Manufacturing news briefs — stories you might have missed

Orbital expects new drone engine model production in FY24

Drone engine manufacturer Orbital Corporation (Orbital UAV) has reported a fall in revenues in athe first half of FY24 however directors revealed a new engine model could be manufactured as early as April, 2024. The Perth company reported a net loss of $425,000, down 76 percent from the previous corresponding period, on revenue down 33 percent to $8.5 million. Sales of engines to Boeing subsidiary Insitu were $6.7 million and income from engine development work was $1.8 million. Orbital told investors: “Engineering studies and pre-production prototyping activities for Lycoming/Textron and a major Singapore customer are progressing well against agreed milestones and targets first production of two new engines in the second half of FY24.” First shipment of engines to the Singapore customer is expected in April.

Bisalloy Steel’s profit rise

High strength steel manufacturer Bisalloy Steels has reported rising profits on the back of strong demand for its armour and wear resistant steels, lower ocean freight, gas and electricity costs and stronger export revenues and margins. The Unanderra, NSW company reported EBITDA profit up 12.9 percent to $14 million on revenue down 2.3 percent to $76.6 million for the half year ended 31 December 2023. Directors noted significant challenges in the China market where it is part of the Bisalloy Shangang (Shandong) Steel Plate joint venture, as well as profitable distribution into the Indonesian and Thai markets. During the half, volumes of armour or protection steel rose 23 percent, with the company expecting further export growth.

Starpharma’s reports lower sales and reducing loss

Antiviral pharmaceutical developer Starpharma reported revenue up 399 percent for 1HFy2024 to $8 million and a loss down 88 percent to $1 million. However the maker of Viraleze nasal spray and VivaGel products included a nonrecurring $6.6 million from the settlement and termination of a VivaGel licence agreement with Mundipharma – normal half year revenue was an eight percent lower $1.47 million. During the half Starpharma spent $5.3 million on drug development R&D

Opposition urges Victorian government to address SEMMA land tax concerns

The Victorian minister for industry, Natalie Hutchins, has been been accused of “wilfully ignoring the plight of struggling manufacturing businesses” by the opposition. According to the shadow minister for manufacturing, Bridget Vallence, Hutchins has “flatly refused calls from the South East Melbourne Manufacturing Alliance (SEMMA) for a meeting to discuss major imposts on business – namely the significant increases to land tax.” Last week SEMMA issued a statement saying its was “seething at the unjustified cash grab” from land taxes, and said 100 per cent of members responding to a surveying said they were facing “extreme increases in Land Tax” from last year. Vallence said: “Minister Hutchins must come out of hiding. Stop ignoring the manufacturing sector which is so vital for our economy and jobs, pick up phone to the Treasurer to hold an urgent inquiry…”

HEO shares first pic of Adler

Non-earth imaging company HEO has shared a picture of Adler, its second in-orbit imaging system. According to a post by HEO, Adler is “engineered for exceptional spatial resolution on small to large-sized satellites.” It added that, “To support our commitment of sustainability, we launch snapshot optical sensors as hosted payloads on multi-use space vehicles to extend our orbital coverage. Our sensors capture resolved imagery of space objects as they fly past the host spacecraft, without compromising it’s core mission objects.” Adler follows the Holmes imager, which was launched in June last year. Adler “will allow us to see more detail on spacecraft and catch short videos.”

Visy releases new retail paper bags

Packaging company Visy launched an Australian-made retail paper bag, recyclable through Australian kerbside recycle bins, on Thursday (pictured.) The new heavy-weight bags—made from thicker paper containing recycled content—are rolling out in retail stores across Australia, it said, and are being manufactured at Reservoir in Melbourne’s north. “By using Australian paper and manufacturing the paper bags locally, we’re supporting local jobs in Australia and reducing our reliance on single use plastic,” said Fiona Macleod, Visy’s General Manager Strategic Retail. “Once you’re done with your paper shopping bags, throw them in the recycle bin and we’ll turn them into new products.” 

Report shows profitability up at some SMEs 

According to a new report by inventory management software provider Unleashed, there was a profitability rebound at year-end by SMEs. In a statement on Wednesday, it described “a roller coaster year which saw margins drop to the lowest point since 2021” and the end of Q4 seeing an average profit of $2.22 for each dollar invested in inventory. “For nine of the 13 Australian manufacturing sectors studied, the quarter marked their most profitable in two years,” according to the statement. Steady sales in the quarter were “a pleasant surprise for many manufacturers, with 74% of those surveyed saying demand had been either better than, or as they’d expected.” The return of $2.22 for Q4 was outpaced by UK contemporaries (at £2.33) but well above New Zealand’s $2.05. Industries posting record margins in Q4 were Automotive and Auto Supplies, Industrial Machinery, Office Equipment and Supplies, Beverages, Furniture and Fixings, Clothing Footwear and Accessories, Electrical and Electrical Components, Health Medical Supplies and Equipment and Sport Entertainment Recreation. The results were 2,600 manufacturers in the UK, Australia and New Zealand using Unleashed’s software.

Picture: Visy paper bags (supplied)

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