An Australian manufacturing revival


Manufacturing's contribution to GDP in Australia peaked in the late 1950s and into the 60s when it was near 30 per cent. Now it has shrunk to about 5.5 per cent. 

The manufacturing sector could be a major employer again if it is encouraged to grow. Most of the 926,000 workers in the sector are employed by small to medium enterprises with fewer than 20 employees. New technologies such as digital drawing, robotics and 3D printing, as well as widespread shutdown of global supply chains caused by COVID-19are making growth possible.

Australia, for example, is the largest producer of lithium in the world and exports it in its raw form. Lithium is worth about $US750 a tonne in its raw form but if manufactured into batteries would be worth about $US150,000 a tonne.

What do you think?

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Lynn Wood @ 2020.08.09 3:11 AM

For the first time, smaller players have an advantage over large corporations

angus-m-robinson @ 2020.08.10 3:10 AM

Today's global manufacturing system is part of a complex and highly integrated value chain, making it prone to fluctuations in global input costs and the Australian dollar. The value chain includes 'cutting edge' science and technology, innovation, skills, design, systems engineering, supply chain excellence, and a wide range of intelligent services. It also includes energy-efficient, sustainable and low-carbon manufacturing. In one sense the growth of 3D printing (additive) and digital manufacturing generally is driving this transformation.

Australia has a rich tapestry of SMEs from software and product developers such as Grey Innovation (the company recently contracted by the Australian Government to make ventilators) through to key suppliers  in  global value chains.

In short, for the longer term benefit to Australia, advanced manufacturing needs to be understood as the establishment of industrial ecosystems where 'value add' can be maximised through the growth of technology-enabled firms which transform away from just assembling and/or integrating imported componentry. 

In the near absence in Australia of large multi-national corporation manufacturers, the challenge for Australia is to harness the capabilities of the existing raft of SME manufacturers to enable the creation and development of a uniquely ‘High Value-Add’ Australian specialist manufacturing dynamic. The industry SME manufacturing industry needs to leverage the design and production of 21st century productivity-enhancing, machine tools, and incorporating such technologies as advanced robotics, automation, big data and Artificial Intelligence to build world-class competitiveness, and to provide  a strong focus on new and qualified jobs as a workforce gateway for career entrants

angus-m-robinson @ 2020.08.10 3:10 AM
A contribution from Manufacturing Tsar Andrew Liveris

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