Connections needed for future manufacturing: report

According to the Future of Manufacturing Report, published by St. George, greater collaboration and partnerships are needed to drive the manufacturing sector forward.

“The sector is far from fading; automation, artificial intelligence and pure inventiveness are enabling new business models and processes that are transforming an industry which already contributes AU$100 billion to Australia’s GDP,” said Matthew Kelly, heading of Manufacturing and Wholesale at St George.

One of these connections needed to support advanced manufacturing and the future of the industry is between researchers at universities with product developers in industry. Other areas that required partnerships were making a pipeline for skilled workers and access to financial support.

“Advanced manufacturing has the ability to be more competitive and offer better value to consumers, importantly those who are less loyal to Australian made products. These businesses aren’t necessarily new tech companies, they are well-established organisations reinventing themselves and willing to invest in new ways of doing things,” said Kelly.

One of the other findings of the report was that younger Australians, between 18-24, were less likely to pay more for Australian-made products. Younger people were interested in spending on those companies which were sustainable and felt that Australian-made products are not of better quality than overseas counterparts.

“It’s clear from the research that the industry needs to do more to create a compelling value proposition for the next generation aligned to what matters most to them when purchasing products. This could be through the reduction of carbon emissions, investing in innovative manufacturing techniques to reduce costs and future sustainable materials,” said Kelly.

To find a way through these findings, Professor Veena Sahajwalla, noted that there are significant opportunities for manufacturers to innovate to connect with this demographic via innovation and specialisation.

“We know consumers do value sustainability so there are longer terms benefits to manufacturers who embrace ‘circular solutions’ to their materials and waste challenges. A game changing opportunity is to produce niche products and supply high value materials,” said Sahajwalla.