Fibres and composites transforming industry: The Australian composites industry is a Modern Manufacturing Initiative enabler

On the second day of our Fibres and composites transforming industry series, Dr Matthew Young looks at Australia’s prowess with composites and their role in the federal government’s six priority sectors.

Fibres and composites transforming industry: There are Australians chasing the holy grail, but they can’t talk about it yet

This short installment of our Fibres and composites transforming industry series looks at the cutting-edge of pressure vessel construction, known as Type V. Work is underway in Australia on design and manufacture of these, but few details are being shared right now. By Brent Balinski.  

If there’s a reshoring movement happening, it needs to be properly documented 

According to a survey released last week, over half of manufacturers intend to reshore over the next two years. We need more information. By Brent Balinski 

Question? Is the industry department talking to the industry minister?

By Peter Roberts Is the industry department talking to the industry minister? I ask this question because my article last week on options for evolving Australia’s industry growth centres failed to mention an important point. Former industry minister Karen Andrews had been widely canvassing options, including making the centres more like UK Catapult centres, for…

Fibres and composites transforming industry – Introduction to our new editorial series

@AuManufacturing launches its new editorial series today. It will look at work done to make better products with fibres and composites, ranging from the laboratory to the factory floor, as well as the increased focus on end-of-life products. Editor Brent Balinski looks at some of the recent and potential future success in the genre.

The disappointment of overseas production – Lithium Australia

By Peter Roberts It is so disappointing when you have covered an emerging technology and manufacturing story for years when suddenly you find out that the company you have been covering decides to site actual production overseas. It must be equally disappointing to readers. One of the earliest examples of this in @AuManufacturing’s two and…

France Inc squeezes Cleanaway out of massive expansion

By Peter Roberts They say that France does not give up its own companies, nor their global assets very easily, mobilising its forces to stop foreign takeovers. Just such a thing – perhaps called France Inc – seems to have happened to Australia’s waste management and recycling company Cleanaway’s agreement to buy the recycling and…

Should Australia catapult its industry growth centres?

By Peter Roberts Christian Porter has had a lot of stick in recent weeks, but there is no doubt the new industry minister needs to quickly put recent controversies behind him and get on top of critical decisions that must be made in the portfolio. Not only must he implement the modern manufacturing initiative of…

Boycotting the Industry minister is a terrible idea

That the tech sector should somehow disengage from industry policy because it is unhappy with Christian Porter’s appointment as the new Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science is a terrible idea. By James Riley.

Trouble at mill but too early to write off Whyalla steelworks

By Peter Roberts It is amazing how people are always quick to expect the worst about the future of Australia’s steel industry, just as they have in recent days with news of trouble in the financial network that support’s metals entrepreneur Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance businesses. People are expecting the worst for his Whyalla steelworks,…

Perception versus the reality of manufacturing – by Shay Chalmers

Shay Chalmers takes a look at community perceptions of manufacturing. Often seen as dirty and unattractive, Shay believes the sector’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic is changing the face of manufacturing – and offering a way forward for Australian Made. The challenge is real. Manufacturing tends to conjure up some unfortunate mental images for people,…

On R&D spend, success can be hard to find

Any discussion about Australia’s R&D sector generally starts off by claiming that ‘Australia has spent billions on R&D over the past thirty years.’ That is true, we have. And yet, despite these billions, Australia ranks in the middle at the best, and in many measures well below, our OECD counterparts.

The terrible trickiness of growing an Australian semiconductor sector

What does Australia have in the way of a semiconductor industry, and why does that matter? Brent Balinski spoke to Professor James Rabeau, the lead author of a national study of the sector published at the end of last year.

Gender discrimination and disadvantage rife in manufacturing

By Peter Roberts The story of the moment is not so much the Covid-19 pandemic, but the discrimination, disadvantage and in some cases abuse that women suffer every day in Australian workplaces. This situation is disgracefully endemic in what should be Australia’s model workplace – the federal Parliament. Lack of opportunity, bullying, belittlement, unwanted sexual…

Govt has fallen behind on space sector boom

The federal government is “behind the eight ball” on the fast-growing space sector, with homegrown companies teaming up to build sovereign capability in the absence of Commonwealth funding support.

Innovation of a nation

All founders take a leap of faith built on their confidence that they will reach the other side. Peter Arnold looked at 1,500 high-growth UK start-ups for his new book, Innovation of a Nation. Here is a little about what he found out.

Adbri joins Calix to develop zero-emission lime production

By Peter Roberts @AuManufacturing has been extensively covering moves globally towards low and zero emissions cement and steel production. Removing carbon emissions from these vital construction materials is vital if the world economy is to transition to a greener future. Now a new agreement between industrial process technology company Calix and major cement producer Adbri…

Canberra re-announces long-range missiles push, but adds in local manufacturing

Comment by Peter Roberts The big announcement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Adelaide today – already leaked in advance to every major metropolitan newspaper – is not that Australia will spend $1 billion acquiring long-range missiles for Australian defence forces. That same announcement was made during the Eden-Monaro by-election and reported by @AuManufacturing at…

A new industry minister as a ‘demotion’ says it all – by Shane West

Australian Manufacturing Forum member Shane West saw the news headline that Christian Porter had been ‘demoted’ to the industry portfolio. Here he argues that this says it all about what is wrong with Australia today. The ministerial reshuffle fundamentally shows what is wrong with the Australian federal government – a disregard for Industry, Science and…

Andrews’s promotion is manufacturing’s loss

For a long time, manufacturing lacked an industry minister with a lock on the job, there for the long term and with the necessary, hard-won credibility it takes to be taken seriously by the industry. It seemed to have had one until yesterday. The timing is unfortunate.

Recycling: the great green opportunity?

According to a recent PwC report, the circular economy offers a potential $1.86 trillion nationally in new economic value over the next decade. Brent Balinski speaks to a few experts about the opportunities attached to recycling and the circular economy.

Submarine builder goes digital, cements Adelaide as sustainment site

By Peter Roberts ASC which built and sustains Australia’s Collins Class submarines in Adelaide has embarked on an ambitious project to fully digitise its shipyard operations. It is not clear whether the investment in Adelaide and Perth will put an end end speculation that further major Collins sustainment work could be shifted to Western Australia.…

A second Australian rare earths power is born

By Peter Roberts A patch of dirt in Dubbo, NSW and a lot of hard work are starting to pay off as a second Australian rare earths producer becomes a reality in the form of Australian Strategic Materials. In the past week ASM received firm commitments from sophisticated investors to raise $65 million to kick-start…

Aussie hi-tech welder on track to join global defence industry

A manufacturer of hi-tech welding equipment is embarking on a joint project with a huge global player that it hopes will help it gain a foothold in the lucrative defence manufacturing sector. By Andrew Spence. 

Hypersonic research meets defence prime contractor

Analysis by Peter Roberts It seems the federal government push to involve our typical SME manufacturers with major defence projects is paying off in all sorts of unexpected ways. Australia has been quietly progressing research into flight at hypersonic speeds – faster than five times the speed of sound – for decades. It is the…

Let’s formalise a ‘Made in Australia’ Office

Australian companies might be concerned about an increasingly protectionist United States and the spectre of a newly issued Made in America presidential executive order, but the Australian Government is not.

India-Australia cooperation on trade in critical minerals

This article explores India’s need for critical minerals in the new energy economy and Australia’s strength in the critical minerals sector. It also offers key suggestions on ways in which India and Australia can enable this partnership.

Government needs to treat us as a nation of SMEs – by Greg Whiteley

Greg Whiteley is a small manufacturing business owner and has had many a reason to navigate the interface with the Commonwealth Public service. Here, he looks at the compliance task faced by Australia’s SMEs and laments the cost burden for manufacturers of dealing with governments.

Second local vaccine manufacturer push comes late

By Peter Roberts Pharmaceutical manufacturer IDT Australia is undertaking a feasibility study to assess the possibility of supplementing production of the Covid-19 vaccine in Australia. IDT will assess the possibility of using its sterile production facilities to supplement local supplies, following a Department of Health request. This comes as the federal government is being criticised…

Digitalisation drives manufacturing progress – WEF

By Peter Roberts Factory digilisation is the key driver of a resilient and competitive manufacturing sector. Leading manufacturers use digital capabilities to find new revenue streams and increase product output, matching their focus on advanced technology with building workforce skills. The World Economic Forum calls the leaders in the field Global Lighthouses, and this week…

How to advance Australian manufacturing – by Ishan Galapathy

Ishan Galapathy spent 2020 looking at the fundamental issues facing Australian manufacturing and our elusive pathway to operational excellence (OpEx). Here he gives a taste, from his latest book, of what he learned. One key thing the year 2020 highlighted was the importance of global supply chains and local manufacturing. The solution for Australia is…

Clean tech: the great green opportunity?

It’s one of six manufacturing sectors the federal government acknowledges as holding “comparative advantage and strategic importance,” and it’s seeing unprecedented levels of investment around the world. Brent Balinski looks at the promise of clean technology. 

Think strategically about operations and supply chains- by Mohsen Varsei

Mohsen Varsei takes a look at the parlous state of Australian manufacturing. He argues the answer is to refocus on operations and supply chain excellence. This sets new business horizons and becomes the manufacturing firm’s advantage. The government recently acknowledged that ‘manufacturing in Australia has stagnated. Not enough manufacturers are scaling-up’. Its ‘vision is for…

JobKeeper job losses should bring focus on management skills – by Glen Casey

Glen Casey looks at the future of support for manufacturing once JobKeeper finishes at the end of March. He argues that large job losses are inevitable when JobKeeper is removed, suggesting a policy focus for SME manufacturers of job retention, and providing support to management to navigate a path in the new post COVID world.…

Australian manufacturing, self-sufficiency in the age of nationalism – by Sergiy Tsimidanov

Sergiy Tsimidanov led Softmed Australia during the global pandemic to become a major manufacturer of personal protection equipment, including onshoring latex surgical glove production. Here he explains the reasons why the company invested more than $30 million to build a new factory and reinvented the PPE industry. Among the lessons of the past year is…

Chief Scientist: science will drive a post-pandemic manufacturing boom

As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia is looking to boost its manufacturing capacity in areas such as medical manufacturing and low-emissions technologies including clean hydrogen. This is good news for Australia’s science and research community. It is an enormous opportunity. It is also a considerable challenge and responsibility.

Holden – the hero that once was

Comment by Peter Roberts Oh what could have been! General Motors and the National Motor Museum at Birdwood in the Adelaide Hills have partnered on a must-see exhibition of automotive metal that makes you just think how different things could have been. The partnership is with GM because Holden ceased to exist from January 1…

With the right approach, Australia can manufacture for the international solar market

Panels aren’t they way, but Australian businesses can find global opportunities in the solar industry, says Solpod co-founder James Larratt. By Brent Balinski.

Onshoring is happening, but how extensive is it?

By Peter Roberts The anecdotal evidence is out here – onshoring and reshoring of manufacturing to Australia is occurring. The problem is, it is all but impossible to get a handle on how widespread it is, and whether it will really be significant in the long run. We all know the reasons why some manufacturing…

What are we talking about when we talk about Australian brands?

There can be a certain pride in saying this or that manufacturing company is Australian, and to acknowledge their achievements and their creation of value at home. But what value do we ourselves place on a product being Australian, and what are we even talking about when we say that? 

Boeing to base U.S. jet on Australia’s Loyal Wingman

Comment by Peter Roberts It has been a week of big news for the Australian aerospace industry and Boeing in particular. Boeing is already the most important aviation manufacturer in the country, manufacturing the moveable surfaces for the Boeing 787 all-composite aircraft at its Fishermen’s Bend plant in Melbourne. It is likely to be even…

It’s full steam ahead for Australia’s submarine construction project – by Gregor Ferguson

With the design phase of Australia’s new Attack class submarines underway and a new shipyard being constructed in Adelaide, Dr Gregor Ferguson takes a hard look at the project and its many critics. No, nuclear is not an option, cost rises have been exaggerated and the project is on schedule.

Local cannabis market booming, but R&D being stifled: industry

Medical cannabis is a rapidly growing sector, and plays Australia’s strengths in research, but the industry says regulations make its work difficult. Brent Balinski spoke to Peter Crock of Cann Group and Peter Duggan of CSIRO’s Botanical Extracts Lab about the potential. 

Olympian manufacturing opportunities in store for Brisbane

Comment by Peter Roberts With Brisbane now in the box seat to secure the 2032 Olympic Games the usual whinges have been aired about cost and the priorities of the Queensland government. But there is more than just once-off television rights to be earned, with Sydney 2000 creating numerous ongoing business opportunities from making venue…

Working from home in a pandemic by Juliana Queiroz

Working from home has become the norm for many especially white collar workers in manufacturing. But there need to be changes if you are going to get the most out of remote employees, and they are going to get the most out of their work, writes Juliana Queiroz One year after the coronavirus outbreak, we…

From one economist to another: Manufacturing needs to be understood, not saved

The assertion by The Australian newspaper for it to be ‘too late to save manufacturing’ is grounded in a lack of understanding. First, in what is manufacturing. Second, in how it is measured, and third in how it has evolved.

The Canberra bubble and Australia’s manufacturing dialogue – by Greg Whiteley

Greg Whiteley ferrets out the facts about Australia’s company structure – and it turns out there are a tiny number of large businesses dominated by 99 per cent of companies with less than 200 employees. Yet the policy focus is all about big businesses. Time to change and develop policy suited to our SME business…

Australia’s only watch manufacturer to split in two, target space industry

From its beginning as one of very few Australian assemblers of watches, Nicholas Hacko Watchmaker has developed the ability for in-house production of the vast bulk of its components as well. Brent Balinski spoke to the company’s Josh Hacko about its next steps as a contract manufacturer.

@AuManufacturing 2021 Media Kit released

@AuManufacturing, the news and analysis website of the 7,300-member Australian Manufacturing Forum social media group, has launched its 2021 Media Kit. The kit details advertising and other opportunities for companies supplying the sector to get in front of our engaged manufacturer audiences. During 2020 our website, in only its second year, averaged 51,000 unique page…

NSW takes the lead in electrifying the transport network

By Peter Roberts Australia has made good progress decarbonising the electricity market, but one of the most glaring of omissions in Australia’s national climate stance remains our tardiness on taking action in a transport sector still wedded to fossil fuels. However just as the states have led the way in renewable electricity, New South Wales…

How an old video brings home the decimation of Australian manufacturing

Comment by Peter Roberts There is a myth, unkind as it is to frogs, that the amphibian when set in cold water and brought to the boil will just sit there even as conditions around it go from bad to worse. But something similar has been happening to all of us keen supporters of Australian…

Crisis one year on, this is what I have learnt – by Michael Clayton

A year ago Michael Clayton, CEO of Derby Rubber, watched as his Derby Steet factory went up in flames. Here he writes about the recreation of a leading manufacturing enterprise. Today marks 12 months since I commenced the most significant professional journey of my life – here are some of the lessons that I learnt.…

Biochar: an ancient waste-to-value product

A miracle all-in-one soil improver, waste disposer and planet saviour, or a biomassive waste of time? Brent Balinski spoke to manufacturers and others about the place of charred organic matter in our future.

Carbon tariffs close in on Australian industry

Comment by Peter Roberts Finally the noose is tightening on nations that continue to flout global efforts to cut emissions of greenhouse gases that threaten the environment. Unfortunately for Australia, the noose is descending directly onto the heads of an Australian industrial and business sector that has been sheltered from global realities by governments that…

Offshoring: When saving a few bucks can cost millions – by Josh Budd

By Josh Budd There’s no doubt that 2020 was an eventful year. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the global marketplace threw a harsh spotlight on the volatility of Australia’s supply chains. With ongoing supply issues, it’s now truly apparent that the modes of acquisition, distribution and transportation traditionally relied upon can no longer…

Refining – Canberra dithers while we lose yet another industry

Comment by Peter Roberts We are witnessing the demise of yet another manufacturing industry – oil refining and downstream chemicals. The news that Exxon Mobil will shut its Altona refinery will mean that five of Australia’s seven oil refineries have shut since 2010. So when you hear responses like that of energy minister Angus Taylor…

Heavy industry, light-weighting and chasing the glory days

Nepean Engineering & Innovation is nearly a half-century old, and runs one of the country’s biggest fabrication shops. Brent Balinski spoke with the company’s R&D manager Mark Helou about how it plans to reinvent itself.

Applied EV electric vehicle platform surfaces

By Peter Roberts An autonomous electric vehicle platform developed in the Bayswater North industrial area of Melbourne has surfaced with the release of new pictures and video. After a $7.7 million, four-year development project, robotics company Applied EV has revealed its first ‘mobility solution’ – the Blanc Robot (pictured above, and below). The Blanc Robot…

The game changes, the name doesn’t

Instead of giving today’s manufacturing fancy prefixes, let’s learn from the past and focus on what really matters: That is to fix – once and for all – the understanding of what manufacturing really is.

Budget 2021: the best chance to relaunch the RDTI

The upcoming federal budget is an opportunity to relaunch and reform the research and development tax incentive to “restore its profile as the keystone for supporting R&D and innovation”, the Australian Investment Council says.

Dale Elphinstone makes it yet again in Burnie

By Peter Roberts Dale Elphinstone is living proof of the old adage that you can’t keep a good man down – in his case, a good manufacturer. Elphinstone’s (pictured below) story is one of those that begins in a garage, this time in the small mining, industrial and port town of Burnie on the north-west…

Husic on industrial policy in the post-COVID era

When Labor leader Anthony Albanese gave his new Industry and Innovation spokesman Ed Husic his marching orders ahead of the shadow cabinet reshuffle last week, the heavy emphasis was on job creation.

Finding new angles in the prefab industry

A local metal bending innovation could be the key to more affordable housing, according to FormFlow. By Brent Balinski.

Decarbonisation of cement moves a step closer

By Peter Roberts Along with steel production, the manufacture of cement is among the most economically critical and at the same time most polluting of industries. Both products are vital and yet both contribute billions of tonnes annually to carbon dioxide emissions that are raising global temperatures and threatening humanity. But paths to decarbonise both…

Redox flow giant battery a triumph and tragedy for Australia

Comment by Peter Roberts South Australia, not content with having led the world when it installed the first grid-scale lithium ion battery is doing it again – this time installing the world’s largest vanadium redox flow battery. But the installation of an 8 MWh vanadium redox flow battery (VFB) by Yadlamalka Energy Trust is both…

Innovation critical for defence – by Gregor Ferguson

By Gregor Ferguson Why is innovation important to a defence force? Because a small country deploying a small defence force won’t derive either an operational advantage or an economic advantage from trying to do the same thing as everybody else, only cheaper. Innovation – in equipment, organisation and process – is the difference between being…

‘I choose green hydrogen’ (and steel) by Andrew Forrest – his Boyer lecture in full

Fortescue Metals Group founder Andrew Forrest stunned investors when he committed to massive investments in green hydrogen and green steel production in his recent Boyer lecture. Here is the full text of this landmark speech. The Boyer lectures are traditionally lectures – a speaker lecturing Australia about what it should do. I’ve chosen a different…

Australian reshoring might work, but needs more data to make its case

As interesting as the topic of reshoring might be to some manufacturers, its discussion in Australia relies heavily on hunches and anecdote. By Brent Balinski.

Carbon Revolution positioning for Mega-line manufacturing

By Peter Roberts Carbon Revolution, already the only company in the world capable of manufacturing a one-piece carbon fibre road wheel, is building on its advantage with plans to introduce a Mega-line manufacturing system. The company, which supplies wheels to performance vehicles such as the Ford Mustang GT350R, Ferrari 488 Pista and Renault Megane R.S.…

Our success in managing COVID-19, and why it matters when we talk about rebuilding manufacturing

Australia needs a strong, self-sufficient manufacturing sector for its own economic sovereignty and the security of its society, writes Sercan Altun.

Australian Manufacturing Forum passes 7,000 members

@AuManufacturing’s social media discussion and networking group, the Australian Manufacturing Forum on Linkedin, has passed an important membership milestone. The Forum, Australia’s largest social media group of Australian manufacturers, passed 7,021 members this morning. The Forum has grown steadily since its founding in 2013, with the latest 1,000 members joining in the past five months…

Biomaterials startup looks past pulp, pandemic

Today’s food byproducts will be turned into tomorrow’s fashion items if Nanollose is successful. Brent Balinski spoke to the company’s co-founder, Dr Wayne Best about fibres from fermentation, selling the first commercial garment made out of microbial cellulose this year, and why the growing waste-to-value movement will bring new challenges to companies like his. 

Manufacturing can be the engine of global recovery – here’s how

COVID-19 has given the world a sharp reminder that manufacturing and production sectors – and their enabling supply chain ecosystems – remain the most real and significant force in the global economy.

Massive green steel push planned for Whyalla

By Peter Roberts Not content with his planned $1 billion investment in solar power and pumped hydro storage at Whyalla in South Australia, steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta has flagged an even bigger push to turn the region into a green industrial powerhouse. In an interview with The Australian newspaper the owner of steelmaker GFG Alliance…

BluGlass’ laser diodes a step towards semiconductor industry

Analysis by Peter Roberts Semiconductor technology developer BluGlass is one of the few bright sparks in what should be a foundation technology and industry for a nation like Australia that aspires to be advanced and industrialised – semiconductor manufacture. Semiconductor technology is at the heart of every complex manufactured product, be they simple diodes used…

A naval and aerospace industry zone for Newcastle – by John Blakemore

John Blakemore suggests moving the Royal Australian Navy fleet base from Sydney to Newcastle, creating a naval industrial zone to match the existing aerospace zone at Newcastle in New South Wales. The former steel city of Newcastle in New South Wales is to be massively transformed once again. The first major disruption was when the…

Big changes for @AuManufacturing for 2021

2020 was a big year for the Australian Manufacturing Forum Linkedin group and its @AuManufacturing news and analysis website, but 2021 promises to be even bigger. Riding on a wave of renewed enthusiasm for local manufacturing the Forum, the largest on social media, passed 6,000 members, and is fast heading towards 7,000. And @AuManufacturing, propelled…

A hydrogen hero? Star Scientific to hire 30 next year as it commercialises award-winning Australian breakthrough

Star Scientific is receiving international interest for its hydrogen-fuelled power generation technology, and plans to move into production next year. Brent Balinski spoke to founder Andrew Horvath about what comes next. 

2020 additive manufacturing Aussie highlights

For the fourth year in a row now I give you the annual Additive Manufacturing highlights from Down Under. Despite the challenges, 2020 was marked by a year of positively healthy industry growth!

Policy re-set needed to accelerate innovative manufacturing – by Samih Nabulsi

Australia ends 2020 with a new focus on manufacturing. But here Dr Samih Nabulsi, of major medtech exporter Cook Medical Australia, questions the priority of federal industry policy and a lack of focus, and calls for greater innovation to drive a manufacturing revival.

Industry growth centres show their worth as AMGC shines

Analysis by Peter Roberts Industry growth centres have contributed enormously to the development of innovative Australian companies, with the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) the latest to analyse the performance of projects in which it has co-invested federal government money. AMGC’s 2020 Project Impact Report, which showcases 78 projects, including the economic impact of the…

The one that quietly got away?

Battery-powered passenger flight offers hope for affordable, zero-emission transport, over short distances to begin with. Brent Balinski spoke to Roei Ganzarski, CEO of Gold Coast-born propulsion pioneer MagniX.     

Sustainability needs concrete examples, says precast company

Using non-virgin materials has gained in importance as the number of places to dump our waste has shrunk, presenting challenges and opportunities for manufacturers. Brent Balinski spoke to XL Precast’s Danys Betancur about using glass in concrete. 

After four years of industry focus, defence really is generating SME innovation

Comment by Peter Roberts Canberra has only been pursuing its focus on defence industry since 2016, but after four years it is clear that increased defence spending really is generating significant, fundamental innovation by our SME manufacturers. The latest example, and there have been many reported in @AuManufacturing, comes from Ron and Yvette Allum of…

Australian Made logo registered in EU, UK, UAE

The Australian Made, Australian Grown logo has been formally registered in the European Union, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.

Australia’s STEM education report card a bare pass

Comment by Peter Roberts Australian industry is rightly focused on education and STEM education in particular as a determinant of future competitiveness, but the problem is we are not quite sure whether our young people are getting better, or worse compared to international peers. This week saw the release of comparisons for 2019 in Trends…

The art of the seal

Despite the market growth for obstructive sleep apnea treatments, a high number of patients end these due to discomfort. Brent Balinski spoke to Phil Kwok of ApneaSeal about their answer to the issue.

Three manufacturing challenges, retain, adapt, trust – by Juliana Queiroz

It is been a hell of a year in manufacturing as elsewhere. Here Juliana Queiroz discusses her three top cultural challenges for building stronger manufacturers – to retain, adapt, and trust. Covid-19 changed forever the way we have been working but one thing is still true for manufacturing firms: we need to put our people…

Six reasons why there has never been a better time to export for Australian companies

There are good reasons why it’s time to look to export markets. Christelle Damiens presents a half-dozen of them.

Manufacturing Modernisation and the critical role of technology – keynote speech by Goran Roos

Where are we going in this world? Well, if you look at this scenario, we have everybody going digital, and generally looking at what’s happened over the last year, we can say that we have gotten five years digitalisation in about five months.  There’s a dramatic increase in the digitalisation of general manufacturing activities. The…

Backing hopeful, high-tech, high-growth manufacturers

What are the brilliant Australian ideas that will create the next wave of growth? Brent Balinski spoke to Mike Zimmerman of Main Sequence Ventures about where they’re looking.

Manufacturing is becoming more attractive to venture capital investors – by Neil Bourne

Traditionally manufacturing has failed to gain a share of venture and even development capital. But the development of ‘capital light’ manufacturing utilising robotics and digital design is changing thinking. Here, Neil Bourne discusses how manufacturers can become investment-ready. The business press is full of stories about new SaaS and Fintech companies receiving venture finance and…

Digitisation and the renaissance of Australian manufacturing – by Robert Giles

By Robert Giles, CEO SPC Ardmona At SPC, we are always focussed on our customers and how we can best serve them. Australian taste palettes are ever-changing, in the 1970s the humble avocado was considered the height of sophistication, today our tables are filled with foods and flavours from around the world with everything from…

Goran Roos shatters Australian complacency with damning look at our third world economy

By Peter Roberts We have heard a lot about bubbles travel and otherwise in recent times but few bubbles are as permanent as the complacent view most of have of the strength of the Australian economy. Yesterday at the MYOB/@AuManufacturing Manufacturing Modernisation virtual event Professor Goran Roos painted a picture not of the advanced nation…

Manufacturing for green hydrogen’s Soft Grid – by Stan Thompson

A green hydrogen economy looks more likely to develop every day. Here Stan Thompson, Co-founder of the Mooresville Hydrail Initiative, compares the advent of hydrogen to that of electricity, and asks who will manufacture all the components, tools, test gear, safety apparatus and as yet unanticipated ancillary hardware needed for the new soft grid? While…

Spin to win: turbine tech company proving itself to telco customers

Australian engineering research has cracked the problem of diffuser design, allowing a doubling of efficiency for wind turbines, according to Diffuse Energy. Brent Balinski spoke to the company’s CTO and co-founder, James Bradley.

A.H. Beard shows how Australia should market its products in China

Comment by Peter Roberts Bed manufacturer A.H. Beard is an object lesson in clever marketing and manufacturing excellence that should be a wake up call for Australia’s broader manufacturing sector. Some years ago the company, one of three large local manufacturing firms that dominate the business of making beds, decided it would not go down…

Husic to bring his tech focus to shadow cabinet

By Denham Sadler The government needs to set its ambitions for tech and innovation much higher and encourage creation rather than just adoption, newly appointed shadow minister for agriculture and resources Ed Husic says. Husic was appointed to the position last week after Joel Fitzgibbons stood down from the role. Earlier this year Husic pushed…

Planning for defence industry puts manufacturing modernisation in the shade

Comment by Peter Roberts The federal government continues to impress with its continuing rollout of policies and plans to support the creation of defence industry that can help secure Australia in times of trouble. There is already a suite of policies supporting building industry capabilities, identifying critical sovereign capabilities, assisting SMEs into global supply chains,…

The Pivot: Lessons from the biotech frontline

By backing the team, not the project, a business can recover from a project failure, move on to another project and ultimately be successful. And then repeat the success on further projects.

Defence minister praises Collins class subs – so why did we go overseas for a new design?

Comment by Peter Roberts Defence minister Linda Reynolds has praised the capabilities of the Collins Class submarines once derided by a former Coalition defence minister. It went down in history that then minister David Johnston warned in 2014 he would not trust the government-owned defence builder, the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), to build a canoe.…

Being a female leader in medtech manufacturing – by Serena Ross

Female CEOs and senior executives are more common in manufacturing than in the past, but still enough of a rarity for Serena Ross to have to reach out overseas for someone to mentor her when she became CEO of her family business. Here she writes about what it is like being a woman leader in…

Cross-sector technology opportunities for manufacturing – by Adrian Beer

Australia has begun to develop its manufacturing industries following supply chain disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic. Here Adrian Beer, CEO of mining equipment, technology and services industry growth centre, METS Ignited, highlights cross-sector opportunities for manufacturers in Australia’s leadership in mining and minerals processing. Whilst 2020 has brought significant challenges, we have seen the manufacturing…

Things picking up for Sydney sensor business

UNSW spin-out Contactile won the Advanced Manufacturing category at last month’s Australian Technologies Competition. Brent Balinski spoke to co-founder Heba Khamis about making robots feel like we do. 

About time Canberra did something about local battery production

Comment by Peter Roberts It is about time the federal government got serious about backing lithium-ion battery manufacture in Australia. The plethora of grid-scale storage batteries under construction, booming solar PV plus home battery installations, and the nascent market for electric vehicles mean we are consuming more and more batteries. But while we produce the…

CEFC invests in Chinese solar venture, but why?

Comment by Peter Roberts Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation has been one of the big successes of federal government efforts to kick-start enterprise and innovation in the renewable energy space. Its great strength is the corporation, which the coalition tried to abolish completely when it first came to office, is that it is run by…

What does a contemporary manufacturing executive look like?

By Peter Tulau The thing about reality checks is that they tend to be thrust upon businesses at the most inconvenient moments, and as reality-checks go, this current one is large. What happens over the next period is critical to business success and leadership will play a critical role in that. Savvy manufacturing businesses are…

Luck or leverage? How Australian manufacturers can use innovation and incentives to make local products more attractive to export markets

We have long been internationally admired for our low levels of debt, high standards of living and a consistently safe and stable environments in which to live and work. We are indeed the lucky country but if we hope to retain that title, we face a choice: to continue safely along this well-worn path or to strike out and forge a new path.

Biden win highlights areas of Australia’s energy leadership

Analysis by Peter Roberts It is easy to look back over over the past decade and see a lost opportunity to transition our energy supplies – one that is exposed by the election of Joe Biden as US President with his vow to embrace low emissions and abide by the Paris climate agreement. Australia’s climate…

Business R&D has tanked, what of the reformed Tax Incentive – by Kris Gale

By Kris Gale The recent passing of the Bill that preserved and, in some ways, extended the value of the R&D Tax Incentive (the RDTI) has been warmly received by the market. It follows the improved understanding of the programme requirements contained in the Moreton Resources and Bogiatto cases, along with the noticeable improvement in…

High-tech nanotube payoff for Micro-X

Comment by Peter Roberts Things don’t get much better in the tech field than a technology company that has mastered carbon fibre nanotubes to make a step-change in a technology around for more than a century. But for Micro-X, the Adelaide company that has developed the world’s only nanotube X-ray emitter, that mastery is the…

Robotics adoption matters: series conclusion

@AuManufacturing’s Robotics adoption matters series has concluded. Brent Balinski recaps some of what was discussed and hears from a few different voices on the importance of teamwork.  

Advanced is great, but what about traditional manufacturing – by Daen Simmat

Industrial designer Daen Simmat (pictured below) takes a look at policies supporting a transition to advanced manufacturing in Australia with approval, but also asks ‘what about traditional manufacturing’ and making it smarter? In the mid-1960s, manufacturing was separated into two categories “advanced” and “traditional.” Traditional manufacturing was hard product industries such as automotive, steel and…

Australia-China relations and Australia’s manufacturing industry – by Katie Howe

The Australia-China political and economic relationship has been under strain with attitudes toughening in Beijing and Canberra. Here China specialist Katie Howe explores what the deteriorating relationship means for Australian manufacturing. “Australia and the People’s Republic of China, inspired by their longstanding friendship and growing economic and trade relationship since the establishment of diplomatic relations…

Why James Bennett’s Australian Made Products are taking Facebook by storm

Comment by Peter Roberts I only just heard about the extraordinary James Bennett’s Australian Made Products Facebook page. In six years James’s various Facebook groups – all passionate about Australian manufacturing – have amassed more than 3.5 million followers on Facebook. That is one in every eight Australians follows James. He has a number of…

Robotics adoption matters: how do we compare internationally, and does that need to change?

Recently-released figures show no improvement in Australian purchases of industrial robots, and other nations seem to be upping their investment as they adapt to the pandemic. Brent Balinski looks at some recent trends in this part of our Robotics adoption matters series.

Looking back, losing the car industry was more of a disaster than thought

By Peter Roberts The news this weekend that GMC has launched the world’s first zero emissions all-electric supertruck, the HUMMER EV is a painful reminder of what might have been, and what a disaster for Australia was the loss of our car industry. The Hummer is the quintessential gas guzzler of America’s oil-driven excesses, an…

Qantas could act to bolster domestic oil refining – by Shane West

The local oil refining sector has shrunk to parlous levels, while national airline Qantas has a need to reduce its carbon emissions. Shane West ponders how both issues could be tackled by a move to refine jet fuel from local crude oil. This is a great opportunity to bolster the Australian refining industry and reduce…

How to build a lean railcar manufacturing supply chain – by Ross Sterland

Last week @AuManufacturing revealed NSW had bought 2,000 railcars and trams in a decade overseas. Here Ross Sterland, explains how the problem could be turned into a lean manufacturing local opportunity. The year is 2050. Australia’s rail rolling stock manufacturing industry is world-leading. At a federal level, the government’s 30-year plan to reinvigorate the industry…

New board to help modernise manufacturing

By Peter Roberts The federal government has reinvigorated the advisory board helping to implement its Modern Manufacturing Strategy with a new name and a number of high-powered business appointments. The newly named Industry Innovation and Science Australia (IISA) adds industry to the name and purpose of the former body and will continue to be led…

Composites competence: Australian leader says it’s about strategy not rivalry

University of Southern Queensland has emerged as a national leader in composites research, with an explicit focus on real-world, industry-based problems. Brent Balinski spoke to the university’s Centre for Future Materials founding director Professor Peter Schubel about some of its recent work, and why it makes sense to work together rather than compete.

Why the NBN might just be the worst thing to happen to business (and consumers)

Comment by Peter Roberts Politicians often get things wrong but Tony Abbott has to take the cake for his dismissal of Labor’s all-fibre National Broadband Network in favour of what he claimed was a better and cheaper mash-up of fibre, copper, satellite etc. Let’s remind ourselves of two things Abbott said at the time. At…

NSW buys 2,000 rail cars from overseas in 10 years

Analysis by Peter Roberts The New South Wales government have ordered close to 2,000 rail carriages and tram cars from overseas in only 10 years, putting the lie to the government’s suggestion that it is forced to buy trains overseas, according to a new analysis by the Australian Manufacturing Forum. According to analysis for @AuManufacturing…

Manufacturing and renewables: Albo’s budget reply

By Denham Sadler Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has unveiled his alternate vision for Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on revitalising local manufacturing through renewable energy and defence industry spending. Mr Albanese delivered his budget response speech on Thursday, criticising Josh Frydenberg’s second budget for its short-term politics and lack of longer-term…

The surge to renewables promises cheaper power for manufacturing – by Ben Waters

Manufacturers have experienced a sudden shift from cheap, fossil fuel electricity to expensive generation. Now the shift to renewables is on, and manufacturers are beginning to free themselves from the grasp of high fossil fuel prices. Here sustainability and cleantech leader Ben Waters discusses the new reality of renewably generated electricity. Manufacturing is key to…

Startup sees a crab bag of potential in seafood shell waste

Brent Balinski spoke to Kimberly Bolton, the CEO of Carapac, about their plans to turn an abundant waste source — crustacean shells from seafood processors — into biodegradable films and containers.

Rio Tinto’s greener beer can could be the future

Analysis by Peter Roberts Aluminium refiner Rio Tinto could be pointing a way for its aluminium smelters to survive with a move to develop low-carbon aluminium for use in making beer cans. Rio Tinto already makes RenewAl, a low CO2 primary aluminium brand. Now the company and the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev)…

A few further thoughts on industry policy

Peter Rowland contributes to the discussion around “picking winners” in the wake of the federal government’s industry policy release.

The 2020-21 budget falls short of the reset for manufacturing we need

Budget analysis by Peter Roberts The 2020-21 federal budget has been packaged and sold as many things, from one for jobs, to a reset for manufacturing. There are certainly a multitude of initiatives, but this is certainly not a budget that will ‘galvanise investment in Australian manufacturing’ to quote industry minister Karen Andrews. The problem…

Picking winners: what is it, are we doing it, and does that matter?

Brent Balinski gathers some reactions to last week’s industry policy announcement, and to the notion of picking winners. 

How Synroc’s science-push failed as the panacea for nuclear waste

Comment by Peter Roberts CSIRO’s Synroc synthetic rock method for safely storing radioactive waste is making headlines again (more on that later), but as someone who has been around for a while it all just demonstrates yet again the topsy turvy way we see innovation in Australia. Synroc was unveiled in 1978 by a team…

Industry plan is ‘a start’ but there is far more we need to do – by Roy Green

In June Professor Roy Green kicked off @AuManufacturing’s crowd sourcing campaign to create a new deal plan for manufacturing. Here he gives an initial response to Canberra’s industry policy announcement.

PM Morrison to reveal modest manufacturing boost at press club

By Peter Roberts The Canberra media was this morning leaked details of a Prime Ministerial address due to be given to the National Press Club today (Thursday) detailing the government’s long-awaited plan for manufacturing. According to a report in The Guardian there is no national manufacturing plan, national manufacturing body and no attempt at bi-partisanship…

How SPC kept in business with the borders closed – by Robert Giles

Victoria’s tough lockdowns may have stopped Covid-19’s spread, but border closures make it difficult for manufacturers. Here Robert Giles, CEO, SPC Ardmona explains how his company kept the business running. You would have to have been living under a rock to have missed the news that Victoria’s borders have been closed to much of Australia…

The great internal combustion engine scam – we are being had big time

Comment by Peter Roberts The sooner Australia takes real action to move towards an electric vehicle future, the better. This is clear now with two pieces of news – the UK will ban diesel and petrol cars from 2030, and the revelation of the lie we are living clinging onto fossil fuelled vehicles. While Australia’s…

Grant Australia the opportunity to innovate

The current economic crisis has exposed the decay in Australia’s manufacturing capability and highlighted the need for increased investment in innovation.

The stuff that needs to be screamed from the rooftops

Australian manufacturing could be called a story that doesn’t tell its story. The wind is very much in the industry’s sails, an audience heard last week, but its members could do a better job communicating their successes.

Editorial – why we don’t run paid news disguised as editorial

EDITORIAL – by the editors, @AuManufacturing news There is a lot of concern in the community about the declining quality of the media in Australia, but what is being seen in the reporting of national affairs is nothing compared to what has happened to specialist press such as industry news. Hardly a week goes by…

National broadband – rooster or feather duster by Laurie Patton

The federal government has announced billions in spending on upgrading the National Broadband Network. Here Laurie Patton asks whether the NBN is a rooster or a feather duster. NBN Co will now spend $3.5 billion replacing inferior connections with the fibre they should have had from the beginning. Of course in all likelihood this will…

Will we learn from the past and seize the opportunity of a post-Covid world

By Peter Roberts Standing in front of Chateau Tanunda in the Barossa Valley yesterday hit home a lesson of the past – where there is trouble, there is also opportunity. The Château’s origins go back to the decimation of Europe’s, and Australia’s eastern states’ vineyards by the fungal root disease phylloxera in the 19th century.…

First business, now homes to get fibre in admission NBN rollout was flawed

By Peter Roberts The federal government will today unveil a $3.5 billion upgrade plan for the National Broadband Network to extend fibre to more homes in a tacit admission that its strategy of delploying copper was flawed. The upgrade will take fibre deeper into neighbourhoods now serviced by fibre to the node plus copper to…

More recycling innovators need to stay the course, says pioneer

There is no shortage of promising papers being published, but they need to better focus on where they can make a difference, according to a long-time recycling researcher. Brent Balinski spoke to Associate Professor Abbas Mohajerani about focus, patience and turning butts into building products.  

Full circle for Australian rocket launches – Woomera to Koonibba

Comment by Peter Roberts A DART rocket just launched from Koonibba Rocket Range in South Australia carrying a Defence satellite marked a return to the days in the 1960s when Australia was a nation capable of launching a payload from its own shores. At just 3.4 metres long and weighing 34 kilograms, the DART rocket…

ARENA and CEFC get funding, but with a fossil fuel twist

By Peter Roberts The federal government has refunded the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), bodies they tried to abolish years ago, but there is a fossil fuel sting in the tail. The two bodies will receive total funding of $1.9 billion past 2020, with ARENA receiving the majority –…

Hydrogen futures, and moving from extraction to synthesis by Stan Thompson

Hydrogen produced from renewable energy is coming to the fore just as the world exits an epoch when extraction and exploitation give way to a more benign future of synthesis, argues Stan Thompson. This change has major implications for an extractive economy such as Australia’s. It is hardest to see a profound transition when you’re…

Steelmakers keen to cut emissions, but remain behind the cutting edge

Comment by Peter Roberts Steel is the second-most produced industrial commodity after cement, and like cement is a major contributor to global emissions of carbon dioxide that are causing possibly irreversible changes to the climate. With steel contributing up to nine per cent of total global emissions, both Liberty Primary Steel and Mining Australia and…

Morrison’s gas-fired electricity play – damn the expense, damn the environment

Comment by Peter Roberts Today prime Minister Scott Morrison broke cover – yes Canberra is prepared to subsidise a totally uneconomic gas-fired power station in New South Wales, ostensibly to reduce energy prices. The Coalition has talked about cutting energy prices so often only to disappoint that we can discount that as the real reason.…

Considering a worm’s-eye view aids in design award win 

Compost Revolution’s beginner-level worm farm, made in Australia and entirely out of recycled plastics, won gold at last week’s Good Design Awards. Brent Balinski spoke to the company’s David Gravina about the project.

September, and still no manufacturing policy

Comment by Peter Roberts I have been receiving a number of phone calls from colleagues asking me: “what has happened with manufacturing policy?” Covid-19 has been with us since the beginning of the year, exposing the fragility of our international supply chains and our own inability to cater for our own, even very basic needs.…

The myth of infrastructure spending – it is just not happening

Analysis by Peter Roberts You could be forgiven for thinking that federal and state governments have massively boosted investment in infrastructure projects to help Australia move through the Covid-19 related recession. There are seemingly daily mutterings from Canberra of big spending, coming soon…but apparently not actually coming at all. New figures from Infrastructure Partnerships Australia,…

AMF member stranded in Europe – where is the help from the government?

A long-time member of the Australian Manufacturing Forum is stranded in Europe and desperate to return to manage their business in Australia – but government travel restrictions on returning to Australia have not been exactly helpful, as the latest airline ticket cancellation (pictured) suggests. This is the story so far, by an AMF member. I…

Decarbonised steelmaking moves a step closer

Comment by Peter Roberts At least two, and possibly three groups are now operating pilot plants that use renewably generated hydrogen to replace coal in the steelmaking process, promising a future of green, fossil fuel-free steel. The latest just announced is the HYBRIT consortium of three firms, LKAB, SSAB and Vattenfall, which has just commissioned…

Australia and Japan, trade and industry post Shinzo Abe – by Warren Reed

Australia’s modern industrial structure has been shaped by its symbiotic relationship with Japan. Here Warren Reed, who has an intimate understanding of Australia-Japan relations as a former officer with the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), and who is now a successful novelist, looks at how the departure of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will change the…

Clever Policies to Rebirth Manufacturing by John Blakemore

Engineer John Blakemore believes now is the time for politicians to accept that manufacturing policy has failed, plus his priorities for change. The covid-19 pandemic has exposed Australian supply chains and our lack of independent manufacturing capability to a significant extent and clearly demonstrated that the policies of the past need to change. We have…

Can India consider an FTA with Australia in critical minerals?

Economic growth in current times will ask for identifying new, efficient ways of increased productivity, ways to integrate policy priorities across diverse sectors.

Australia’s niche champions: the manufacturing of art and vice versa

@AuManufacturing’s Australia’s niche champions series is now in its third and final week. Brent Balinski speaks to Amanda Harris and Ben Tait of UAP about their unusual company, which is among the world leaders in creating public art. 

Hydrogen headed the same direction as solar PV

Analysis by Peter Roberts It is well understood, by everyone everyone except the Coalition government in Canberra, that solar PV and wind are now cheaper than coal-fired electricity, the result of rapidly falling equipment prices. In fact in some countries, including Australia, green power is cheaper than gas. Now a new study suggests that hydrogen…

Challenges in 3D printing adoption – Shams Rahman and Kamrul Ahsan

By Professor Shams Rahman and Dr Kamrul Ahsan The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented damage to the global economy, with the federal government naming advanced manufacturing as one of six sectors of strategic importance for future growth. This sector accounts for approximately half of Australia’s $100 billion plus annual manufacturing output, with the Australian industry…

Australia’s niche champions: Cleaning up with collaboration

Hygiene, cleaning and infection control products firm Whiteley Corporation is next in @AuManufacturing’s Australia’s niche champions series. Cole Latimer speaks to chairman Dr Greg Whiteley about having to stay ahead on the science.

Australia’s niche champion Ansell prospers in Covid times

@AuManufacturing’s Australia’s niche champions series has focused on local manufacturers who are export leaders. But there are other business models, such as rubber glove maker Ansell which is a world leader without actually manufacturing in its home market. By Peter Roberts Australian global niche manufacturing champions such as Ansell in rubber gloves and protective clothing…

Australia’s niche champions — LSA avoids the slippery slope of commoditised manufacturing

Today in @AuManufacturing’s Australia’s niche champions series , we look at Liferaft Systems Australia, which specialises in life-saving inflatable structures found on ships all over the world. By Brent Balinski. For close to three decades, Mike Grainger’s company has maintained its focus on doing one thing well. From day one, and its establishment to supply…

NSW imports trains that don’t fit tunnels, now ferries that won’t go under bridges

By Peter Roberts The New South Wales government’s obsession with buying overseas has reached new lows with news that it is importing ferries that won’t fit under its Parramatta River bridges with passengers sitting on the top deck. The fiasco mirrors its buy from overseas of intercity trains that wouldn’t fit through the tunnels in…

Investors prepared to back young manufacturers

Analysis by Peter Roberts The stock market has not always been a friend to Australia’s manufacturers, especially to young companies which have yet to display a strong track record of growth and profits. In the past investors have run from such companies at the first sign of a hiccup, with the result either business failure…

Australia’s niche champions – commercialisation adventure keeps surgeon on the hop

A homegrown solution aims to use kangaroo tissue to improve on current options for ligament surgeries. Brent Balinski spoke to Dr Nick Hartnell of BLT about the project’s progress.

Australia’s niche champions: going specialist, global and vertical by Stephen Tomisich

In the fourth day of our Australia’s niche champions series, Stephen Tomisich discusses following a global niche strategy.

Good news for manufacturing as mining companies open their wallets

Analysis by Peter Roberts A surprising and sustained strength in key commodity prices has brought cheer to manufacturing and maintenance operations supporting Australia’s commodities export industries. While LNG gas prices are down and thermal coal is increasingly seen as yesterday’s fuel, prices for hard resources from iron ore to copper and gold are at very…

Australia’s niche champions: Finding your niche in manufacturing and innovation by Matthew Young

In this part of our Australia’s niche champions series, Dr Matthew Young explains the What? Why? How? and Who? that need to be asked when partnering to find a niche in manufacturing and innovation.

Australia’s niche champions – Cochlear, the product that does good

In today’s @AuManufacturing Australia’s niche champions series, Peter Roberts looks back at our most famous, and successful, niche player – hearing implant manufacturer Cochlear. If you asked any Australian to name one of the country’s global niche champions, chances are they would mention bionic ear manufacturer, Cochlear. I followed Cochlear as a reporter from its earliest…

The R&D Tax Incentive – a way forward

By Kris Gale Followers of the saga surrounding the Bill that cuts the value of the R&D Tax Incentive have a long time to wait until uncertainties are cleared up. The Bill pares back value for the Refundable R&D Tax Offset and slashes support for the vast majority of Non-Refundable Offset claimants off the back…

Australia’s niche champions — targeting tomorrow’s niches 

In the second day of @AuManufacturing’s Australia’s niche champions series, we speak to inventors and others about finding their place in the world. What can be learned from their efforts to bring game-changing ideas to market from Australia? By Brent Balinski.

More reasons SA is making itself a basket case in manufacturing

Comment by Peter Roberts I have previously argued that the South Australian government once the centre of the sector has given up on manufacturing. It has no manufacturing minister, no manufacturing section in any department, no bureaucrat with that responsibility and no focus on the sector other than a few sexy areas and Canberra’s pet…

No Nev Power, we don’t need more gas, we need to reserve gas for home use

Comment by Peter Roberts The Chairman of the National Covid-19 Commissio tasked with platting a way forward economically is doing himself, and the gas industry, no favours by peddling self serving twaddle. Appearing before a parliamentary committee this week, Power confirmed his obsession with boosting the gas supply, including through subsidising the construction of gas…

Defence industry must grow fast to keep pace – study

Local defence industry will have to triple in size if it is to maintain, let along increase its share of defence spending as the armed forces re-equip, according to a new study published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The study, the cost of defence 2020–21, argues that One of the biggest implementation risks relates…

Manufacturing should triple its contribution to Australian GDP: Liveris

The final report of the National COVID-19 Commission’s manufacturing taskforce is expected to recommend policy changes including around energy, procurement, and commercialising public R&D work. Brent Balinski spoke to the taskforce’s head, Andrew Liveris, about ways to maximise manufacturing’s contribution in the economic recovery and beyond.

Defence moves into autonomous overdrive

By Peter Roberts Daily the media receives a literal deluge of media releases from the Defence Department and defence and defence industry ministers. It is part of the federal government’s ‘government by announceable’ style, and most are the dolings out of tiny amounts of money on government grant schemes released one at a time. Such…

Maggie Beer rises to the top of the plant food chain

Analysis by Peter Roberts Leading gourmet foodie Maggie Beer appears to have risen to the top yet again, her well known name replacing that of the multi-brand food company which bought her business. In a little noticed development the Longtable Group, which bought the Maggie Beer businesses netting her $25 million in the process, changed…

Call for a practical degree in manufacturing

An open letter to Professor Alex Zelinsky, the Vice Chancellor, University of Newcastle by Dr John Blakemore. We need an institution that offers a degree in manufacturing and practical skills. The ideal place to revive Australia’s manufacturing capability is Newcastle. Over the last 75 years there has been a continuous decline in Australia’s manufacturing capability…

Australian purchasing habits still the biggest challenge for growing bioplastics maker

The increased attention to plastic waste in the last few years has been unmissable. Just before the pandemic disrupted life, the country held its first National Plastics Summit on March 2, with hundreds of millions of dollars in investments pledged by companies to address the problem.  

ATO may deny R&D offset on JobSeeker payments

By Kris Gale The ATO has released Draft Taxation Determination TD 2020/D1, setting out how the ‘at-risk rule’ (section 355-405 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997) applies to JobKeeper payments received by a company conducting activities eligible for the R&D Tax Offset. In short, the ATO is of the view that eligible R&D activities…

Economic rationalists strike back – why do we need manufacturing?

On the same day that there was good news from the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission – it is recommending a revival in manufacturing – the economic rationalists are hitting back, trying to block any advance for the vital sector. First, the commission taskforce on manufacturing – Channel 9 media has a leaked copy of the…

Manufacturing Could Lead the Post-COVID Recovery

By Dr Jim Stanford The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded Australians of the importance of being able to manufacture a full range of essential equipment and supplies. And the COVID recession has created a large economic void that a revitalised manufacturing sector could help to fill in coming years. The Centre for Future Work has released…

Dessert exporter chases boost from wellness products

@AuManufacturing spoke to Frosty Boy managing director Dirk Pretorius about the company’s recent diversification into health products, and aims to capitalise on trends such as the demand for probiotics.

2020 Budget update confirms there will be no extra cash for manufacturers

Analysis by Peter Roberts Australia is not going to see any significant change in the focus of national policy for manufacturing nor any significant boost to federal attempts to grow the sector. This was abundantly clear in Josh Frydenberg’s 2020 budget update speech on Thursday, representing the federal government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While…

Lithium Australia commercialisation picks up speed

Analysis by Peter Roberts The dream of a sophisticated processing and final products industry based on the key battery metal, lithium, is finally taking shape with a major player Perth’s Lithium Australia group. Uniquely, the company is not only developing a number of lithium mineral deposits here and in Europe, but is pursuing a vision…

Surfboard startup shaping a solution to composite waste problem

There is a lack of market pull for recycled carbon fibre, which is an emerging landfill concern. Brent Balinski spoke to Filip Stojcevski, a co-founder at JUC Surf, which has found a promising application for discarded material.

Canberra to take the low road on electric vehicles

Comment by Peter Roberts The federal government appears likely to make no effort to support the establishment of electric vehicle manufacturing in Australia following the release of a new report. The report, funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s Advancing Renewables Programme, looked at the very low level of EV sales in Australia and decided…

Is more rare earths processing about to be lost offshore?

Comment by Peter Roberts Australian Strategic Materials’ (ASM) Korean research and development partner, ZironTech has successfully produced a kilogramme of neodymium metal alloy. While this would normally be seen as a win for Australia the fact that production took place in ZironTech’s laboratory in South Korea rings alarm bells. Neodymium is a critical rare earth…

Australian supply chains could shift away from China, but will they move onshore?

Among Australia’s manufacturing community — which has been identified as a potential source of growth post-Covid — there is hope that consumers and others will buy more local goods now and when the pandemic has finally passed.

Industry and science step up as keys to national security

Analysis by Peter Roberts Australia’s defence forces, science and industry appear to be working more closely together today than they have at any time since the 1960s on the shared task of ensuring the country’s national security. This became a little clearer in the past week with the release of the 2018-19 Defence Industry and…

Rio closure of NZ smelter a warning to Australia

Comment by Peter Roberts Rio Tinto will close New Zealand’s largest aluminium smelter operated by New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (pictured) in what should be a stark warning to the Coalition dithering on energy policy. A strategic review of the smelter which produces 335,290 tonnes of ultrahigh purity aluminium from Australian bauxite found the business is…

Fast times ahead for hypersonics R&D

Like quantum computing or fusion energy generation, for a long time hypersonics has been described jokingly as something that’s the technology of the future, and which always will be.

Wine vision to triple exports to $10 billion

By Peter Roberts Food and beverage has been one of the few manufacturing sectors increasing its share of GDP through the decades-long long decline in manufacturing’s share of the economy. Our new world leading wine industry is already the star performer, with our industry leading the world in viticulture and winemaking. Along the way it…

Science and industry’s role in our new defence posture

Analysis by Peter Roberts Australian science and industry has a surprisingly key role to play in the new more potent defensive stance announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday. Many of the systems envisaged such as hypersonic cruise missiles, directed energy weapons and our own satellites are still in the development phase. However the past…

Companies must still compete with imports, shouldn’t bank on post-Covid patriotic purchasing shift

Recent weeks have seen a renewed focus on supporting Australian made goods. From the industry minister — citing a “groundswell of community support” for locally-produced stuff — downwards, there’s hope consumers and businesses will open their wallets to Australian companies, creating local jobs in the process.   Not everybody is certain it will work out…

The face mask challenge – Australia still lacks sovereign manufacturing capability

Politicians state and federal have been revelling in photo opportunities with that innovative coterie of manufacturers who have risen to the challenge of making personal protective gear (PPE) and medical ventilators that were formally imported. The latest was SA Premier Steven Marshall who visited the Detmold facility in Adelaide with Stephen Wade MLC (pictured), a…

K-TIG emerges as new Australian industrial technology success

Analysis by Peter Roberts One of the features of new methods of production that are emerging as part of the industry 4.0 revolution is the fact that Australian industrial machine manufacturers are coming to the fore. @AuManufacturing has reported on the several companies that are making innovative 3D printing industrial machines locally from SPEE3D to…

Manufacturers might, or might not be under cyber attack

Comment by Peter Roberts On a day when the federal government announced some bad news for university students the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison called a press conference to denounce cyber attacks on Australia. Manufacturers have been hit in recently weeks by crippling attacks that cut production. First BlueScope Steel was forced to shut down some…

Small business procurement panel for economic recovery

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says small businesses will play a critical role in the post COVID economic recovery, calling on the federal government to establish a small business procurement panel. The panel, proposed in ASBFEO’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan, would require Government contracts with a value of up to $10…

From bombs to bugs: Australian company works towards new Covid detection device

In recent weeks, we have reported on manufacturers applying their expertise to developing Covid-19 tests. Brent Balinski spoke to Samantha Ollerton of GreyScan, which is building a trace detection device for surfaces, where the virus can linger for days.   March was a month where everything changed. Whatever your business, it was time to rethink…

Is the new deal plan coming up against political reality?

The success of @AuManufacturing’s new deal plan for manufacturing crowd sourced from readers raised hopes that the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic really could lead to a permanent change in the fortunes of the sector. The new deal plan has since gone to the manufacturing task force of the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission and key…

Government extends tax write off, but why no targeting?

Comment by Peter Roberts Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has extended companies abilities to instantly write off newly purchased assets worth up to $150,000 in an attempt to boost cash flows as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. The instant write off applies to businesses turning over up to $500 million a year and will remain…

Successful remote work: 6 critical challenges by Allen Roberts

Have you seriously considered the implications of the apparent recognition that remote working can, and will, be a greater part of the employment mix in a post corona world? There is a loud noise that ‘everything will change’ reverberating, an echo chamber of that view amplified by digital tools. It seems to me that human…

Production of homegrown Covid tests to begin in second half of 2020

Zip Industries is preparing to begin manufacture of Covid-19 point-of-care tests at a site in Collingwood. Brent Balinski spoke to company founder William Hopper about creating domestic capacity for diagnostic tech for this and emerging infectious diseases. 

The manufacturing that Australia can win

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has plunged our country, and the world, into economic chaos. The impact of the virus has truly challenged the old order and we are being forced to decide what we want the future of Australian manufacturing to look like.

As the fourth largest industry in Australia, manufacturing is critical to rebuilding the health of our economy.

Industry Minister Karen Andrews has recently stated that although COVID-19 highlighted a number of serious sovereign capability gaps, total domestic self-sufficiency shouldn’t be the goal for our future. I agree and believe instead we must mature those niche opportunities that draw on Australia’s own resources and R&D strengths and focus on the manufacturing and broader industrial races we can win, both locally and globally.

Slowly getting closer to the pointy end

Last week Brisbane medtech company Vaxxas, which is trying to reinvent the needle, announced plans to move to industrial-scale production. Brent Balinski spoke to the company’s Dr Angus Forster about getting from invention to impact.

The new deal plan for manufacturing – summary and recommendations

The @AuManufacturing new deal plan for manufacturing, crowd sourced from readers and members of the Australian Manufacturing Forum LInkedin group, is released today after two months work. Here we present the plan’s executive summary and core recommendations. The full plan may be downloaded here. After close to three decades of economic growth Australia’s luck has…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – countdown to launch

We are on the countdown to the launch of the Australian Manufacturing Forum and @AuManufacturing new deal plan for manufacturing. The plan, crowd sourced from readers and Forum members, will be released on Monday and available for download through @AuManufacturing news. We received close to 50 substantial submissions, numerous emails and phone calls, and hundreds…

Hitting the marc: Australian work aims to salvage value from winery waste

An Australian company estimates there’s $600 in valuable material sitting unused in every tonne of winery waste. Brent Balinski spoke to Professor Enzo Palombo about what’s trapped in there, and how to get it out. 

Canberra hooked on fossil fuels, damn the climate

Comment by Peter Roberts It was business as usual for the federal coalition last week as its denial of climate change and determination to burn fossil fuels – no matter the consequences – were on show. In a series of actions the government stated clearly that it was not its policy to decarbonise the economy…

Australia’s low economic complexity – infographic

Given Australia’s advanced society many were surprised, disbelieving even, when the latest Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity rated us low on the complexity scale. Japan, Switzerland, and South Korea sit at the top of the ranking. Czech Republic ranked 6th in the world while the US slipped out of the top 10 into 12th position.…

Dear Minister, for sovereign manufacturing capability – start with steel

Comment by Peter Roberts Dear industry minister Karen Andrews, Your government is to be commended for supporting key sovereign industrial capabilities in defence and, now in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, extending that thinking to broader strategic national manufacturing capabilities. With respect, there can be no manufactured product more crucial to Australia’s national sovereign…

Profiles of success: stop inventing and start solving problems, says award-winning innovator

Planet Innovation expects to grow its manufacturing operation by 50 per cent this year. Its co-founder, Stuart Elliott, explains the importance of understanding market need. By Brent Balinski.  

Is IR reform part of a new way forward for manufacturing

Comment by Peter Roberts When I was a young journalist the very first speech I gave was to an industrial relations conference on the Gold Coast. As I began speaking it was instantly obvious that this 20 something knew less about industrial relations than pretty much everyone in the room. Lesson learned, stick to what…

National Covid commission under fire – will it deliver for manufacturing?

The make up of the Prime Minister’s National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) has come under fire for its bias towards gas and mining industries. There are two bureaucrats, Chairman Neville Power is a miner and energy executive, Andrew Liveris hails from Dow which utilises gas, Catherine Tanna is managing director of Energy Australia, and James…

Government adds flexibility to R&D but when will incentive cuts take effect?

The end of the financial year is fast approaching, but manufacturers still do not know when controversial cuts to R&D tax incentives will apply. With the Covid-19 pandemic highlighting the role of innovation, Kris Gale calls for the federal government to abandon its reforms. The federal government is to be congratulated for announcing additionally flexibility…

Manufacturing for a Post COVID World by John H. Howard

Australia has boosted its investment in medical research, but neglected those in engineering and manufacturing. Here, John H Howard, managing director of Howard Partners, calls for a national commitment to engineering and technology renewal. Australia is looking to rebuild its industrial base to achieve greater self-sufficiency in manufacturing. But we are seriously underinvesting in creating…

Healthcare PPE, standard protocols and contingency planning: How do we flatten the curve of demand for PPE as we flatten the curve of infection rates?

How then have we managed to have decades of WHS processes and procedures, outsourcing and supply chain protocols, and pandemic and emergency planning, yet no-one has run a scenario of the risk of completely running out of single-use PPE, (in particular, gowns and masks), locally, nationally and globally?

Plant-based startup says we need to grow the (meat) pie

V2food — makers of the Rebel Whopper patties you may have noticed in Hungry Jack’s stores since late-last year — is preparing to open its factory, get into supermarkets, and target the export market. Brent Balinski spoke to founder Nick Hazell about the potential of plant-based meats.

A new deal plan for manufacturing – we learned we don’t have an industry policy by Lance Worrall

A month into our campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing, Lance Worrall finds we simply do not have an Australian industrial policy. But our new deal plan submissions show the way forward. The fight against Covid 19 is a fight for our survival. If, as politicians are telling us, this is…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – the month that pointed the way forward

Comment by Peter Roberts When I launched our campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing on April 14 I was hopeful of a positive response. But I never expected the groundswell of ideas and innovations that we have published day by day since then. The Australian Manufacturing Forum and @AuManufacturing news and…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – how Geelong can show the way by Lyn George

The Australian Manufacturing Forum and @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing is in its final day. Lyn George closes it out, sharing ways to back the brilliant ideas that could reshape entire industries via some lessons from the manufacturing heartland of Geelong.    The current Covid-19 crisis has brutally exposed Australia’s…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – a post COVID-19 reset by Andrew Stevens

The Australian Manufacturing Forum and @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing is now in its second-last day. Here Andrew Stevens discusses three characteristics shared by successful manufacturers, and why they are vital in a post COVID-19 reset.

Covid-19 supply chain rethink leads to reshoring

Comment by Peter Roberts One of the biggest issues with Australia’s love affair with manufacturing offshore in supposedly low-cost locations is habit. Over the long years of the decline of the old protected manufacturers followed by a resources-boosted currency, procurement managers and financial managers alike got used to reflex thinking that buying overseas is always…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – a design-led future for the industry by Brandon Gien

Design is unfortunately misunderstood and undervalued by a lot of Australian manufacturers. Dr Brandon Gien discusses its importance and why the industry needs to adopt best-practice design.

Can ‘advanced manufacturing’ change the game for the India-Australia relationship?

India can explore synergies with Australia in advanced manufacturing as part of ‘Make in India 2.0’ (which includes segments such as robotics, genomics, chemical feedstock and electrical storage).

A new deal plan for manufacturing – SME leaders need to upskill too, by Scott Blakemore

The Australian Manufacturing Forum and @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 has taken in a broad range of perspectives. Here Scott Blakemore looks at SME leadership, reminding us that manufacturers can do a better job of being better prepared for the future.

Austal heads for rough waters in naval market

By Peter Roberts Perth global shipbuilder Austal has received a blow with the US Navy selecting another group to design its next-generation frigates. Austal had been funded to be in competition with three others to build the frigates which will be commissioned in large numbers to help boost USN ship numbers. Austal had further developed…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – technology planning for competitiveness by Iain Wicking

The Australian Manufacturing Forum and @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 is now in its fourth week. Here Iain Wicking proposes a radical approach to technology planning for competitiveness.. The 21st century battlefield thus far has been characterised not by kinetic warfare but by achieving economic supremacy over…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – Support for local innovation is crucial for Australia’s manufacturing future

R&D incentives for ground-breaking ideas exist, but there are other important ways to support clever manufacturers and grow the sector. Phil Hodgson lays out a case for better purchasing decisions in his contribution to @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 Disruption to global supply chains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic…

Profiles of success: the engineering company that brings “manufacturing realism” to breakthrough medtech products

Clever products and reshoring are interesting, but they need to make commercial sense. Brent Balinski spoke to Alan Lipman, CEO of Romar Engineering, about the company’s recent work, the impact of covid-19 on bringing manufacturing home, and more.

A new deal plan for manufacturing – what we have learned from readers by Jon Hayward-Wright

The Australian Manufacturing Forum and @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 has been overwhelmed with submissions. Jon Hayward-Wright reveals key themes from readers as he leads the task of distilling ideas into a new deal plan. Plus, Jon wants to hear from readers interested to join a small…

A new deal for manufacturing – building blocks for a promising future by Jeff Lang

The Australian Manufacturing Forum and @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 is now in its final week. Here Jeff Lang looks at lessons learned and the building blocks for a promising future. Australia has a rare opportunity to use the COVID-19 pandemic to reform our economy – the…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – clever ideas to rebirth the sector by Dr John Blakemore

Engineer Dr John Blakemore adds to @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 with lean, agile policy ideas. The covid-19 pandemic has exposed Australian supply chains and our lack of independent manufacturing capability to a significant extent and clearly demonstrated that the policies of the past need to change.…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – creating opportunity and capability by Narelle Kennedy

We can’t repeat the mistakes of the past as we develop policy to create opportunity for businesses and boost their capabilities. Here Narelle Kennedy joins @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 with thinking based on objective research. It is no surprise that Australian manufacturers are strong early responders…

Lynas Corp – a case study in the risks of Australian offshoring

Comment by Peter Roberts With Australia reassessing the strategic necessity of local manufacturing post Covid-19 it is salutatory to take a look at the sad case of missed opportunity for the nation that is rare earths producer Lynas Corporation. The Perth company is the world’s second largest rare earths producer and the only significant producer…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – How clusters will accelerate innovation by Rodin Genoff

The lesson from Europe suggests that networking and clustering of small firms is a key to manufacturing success. Here Rodin Genoff shows how it should be done as he joins @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19. Thriving nations with the highest wages and living standards in the world…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – Manufacturing will languish without action to train a skilled Australian workforce

@AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing turns to the importance of VET skills. Gary Workman describes why these are vital for the industry’s future prosperity.

A new deal plan for manufacturing – skills and how Australia can get them by Kerrie Clarke

Leadership and workplace skills are crucial to manufacturing success and Australia’s economic future. Kerrie Clarke has the keys to a skills revival in today’s contribution to @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19. A future for manufacturing will be built on skills – starting with the ones we already…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – a call for Urgency, Collaboration and Diversity by Sarah Pearson

@AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing now in its third week takes on greater urgency with this contribution by Dr Sarah Pearson. A leader in academia and government, she appeals for greater urgency and greater collaboration in this personal opinion. “Future Industries” – actually not future – is alive and…

Germany’s Fraunhofer network is a growth engine

By Andrew Wear A uniquely German collaboration between industry and government is the network of Fraunhofer institutes. These take their name from Joseph von Fraunhofer, a prominent German researcher, investor and entrepreneur who died in 1926. The institutes are partly publicly funded and provide applied science for companies that would otherwise find it cost- prohibitive.…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – now is the time for a Circular Economy in the manufacturing industry

Our campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing has welcomed comment on any topic relevant to Australian manufacturing now and into the future. Today, Anna Minns reminds us that the circular economy movement should not be forgotten.   There is a pool in London that has been used by recreational swimmers since…

Award-winning manufacturer predicts “new era” for locally-made post-pandemic

Sussex Taps has not been greatly impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak. Brent Balinski spoke to the second-generation manufacturer’s director Vanessa Katsanevakis about a growing preference for locally-made goods, and why she expects this to continue.

Can’t do nation! Andrews reins in hopes for manufacturing revival

Analysis by Peter Roberts Industry minister Karen Andrews has reined in hopes for a wide role for the manufacturing sector post Covid-19 in an interview with ABC Melbourne radio. She was responding to questions from Virginia Trioli, who said Covid and industry 4.0 holds the prospect of the country moving to ‘the next level of…

Canberra gives some manufacturers the cold shoulder while others get hero status

Comment by Peter Roberts @AuManufacturing has been reporting almost daily heartwarming stories of the heroic efforts of manufacturers stepping into broken import supply chains. But while a handful have received federal government recognition and support – and featured in endless media releases and media interviews by federal ministers – some have received nothing. Take Nelson…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – six steps to lead the world by Professor Aleksandar Subic

Our campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing has seen a huge response from readers and members of the Australian Manufacturing Forum Linkedin group. Here Professor Aleksandar Subic focuses on R&D and learning as keys to a plan to make Australian manufacturing the envy of the world. When Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – supporting a transforming and vital industry by Alex Kingsbury

Our campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 moves onwards. Alex Kingsbury discusses how our advanced manufacturers have responded to necessity in the current crisis, and how we can encourage a flexible and sophisticated manufacturing sector into the future.

The stock exchange casino in full Covid-19 swing

Comment by Peter Roberts The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the share prices of solid Australian manufacturers drop by a third, and younger firms in their growth phase halve or even worse. There have been exceptions – shares in established companies producing infant formula, such as Jatenergy for example, have even risen slightly while others have…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – seven areas of policy that actually work by Phil Toner

Our campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 has provoked dozens of submissions. Today Phil Toner cautions against re-inventing the wheel – we already know seven areas where manufacturing policy can work. Submissions to [email protected] Over the past decade or so there has been a global re-assessment of the neoliberal…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – the view from the CEO seat by Mark Vassella

The Australian Manufacturing Forum and @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing in Australia has focused on SME views. Today Mark Vassella, managing director and CEO of BlueScope Steel, focuses on trade, energy and infrastructure plus more. The disruption of global supply chains as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has…

A new deal for manufacturing – a strategy to support a new era in Australian manufacturing by Shay Chalmers

Our crowd sourced new deal plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 continues. Here Shay Chalmers writes about what we can do to turn this economic downturn into a manufacturing success story. Research and evidence shows that the current economic downturn could result in the resurgence of local manufacturing – a new era in Australian manufacturing. To…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – let’s get government procurement right by Patrizia Torelli

As we crowd source a new plan for manufacturing post Covid-19 few things are more important that getting government procurement right. Here Patrizia Torelli finds that even the federal government doesn’t follow its own procurement laws, so she suggests themes for new rules that work for industry. Australian Government must stick to the Commonwealth Procurement…

Entrepreneurs Programme: $140 million in contracts to business advisers

By James Riley Of the seven delivery provider contracts worth $140 million awarded by the Department of Industry for its Entrepreneurs Programme, five contracts – worth about $109 million – were with existing suppliers to the five-year-old flagship industry development program. While the Industry department went to market last year to refresh the delivery apparatus…

Protectionist push uninteresting to advanced manufacturer

Australia and other nations are rethinking their supply chains. Brent Balinski spoke to ANCA co-founder Pat Boland about what re-localisation means to a company that exports nearly all of what it makes.   There’s a momentum here and abroad behind strengthening manufacturing as part of the pandemic response. It’s hard to witness the urgent ramping…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – where we went wrong and the things that work by Tim McLean

The Australian Manufacturing Forum and @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal manufacturing policy for Australia is now in its second week. Today Tim McLean details how we got to where we are today, and the approaches that work for industry. Send your ideas or make a submission to [email protected] The need for Australia…

South Australia – the state that gave up on manufacturing

When I grew up in Adelaide there was a feeling that South Australia was the centre of manufacturing. The home of Holden and Chrysler, of the Hills Hoist and Lightburn washing machine, Scott Bonnar mowers, Perry Engineering, Horwood Bagshaw agricultural equipment and Actil sheets. For a while it seemed the centre of the manufacturing universe…

A new deal plan for manufacturing – innovation and bi-partisanship by Tom Kenyon

Innovation is featuring in submissions so far in our campaign to crowd source a continues @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal manufacturing policy with eight keys to unlocking our manufacturing future. Send your ideas or make a submission to [email protected]”>new deal plan for manufacturing. Today Tom Kenyon looks at how to kickstart new…

Thank you for all the attention. Now here’s how you can get involved

It can feel a little icky to pat yourself on the back, but here we go. We have good news to share. Fortunately, it’s not all about ourselves.

A new deal plan for manufacturing – eight keys to the future by Danny Samson

Professor Danny Samson continues @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing with eight keys to unlocking our manufacturing future. Send your ideas or make a submission to [email protected] Australia’s manufacturing sector has shrunk significantly over the past 30 years, in terms of share of GDP, and absolute employment numbers. But we…

A new deal for manufacturing – a rallying cry to get involved by Grant Anderson

Grant Anderson joins @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing in Australia with this powerful call to action. Send your submission to [email protected] Never waste a good crisis ! Why is it that we need a crisis to bring about change to policy around manufacturing? Why is it that most countries…

A new deal for manufacturing – five building blocks for a new plan by Roy Green

Professor Roy Green kicks off @AuManufacturing’s campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing in Australia with this industry policy scene setter. Send your submission to [email protected] Every crisis provides an opportunity and Covid-19 is no exception. Not only has it exposed the gaps in Australia’s manufacturing supply chains, but it has also…

Let’s crowd source a grass roots ‘new deal manufacturing policy’

By Peter Roberts Australia’s industry structure is broken – so with your help we are going to develop a new deal manufacturing plan to help make it right. It has taken Covid-19 to expose the limitations of our economic rationalist policies and how they have created a fragile and narrowly based economy, reliant on export…

Productivity Commission sidelined in Canberra’s focus on manufacturing

Comment by Peter Roberts In a move which will be welcomed by most in the manufacturing sector the Productivity Commission has been sidelined in the federal government’s programme to map out a future for the sector post Covid-19. As reported by @AuManufacturing on Friday, former Dow chemical CEO Andrew Liveris has been called up by…

PPE designed for speed in the covid-19 era

The pivots by local companies to meet Australia’s PPE needs have gained coverage in the mainstream press and been a source of pride for the country’s manufacturing sector.   This week businesses such as Me3D, Free 3D Hands and the FAB9 makerspace have had their efforts to 3D print visors to protect against Covid-19 infection…

Now is the time for optimism about the future of manufacturing

Comment by Peter Roberts As we digest the news that the federal government has called up industrialist Andrew Liveris to help map out a future for Australian manufacturing, there remains a view prevalent in the community that Australia doesn’t make things. One former colleague on the weekend railed about how manufacturing had been decimated and…

Canberra calls in a manufacturer to map out a future for the sector

By Peter Roberts The federal government has turned to former Dow chemical CEO Andrew Liveris to help map a new future for Australian manufacturing in the post-coronavirus world. Liveris, an Australian, has been called up by Canberra’s National COVID-19 Coordination Commission to devise a long-term strategy to deliver a competitive manufacturing sector to help in…

CSIRO begins testing Covid-19 vaccines as part of global effort

By Peter Roberts In an exciting development Australia’s CSIRO has begun testing potential vaccines against the Covid-19 coronavirus at its Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) facility in Geelong. Testing in the biosecure facility originally built to contain the world’s most harmful plant and animal diseases is part of a global effort led by the interational Coalition…

Saving the furniture during the Covid crisis

Quick thinking saw an exhibitions supplier go from idea to new business in half a week. Brent Balinski spoke to Displaywise about saving jobs and adapting to “the new norm.”

The public wants us to make things, but how is manufacturing going to reassert itself?

Comment – and a call to action – by Peter Roberts With supermarket shelves still bare of toilet paper, hand sanitiser, pasta and a dozen other essentials, the Australian public has well and truly woken up to the value of making things locally. It has taken this tragic public health crisis for the country to…

Manufacturers need recognition as essential infrastructure

Comment by Peter Roberts Globally, proactive governments are looking to their manufacturing sectors to help them navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, raising questions about when Canberra is going to afford similar recognition. Last week Canberra belatedly reached out to manufacturers with a ‘çall for information‘ from producers of essential medical supplies. Defence personnel have also been…

Is the tax office clamping down hard on our SMEs?

By Peter Roberts Just when manufacturing SMEs are really doing it tough there is anecdotal evidence that the Australian Tax Office is coming down hard on the struggling sector. Two industry representative groups report anecdotal evidence of formerly accommodating tax office staff changing their attitude in the past week…for the worse. “One minute it was…

Meet The New Bill. Same As The Old Bill. (Or why the R&D incentive is under threat).

Australian Manufacturing Forum member viewpoint by Kris Gale Rock and roll fans might recognise the source material of the headline quote. It is The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – Roger Daltrey giving voice to the entrenched frustration Pete Townshend utilised to drive that band to greater and greater heights. And so it is with…

In the black: startup pushing ahead commercialising waste-to-activated-carbon technology

Environmental technology company Bygen is taking technology out of University of Adelaide labs and using it to give agricultural waste a higher purpose. Brent Balinski spoke to co-founder and CEO Dr Lewis Dunnigan about using almond shells and other ingredients to supply the growing activated carbon market.

Federal government in second, bigger stimulus

By Peter Roberts Only days after offering up a stimulus package widely condemned as not large enough to impact Australia’s coronavirus affected economy, Canberra has followed up with a second much larger package of measures. The first business-focused package increased the instant asset write-off, provided accelerated depreciation deductions and supported apprentices and trainees. Manufacturers can…

It’s time – a virus-led manufacturing revival

Comment by Peter Roberts With coronavirus wrecking its havoc on the Australian economy, I can’t help thinking that there is no cloud without a silver lining. This might just be the time when the general public wakes up to the importance of a healthy, capable and broad-based manufacturing sector. A few of us diehards have…

Profiles of success: the regional electronics manufacturer that listens to trees

Award-winning electronics business ICT International launched its new production facility in Armidale last week. Brent Balinski spoke to co-founder and CEO Susan Cull about keeping customers in 55 countries happy while operating from “a small country town”.

Canberra’s latest bone-headed signal on green hydrogen

Comment by Peter Roberts The federal government has added to frustration about its stance on potential exports of green hydrogen, announcing $40 million in funding to establish a Future Energy Exports (FEnEx) Cooperative Research Centre. The FEnEx CRC, announced alongside a new CRC for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME), will develop ‘technologies to improve…

Nuclear prices itself out of the future

Comment by Peter Roberts I was at lunch the other day and out came the familiar theme – Australia should go nuclear to de-carbonise the economy. Well, a just-released report from the NSW Parliament’s State Development Committee should put an end to such talk – it is just too expensive and problematic. The report, detailed…

Coalition bloody mindedness blunts hydrogen push

Comment by Peter Roberts There are few certainties in this post fact world but one you would think everyone agrees on is that a country has to earn a living internationally. For Australia, whose export income is dependent on selling coal and gas, our national economic prosperity rests on being a fossil fuel exporter. We…

Introducing HyperPower Technologies

A WA startup announced it had begun manufacture of electric motors last month. Brent Balinski spoke to Michael Fragomeni, founder of HyperPower Technologies.

How to start your Industry 4.0 journey – by John Broadbent

By John Broadbent, leader of Industry 4.0 Workshops – getting the rubber to hit the road Improving manufacturing performance is key to ensuring all resources are being utilised in the most efficient and sustainable way. Fundamentally, it’s about doing more with less, whether it’s utilities, raw materials, waste or people. The large majority of manufacturing…

Buy recycled goods or shut up about about recycling

Tired of recycling-related news? My friend, this just isn’t your day.

Industry 4.0 Masterclass to supercharge your business

By Peter Roberts We all know that we need to supercharge our factories and businesses if we are to remain competitive in the era of Industry 4.0. But for many time-poor SME leaders there is just too little time and too many buzz-words and mis-information to know where to start. The Australian Manufacturing Forum and…

Submarine local content sinks to 60 per cent

The local content figure for the $80 billion Attack class submarines to be built in Adelaide appears to be settling at 60 per cent.

Carbon fibre composites – reuse, repair or recycle?

Fibre-strengthened materials are not easy to recycle, but should this even be the goal? Brent Balinski spoke to Dr Anastassija (Stacey) Konash from Swinburne University’s Factory of the Future. 

Crunch time for the economy – check your business risks and buckle up

It has been an unprecedented period of economic growth in Australia. Decades of continuous growth has made us little used to managing for the risks of an economic downturn or recession. But Australia’s economic good luck is running out, with the main economic indicators all running down since the global financial crisis, a salutary economic…

New ASX index launches without manufacturers

A new Australian Stock Exchange index goes live today representing an all inclusive view of Australia’s technology companies – yet it fails to include any manufacturers.

Plastics recyclers need to emphasise value rather than cost

The recent “circular economy” push will fail without significantly more market pull, according to the founder of Plastic Forests. Brent Balinski spoke to David Hodge. 

Oz Minerals shows just how dispensable are fossil fuels

Comment by Peter Roberts One by one the bastions protecting the fossil fuel industries are falling, driven by economics it seems as much as by a wish to protect the planet. Household and grid-scale solar and wind plus battery and pumped hydro-storage have displaced the necessity of using dirty oil and gas from our homes,…

Profiles of success: waste whisperer to begin machine manufacturing

Natural Evolution’s expertise in turning green bananas and other produce into nutritious powders has seen it move into consulting and, soon, machinery exports. Brent Balinski spoke to founder Rob Watkins. 

Business alive to climate action opportunities

Comment by Peter Roberts While the federal government continues to thumb its nose at public and scientific opinion on climate change, there is no shortage of innovative businesses looking to help stem the global warming trend.. As Canberra was dying in a ditch protecting the failing technology of coal power, a group of entrepreneurs has…

Buying overseas comes back to bite NSW Government

Comment by Peter Roberts If ever we need an argument for maintaining a viable local manufacturing sector, then look no further than the massive $4 billion cost blow-out in the metro rail project being built under Sydney Harbour. The project, originally to cost between $11.5 and $12.5 billion, will now cost $16.8 billion according to…

Profiles of success: the juggling act of an Australian company trying to save the world

“The sun never sets on the Calix empire,” says Adam Vincent light-heartedly.    The general manager of R&D joined the company in 2010, five years after it began, and the same year it commissioned its first continuously operating plant at Bacchus Marsh.   Calix operates at nearly 20 locations globally, with its major R&D work…

Government acts on gas supplies, throws the climate under a bus

Comment by Peter Roberts It has been a long time coming, far too long, but a federal government has finally taken action on the high price and lack of supply of gas in the eastern states. The tripling of prices was brought about by Canberra in the first place when the former Labour government approved…

Clean energy investment collapses as government policy falters

One of the few successful ways Australia has been cutting greenhouse gas emissions – large-scale wind and solar energy installations – is collapsing as a lack of federal government policy hits investment. Figures from the Clean Energy Council show investment commitments in large-scale renewable energy projects have collapsed by more than 50 per cent, falling…

Profiles of success: AML prepares to go public, says standards are key to commercialisation   

There has been a series of successful IPOs for high-tech Australian manufacturing companies in recent months, including Carbon Revolution, K-Tig and Amaero Engineering. 3D printing bureau AML3D hopes to add to this, with a place on the ASX planned for March. Founder and managing director Andy Sales agrees that investors are keen on sophisticated manufacturers…

Australia’s economy under threat as national innovation slips yet again

By Peter Roberts Australia’s slide down the list of leading developed nations has been dramatically confirmed with the Australia Day weekend coinciding with evidence of a fall in our national innovation effort. The highly respected Bloomberg innovation index saw Australia slip to number 20 in the world on its ranking of innovation (table below). Australia…

Tesla is ‘worth’ US$100 billion, but is its time really come?

Analysis by Peter Roberts Elon Musk has had more his fair share of troubles entering the world’s crowded car market with its Tesla electric vehicles, but the past week has given him some hope that he may escape the fate of the vast majority of auto start ups as fodder for financially stronger groups. Hot…

Tiny Perth startup takes on medical moonshot

A Perth startup is developing an approach to pumping that could find a way into artificial heart implants. Brent Balinski spoke to its founders about the ambitious project, and about trying to solve really big problems within Australia.

Transition from automotive manufacturing avoids worst-case

Analysis by Peter Roberts When it first became clear that vehicle assembly was finished in Australia the predictions of job losses were truly massive. But three years later the Coalition, which dealt the coup de grace to the sector, is claiming credit for an orderly transition for many of the local suppliers to the three…

Submarine deal’s sinking feeling – defence doubts revealed

Comment by Peter Roberts Australia’s $50 billion deal to buy submarines from the French Naval Grup looks to be on shakey ground with the release of a highly critical report from the Commonwealth Auditor-General. Far from being a great deal, the federal government began planning to walk away from the deal during the torturous negotiation…

Recycling imperative to create winners, but Australians have been reluctant to back innovators

It can take extreme levels of patience to convert nifty inventions into prosperity within Australia. Brent Balinski spoke to Trevor Bayley of GDT about hard it’s been to turn tyres into gold.     

Of natural and greenhouse gases – comment

Comment by Peter Roberts The recent news that Australia has surpassed Qatar to become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) would normally be a thing to be celebrated. Australia’s 10 LNG projects exported an estimated 77.5 million tonnes of LNG in calendar 2019 earning $49 billion, according to data from consultancy EnergyQuest.…

Your story doesn’t come easy, so you’d better tell it

There’s pride in dreaming up and making, says Grant Menzies of Adina Watches. Brent Balinski spoke to Menzies about not just being proud of what you do, but telling the story attached to it.

Australian quantum computer chip manufacturing a step closer

By Peter Roberts An announcement by technology group Silex Systems (ASX: SLX) that it will make silicon suitable for fabricating quantum computing chips shows the way forward for Australian involvement in this emerging manufacturing sector. Silex has entered into a R&D project with Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC), a spin off from the University of NSW,…

EOS raising confirms investor appetite for manufacturing

By Peter Roberts Defence, space and communications group Electro Optic Systems (ASX: EOS) has raised $85 million from investors and shareholders, confirming investor appetite for progressive manufacturers. The company announced it had raised $17 million – $10 million more than initially sought – in a share purchase plan from existing shareholders. This came on top…

Canberra heaps insult on R&D injury

Comment by Peter Roberts Having failed in its last attempt to slash the cost of, I mean ‘reform’ the R&D tax incentive – its own Senators refused to vote for it – the government is trying yet again. Smarting from a rejection of its efforts to slash, I mean ‘reform’, the scheme earlier in the…

Can you take Australian waste, turn it into a product, and sell it to the world’s richest nation?

A little over a week ago, a Queensland-based company announced a deal with an unnamed North American giant for countless units of a product you’ve probably seen at your local Bunnings.

Maths report card brings Aussie white trash closer to reality

Comment by Peter Roberts It wasn’t so long ago that then senior Singaporean politician Lee Kuan Yew offended Australians when he called us the white trash of Asia. Working in Singapore at the time I had a first hand view, and a rather low opinion, of the products of Singapore’s rote-learning early school education. I…

An Australian alloy breakthrough, explained

Copper could be the key ingredient in improving titanium alloys for additive manufacturing. Brent Balinski spoke to RMIT’s Professor Mark Easton about recent work promising better printed parts. 

Amaero Engineering lists and reveals road to profitability

By Peter Roberts Additive manufacturing company Amaero International (ASX: 3DA) has revealed a swift move from losses to profits in filings with the ASX following its $8 million capital raising and listing on the exchange. The company’s 2019 accounts reveal a profit before tax of $454,266 for the year, an improvement on the $1.5 million…

Submarine costs spiraling into the stratosphere

Comment by Peter Roberts There is increasing evidence that Australia’s decision to ditch its indigenous experience building the Collins Class submarine and buy a completely new design from France is turning out to be a costly mistake. I have always argued that the best path for Australia would have been to build a modified Collins,…

Four predictions for 2020

It’s the beginning of December, meaning it’s time for news websites and others to look back and make sense of the year that’s nearly through, or to speculate about the one coming up. We have the same access to a functioning crystal ball as anybody else, but will take a punt on four developments for 2020.

1414 Degrees set to develop massive solar gamechanger

Analysis by Peter Roberts One of the most innovative renewables projects planned anywhere globally has got a second lease of life with energy storage company 1414 Degrees (ASX: 14D) purchasing Solar Reserve Australia for a nominal price. For $2 million 1414 Degrees will take control of the company’s Aurora Solar Energy Project at Port Augusta…

Grant Tinney’s QPE positions itself for our shared future

Comment by Peter Roberts One thing has been left out of the discussion of major government outlays developing Australia’s sovereign ability to build and maintain naval ships. That is the requirement for SMEs to play their part and invest large sums that often challenge – and risk – the resources of what are family owned…

Making things with light: engineer returns home to develop ‘genuine 3D printing’

Inventor Timothy Scott is commercialising a new 3D printer and resins, with speed, strength and other possible advantages over current light-based approaches. Brent Balinski spoke to Scott about the possibilities of volumetric production.  

At last a national hydrogen strategy – but misdirected

Comment by Peter Roberts The federal coalition’s obsession with protecting an industry which is clearly on the way out – coal mining – shone through at a meeting of state and federal energy ministers held last week. The states and Commonwealth endorsed Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy which will co-ordinate national efforts to move towards clean…

Government funded training effort appears to rise, but is it real

Analysis by Peter Roberts The number of students in government-funded training in Australian has shown a rare rise, after years of bad news for vocational training in Australia. A report by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows a rise in government-funded students this year. However the research organisation warns that the rise…

Pens and prospering as a manufacturer

Trajan has been developing a world-first blood sampling device for several years. Brent Balinski spoke to company founder and chairman Stephen Tomisich about the hemaPEN – which is about to gain registration here and overseas – and where Australian companies can be competitive.

Defence radar order shows things really have changed for industry

Analysis by Peter Roberts Defence has signed a multi-million dollar contract to buy new land-based army radars that shows just how much the fortunes of indigenous defence industry really have changed in the past six years. Canberra-based CEA Technologies won a hard-fought battle to win a $137 million contract to supply the army with a…

Steel breakthrough – thyssenkrupp makes steel using hydrogen

By Peter Roberts Steelmaking has always been the one area where even in the most carbon constrained industrial future imaginable, the world might just need to use Australian coking coal. But now, thanks to an industrial breakthrough of truly massive proportions, the world may be left with very few critically important uses for coal. German…

Smaller manufacturers and the big challenge of digitalisation

It’s been said that Australia’s population of enterprises has a “missing middle.”    Within manufacturing, there is certainly a heavy weighting towards the smaller end of town. A count published in the Australian Industry Group’s Australian Manufacturing in 2019 report found that of 47,530 employing companies, 87 per cent were between 1 and 19 employees…

Profiles of success – MtM automotive

By Peter Roberts The loss of Australia’s car industry was not the blow anticipated because of people like Mark Albert of MtM automotive. The Melbourne supplier of doorchecks and other body components foresaw the demise of the sector and set about creating a future for themselves in global markets. Doorchecks may seem like a trivial…

Geelong hemp processing business ramps up machinery exports

Textile & Composite Industries is exporting two of its D8 hemp decorticators to a farm in Pennsylvania.   The units, which retail for roughly $350,000, are the eighth generation of the machine, and are produced by Geelong engineering business Austeng. Founder of TCI, the late inventor Adrian Clarke, made his first machine in 1994.   …

Now NSW sources ferries from overseas, ignores local builder

Comment by Peter Roberts The New South Wales government has confirmed its love affair with importing expensive transport equipment with the purchase of 13 Sydney harbour ferries for a reported $1.3 billion. Writing in MichaelWest.com, maritime commentator Neil Baird said Northern NSW company, Birdon had contracted to build the ferries in China and Indonesia. The…

Adding more layers: plenty of room left to innovate with polymer 3D printers

As the market for additive manufacturing has exploded in recent years, so has the range of solutions available. Driven by a need for answers to various limitations, a proverbial 1,000 flowers have bloomed among machine providers.   Newer techniques inspired by metal injection moulding, jetting with binders, and fast curing of polymers using light and…

Wage underpayment infects the economy – but not manufacturing…

Comment by Peter Roberts This week the seamier side of Australian business was again in the spotlight as supermarket group Woolworths admitted to underpaying staff by as much as $300 million over a decade. There were the usual explanations that this was all the fault of our complex industrial relations system. This is a ridiculous…

Australian companies need to get more competitive by design

From the country’s woeful economic complexity rankings to building a better mousetrap, design can offer solutions. Brent Balinski spoke to Dr Brandon Gien, founder and CEO of Good Design Australia, about the topic.

Time to change economic policy to beat economic uncertainty

It s clearly time for the federal government to alter its economic course as manufacturers begin to feel the chill winds of Australia’s economic downturn. The Australian economy has been decelerating in the past year, growing at 1.4 per cent year on year in the second quarter of 2019, down from 1.7 per cent last…

Focus the key to collaborative projects

Brent Balinski spoke to officials from Singapore’s science and research agency about collaborative R&D approaches at one public/private centre focussed on advanced manufacturing.

Canberra-esque madness kills the SME-focused innovation patent system

Comment by Peter Roberts Parliament has passed legislation killing the low cost innovation patent system, bowing to arguments from the Productivity Commission. Legislation killing the patent was passed by the Senate last week and followed an essentially economically-focused review that lacked transparency. This is yet another victory in a long list of destructive wins by…

Manufacturer of the Year prizewinner steps up a gear with robotics

Last week Chamberlain Group won the Manufacturer of the Year prize at the Hunter Manufacturing Awards. Brent Balinski speaks to its operations head in Oceania, Graeme Sheekey, about a recent robot roll-out.

Manufacturing decline leaves Australia in the third world of exporters

Analysis by Peter Roberts It is now official. Australia now has the economic diversity and export profile of a typical third world nation. Our antipathy to value-adding activities such as manufacturing in favour of industries that require little more than digging it up and shipping it out, has left us dangerously dependent on quarrying. According…

Is Australia really leading the IoT charge to the digital era

Comment by Peter Roberts Australians have a habit of clutching onto any small breakthrough or new development and labeling our country a global leader or somesuch in a particular field. One of the latest areas where we are supposed to lead is in the industrial internet of things, the linking together of masses of individual…

ASC – good enough for Sweden, but not Australia

Comment by Peter Roberts Adelaide’s ASC Pty Ltd, which built the Collins class submarines in Australia, is performing submarine design work for Sweden. The agreement which sees the submarine builder working on Sweden’s A26 submarine programme, was first announced, was announced in November, but resurfaced in the media in the past week. ASC is now…

Singapore’s industrial transformation

Brent Balinski spoke to Singapore Manufacturing Federation President Douglas Foo about keeping the sector relevant.

Rip Curl – RIP another Australian manufacturing dream fades away

Comment by Peter Roberts The news this morning is that Rip Curl, the iconic Torquay Victoria surf brand is being sold to New Zealand’s Kathmandu for $350 million. And so another great Australian dream of designing and manufacturing great products completes its long, slow decline to full overseas ownership. The Rip Curl story is yet…

2021: a space business’s odyssey

Despite a recent mishap, Gilmour Space Technologies’ goal of offering commercial trips to orbit in 2021 is unchanged. Brent Balinski spoke to founder and CEO Adam Gilmour about the need for local launches, the $150 million federal boost to space companies, and the enduring mystery of a recent award nomination.  

National Shipbuilding Authority needed to guide naval ship construction

Comment by Peter Roberts A former South Australian Liberal party leader who later became a minister in the state Labor government has called for the establishment of a national shipbuilding authority to guide naval ship construction. Martin Hamilton-Smith’s political history is indeed as complex as the task now facing Australia to build and then sustain…

Profile of success – Elphinstone and Caterpillar

Tasmanian mining equipment manufacturer Elphinstone has made a remarkable comeback as an OEM manufacturer to the global Caterpillar group. The Burnie company, which employs 2,500, first shot to prominence when it modified Caterpillar surface equipment to operate underground. Eventually it grew into a 50: 50 joint venture with Caterpillar, designing and making underground load, haul,…

Stop Press! A federal industry minister that listens

Comment by Peter Roberts It has been difficult for many years to say anything too positive about our federal industry ministers. How could I? With six serving in the position in a similar number of years none have been round long enough to make an impression. But these pictures of industry minister Karen Andrews visiting…

Slag, sustainability and steel

Metal manufacturers around the world are trying to lessen their greenhouse gas output. Brent Balinski spoke to the CSIRO’s Dr Mark Cooksey about some of his organisation’s work regarding green steelmaking, and why he believes the de-carbonisation trend is an opportunity for Australian metal producers.

Stock market casino comes to manufacturing

Comment by Peter Roberts The stock market is often likened to a casino. This is especially true in Australia where most active companies on the ASX are mining minnows, all competing for attention with their latest discovery. Cyclically this market burns white hot, and the white shoe brigade bids up the prices of penny stocks…

Canberra threatens exporters as statistics show Australia’s minerals dependence

Analysis by Peter Roberts This week saw the extraordinary spectacle of an Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, threatening exporters and telling them to cut back on exports. For Morrison to warn alumina producers Rio Tinto and Alcoa to cut back on exports to the United States was strange enough, but the reason for it was…

Boardrooms need to get serious about innovation – AICD

Comment by Peter Roberts Australia’s business boardrooms need to get serious about innovation, with few recognising the urgent need to prioritise innovation, acording to a new report from the Australian Institute for Company Directors (AICD). Given the current realities of Australian manufacturing, this is a comment that should be taken on board even more urgently…

STEM failing in schools despite government focus

Comment by Peter Roberts Despite all the noise from policymakers promoting STEM study in schools, the statistics present another depressing picture of Australia’s failing VET education system. Figures released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) show a continuing fall in STEM subject in Australian schools. In 2018 compared to 2017: # VET…

Will the government realise the agricultural potential of IoT?

By Stuart Corner When it comes to the agricultural potential of IoT the Australian Government just does not seem to get it. A 2015 report and a 2016 parliamentary enquiry both failed to make more than passing reference. A new enquiry is now underway. Will it do a better job? On 3 September the Federal…

Quickstep CEO Mark Burgess – Helping the Tall Poppies Grow

By Mark Burgess, CEO, Quickstep Holdings Mark Burgess had a long international career before moving to lead Sydney composites manufacturer, Quickstep. Here he comments on the challenges faced by his company to innovate in Australia. Australia’s Nation brand reputation is not one of industry or innovation. This affects how others see us, but also affects…

Blast-off a bottleneck for Australian smallsat startups

Adelaide’s Fleet Space Technologies is one of the success stories in Australia’s burgeoning space startup industry. Brent Balinski spoke to CEO and co-founder Flavia Tata Nardini about its recent $10.8 million funding round, and the current shortage of available launches.

Recycling vineyard plastics makes circular economy real

By Peter Roberts There is no doubt the idea of a circular economy, where manufacturers reclaim used materials to make products that can themselves be recycled again and again, is a great idea. But getting from the dream to the reality requires such enormous goodwill and co-ordinated effort from manufacturers and end-users, that it very…

Australian project developing needle-free diagnosis method

Brent Balinski spoke to Professor Sharath Sriram, RMIT’s Co-Leader, Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group, about commercialising a novel way to detect heart disease from saliva.

The era of making steel without carbon emissions is here

Analysis by Peter Roberts One of the biggest issues about moving to a carbon-free future has been how to eliminate dangerous emissions from products such as cement and steel that are absolutely vital to the economy. In a sense electricity production was an easy problem to solve using clean renewables compared to the greater industrial…

‘Who are the actual recyclers?’ asks Australian plastics pioneer

In 1992, Mark Yates founded Replas, which makes outdoor products including bollards, decking and furniture, and recycles up to 4,000 tonnes of plastic a year. Yates tells Brent Balinski what to make of the current discussion we’re having around recycling, and about a recent project making handplanes out of reclaimed marine litter.

Canberra tilts at windmills as climate and energy warnings multiply

Comment by Peter Roberts Barely a day goes by without some sort of warning to Australia and Australian business that the future is at risk because of our political paralysis over the related issues of global warming and future energy needs. In little more than a week we have seen warnings of various kinds from…

Life in the film business

Plastic Forests takes in contaminated plastic films, has capacity to produce 5,000 tonnes of new products from these per year, and currently has a lot of headroom. David Hodge tells Brent Balinski about what could be done to encourage demand.

Defence purchases not linked to economic outcomes

By Peter Roberts Australia has embarked on massive local defence acquisitions without clear linkages to national economic, and ‘perhaps military-strategic impacts’, according to a paper published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Author Rob Bourke, a former economic adviser to the Defence Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, called for a Productivity Commission inquiry into local…

Teamwork makes the dream work for railway innovator

Stephen Webster’s company has been developing composite railway sleepers from recycled plastic since 2014. He tells Brent Balinski that the development path hasn’t been easy, and that cooperation among companies and government will be essential if circular economy initiatives are going to flourish.      

Today’s waste plastic, tomorrow’s prototype

Brent Balinski spoke to Chris Larkin, CEO and co-founder at PolyLab, about the startup’s origins in humanitarian work and its plans to close the loop for rapid prototyping.   3D printing for prototyping can be expensive and wasteful, with a large amount of unused support material and the prototypes themselves binned after they’ve outlived their…

Improving the way we view plastics

Manufacturer/retailer Dresden is preparing to open its 14th outlet. Another approaching milestone – one tonne of plastic recycled – is further validation of its unconventional approach to eyewear. Brent Balinski speaks to Elmar Kert, the company’s Head of Global Operations.

First Ace electric vans assembled in Adelaide

By Peter Roberts Silently, with only a warning beep-beep, the first ACE-EV electric cargo van to be assembled in Adelaide rolled out for its media debut early this morning. The venue – the Tonsley innovation centre housed in the former Miitsubishi Motors main assembly building – was ripe with irony, a massive industrial structure now…

A crude response to the issue

One possible remedy to a world drowning in plastic has been under development since 2005. Brent Balinski speaks to Licella.

Chemistry, comparisons and complexity

Brent Balinski speaks to Samantha Read, Chemistry Australia’s CEO, about the new Chemical Sector Economic Contribution Analysis report, the effects of high gas prices, and the importance of economic complexity.

What to make of all this plastic?

This week @AuManufacturing will feature a collection of Aussie innovators who are giving plastic a second life. But first, some context on the issue and why it matters. By Brent Balinski. 

How politics might see Austal make a big overseas purchase

Analysis by Peter Roberts It was only a matter of time before politics and Australia’s expanding defence industry sector were going to mix in the type of dilemma that appears to be facing Australian global shipbuilder, Austal (ASX: ASB). The company has been named as a possible purchaser of a major traditional shipyard in the…

The power of positivity gives machining business a lift

Australian manufacturers are generally shy about their achievements.

Government politicising daily business of government

Comment by Peter Roberts Since the recent federal election there has been a subtle and disturbing shift in rhetoric coming from Canberra. Press releases from industry minister, Karen Andrews always begin with the phrase ‘the Morrison Government’ is backing industry, or announcing grants or similar. On Friday ‘the Morrison government’ announced $30 million in Cooperative…

What is the construction industry trying to learn from advanced manufacturing?

Techniques borrowed from the world of manufacturing could make the building industry more “efficient, connected and customer-centric.” Brent Balinski spoke to Monash University’s Professor Mathew Aitchison about the topic, as well as why prefabricated housing is a tricky business.   Those who study it have sometimes lamented the low levels of productivity growth and technology…

Mapping magnesium: materials engineer discusses alloy breakthrough

Professor Jian-Feng Nie of Monash University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering led a recent discovery for magnesium alloys. He shares some context for the results with Brent Balinski.

Australia is no innovation nation, in fact we are all talk

Comment by Peter Roberts Australia has had numerous prime ministers from Bob Hawke to Malcolm Turnbull who have boasted about us being an ‘innovation nation’. But this is a classic case of promoting one of your weakest points to try to avoid scrutiny – in fact Australia has never been, and is not even remotely…

Australian manufacturing saved by a roundtable

Comment by Peter Roberts Excuse my cynicism but a cynical government held a gabfest in Canberra this week that we are meant to believe shows their commitment to Australian manufacturing.. Industry reps, academics and others met with industry minister Karen Andrews with the outcome? Well bugger all. Andrews said: “The roundtable discussed ways to enable…

Boffins and business – the tough journey from lab to market

Brent Balinski spoke to CSIRO ON’s David Burt about the challenges involved in commercialising scientific achievements.

Who wants to buy an Australian manufacturer?

Comment by Peter Roberts Everyone seems to want to buy Australia’s iconic manufacturers – except Australians it seems. Despite a multi-trillion dollar superannuation nest egg built up by working Australians, why is it so often only foreign interests that can see value in our manufacturers? Just this past week Arnott’s biscuits, part of Campbell Soup…

UNSW PV technology commercialised overseas – yet again

Analysis by Peter Roberts Another day, another example of world-leading science commercialised overseas. The term world-leading is over-used by over-zealous Australians, but it is no exaggeration in describing the contribution by the University of New South Wales’s Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics towards the global uptake of PV solar cells. The Centre, led by Professor Martin…

Pressure and performance: Australian company pushes to be a global leader in armour

Brent Balinski speaks to Xtek’s managing director Philippe Odouard about the company’s curing process – which it says can produce lighter, stronger composite parts – and its potential applications in defence, space and elsewhere.

Companies coming around to plastic reuse

Brent Balinski speaks to Harry Wang, founder of Advanced Circular Polymers, about the company’s factory and serving manufacturers wanting to adopt recycled plastics in their products.   From kicks to shampoo bottles and beyond, there are signs that businesses are starting to commit to the use of recycled materials.   Adidas has a goal of…

Plasma power: the Australian project aiming to do better than wet coating for textiles

An Innovative Manufacturing CRC-backed project announced last month is aiming to move research on material coating methods out of the lab and into factories. Brent Balinski asked project lead Dr Weiwei Lei a few questions about how his process works and what the project hopes to achieve.

Pressure is building to expand defence sector

Comment by Peter Roberts If you are a manufacturer in the defence business, or are diversifying into the sector, you are very likely onto a good thing. Yes, everyone has heard the government’s boast that it has spending of $200 billion planned on new equipment, including $50 billion for submarines and $35 billion for frigates.…

Award-winning innovator busy developing new products, reshoring older ones

Some places are more ripe for innovation – change that brings improvement – than others. By Brent Balinski.

Wanted: Australian manufacturers to support small satellite sector

Brent Balinski speaks to William Crowe, co-founder of University of NSW-based High Earth Orbit Robotics, about what they have achieved so far and what businesses in the burgeoning nanosatellite industry expect from potential suppliers.

Peter Roberts – on the road in Kuala Lumpur

By Peter Roberts in Kuala Lumpur I have been travelling to Malaysia for more than two decades since I worked in the region but nowadays my view of the city has been transformed. While once it was easy to dismiss Malaysia as a developing country compared to my home in Australia, progress in the capital…

Patent Box a generational opportunity for Australian industry

By Forum member Barry Thomas, Cook Medical   As an exporting medical devices company that employs more than 600 people, Cook Medical has long been a champion for tax reform to stimulate innovation and manufacturing.   Recent comments by the federal treasurer that the government would take a “close look” at a Patent Box scheme…

Cultivating a hemp industry in Australia

Brent Balinski spoke to Charles Kovess, Secretary of the Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance and CEO of Textile & Composite Industries, about the potential of industrial hemp.

CRC proves its worth even with the climate deniers in charge

Comment by Peter Roberts In the past week Australia’s Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) closed its doors after seven years focused on lowering carbon emissions in the built environment. The CRC programme, introduced by the Hawke government, has been a big success in aligning academic research interests with those of industry.…

“World firsts happen quite often” at Melbourne lab-on-a-chip developer

Brent Balinski speaks to Michael Wilkinson, co-founder at Minifab, about how it has prospered by taking tricky fluid problems off the hands of others.

When will Australia’s big slowdown hit manufacturing?

Comment by Peter Roberts As the Australian economy continues to slow, and we enter a period of interest rates at unprecedented, and unwelcome lows, the question has to be asked when will this hit manufacturing? The latest economic bad news came in the form of March retail sales with retail turnover falling in the quarter…

Profiles of success: Innovation more than skin deep for fast-growing pharma company

Vital to Ego Pharmaceuticals’ enduring success is remaining in the family’s hands, believes Dr Jane Oppenheim. Oppenheim is the company’s scientific and operations director and was the winner of the Clunies Ross Entrepreneur of the Year Award last Thursday.

Rio launches, then re-launches robotic trains (according to the media)

Comment by Peter Roberts If you can have more farewells than Melba, then can you have more inaugurations that Rio Tinto? The media was ablaze over the weekend with reports that Rio had completed the inauguration of its $950 million autonomous rail system carrying iron ore in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The remotely…

like trying to breed kangaroos on top of the Swiss Alps

There is a handful of Australian watch brands, but only one with a claim to producing their own components in-house. Since 2016 – and based on trial and error, given the intense secrecy of their international watchmaking peers – Nicholas Hacko Watchmaker has been developing its in-house manufacturing capabilities. It has invested around $4 million…

Defence influence goes west in Morrison government

Comment by Peter Roberts A number of home truths are emerging since the surprise re-election of the Morrison government – that our economy is strong for example when it is not. But the potential for a shift in power and focus in Australia’s expanding defence industry sector from South to Western Australia has gone largely…

The economy slows as capital expenditure, R&D fade

Analysis by Peter Roberts Australia’s Productivity Commission has pointed to a deep seated sickness holding back the Australian economy caused by falling levels of company investment and R&D. The Commission’s Productivity Bulletin 2019 just released shows labour productivity rose in 2017/16 by 0.2 per cent. This measure of output per hour worked is way below…

Design done well in Australia

Ask different people and you’ll likely get different answers about how well Australia does industrial design.

CSL in rude health, prognosis good

Analysis by Peter Roberts There are Australian biotechnology companies, and there are Australian manufacturers. And then there is CSL Limited (ASX: CSL). What began in 1991 as a division of the Australian department of health, has grown today into a global colossus, and an Australian biotechnology manufacturing success story. Listed in 1994 at $2.30 a…

“We’ve only scratched the surface of the opportunity.” An interview with the new AFCG CEO about Geelong’s fibre future

It is hard to think of carbon fibre in Australia and not think of Geelong. It’s a material with countless uses – in cars, sporting goods, exoskeletons and beyond – and Victoria’s second city is home to the scientific, engineering and commercial expertise needed to develop it into the products of tomorrow.

Profiles of success: Aussie AV pioneer urges us to think our way to prosperity

Australia can claim numerous motion picture technology achievements. From the current work of special effects and animation houses Animal Logic and Rising Sun, to the Cineon workstation (which won a Scientific and Technical Oscar) developed at Kodak Melbourne, all the way back to legendary inventor Henry Sutton’s proto-TV.

Peter Roberts – on the road in Tokyo

In Tokyo the night US President Trump arrived to visit Japan’s PM Abe Shinzo and its new emperor I am reminded of Japan’s great contribution to the 20th century. Great technologies, work systems, great companies rose and fell and Australia was part of that history, especially through our trade with Japan and security relationship with…

Zero to fully-charged – will electric vehicles revive the auto sector?

Analysis by Peter Roberts The automotive sector never died in Australia – despite the demise of the big three car assemblers we still manufacture trucks, buses and make specialist mining and defence vehicles. And where there are skills, and a market, there is a way it seems with the opportunity presented by the world’s switch…

NMW and Austech chart a revival in Australian machine tool manufacturing

Analysis by Peter Roberts No country can hope to have a sustainable manufacturing sector without the ability to make its own industrial machines, and Australia is no exception. Australia’s premier manufacturing and machine tools exhibitions kicked off in Melbourne today, demonstrating renewed vitality in Australian made equipment. Austech, the leading advanced manufacturing and machine tool…

Getting off the gas

While the gas crisis should arguably be a priority for whoever wins the next election, there is also room for Australian companies the help themselves. According to the International Energy Agency, Australian manufacturers are more energy-inefficient than those of any other developed nation, measured by energy per dollar of output.

Both parties fall short on R&D in 2019 election

If you were thinking of casting your vote in the 2019 federal election on the basis of the innovation policies of the major parties you now have a choice between proven failure and halfhearted and misguided action. As I have argued, the Coalition’s research and innovation policies have been missing in action, with our national…

Profiles of success: the Brisbane company charging ahead in the race to power tomorrow’s cars

Electric cars sometimes get described as “batteries on wheels”. A charged 60 kW vehicle could power a home, including its air-conditioning, for four or five days. The possibilities of “bidirectional charging” through vehicles are being taken seriously by Japanese automakers, and widespread adoption of EVs could eventually – and drastically – change the ways people use and buy electricity.

Justice for Bega as Kraft spreads licked in court

Comment by Peter Roberts Well there is some justice in the world for small Australian manufacturers facing the might, and dubious business practises, of some major multi-national corporations. The Federal Court last week decided in favour of Bega Cheese (ASX: BGA) in its case against Mondelēz International over what can only be described as an…

Manufacturers deal direct with producers to secure gas supplies

Analysis by Peter Roberts A major trend is developing with big manufacturers by-passing distributors and retailers and dealing direct with gas producers to secure reasonably-priced, long-term access to the key industrial fuel. Queensland gas producer Senex Energy (ASX: SXY) signed an initial deal this week with packaging manufacturer, Orora (ASX: ORA). The two year agreement…

Manufacturing to benefit from Adelaide Commonwealth Games

Analysis by Peter Roberts The South Australian capital of Adelaide seems assured of being the host city for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, with manufacturers among the many beneficiaries of this global event. Commonwealth Games Federation president, Louise Martin gave the game away in a little-reported interview on BBC radio this week, according to games insiders.…

Why So Hollow? Australia’s Defence Industry Middle and what to do about it

Australia’s defence industry sector has an odd shape. Medium size companies are rare. We’ve a strong top and a large bottom – but why so hollow in the middle?

The intense satisfaction of bringing manufacturing back home

Companies making things as varied as caravan electronics and reusable cups have recently told us about why bringing manufacturing home is an advantage.

IoT ideas: get them to market while they’re hot

The number of situations where Internet of Things solutions can do something useful is growing fast, as is the market for such solutions.

Gupta’s Liberty steel play – BHP Steel writ large

Comment by Peter Roberts British businessman Sanjeev Gupta has announced a restructuring of his iron and steel making empire, using the very same strategy employed to build Australia’s steel industry, but on a global stage. As reported by @AuManufacturing, Gupta’s GFC Alliance is restructuring its UK steel and engineering assets, the Liberty Primary Steel works…

Effective leaders lead by example and deliver on their promises

Effective leaders lead by example and are true to their commitments. They deliver on their promises, and then and only then can they and do they expect everyone else around them to do the same.

Who wants to help tackle our massive plastic waste problem?

Plastic Waste is one of the biggest challenges we face globally. If you care please read on, share and get involved.

Profiles of success: the Australian beverage innovator that prizes local manufacturing

If you’re a cafe-goer, it’s near impossible that you’ve missed the surge in popularity for reusable cups.

How the election can be a positive for manufacturing

Comment by Peter Roberts No-one expects the coming federal election to be decided on the fundamental challenges facing Australia’s economy and manufacturing sector. But there are signs of a more progressive attitude towards industry policy and some understanding of the massive changes being wrought by innovation in product and production processes. To my mind, one…

STEM is worth investing in, but Australia’s major parties offer scant details on policy and funding

Evidence from around the world shows that public investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) can advance nations towards a strong economy, a healthy population and a sustainable environment.

Neither political party utters the word ‘innovation’

Comment by Peter Roberts Like many I was hot under the collar when Treasurer Josh Frydenberg failed to mention the word ‘innovation’ during last week’s federal budget speech. Shadow industry minister, Kim Carr, spent the next day chiding the government for failing to mention a concept which only a few years ago was the centrepiece…

There’s gold in them there hills of food waste

Wasted food statistics can make for depressing reading. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, a third of all food worldwide – totalling 1.3 gigatonnes – is squandered annually. In Australia it’s estimated we waste $20 billion worth of food a year.

Business R&D’s worrying slump

Comment by Peter Roberts The 2019 federal budget was certainly bad for manufacturers, as reported in @AuManufacturing, but close examination reveals that for innovation in general it was far worse than first seen. The budget contained a nasty $1.35 billion cut to the research and development tax incentive over the forward estimates, on top of…

Kimberly-Clark plant closure a blow to local manufacturing

Comment by Peter Roberts International paper products group Kimberly-Clark’s shock decision to close its Sydney baby nappy plant is a major loss to the local manufacturing scene. This was one of a small number of consumer products manufactured in massive volume – a billion nappies a year – right here in Australia. The Ingleburn plant…

Little for manufacturers in budget

Analysis by Peter Roberts The early 2019 federal budget coming only weeks before an election was always going to be a political document aimed squarely at swinging voters in marginal seats. So manufacturing was not expecting much, but even so a number of unkind cuts make this a damaging document to several of the government’s…

Profiles of success: how collaboration helps an Australian electronics manufacturer thrive

Australian manufacturing businesses can adapt and flourish by focussing on collaboration and both adopting and offering newer digital technologies, Setec is proving.

What – if anything – can we learn from the US reshoring movement?

Reshoring manufacturing jobs isn’t exactly a hot topic in Australia. Over in the United States, it’s a different story.

Peter Roberts – on the road in Berri

By Peter Roberts When wine connoisseurs think of fine wine they rarely think of South Australia’s Riverland, and never of Berri Estates with its price-busting five litre casks. But on a tour of businesses in the Riverland last week it was hard to miss the ambition of Accolade Wines, Berri’s parent, to move upmarket. Accolade,…

Christopher Pyne – why industry will miss you

Analysis by Peter Roberts Defence minister, Christopher Pyne is one of many MPs and Ministers retiring at the upcoming election – and one who will be sorely missed by industry. Pyne stands head and shoulders above colleagues on both sides of the house in recent years in restoring industry to its proper place as an…

Australian robotics adoption: where does it stand and why does it matter?

It’s not a perfect measure, but unit sales of industrial robots give some idea of a country’s industrial might. The names of the top five buyers in 2017 – China, Japan, South Korea, the US and Germany – shouldn’t be too surprising.     

Would an Australian merchant fleet help manufacturing?

Analysis by Peter Roberts If the ALP is elected at the upcoming national poll, as seems likely, Australia just may see the revival of Australian-owned shipping. Opposition leader, Bill Shorten has promised to re-develop maritime skills training, establish an investigative task force, and develop a core, privately-owned, Australian ‘strategic fleet’. Made up of perhaps a…

Having a crack: the Melbourne startup developing 3D printing machines for glass

Monash University spinout Maple Glass Printing is attempting to be the first company offering a glass 3D printer for industrial use. Brent Balinski spoke to co-founder and CEO Darren Feenstra about their story so far.

China sneezes, will Australia catch cold?

Analysis by Peter Roberts China’s economy has finally cracked under multiple pressures ranging from a trade war with the US to massive over-building and related indebtedness. The boom economy which is a major supporter of Australia’s economic fortunes recorded exports in US dollar terms in February which were 20.7 per cent down on the previous…

Australia and AI adoption: how are we comparing?

Brent Balinski spoke to the Australian head of professional services company Genpact about the company’s recent report on artificial intelligence adoption and challenges.

BlueScope workers concede to company over pay

Analysis by Peter Roberts If ever there was a demonstration that times have changed in industrial disputes in manufacturing it is clear from this week’s decision by BlueScope steel workers to accept its latest pay deal. Workers at the Port Kembla steel works agreed in 2015 to a three year pay freeze, and cuts in…

Site visit: Native Secrets

Dubbo’s Native Secrets has caught a whiff of interest in their essential oils and skincare products lately. Co-founder Phil Thompson reckons they are about to break through as a supplier to a multinational hospitality company.

EOS success points to defence industry lethality dilemma

Recent successes by Canberra’s Electro Optic Systems (ASX: EOS) in selling lethal weapons overseas have raised an issue long avoided by the defence sector – is it right to sell arms to despots? Analysis by Peter Roberts

Uber for manufacturers? It’s on the way

The future will deliver a Uber-like scenario for manufacturers and their suppliers, according to the R&D head for one of the biggest computer aided design software companies.

Why we need to take action to curb the financial services sector

Comment by Peter Roberts Slowly, slowly lawmakers are getting round to tightening up laws covering the sort of white collar crime evident in the recent Banking Royal Commission. But as the Commission itself failed to come to grips with the real problem with the financial services industry, so too will our politicians. While I welcome…

Profiles of success: the manufacturer making dumb machines smarter

If you’re not a digital business, believes Movus co-founder Brad Parsons, then in a few years you will be out of business.

Where does Australia stand in digital transformation?

Analysis by Peter Roberts Digital technologies giant Dell Technologies released a survey on digital transformation this week that suggested Australia, and its manufacturers, were confident about their path and progress towards a digital future. But on reading the results I am not so sure – perhaps we are further behind than we think. The global…

CSL – the star performer in manufacturing

Analysis by Peter Roberts Blood and vaccine product company CSL (ASX: CSL) is living proof that manufacturing can not only prosper from an Australian base, but can find support among Australian investors. The company along with medical device makers, Cochlear and ResMed, stands alone in an investment landscape that otherwise is patchy in its support…

Profiles of success: the Australian manufacturer making rubbish road ready

The concept of the circular economy has gained traction lately, as more people and the businesses that sell to them acknowledge growing populations and limited natural resources. Multinational brands are setting ambitious targets on reusable and recyclable material use. And ambitious countries such as the Netherlands are getting involved. The Dutch have committed to halve raw resource use by 2030 and to “achieve circularity”, or a completely circular economy, by 2050.

Chinese links boost manufactured exports

Market knowledge and in-market contacts are vital for export sales, with evidence mounting that close Chinese-Australian links are a major driver of manufactured exports. In November @AuManufacturing reported that locally listed retailer AuMake International (ASX:Au8) was gaining traction in Chinese online and home shopping markets with its range of Australian and New Zealand manufactured products.…

Why Australia needs to make lithium ion batteries big time

It is amazing how much difference a little policy innovation from governments can make to manufacturing fortunes – in this case in making lithium ion batteries. While there are a number of big factories making vehicle batteries overseas, it is action by the South Australian and, more recently, the Queensland governments which have ignited the…

Manufacturing ignored in Australia Day honours

By Peter Roberts Manufacturers were again largely absent from this year’s Australia Day honours with none being named in the top two groups of awards as Companions and Officers of the order. Professor Mark Dodgson, Professor of Innovation Studies at the University of Queensland Business School, was one of two linked to manufacturing named as…

Foreign direct investment drives global economy

Analysis by Peter Roberts Australia has always relied on foreign direct investment to drive its growing economy, as do other nations according to today’s graphic from Visual Capitalist. Whether it is Chevron’s investment in Australia’s north-west shelf, or Incitec Pivot’s $1 billion ammonia plant in New Orleans, companies often find the best payback in foreign…

Recycling is not enough. Zero-packaging stores show we can kick our plastic addiction

Wrapped, sealed, boxed, cling-filmed and vacuum packed. We have become used to consumables being packaged in every way imaginable.

Australian startup aims to assemble EVs in Q4 2019

To the optimists, there are reasons why electric vehicle manufacture in Australia is a real possibility. Greg McGarvie, the co-founder of ACE-EV Group and GetGreen, is one of them.

The mounting threat from the US China trade war

Analysis by Peter Roberts It has been slow to come but the costs and disruption being wrought on world trade by the United States and China’s trade war are now clearly being felt. In a series of mutual escalations since March the US and China have imposed tit for tat tariffs on hundreds of billions…

Moly-Cop – another super success that got away

Comment by Peter Roberts Moly-Cop, the world’s largest manufacturer of ball and rod grinding media used in minerals processing, is along with the Whyalla steel works another global opportunity that went unseen and unfulfilled by Australian investors. Just as the steel works is being doubled in size by new owners Liberty Primary Steel, Moly-Cop under…

Holden and Australia pay the price for ending manufacture

Comment by Peter Roberts It must have seemed such a good idea at the time – threaten the Australian government that you would pull out of local manufacturing if they didn’t cough up some extra dough. But for GM’s Holden subsidiary, 2018 was confirmation of what an own goal its threat was, slumping spectacularly in…

A delightful Xmas tale of ‘imported quality’.

Imports are better seems to be an Aussie tradition among some. But Robyn Sefiani, a successful PR and marketing guru, found this was not the case this Xmas. Robyn, the Chairman of Sefiani Communications Group just posted: “This is a story of slick marketing not matching product promise. My brand new Miele ANZ oven has…

2019 to be a breakout year for Australia’s space industry: an interview with Fleet Space Technologies’ founder

Last week a home for Australia’s new Space Agency was announced, with the headquarters to open mid-next year at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site. Brent Balinski spoke to Fleet Space Technologies founder and CEO Flavia Tata Nardini about why she believes SA is the place for space business, what it offers for manufacturers, and what to expect in 2019.

Why we need a real energy policy in one, easy graph

Analysis by Peter Roberts Anthony Pratt, Global Chairman of Pratt Industries and Visy Industries, has nicely summed up the drag energy policy has become on Australian manufacturing in an end of the year social media post. He shared the image below, comparing American and Australian industrial gas prices since 2008, with a simple message. “Glad…

Why Aussie skincare brands are dominating globally

By Patrick Forster Aussie skincare brands are nailing it right now. Around the world, Australian skincare companies are dominating sales graphs and getting global recognition for their innovative products, stellar marketing, and ethical credentials. Many of these Aussie brands started small. But through a great business strategy, these grassroots brands have grown from strength to…

F-35 Lightning debut – a new era of defence industry

Comment by Peter Roberts Australia’s first two F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft land at Williamtown RAAF base today marking a new era in defence-industry co-operation. After a fly past along the coast the F-35 Lightnings touch down at 10.00 am allowing Australians to glimpse the world’s most advanced aircraft, boasting an unprecedented level of Australian…

Space: Australia’s new frontier

Comment by Peter Roberts. An Australian space industry, the second in our history, is rapidly taking shape with government research, rocket and satellite manufacturers and potential end use markets ranging from Earth sensing to internet of things (IoT) communications falling into place. Only a month ago @AuManufacturing reported the successful launch into space on a…

Custom made is the new way to manufacture.

Analysis by Peter Roberts. Just as 3D printing has grown from a side issue to the mainstream in manufacturing, a second fundamental shift is occurring that we all need to be aware of. Like prototyping was to 3D, making for the individual is rising as a way to meet the desires of consumers, especially in…

Q and A with export champion, Flavourtech

NSW’s Flavourtech, a Griffith-based business making specialised machinery for “aroma recovery, extraction and evaporation solutions”, won the Manufacturing category at last week’s Australian Export Awards. Brent Balinski spoke to Paul Smith, Flavourtech’s Financial Controller, about the company’s expansion, its technology, and its success internationally.  

Site visit: the Australian watchmaker creating a movement

The refusal of car makers to share their technical information and its effect on independent repairers has been in the spotlight lately. There are some similarities to a saga from earlier in the decade, and one which has led to the existence of a company calling itself Australia’s first and only watch manufacturer.

Ceres Tags and the Australian manufacturing dilemma.

Analysis by Peter Roberts. There is a bit of a myth in Australian high technology circles that local manufacturing is too hard, but you have got to feel for those commercialising IoT enabled agriculture product, Ceres Tag. Ceres Tag is a smart ear tag for the livestock industry that uses technologies such as GPS and…