In a thought-provoking opinion piece in Manufacturers’ Monthly’s June 2020 issue, Innovative Manufacturing CRC CEO David Chuter asserts that in the post-COVID-19 environment, ‘We must look at what is required of businesses, research organisations and government to create a thriving, relevant, resilient, and globally integrated manufacturing sector’.
First and foremost, Chuter says, we must see manufacturing ‘as both a vertical industry sector and a horizontal enabler for most primary Australian industry sectors, in terms of key enabling technologies, supply-chain capability, accelerating digitalisation and the uptake of Industry 4.0 and associated new business models.
‘We need to balance short-term and critical initiatives with longer-term strategic needs linked to a compelling, engaging vision for our future that is clear on “races that we can win”, both locally and globally,’ he continues.
‘While much focus is rightly on the medical, pharmaceutical and health sector, we also need to reflect on needs and opportunities for value creation, investment, jobs and prosperity in bio, energy and fuels, minerals, food and agribusiness, construction, defence and space, as well as in digital platforms and cyber. We have world-beating capability and exemplars in all of these areas, and need to upscale by design.”
Key ingredients for manufacturing success
Chuter points to five ingredients for building a successful, sustainable Australian manufacturing industry for the 21st century:
- a strong focus on small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), which comprise ‘a large majority’ of most industry sectors, including manufacturing, with active help and support from larger companies an important part of ensuring SMEs’ manufacturing success;
- improvements in Australian SMEs’ leadership and management maturity and capability;
- effective collaboration – regardless of competition – across all business sizes, and between business and the research community, ‘critical in achieving a sustainable manufacturing future’;
- a focus on ‘breakthrough innovation … that reshapes business models and create new products and services that can be sold locally and internationally’, a key part of which will be ‘the rapid adoption in Australia of digital manufacturing technologies and the uptake of Industry 4.0 and associated business models [to deliver] much-needed step changes in competitiveness, while enabling superior value to be both captured and created’; and
- ‘purposeful’ research in science and technology (including frontier technologies) that better utilises our academic resources and ‘is clear on what activities are to be industry- and market-led versus research- and discovery-pushed’.
‘To bring all these ingredients together … a proven approach involves the creation of a national network of technology, innovation and collaboration hubs, at scale, with both multinationals and SMEs working in safe spaces with researchers,’ Chuter writes.
Source: Australia’s manufacturing future – the industrial shift needed I Manufacturers’ Monthly