SA manufacturer REDARC powers towards factory of the future

Australian electronics manufacturer REDARC will continue its modernisation journey through investment in Industry 4.0 technology and training with support from the  Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC).

The Lonsdale-based manufacturer will use a co-funding investment of more than $800,000 to extend its smart factory and skill capabilities across in-house and supplier operations. The project is expected to create up to 35 new jobs.

REDARC, a strong advocate for reinvestment, allocates up to 15 per cent of its yearly revenues to R&D. As a result, the company has developed more than 600 product lines during its 40-year history. Most products are exported to foreign markets in Canada, USA, Mexico, Europe, New Zealand, the Middle East, South Korea and South Africa.

Manufacturing engineering manager for REDARC, Andrew Rogers, said deploying Industry 4.0 processes should be viewed as an ongoing process beyond digitisation to maintain competitiveness.

“Industry 4.0 is more than a buzzword; it represents the next leap in technological prowess and competitiveness,” he said.

“We need to have a nimble, agile and value-driven manufacturing base to be able to sustain that type of business and respond quickly to customer needs.”

“It’s important that we bring our suppliers along in the process, as we prefer to control our quality and supply chain by making sure all parts of this chain work together.”

The project will further develop REDARC’s workforce, Industry 4.0 technology adoption, and business processes through collaboration with key supply chain partners and expert local service providers. Five complementary activities are proposed:

  1. Predictive alerts: Interactive and automated statistical process controls
  2. Quality alerts: Real-time production cell digital assistance
  3. Design and validation of future production cells using Augmented Reality
  4. Capability audit: Industry 4.0 maturity re-assessment
  5. Training: Development and delivery of Industry 4.0 staff and supply chain training modules hosted on AMGC’s Manufacturing Academy.

Lessons derived from the project will be shared with the manufacturing community through an Industry 4.0 module on AMGC’s Manufacturing Academy website.

AMGC managing director, Dr Jens Goennemann, said REDARC demonstrates what Australian manufacturers could achieve by investing in the processes, people and equipment, which comes before and after assembly, or simply, the seven-steps of the manufacturing value chain.

“REDARC understands the value of investing in people and equipment, and the competitive edge it delivers the company. By doing so, they remain globally relevant, competitive and a beacon for other local manufacturers.”

“There is a misunderstanding when it comes to the term advanced manufacturing. being advanced is not related to what you make, but how you make it. Being advanced is about continual improvement in your processes, workforce skills and products across the critical steps of design, research and development,logistics, production, sales, service and support,” said Goennemann.

The collaboration is budgeted at a total of $803,540, with AMGC contributing matched funds of $397,770, with the reminder matched and in-kind funding from REDARC partners including industry leaders Advanced Focus, Minitab, Swinburne University, Artis Group and CADWalk.

Local manufacturer Arkidelo, which injection moulds cases for REDARC’s award winning Tow Pro product, will play a part in the project’s digital supply chain integration.

Redarc was founded in 1979 as a single-product line business and was bought as an eight-person company in 1997.

Its current ownership has owned and led the business since 1997, growing its employee base to over 200, while growing export markets, products and diversifying away from automotive manufacturing. In 2016, the company expanded into the defence market and recently earned its first major contract.

REDARC has won many awards, including Australian Business of the Year in 2014, and Australian Manufacturer of the Year.