BY TAKING-out the Global Integration Award, plus being crowned Manufacturers’ Monthly’s Manufacturer of the Year for 2011, Quickstep Holdings proves that Australian manufacturers can successfully compete against the best in the world.
As part of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the largest military aerospace program in the world, Quickstep has successfully overcome the many entry barriers faced by new participants in the defence manufacturing sector, possibly the highest of any industry in the world.
Managing director of Quickstep, Philippe Odouard, said the receipt of the Global Integration Award and the Manufacturer of the Year Award for 2011 was an outstanding achievement for the company, and a testament to the hard work of the Quickstep team.
"We are delighted to have been recognised for our work on the Joint Strike Fighter program, and would like to pay tribute to each of the company’s team members for their vital contributions," he said.
The company has recently signed a long-term agreement with Northrop Grunman, providing a framework for the supply of JSF components.
"This contract will be the first of many to come," he said.
Quickstep has significant capabilities and expertise in the production of aerospace-grade composite components using both conventional autoclave-based manufacturing and leading out-of-autoclave production technologies, including the company’s Quickstep Process.
At present, the company generates revenue from three distinct business streams: manufacturing advanced aerospace-grade composites at our Australian manufacturing facility; licensing its patented manufacturing technology for advanced composites – the Quickstep Process; and through R&D on new composite structures.
The company has a fully-commissioned aerospace-grade manufacturing facility located in North Coogee, Western Australia, and recently announced plans to relocate its manufacturing operations to Bankstown, in the western suburbs of Sydney, to a new facility that offers the scale, resources and utilities necessary to undertake large-scale, long-term aerospace manufacturing contracts.
In addition to its Australian operations, Quickstep also has facilities in strategic global locations including North America, Europe and the UK.
The company is currently partnering with some of the world’s largest aerospace/defence companies, including the US Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Airbus and EADS.
Quickstep commenced targeting JSF manufacturing contracts in June 2009, and in November 2009 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with lead JSF contractors, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, for the supply of up to $700 million of components over 22 years.
Quickstep then embarked on prepartions to its manufacturing facility for JSF manufacturing, with Northrop Grumman stipulating that Quickstep must be fully enabled to manufacture demonstration and qualification panels for JSF by October 2010.
Quickstep has since met every interim deadline set by Northrop Grumman, and in February 2010 signed a Long Term Agreement providing a formal framework for supply.
As well as overcoming the highest barriers to entry of any industry in the world – the qualification processes are exhaustive and new entrants generally take many years to gain approval as suppliers – Quickstep has other hurdles to jump.
With best practice procedures paramount, Quickstep had to achieve AS9100 international aerospace quality standard for its manufacturing facility and was subjected to rigorous quality control testing at every stage of the manufacturing process.
The company also had to meet all deadlines set by Northrop Grumman despite administrative delays from US Department of State.
Following an exhaustive approvals process, Quickstep signed a Long Term Agreement in relation to JSF manufacturing in February 2011.
Investment risk included the significant costs incurred in preparing the company’s manufacturing facility and training staff members for JSF manufacturing without a formal contract having been signed.
The Long Term Agreement provides a formal framework under which Quickstep will participate in an international supply chain for the production of F-35 composites subassemblies.
What the judge said:
The Endeavour judges had high praise for the way the company has grown so quickly.
"Quickstep Holdings overcame overwhelming expectations triumphantly," they said.