High Value Adding in Manufacturing – the Next Great Frontier

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BridgePoint Group recently spoke with Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre’s (AMGC) National Director of Industry, Michael Sharpe.  The discussion ranged from Australian manufacturing, the sovereignty of manufacturing and where the future of Australian manufacturing lies.

In this second part of the series, Michael talks about how the time is right now to generate momentum in the manufacturing sector and how AMGC is assisting Australian businesses to do so.

“The future for Australian manufacturing is not low-cost production it’s about high value-added.”

“Now more than ever before the opportunities are there for Australia. We have this great brand that we all share. It doesn’t matter where in the world you go, Australia is respected because it stands for quality. Australian made products are trusted and if you think about our food production and food manufacturing some of the food that we export to the rest of the planet, we create great value”. 

‘Brand Australia’ has worked hard for generations to have a ‘clean and green’ reputation in the agricultural sector. Our produce has earned a premium status and premium pricing. Australian manufacturing is ripe for expansion and to capitalise on our reputation. Our innovation and high-tech abilities are further outlined below by Michael. 

“Think about Cochlear, ResMed and CSL, these great companies that have grown through Australian ingenuity and technology. The future for our nation is not only what we make but how we make it. Look at robotic automation, artificial intelligence and the digital world as our new manufacturing platforms. 

We have the opportunity right now to grab this momentum and the fact [is] that manufacturing in Australia today is not the manufacturing of our grandfather’s age.  Take welding, for example, if you can operate a Play Station you can operate a robotic welding machine”. 

Whilst the three companies Michael referenced are all in the medical field, what is more significant in our opinion is that they are innovators. They didn’t build a better mousetrap. They invented things that didn’t exist. And in so doing, they went from once-small companies to the market giants they are today. So, whether you are in the medical field or not, we think innovation is a real key to becoming a world leader in your field. It’s also evidence that despite our widely noted challenges, Australian manufacturers can and do achieve incredible results.

“The AMGC,  the Innovative Manufacturing CRC and the Government have been able to co-invest in projects within industry. Despite recent cutbacks to R&D funding, it would make sense for R&D incentives to become more commonplace post-COVID-19” said Michael. 

We contend the following:

  1. Government support of the reshoring of manufacturing is critical – whether direct or indirect in nature;
  2. Collaboration between industry, academia and Government is fundamental to ensuring great ideas get off the ground but more needs to be done to ensure those ideas reach the commercialisation phase;
  3.  Given that China won’t be the trading partner it once was, post COVID-19, we need to access new markets for our products and that may mean adapting what we do to meet that market;
  4. Australia should capitalise on this opportunity emphatically to ensure we capture more of the value chain for ourselves in future. 

Michael continues: “Australians are not waiting around though. The best businesses are out there doing it, doing the doing, getting on with their business through innovation and practicalities. To further develop and assist these businesses the AMGC has established the Manufacturing Academy. (https://www.manufacturingacademy.org.au/) This online learning platform is a destination to learn from AMGC members who have or are continuing to transform their businesses. It provides members with research, real stories and insights from the most informed and successful manufacturing minds in this great country of ours”. 

In the coming weeks, we will explore Australian businesses that are stepping up to revive manufacturing through innovation and collaboration.

For more about AMGC https://www.amgc.org.au/

Contact Bridgepoint group for more on this topic – 1300 565 141 or email info@bridgepoint.com.au

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