WE WELCOME our subscribers to the first of our four special report editions (print and digital) of Business Acumen for 2015: Advancing Manufacturing.
We have borrowed the clever term, ‘advancing manufacturing’ from an interview we conducted with QMI Solutions chief executive Gary Christian, featured in the print and digital editions, whose organisation prefers to use it over the more usual ‘advanced’ manufacturing reference.
QMI is probably Australia’s leading technology diffusion organisation. Started by the Queensland Government 23 years ago to assist the development of manufacturing in the state, it introduced a form of 3D printing to Australia and helped that technology gain traction, especially as a prototyping aid.
It has since adopted and introduced manufacturing systems such as Lean and Core Value to Australia and has worked with a wide range of manufacturers to help them innovate for local and international markets.
QMI is eminently qualified to go against the prevailing wisdom in Australia and declare that ‘manufacturing’ is not dead or dying … it is transitioning. It has a bright future, especially in particular niches where Australian businesses have a world lead – and there are several.
Manufacturing is advancing in this country.
It can, and it must.
Manufacturing must advance, if Australia is to have any hope of improving and recovering its employment base. According to QMI, for every job created in manufacturing, five are created in the broader economy. Manufacturing is moving up the food chain.
To say this, in this country at the moment, is to invite the scepticism of political and economic commentators who seem blindsided by the abandonment of large-scale motor car manufacturing here by Ford Australia, General Motors Holden and Toyota.
Let’s face it, it’s not a good thing that this is happening – but neither is it the end of manufacturing here to service the auto industries of the world. Ford and General Motors are both retaining their advanced design studios here to service their global markets – a move up the food chain.
Many of Australia’s auto component manufacturers still lead the world – companies like PWR Performance Products (which designs and makes cooling system technologies for road vehicles and F1, NASCAR and World Rally Championship race teams, as well as military use), EGR (which designs and makes OEM and aftermarket body components for over 50 auto brands globally) and ARB Manufacturing (which designs and makes high quality aftermarket off-road vehicle components and equipment) – and they are extending their expertise into other areas such as construction and aerospace.
There are many others quietly achieving, growing, and employing.
And that is just in the ‘declining’ automotive manufacturing sector, without mentioning the heavy vehicle sector, bus constructors, and mining transport vehicle sectors.
Once you start to consider other niches in which Australian companies hold a distinct design-build advantage – such as medical technologies, food manufacturing, renewable energy systems, materials science, nanotechnology and agribusiness technologies – there is a lot to be excited about in Australian manufacturing.
From what you will read in our special report, the future of manufacturing in this country requires energy and capital to develop.
Not simply the type of low-cost energy and monetary capital advantages that the US has used to great effect in its manufacturing-led economic rebound.
Australia is different – a small market that has an imperative to export to large markets for success.
We need entrepreneurial energy and intellectual capital in abundance, to succeed. Read all about it in this special edition of Business Acumen.
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