware Software Library Division
The Shareware Software Library division of S.M.E. Systems provides a very wide range of software to its membership of over 5,500 members. Over 4,000 disks are available and members receive a monthly newsletter and information mail-out about any new disks.

PlumRite Accounting
S.M.E. Systems are the master distributor and prime support and contact site for the PlumRite Accounting software system. Resellers in other states purchase PlumRite Accounting packages from and advertise in conjunction with S.M.E. Systems.
The PlumRite Accounting package allows plumbers to quickly and easily perform estimates and quotes on plumbing jobs through looking up a regularly updated file of supplier prices. PlumRite Accounting also provides invoicing and other essential accounting functions thereby making PlumRite Accounting a total plumbing and accounting package.
This comprehensive and highly regarded software package has been written and tailored over many years to suit the plumbing trade and is recognised as a leading software package for this trade. PlumRite Accounting has now been chosen as the best package by many T.A.F.E. colleges around Australia for use in training plumbing apprentices.
PlumRite Accounting is now being used very successfully by over 240 plumbers around Australia. S.M.E. Systems send out regular plumbing goods price files to PlumRite Accounting users so that their quoting and estimates are kept up to date and in line with supplier prices.

Computer Training Division
S.M.E. Systems have been designing, manufacturing and using computer systems since 1978. In 1988 a need for a computer training facility was perceived and implemented.
This had two immediate benefits; customer training could be more effectively and efficiently be done in-house as part of a complete service. In addition, through advertising the training facility is being used to train new customers thereby bringing in new paying customers to offset the cost of the facility and indeed, to make money.
The implementation of a computer training facility is also in-line with the primary policies of the company; to provide a complete customer service and to diversify within the computer industry to ensure ongoing viability. Indeed, it has been found that a customer that only visits us for computer training often purchases other retail products and in some cases has lead to ongoing sales, validating our "cross enhancement" diversification policy.

Special Projects Division
The special projects and technical contracting division provides a one-off contract jobbing service as well as maintaining a speciality manufacturing capability. This is used by individuals as well as larger companies to solve their specific needs.
Small companies have found our service to be a lot more cost effective than hiring and training staff. Large companies find our service beneficial as our service is usually quicker than can be achieved in large companies with their higher staff overheads.

The special projects or technical section of S.M.E. Systems gives customers access to a large experience base from which many problems can be solved, sometimes with off the shelf software, componentry and assemblies.
Experience Base
* Microprocessor/Micro controller systems design and programming
* Embedded systems, low power high speed designs
* Low power switch mode power supplies
* Data collection and logging
* Intelligent self-checking lighting systems
* Transient and noise suppression systems and design
* Speciality applications software
* Speciality data communications and control
* General hardware and software contracting
* Languages used :- Assembler, Pascal, Modula-2, PL/I, Clipper, dBase * Processors used :- 8088/8086 & derivatives, 8051, HPC, Z80, 64180, COP-800 The following selection of projects is outlined to provide some examples of our expertise. Grain Handling Authority - NSW
The GHA (Grain Handling Authority) - NSW required data logging and ticket printing equipment at all wheat silos in NSW. This was done with S.M.E. Systems equipment and software via another contractor.
The system operated by taking a data stream from the weighbridge load cell amplifier and then printing a ticket for the delivered amount of grain. The data was stored in battery backed CMOS memory and later retrieved by portable computer units. Later the bill was calculated and the data was used to keep track of silo deliveries.

Rice Marketing Board - NSW
The RMB required similar data logging and ticket printing to the GHA and S.M.E. Systems hardware and software was used. S.M.E. Systems actually manufactured all this equipment in-house using wave soldering and aqueous cleaning equipment.

Box Hill Electricity Supply Monitoring
Box Hill Electricity Supply Authority distribute power as a sub-authority to the State Electricity Commission of Victoria and they required the ability to monitor and report on their sub-stations. The need was seen to be able to inform an engineer at any time if the day or night in the event of any problem in the system.
S.M.E. Systems provided this by using modem communications to each of the substations under Box Hills' control and linking the information into a computer system. In addition, a modem is used to call a computer that accompanies the duty engineer in afterhour’s time.
The system monitors the power level at each feeder at each sub-station and has programmable trip points so that fault and near fault conditions are quickly identified. This allows engineers to examine the current load requirements and do feeder switching to ensure that peak demands are met. Also, a history is available so that the power requirements cause of a power outage as a result of a circuit breaker operation can be seen.
The practical benefits of this system are such that after its first years' operation it had paid for itself through reduced power outage loss of income.

CSIRO Intercolor Terminal Emulation
The CSIRO Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong used "Intercolor" graphic terminals to monitor the progress of effluent through their high temperature sewage treatment plant. These terminals exhibited almost 100% failure due to poor manufacture, component reliability and environmental conditions.
S.M.E. Systems wrote software for operation in ROM in a standard IBM-PC that uses an IBM-EGA card to provide all the facilities, with enhancements and better speed. This was found to be vastly superior in all aspects, including cost, to the Intercolor terminals which were phased out and replaced with our units.

Pekon Fire Panel
Pekon Fire Protection contracted S.M.E. Systems to design the first computerised distributed detection and suppression fire panel made in Australia. This was done to Australian Standards AS1603.4 and was the first such panel to pass their testing procedures. It is used in multi-story and large fire protection applications. For this project, S.M.E. Systems used off the shelf components and designed special interfaces to suit the application. The communications system used was a pulse width modulated data stream and RS-485.
Over the years, S.M.E. Systems have supported Pekon in their ongoing development of this product by providing enhancements, training Pekon staff, on site service and casual consultation.

Pekon Mimic System
The Pekon fire panel uses RS-485 and a pulse width modulated data communications system. This is used in conjunction with a hardware configurable Uart. The Uart that implements this would not provide the necessary functions required to provide a mimic panel and an alternative was needed.
S.M.E. Systems programmed a high performance National Semiconductor HPC micro controller to perform this task. It implements the pulse width modulated data I/O and provides better error checking and detection as well as the custom processing requirements. It is now used in place of the Uart when large arrays of LEDs (up to 264) are used to mimic fire panel status.

Russell Street Police Complex
The Victoria Police headquarters complex in Russell Street Melbourne has 230 emergency / exit lights all connected to an S.M.E. Systems Z80 based microcomputer which interrogates and tests them periodically.
This is done to determine the current status of the lights so that in the event of an emergency, the lights will be functional. This also removes the onerous need to periodically test lights in a security conscious area.
This project uses the pulse width modulation and RS-485 communications techniques developed for Pekon. Also required was impedance matching and crossover knee signal glitch suppression which was done with S.M.E. Systems own specially devised interference and signal conditioning card.

R.A.A.F. Software Auditing
The Royal Australian Air Force Tel-Eng section in St Kilda Road Melbourne required the ability to read and write Perkin Elmer mainframe 8 inch diskettes. This was to be integrated into a software auditing system to keep track of the software modules used in a C-11H Hercules (aircraft) simulator.
The problem was that un-authorised software modifications were constantly being done by technicians on site and this compromised the operational integrity of the simulator. The auditing process was devised to identify and isolate any UN-authorised modules and hence maintain system integrity.
S.M.E. Systems were the only company to successfully demonstrate the capability to do this task, won the tender and successfully completed the project as a result.

ORION Point Of Sale
The Pizza-Hut home delivery company is now using the ORION Point Of Sale system devised and implemented by S.M.E. Systems.
This system comprises a number of point of sale units joined in an RS- 485 network all connected back to an IBM-PC. The units use a lexan keyboard because of the environment and a Z80 processor and are able to take an order without outside intervention. At the end of the order, the IBM-PC accepts the data, prints the order etc. This system provides all the customer lookup, sales tracking, stock control and financial functions of the store. The benefits of the system have been a reduction in phone answering time, an increase in kitchen staff efficiency and a reduction in delivery time all resulting in increased profit in a very competitive market.

Motorola Keyboard
A special keyboard was required to be used in the large Euclid dump trucks used by Hammersley Iron in North Western Australia. The keyboard had to be well sealed to prevent dust and moisture ingress. S.M.E. Systems designed a special aluminium extrusion to house the purpose built electronics boards. A lexan keyboard was used so that the unit would withstand the severe environmental conditions.

Transient Suppression
S.M.E. Systems routinely protect their own custom designed equipment from the effects of lightning and static electricity discharges. As a result of this experience the TAZTEC range of products were designed and manufactured.
The TAZTEC range of products protect AC Mains, 4 to 20 milliamp current loop and 24 volt power and signal cables from lightning induced transients. The TAZTEC range is unique due to its high noise filtering and low price making it a most competitive unit in a competitive marketplace.

Copyright © S.M.E. Group Pty. Ltd. 2011


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