Recent leading edge catafalque designs demonstrate how catafalque function can be modified in innovative and flexible ways to operate in new contexts.


At the end of 2015 Austeng manufactured and installed a new catafalque for Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria’s Sacred heart Chapel at Rookwood Catholic.

This fixed catafalque was custom designed to fit into an existing pit inside the timber lined chapel.  The attendant can select a half lower function where the casket just lowers from view, or a full lower function where once the casket is at the base of the pit, timber doors close up to seal off the catafalque opening.

One of the engineering challenges was the chapel and crematorium are on different floor levels with about 2.7m height difference.  Once the service concludes the casket is again raised up and transferred via a transport trolley to a lift that conveys the casket to the crematorium below.  From there the casket is transported via a transport trolley to a cool room or directly to the cremator charge bier.  This results in successfully overcoming all of the inherent manual handling challenges.



Recent extensive building works at Bunurong Memorial Park, Sandhurst have culminated in a number of reflection spaces/function rooms that can accommodate multiple community needs rather than those simply relating to traditional funeral/memorial services.

In line with this context, the specification for the three catafalques from the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT) included not only requirements relating to leading edge innovative design and operability but also full portability whilst embodying the highest aesthetic considerations.  During the consultation process, Austeng were also able to offer rendered concept images and  operational sequencing animations of innovative and unusual catafalque shapes (such as ellipsoid and cylindrical) to assist in the Cemetery Board’s consideration of alternative designs.

Three battery powered catafalques were manufactured with portability provided via a battery powered tow tug.  The patterned, forged glass extends upwards and provides additional screening of the casket during committal as well as providing a sense of occasion and a tangible sense of finality/interment for the mourners.

An easy to use remote control allows automated platform and glass raising/lowering sequencing.  Fault detection and battery status indicators are incorporated in the remote handset.

Phil Snow SMCT Bunurong Project Manager commented “…the portability aspect adds to the versatility of our spaces.  Also they are aesthetically pleasing as well as easy to operate.  many funeral directors commented positively on their versatility and appearance at the Opening Day”.


Victoria Police commissioned Austeng to design and manufacture a custom coffin presentation trolley for use in ceremonial funeral services for past/present Victoria Police members.

A sleek mobile timber box with integrated coffin roller deck is embellished with ‘Police Blue’ glass inserts and Bronze Victoria Police Emblems.

In consultation with members of the funeral and cremation industry we have developed a module that provides an efficient, ergonomic, worker friendly system to utilize the full capacity of any transfer van. This helps to minimize the risk of back injury and assists compliance with health and safety regulations and requirements. Other advantages include its appearance, (neat and clean), easy to wash as well as its durability.

There are many vans in circulation in the Eastern States of Australia. The equipment therefore is proven and reliable in the field and the industry can reap the benefits of the development work Austeng has carried out with the funeral industry over the last year and a half. The most recent transfer van set-ups incorporate modifications to further improve its operation and efficiency.

The concept of the equipment is a fixed height roller bed attached to the floor of the van. An elevating roller bend travels between the floor level and 2/3 height of the internal van space. The elevating platform will stop and lock in any position. Cut outs around the wheel arches with hinged flaps ensure the top deck can be fully utilized, when raised. The lift system is hydraulic and “phased” cylinders are used to ensure the platforms always lift and hold square and evenly.

The broad specifications are:

  • Capacity – 4 coffins or equivalent (two on floor of van and two on elevating platform)
  • Loading – Elevating platform 250 kg SWL. Loadings on lower deck are limited only to the vehicles structure
  • Elevating Platform – approximately useable length 2200mm fitted with five rollers on each side. Construction is smooth with no awkward corners for ease of cleaning.
  • Fixed Platform – five rollers on each side with space under for trolleys

Other features:

  • Stainless steel “kick bar” on rear bumper
  • Two curtains on rear of vehicle
  • One side curtain
  • Complete seal behind driver
  • Removable vinyl bumper pads at front
  • Shelves at front of vehicle
  • Internal side walls will be finished in timber, clad with carpet to full height

Please see a video of our hydraulic Transfer Van deck in operation HERE.


Dual Fixed Deck

Fixed Deck

Refrigerated Van

The Auslite gantry is the next step towards a a’no lift’ cemetery services industry.

Austeng and Lite Industries have collaborated to develop the Auslite gantry to address the risks of manual handling of coffins and monumental ledgers.  Risk of injury to funeral directors, cemetery staff and family members is reduced by use of the gantry.

The gantry provides a safe means of handling and maneuvering coffins and ledgers at the grave site and is especially useful when coffins need to be dipped during lowering over a monument.  Additional uses of the gantry include exhumation or attachment of safety harnesses for staff working within grave excavations.

The gantry is modular, lightweight, easily transportable and can come in a variety of finishes.  A dual battery powered hoist arrangement with remote control allows coffins and ledgers to be easily handled is a safe and controlled manner.  For coffin interment, quick-release clips allow the lowering straps to be detached without entering the grave.

The gantry has been engineered to meet all relevant National Lifting Codes and Safety Regulations.

See ACCA NEWS WINTER 2017 for additional details.

Auslite Gantry

Auslite Gantry

Coffin Tilted

Auslite Gantry

The Austeng Grave Safety Fence addresses and reduces two health & safety issues currently facing cemetery operators. These are:

  • The risk of mourners or cemetery staff falling into an open grave (which may be up to 2.7 metres deep)
  • Manual handling risks involved in pall-bearers transferring the coffin from the hearse to the grave and then lowering it

The Fence frame itself is made from tubular steel and is lightweight but stable. If struck by a falling person it is strong enough to support the combined weight of a coffin and the forces simultaneously applied by pall-bearers when placing the coffin onto the fence support brackets, prior to mechanically lowering or when manually lowered into the grave.

The Graveside Safety Fence comes in two options:

1. “Stand-alone” Grave Safety Fence
2. “Dismantlable” Grave Safety Fence

Custom sizes and features are available – contact our team to discuss your specific requirements.

Also available is an aluminium shoring shield used to protect the top edge of the excavation. Green matting is placed over to dress up the grave prior to a funeral.


Funding Grants are often available for the purchasing of cemetery equipment from the Department of Health, Victoria.

Priority is given to equipment funding that enhances the safety of the facility (e.g. Grave Covers, Shoring, Grave Fences).

See Vic Health Cemetery Grants for details and application forms.

Grave Safety Fence Assembled

Grave Safety Fence Unassembled

Grave Safety Fence Assembled

Austeng Grave Shoring is used to support the sides of a grave. There has been more than one incident in Victoria where a grave digger has been trapped when the grave sides have given way. Aluminium was chosen as it is easy to clean, light weight, durable and adds a clean and professional finish to the grave.

The aluminium Grave Shoring is divided into horizontal sections that lock together. Each section can be lifted by hand. The Grave Shoring is made to suit the cemetery’s grave size. The thickness of the sections are approximately 50mm and thus over-size graves need not be dug to accommodate the Grave Shoring.

The standard version is 2200mm long, 1800mm deep (fully assembled from 2×3 sections) and adjustable in width from 700 to 1000mm.

Both of these features make it suitable for use in old monumental areas.


Funding Grants are often available for the purchasing of cemetery equipment from the Department of Health, Victoria.

Priority is given to equipment funding that enhances the safety of the facility (e.g. Grave Covers, Shoring, Grave Fences).

See Vic Health Cemetery Grants for details and application forms.

he cover is designed to overcome the problem created by an open grave site and the potential danger this represents for both employees and visitors. It is manufactured from lightweight aluminium tubing and covered with unbreakable, corrugated plastic “Lexan” sheeting (colour tinting of Lexan is an option). The weight is less than 20kg so can easily be handled by two people. We have included a warning sign to either end. Other features include lifting handles provided on both ends and tie down holes provided in each corner. By adding wheels to one end, handling the cover becomes a one person operation.

The plastic cover is:

  • Virtually unbreakable
  • U.V resistant
  • Highly visible
  • Easily able to be lifted

This highly visible cover has a professional appearance which indicates to the general public the cemetery’s commitment to safety of the public as well as their own staff.


Funding Grants are often available for the purchasing of cemetery equipment from the Department of Health, Victoria.

Priority is given to equipment funding that enhances the safety of the facility (e.g. Grave Covers, Shoring, Grave Fences).

See Vic Health Cemetery Grants for details and application forms.

The Austeng Mausoleum Interment Trolley was designed and built in response to a request to design a safer and more dignified method of placing coffins and caskets into mausoleum crypts at any level. It greatly reduces OH&S issues as it eliminates the need for the operator to be elevated and has safe, single operator functions.

Features of the Mausoleum Internment Trolley:

  • robust hydraulic lift action
  • versatile & flexible – can be pushed from location to location
  • stainless steel top deck
  • powdercoated exterior
  • panels & zinc plated fittings
  • performs conventional longitudinal and couch internments via roller sets controlled by push buttons
  • interments are now a one-person job
  • shutter lifter can also be used with this device

The trolley can be specially designed to accommodate any unique site requirements.

By any measure the Austeng Mausoleum Interment Trolley will revolutionize this part of the industry. CLICK HERE to view a video showing the trolley in action or contact us for further information or request to be sent.

Austeng has developed a mausoleum marble and granite crypt front lifter device. This is in response to the health and safety challenges associated with lifting the very heavy mausoleum crypt front as well as the possible risk of employees over balancing at heights.

The module provides an efficient, ergonomic, worker friendly system to handle all sizes of shutters without any significant operator effort. By eliminating the heavy lifting we have minimized the risk of back injury and your organization is complying with health and safety regulations and requirements.

This lifter attaches to a standard casket lift device and is very easy to use. The top attachment screws are undone and the top of the shutter is moved out just far enough to attach the grippers (2-3cms). Releasing a clip on the grippers secures the crypt front which can now be lifted, by our device, into the cradle on the Scissor Trolley. To refit the Shutter after the internment the process described above is reversed. Removing the lifting device so the Scissor Trolley can be used for the internment takes 2-3 minutes.



Austeng have developed a range of Shutter Handling Devices to meet a variety of client needs including coffin interment.

The main features of the stands are:

  • Lightweight construction fitted with robust casters so the stands can be easily moved around the cemetery and mausoleum
  • Lockable wheels to ensure stands remain in required position
  • Stainless steel lip to avoid slippage of floral tributes
  • Powder coated to nominated colour

The feedback from our clients is that the stands work very well and provide an attractive and functional backdrop to the floral tributes.

The stands can be modified to accommodate different lengths, portability, fixing, security, multi-tiered etc. For instance, one client has ordered a stand with the following modifications:

  • Reinforced to hold weight of double crypt front
  • Higher than average – at an ergonomic height
  • Two shelves for flowers

The idea of the first two modifications is to enable employees to place lettering on the crypt front safely and easily thereby giving a dual function to the stands.