A mill gear big enough to seat 100 people, naval shipbuilding for the Australian Government, buoyancy solutions for drills that work five kilometres below the ocean’s surface, and bespoke mining equipment that collects and transmits information from underground – all being manufactured in Perth.
The Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council guided a group of senior Treasury officials last week through five advanced manufacturers: Hofmann Engineering; Ausdrill; DTA Robit; Austal; and Matrix.
These companies are all home-grown. Two started in small workshop garages in Perth suburbs and now boast substantial facilities, employ thousands, and house many millions of dollars of equipment.
All the companies are significant exporters, despite being a long way from many of their markets: north west Australia, the United States, South Korea, Malaysia, Oman, Peru, China, India, Chile, Ghana, Bukina Faso, Mali, Senegal. And all support an extensive international range of suppliers.
Physical isolation, high labour costs, and high component costs have meant these companies compete on quality and value rather than price. Their goal is to be the best in their field. This means innovation and better technology are their competitive edge. It also drives a keen interest in robotics and automation, and efficient production.
A number of issues with policy implications were raised during the visits: