Many Australian manufacturers and employees are still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptions to supply chains, production and national demand. Here are some survival tips for Australian manufacturers to ensure business continuity well beyond the pandemic.
The pandemic has disrupted an already declining industry on a massive scale; stripping demand for some products whilst creating unprecedented spikes for others. As a result, onshore manufacturers have had to manage ever-changing production volumes with a lack of skilled workers, unpredictable supply chains and tight deadlines.
The manufacturing businesses that have dealt best in the ever-changing environment are the ones whose operations have been agile in their response. The manufacturers who still call Australia home have shown extreme resilience.
Many Australian manufacturers are among the world’s best at what they do. Here, we have world-leading manufacturing capabilities clustered around food, agriculture, housing construction, health, mineral resources and energy-intensive industries.
If Australia is to grow manufacturing as it recovers from COVID-19, we must have an investment climate that encourages manufacturers to spend and grow here, and which attracts others from home and abroad to join them.
Survival Tips for Australian Manufacturers to stay onshore:
- Investment in R&D (research and development) drives manufacturing competitiveness. We must encourage R&D and innovation in the real world, and link our incentives to domestic production.
- In Australia, technology-enabled manufacturing can help us overcome hurdles of scale, provide safer, better paid and more rewarding jobs and make products of the same consistency, quality and customisation as manufacturers operating in larger markets.
- Maximize productivity by focusing on design. A production-friendly component/product can go a long way toward holding down labour costs and production time.
- Diversify risks in your supply chain. You must be aware and monitor any risks, financial or otherwise, that threaten your suppliers. You don’t want to be surprised by a supplier that suddenly disappears.
- Keep your machines maintained. Machine operators are crucial to a manufacturers longevity. They need to ensure the machines are productive through upkeep, maintenance and fault-finding. If operators understand the machinery and identify potential problems, they can correct them before they affect production — reducing both downtime and production costs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has, for many, necessitated a change in direction to survive. For some, the change required has been obvious and they have been able to capitalise on fast-growing new markets using existing supply chains. Others may find themselves unsure of what direction they need to head in.
However, the future for Australian manufacturers relies on embracing technology, optimising on R&D to streamline production processes and reinventing traditional manufacturing to be agile with changing demands.