Australian Manufacturing | Bi-Monthly Blog Brief

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Our view of what’s been happening in Australian Manufacturing
November 2021 – January 2022

Welcome to the the bi-monthly wrap up of our top headlines. Catch up on what’s been happening in Australian manufacturing, global business and sustainability. If you want to read more there’s plenty on our website and Black Lab Design LinkedIn page. 

Factory Automation: Better Jobs, Not Fewer Jobs – 19th November

One of Australia’s top news and media sources for Australian Manufacturing, AuManufacturing, held an editorial in November on ‘Leadership in Factory Automation’. We were ecstatic to have the chance to contribute and have this opinion piece included. 

In the article, we address the rhetoric around job loss in relation to manufacturing automation. Our experience in automating certain processes in the Black Lab Design factory has been that only monotonous and repetitive jobs have been erased and in their place, more high-skilled and technological roles are created. 

From a leadership perspective, this provides the opportunity to train staff and help them develop new skills that make them more valuable and interested in the work they are doing. 

Closing the Loop: Will Australia Embrace the Circular Economy? – 23rd November

Following an insightful and engaging chat with Nick Gonios and the team from circulist for their podcast, we delved into the concept of the circular economy. 

Closing the loop with a circular economy refers to the diversion from a linear economy where products are made, used and thrown away into a system that prioritises the re-usability and recyclability of resources.

The integration of circularity in Australia poses significant challenges, particularly to Australian manufacturing. But it is a challenge that must be taken on if we are to reduce the ecological impact of our consumption. The responsibility lies with all stakeholders along the value chain; consumers must demand products that can be reused, recycled and repurposed, and manufacturers must consider item circularity in design and production. 

Lessons in Job Creation through Automation from Amazon – 8th December

We returned to the automation conversation in December as Amazon’s new Australian robotics fulfilment centre drew closer to completion. The new warehouse is a good real-world example of how the process of automation can create better and more valuable jobs.

The new Amazon BWU2 Robotics Fulfilment Centre is the largest warehouse in the Southern Hemisphere and opened its doors in Western Sydney earlier this month. It employs a complex system of conveyor belts, robots, algorithms and storage pots to almost fully automate the process of parcel receipt, sorting and dispatch. 

Removing the need for monotonous and repetitive picking and packing jobs has paved the way for Amazon Australia to invest in its people and offer higher paying roles working alongside complex robotics and smart technology.    

Is It Too Early to Buy an Electric Car? – 21st December

Why is an Australian manufacturing business talking about electric cars? Because it’s interesting and we don’t shy away from the big topics, that’s why!

Electric vehicle sales in Australia have lagged behind other western nations despite the rapid improvement in the quality and ability of EVs on offer. There are a fleet of reasons for this, and we conducted a series of LinkedIn polls to investigate which of the barriers were most significant for respondents. Range anxiety was a clear concern for many, given the size of this country and lack of supporting infrastructure. Further diminishing the growth of EV sales has been the price tags.

The article unpacked some of these concerns that people had by looking at the facts and rate of innovation in the EV market to date. Ultimately, the decision to buy an electric car comes down to the individual’s intended use and ability to maintain, charge and afford it. 

‘Local for Local’ Solves Supply Chain Woes – 7th January

‘Local for Local’ is a phrase we use widely at Black Lab Design. For us, the idea of making products close to where they will be consumed carries numerous benefits for consumers, the environment and the economy. 

Given the recent supply chain disruptions experienced around the world, the concept of local production for local supply has come to the forefront of economic discussion in Australia. Countries like Australia and the US have been pushing production offshore for many years now in search of increased profits. Whilst this activity has worked for many different businesses over the years, the major supply chain issues exacerbated by the pandemic have exposed the major flaws in this model. 

In many cases, it has been the job of locally based manufacturers to fill the void left by offshore factories. This proves the case for mitigating supply chain risk by investing in diversified systems of supply. 

Innovative Aussie Companies You Should Know About – 17th January

Giving some love to just some of the many Australian companies making waves with their brilliant innovations, with a focus on Australian manufacturing and those challenging the status quo. 

Just some of the companies we highlighted in this article are: 

  • SunDrive Solar; have achieved a world record for solar cell efficiency and have successfully integrated the technology into a working commercial solar panel.
  • AlphaFit: Gold Coast based family-run manufacturer designing, building and selling their own high-quality exercise equipment all over Australia, proving the ability for locally based manufacturers to compete with overseas imports.
  • SunSquirt: Protecting Aussies from the harsh sun in a more efficient, convenient and reliable way with their smart sunscreen dispensing kiosks.    

When the Chips are Down – Lessons from the Semiconductor Shortage – 21st January

Looking more specifically at one of the industries most affected by supply chain disruptions over the past couple of years – semiconductor manufacturing.

With around 80% of the world’s semiconductors made in just two countries, the pandemic, natural disasters and trade tensions exposed the fragility of this important supply chain. Semiconductors are used in every electronic device we use today and a major bottleneck in supply has led to significant product shortages and late deliveries the world over. 

This experience makes a case for the diversification of supply chains and the dangers of relying on single sources of manufacturing. Lessons have been learnt and there has been a trend towards strengthening semiconductor manufacturing capability in areas like the USA. 

In-House Design is Key to Tesla’s Advantage – 25th January

Continuing on from the previous article regarding semiconductor manufacturing and supply, we investigated how the innovative EV manufacturer, Tesla, managed to go largely unaffected by the shortage despite their cars having a huge reliance on the latest chip technology.

The Semiconductor shortage caused headaches for automakers the world over, but Tesla announced a growth of 87% in deliveries on 2020 levels. By boasting a lower reliance on external suppliers, remaining agile and investing in the technological capabilities of the internal organisation, Tesla were able to weather the semiconductor supply chain storm. 

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