Watkins Steel expands operations

Watkins Steel

Watkins Steel has celebrated its latest factory opening and further expansion in Banyo, Queensland.

After starting under a suburban house in 1968, and renting some smaller factories, Watkins built its first factory in 1978. Every decade after this it progressed into even bigger facilities up until 2008 when they moved into their current Banyo site. Since the company’s humble beginnings, Watkins has grown to employ over 100 staff across estimating, drafting, fabricating, installation and R&D.

This newest edition and latest footprint at Raubers Rd has taken the company from approximately 4000 square metres to 7500 square metres. The extra room will accommodate at least another two lines of robotics. On average, Watkins employs an additional 10 people with every new line of robotics it commissions. Managing Director, Des Watkins, said this is an example of how robotics creates jobs rather than replacing them.

“By increasing the space and embracing more automation, we can fabricate steel more efficiently and increase our capability (and sovereign capability). A larger footprint allows for more automation, replacing the more manual, repetitive and dangerous tasks to make it a safer and more efficient working environment.”

The Australian Steel Institute completed business modelling showing that every direct employee of a steel fabrication company results in a further 2.5 workers along the supply chain. Having a larger manufacturing facility introduces a wider variety of employment across multiple fields. This will potentially attract younger workers into the manufacturing sector and increase gender diversity, Watkins said.

The Australian market currently imports over 600,000 tonnes of fabricated steel products every year from China alone. By Watkins increasing their capacity, efficiency and capabilities, the company is looking to compete with overseas products, bringing projects back onshore.

“From the company’s increased processing and fabrication capabilities will come growth in all areas across the business. This means Watkins can support more students through work experience with an objective to employ them on a full-time basis,” Watkins said.

The growth of Watkins Steel and Holovision will positively impact the R&D department and robotics work, as well lead to research and investment in alternative energy sources with a goal of becoming carbon neutral.

This expansion plan coincides with the ongoing growth experienced in South East Queensland and the increased demand experienced by the energy and resource sector through the infrastructure required and planned for the Olympic Games in 2032.

“This new addition to our portfolio will result in more opportunities to the job market, the industry’s growth and the Australian Economy. We are proud and we hope you are too.”