Analysis and Commentary

The stuff that needs to be screamed from the rooftops

Analysis and Commentary

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 wins.

Peter Hook, general manager of Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions, told an online event hosted by the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre that a problem within Australia, and particularly its manufacturing community, is that “we’re always this quiet achiever.”

“We’re incredibly innovative but we keep it quiet and it doesn’t help anybody,” said Hook, who suggested one important success factor at his company was to “communicate, communicate, communicate.”

“Whenever there is a good news story that we’ve been involved in or know about, we just make sure that we communicate that as much as possible to the media.” 

It’s not that the public doesn’t appreciate the importance of manufacturing. According to a pre-pandemic survey of 1,000 members of the public published in AMGC’s recent Ten Ways To Succeed In Australian Manufacturing report, 65 per cent of Australians viewed the sector as important or very important.

Following the efforts of companies to deliver critical items during the worst of the Covid-19 outbreak so far, AMGC’s National Director Skills & Training Michael Grogan believes the “important or very important” figure would be closer to 80 per cent.

“People actually had a sharp recognition of what manufacturing does and can do for the country,” Grogan said.

Ty Hermans, Managing Director of commercialisation and contract manufacturing company Evolve Group, observed that phones have been “running off the hook” since April, with businesses wanting to reshore production. 

“Not at any cost, but cost is no longer the only sticking point,” he said.

Evolve has put on 40 extra staff in the time, and is seeking eight full-time toolmakers and to commission two more CNC centres and another “three to four” injection moulding machines.

“If there was ever a time to consider switching their supply chains to a locally made option, now is the time because [there are] very, very, very few excuses not to do it,” he added.

Hermans said educating the public about what his company does, through media appearances and social media, is something they “are always talking to [staff] about and hoping that they do more of.”

The AMGC report, released earlier this month, advises companies to “be conscious of language” and to “let the media know when it is misinformed” to combat enduring myths about the industry.

“It’s important to reach out to those journalists and get familiar with them and let them know about your business,” according to AMGC National Director Industry, Michael Sharpe

“If you see a story that might not be ringing true, it’s probably important for you to reach out to them and let you know they can visit your site or have an interview with yourself to correct that story.”

Hook said his customer base included a couple of manufacturers shipping millions of units of diagnostic equipment and rapidly upscaling.

“There’s a lot going on in that space,” he observed. 

“And I say most people just don’t know what’s happening.”

Hermans believes there was already a trend towards localised production that Covid-19 had only intensified. It is an ideal time for companies wanting to grow and to reshore, and it is up to them to communicate what they offer. 

“We do need to get out there and be confident in what we are doing. Because we’re adding a shitload of value, not only to the economy now, but there’s a shitload of value [from future reshoring]” he said.

“And really there are other levers within that person’s business or their supply chain that can be improved by dealing with an Australian manufacturer. That’s the stuff that needs to be screamed from the rooftops.” 

Featured picture: Getty Images

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