Manufacturing News

HI Fraser puts Australian manufacturing back on world map

When the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) acquired one of its most complex and expensive capital acquisitions – the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) ship build project – Australian manufacturers were posed with a challenge.

The warship is based on an existing Navantia Spanish design and uses a number of European and North American suppliers, making it difficult for local industry to have any involvement in the project.

Not one to shy away from defeat, HI Fraser saw the AWD project as a unique opportunity for SMEs with strong applied engineering capability. It embarked on the following two strategies to become part of the venture’s global supply chain:

1. Where the gas, fluid and waste equipment was complex and sole sourced from an overseas supplier (e.g. filtration and separation systems; HVAC and complex valve systems), HI Fraser identified the internation al supplier and became part of the supplier’s global supply chain.

2. Where the gas, fluid and waste equipment was commodity procurement on the open mar ket, HI Fraser manufactured in Australia where it was cost com petitive and formed alliances with overseas suppliers where they were more cost effective.

As a result, the specialist engi neering company has a current project scope of approximately $14.5m, something the Endeavour Award judges thought worthy of the Global Integration Award.

“HI Fraser’s manufacturing and engineering for the AWD ship-build project brings $4 million in to the Australian economy which would have otherwise been sourced from overseas,” the judges said.

HI Fraser east general manag er, Chris Williams, accepted the award which he said acknowledges not only the skill and dedi cation of the HI Fraser team but also the supporting organisations that have helped it become involved in the AWD project.

“These awards reflect the beginning of our involvement in the AWD and LHD projects. They are core to our business which is the provision of design, manufac ture and maintenance of gas, fluid and waste systems to marine platforms,” Williams told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“We have a history of working with overseas companies to maintain their equipment as well as manufacturing and exporting systems to overseas companies. So the global integration award feels like recognition of a number of years of hard work.”

In order to compete with inter national companies, the general manager says Australian manufacturers need to find their niche and ‘doggedly chase it down’.

“Increasingly large multinationals and governments are looking for the best price solu tion to technically complex prob lems. Generally these solutions are found overseas as the Australian market is relatively small,” Williams said.

“The only way to be involved when the systems are being pro cured from overseas is to know when you can compete and when you should alliance to value add.

“Essentially doing anything you can to be involved.’

According to the company, it further integrates itself into the project’s global supply chain by sending engineers and techni cians overseas to visit interna tional suppliers. Once there, they receive training and observe the factory acceptance testing of the AWD equipment.

HI Fraser also expects to see solid work-flows throughout the life of the AWD from the maintenance and eventual system upgrades.

The company has since won additional contracts in the min ing and commercial marine sector as a result of forming global supply chain relationships.

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