82% of Australians want to see more local manufacturing, according to findings released earlier in 2017, as part of the Political Person Project.
This comprehensive attempt to profile Australians based on their lifestyles, social values and politics, shows that while Australians may not agree on everything, supporting local manufacturing is one area that unites most of us.
So, what needs to change to sure up the future of Australia’s manufacturing sector?
The Critical Competitive Edge For Manufacturing Success
Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, James Pearson, says:
“It’s important to be realistic about what our future manufacturing industries look like.The days of Australia being a leader in low-value mass production of any goods are at an end.”
Instead, Pearson believes, Australian manufacturers should turn their attention to areas in which Australia does have a competitive edge – and then find creative and innovative ways to build on that.
He sums up our competitive edge in 4 points:
- proximity to Asian markets
- Australia’s political stability encourages investment
- highly skilled workforce – our leading universities produce masses of highly skilled graduates annually
- opportunity to focus on quality over quantity
Given this, Australia has the potential to be a global leader in niche manufacturing.
Our competitive edge will come from producing goods that:
- depend on quality product design
- have a strong brand image
- have a well-considered strategic planning
- are small batches of niche products.
The Benefits of Local Quality
One great example of a specialised manufacturer is the Creswick Woollen Mills in regional Victoria.
Although many textile producers manufacture their garments off-shore, this 70-year old company specialises in textiles made on-shore and produced specifically for Australian climatic conditions. The company’s personal protection blanket used by country fire services in both New South Wales and Victoria is one of the key items that have helped build the company’s reputation.
The Manufacturing Future is High-tech
Exploring and developing high-tech manufacturing also offers plenty of options, with the trend towards ‘manu-services’ – a combination of advanced manufacturing with a range of services – reflecting the reality that modern manufacturing is about much more than simply making things.
Pearson predicts that, as the trend towards these ‘manu-services’ grows, the definition of what a manufacturing job actually is will also change.
Assembly and fabrication of products will still be part of it but employees will extend their knowledge and skills to incorporate service-related roles, such as financial management, logistics, legal expertise and engineering.
Rather than fearing the changes to global manufacturing, Australians need to embrace them and be at the forefront of a dynamic evolution.
As manufacturing becomes more reliant on digital technology to boost the efficiency and accuracy of the production process, productivity can increase – and that means more sales.
To ensure we keep up as a nation, the way we deliver education and training in the area of manufacturing needs to adapt, with both vocational training institutions and universities shifting with the changing times in the manufacturing sector.
The Future Can Be Bright
Rather than sounding the death knell for the local manufacturing industry, Australia has the potential to leverage its competitive advantage and usher in a new era of high tech, niche production. We have markets at our fingertips and a highly skilled workforce waiting in the wings – the future has never been brighter.
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