Saturday, December 05, 2015

High-tech Manufacturing “booming” in Australia

The depreciation in the Australian dollar has seen manufacturing exports up sharply, led by high-value companies selling into global supply chains.
The Australian Financial Review reports recently that transport equipment exports and machinery & equipment categories have seen exports grow by 9.9 and 11 per cent in the last year.
"Perhaps traditional manufacturing is not doing so well, but high-tech, high-value manufacturing is booming,” the Australian Industry Group’s John O’Callaghan told The AFR, adding that the highest-value global supply chain was in defence and aerospace.
Companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Thales valued Australian SMEs as suppliers for their innovation, engineering and other sets of expertise, as well as the political stability of the market and its nearness to Asia. He cited suppliers to Thales for its Bushmaster, Quickstep and Marand Precision Engineering.
"These are Australian companies, building the most complex pieces of machinery in the world today. They employ hundreds of people and build skills capacity in this country," said O’Gallaghan.

To this one could also add Austal – now a major shipbuilder for the US military as well as some other countries with its specialised mostly aluminium vessels, made in Australia as well as overseas sites in the US and The Philippines.  There has also been some reports that Incat in Tasmania now has stronger overseas ship building orders also.

Maybe mass scale manufacturing is unwell, but there are some very smart smaller companies moving to fill the gap, many operating in highly competitive niche areas of hi tech manufacturing outside the defence and aerospace areas where they are thriving, albeit from a small base.  They tend to operate below the radar of the general public, but they really are very smart operators, even in areas such as agriculture and solar cells [Dyesol].  One could also add the computer software company Atlassian – but does it truly manufacture?  

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