Opportunities to capitalise on increased Australian government defence spending is attracting international interest from companies seeking to enter our domestic supply chain. The UK government and UK businesses are particularly active in this regard, leveraging the connectivity between the two nations to win defence work.
Join Defence Connect host Phil Tarrant as he speaks with a range leading UK SMEs that are exploring business opportunities in Australia plus the head of the Defence and Security Organisation within UK Department for International Trade (DIT) Stephen Phipson CBE, who gives insight into UK trade expansion strategy and how his department is promoting UK interests abroad.
Enjoy the podcast
The Defence Connect team.
Stephen Phipson UKTI DSO Transcript:
Announcer: Welcome to the Defence Connect broadcast with your host, Phil Tarrant.
Phil Tarrant: Okay, my name's Phil Tarrant, host of the Defence Connect broadcast. Thanks for joining us. We're at Pacific 2017 covering quite a lot of ground and engaging with businesses large and small from some of the major primes all the way through to some of the very talented SMEs. Fortune has secured us some time with Stephen Phipson. Stephen is the head of the Defence and Security Organisation from UK Government. And I hope to pick his brain about some of the work some very talented UK organisations are doing and how they're projecting that globally into the export markets. Stephen how are you going?
Stephen Phipson: Very well, indeed. Thank you, Philip, for your time I appreciate-
Phil Tarrant: Oh, no problem all.
Stephen Phipson: ... the opportunity to speak to you.
Phil Tarrant: When did you arrive? When did you get here?
Stephen Phipson: Monday, so and then here a week and back on Friday again. So, yeah.
Phil Tarrant: Okay. Big trip? So, is Australia one of the attractive markets for UK companies at the moment?
Stephen Phipson: Australia is. I mean, it's all about deepening the relationship between the two countries effectively on the defence side. I mean, we've always had a very strong relationship, but we see a really good opportunity here to do trade in both directions. So, it's really about encouraging our companies to come to Australia, invest in Australia, be able to have an Australian presence here with technologies from the UK. And then also encouraging Australian businesses to participate in our supply chains back in the UK as well. We're always looking for great innovation. And what we see in Australia is really good pockets of innovation that we can effectively use back in the UK defence world.
Phil Tarrant: One of the big commitments for our government is to how we could direct Australian talent globally and obviously the UK and Europe is a market that is very attractive.
Stephen Phipson: You'd think it should be easy, shouldn't you?
Phil Tarrant: Wouldn't you?
Stephen Phipson: With our relationship.
Phil Tarrant: And we get on quite well, we have known each other a while.
Stephen Phipson: We manage each other quite well. We get along quite well. And it's really about deepening that. It's about how we extend that. And really take advantages in both directions of our innovation. You mentioned the innovative SMEs. We have in our supply chain in the UK in defence about 12,000 of those types of companies. So we have a small representation here that's made the trip over for this exhibition. Which, is really important as a sign of their commitment.
We already have large companies here that have been here for many years, such as BA Systems and those kinds of prime contractors who have really well embedded with Australian companies in their supply chains. And in fact, in some of our capability back in the UK we've started that process of bringing Australian technology back to the UK. So, it's that bilateral relationship, that two-way trade that's important to us.
Phil Tarrant: And we originally had a delegation of Australians who went out to the DSEI Conference in London-
Stephen Phipson: Absolutely.
Phil Tarrant: ... a week or so ago.
Stephen Phipson: Absolutely.
Phil Tarrant: I've spoken to many of them and they were very complimentary of the hospitality of our English cousins and-
Stephen Phipson: That's great to hear.
Phil Tarrant: ... willing to do business.
Stephen Phipson: That's great to hear. I mean DSEI is one of the largest exhibitions in the world. And we were very pleased to have a good strong Australian presence in that on many different programmes that's working very, very well.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah. And I was fortunate to catch up with some of your delegation yesterday. And I spoke with them, and they're all in here. So please go and check it out if you just have a look at some of the other podcasts here, you'll be able find it. And they were passionate business owners. They had some very interesting innovation. One in particular that I remember was new manufacturing techniques around corrosive metals, which would be ideal for our submarine programme. And I had a good chat with him. And he was sort of lamenting on the challenges, which are here from our end as well, that yes, everyone talks about, "Let's look at export opportunities. Let's all try and embrace it. Let's try and manufacture it and massage it." But, there's still that wall they hit off of where they go, "Oh, I just can't get there. I can't get a decision made," or it just becomes too hard.
How do we break this down do you think?
Stephen Phipson: This is why it's important to partner. This is why it's important that the old way of doing things where you simply turned up in country and tried to sell your particular product or capability is ... we've gone past that stage now. That's a little bit out of date. The way to do it now is a strong partnering between companies locally, and companies back in the UK. And getting that to work so ... because they know the environment, how to contract, how to do things more effectively than our own companies.
So, encouraging those strong partnerships Finding those partnerships that are going to endure for the long term, is really the role that we play in trying to help them ... introduce them to the right people.
Phil Tarrant: And they were very open. They were all talking about mainly, JV. So, they're looking to connect with businesses who they could form a relationship or partnership with and push that forwards. So, what would be your recommendations whether it's English coming out to Australia, or Australians going out to the UK to try and form these partnerships? How do you make those connections, and how do you start that dialogue to say, "Okay, we like each other? Let's get down to try and formulate something that we can actually go and do this."
Stephen Phipson: Well, one thing that's quite important is that the UK government has a lot of tools around us, and a lot of advice to give to companies to help them on that journey. And so, the first piece of advice is, "Don't go it alone. Seek out advice." We've got people on the ground here in our High Commission. We've got a team back in London that helps local companies in the UK. And in fact, regionally around the UK we do that as well. And there's a whole load of tools and advice the government can help small companies with, in particular. In getting them established in country.
It's a big risk. It's a lot of commitment to go and exports required by a small company if you think about the scale they've got, it's ... if they're going to fly out to Australia and start doing some business, it's a really large commitment. So, to try to help them with that. To try to reduce the risks, the government can provide a lot of activity. I know in Australia the government is doing the same sort of thing now. CDIC is a good example of that where they're trying to encourage small businesses to get out there. And give them the tools to be able to operate effectively.
So, rather than making the mistakes and things, we know, we understand that. We've had a long track record of doing it. So please come and ask the team in DSO or in fact, the Department for Trade in UK with that assistance in mind and try and get them to help you in country would be my first port of call.
Phil Tarrant: And for the English coming out to Australia. What is it that makes the Australian market so attractive do you think
Stephen Phipson: Well, first thing is the language. It's similar isn't it? So, that helps a lot.
Phil Tarrant: Sort of.
Stephen Phipson: Okay, we can debate that at length. In many markets, language is the first barrier, it's very difficult. Then you've got the cultural issues, the way the culture works in country. And sometimes that's quite difficult to understand. Even though we talk the same language there are different ways of contracting, and the processes used in the contracting. Particularly with government, it's something, which is ... you have to spend the time to understand the way the system works in order to be effective. And that's where government can say, "Well, we can give you a lot of examples about how people have achieved that in the past." And it's all about these partnerships that make that work effectively.
Phil Tarrant: And do you have connectivity within our government here? Are you working in collaboration?
Stephen Phipson: We do indeed. We have a very, very good and deep relationship. And it's an enduring relationship. And it's one that we both have the same objectives of encouraging this innovation in both of our supply chains. So that we can get the best capability, particularly in defence, into our armed forces.
Phil Tarrant: It's good. Stephen, thanks for your time. I've really enjoyed the chat.
Stephen Phipson: Absolutely, my pleasure.
Phil Tarrant: It's like I have an affinity with England, my wife's English, so I spend a lot of time there. So we are good bedfellows about our relationship as two nations. So it's good to see the priority of the UK government to fly the five UK businesses out here. And as I said before, I when I was very impressed by the talent and the energy of your team. And I know they're heading back the other way. Our Australian colleagues did well at DSEI
Stephen Phipson: Absolutely.
Phil Tarrant: Let's see how this evolves and develops. So your point? There is hope out there, go and find it.
Stephen Phipson: Yeah. Exactly. And thank you for all of your support. I know all of our companies appreciate your personal support of what they're trying to achieve.
Phil Tarrant: I'm happy to help out. It all comes down to capability. And we need to remember why defence industry is here. It's to deliver our guys and girls on the ground, and the air, and the sea, that the equipment for them to do what they need to do. And deliver what our nations are hoping to achieve. So, you know, it's good. Okay.
Stephen Phipson: Thank you very much.
Phil Tarrant: Remember to check out defenceconnect.com.au. If you're not yet subscribing to our daily marketing intelligence bulletin, please do. defenceconnect.com.au/subscribe. If you have any questions for me, or even Stephen, you contact the team and we'll pass it on. If, you need some connectivity into these UK businesses we're happy to help you facilitate that. You can email our team editor at defenceconnect.com.au. We'll be back again soon. Until then, bye, bye.
UK Delegates 1 Transcript:
Announcer: Welcome to the Defence Connect Podcast, with your host, Phil Tarrant.
Phil Tarrant: Good day everyone, it's Phil Tarrant here, host of Defence Connect Podcast. We're going to do something a little bit interesting today. We've got five people in our mobile studio at Pacific 2017 and we hope to try and host a conversation with these five people from five different businesses and chat about innovation. So, these aren't Australian businesses, they are UK businesses, so this is the UK's innovation, the flagship innovation businesses who have come out from the UK to Pacific here in Sydney to have a look at how they can connect with Australian defence businesses and potentially connect into the defence fly chain.
The way we're going to run this is, have a chat with the five of our guests individually and hopefully, after that, we can have a bit of a collective chat. But, the first person I want to have a quick chat to is Quentin Howard. Quintin's the Director of Commercial Strategy and Technology form Forces Network. Quentin, how are you going?
Quentin Howard: Good thank you, good.
Phil Tarrant: How are you finding Pacific so far, we're pretty much half a day in.
Quentin Howard: It's good, it's nice and relaxed, great atmosphere, Australians always being very friendly as usual, couldn't be better.
Phil Tarrant: We've got a good relationship with you guys, you know, we go back a long way, which isn't a bad thing. So, Forces Network, Quentin, what do you guys do?
Quentin Howard: So, we're better known as the British Forces Broadcasting Service and we've been alongside the Australians in Afghanistan concerning our radio and TV. Our job is to delivery radio and TV and welfare to British Forces wherever they are in the world, on ships, submarines and land forces wherever they're posted. The challenge now is that media is getting more complicated, it's not just beaming TV signals in, it's now about getting stuff onto your iPads onto your mobile devices, people want to consume media in a different way and that presents a big challenge for military operations where there are often bandwidth constraints, there's not enough satellite capacity or there is none at all or your equipment on-board the ships need a very small footprint. So, the conventional way of doing things has to be re-invented.
For our audience in the UK military, we've invented some technology, which compresses all this into a very small box, suitable to be fitted on to a ship or go out to a mobile deployment of some special forces say, and that allows them to get all their fix of radio and TV and music and we've added newspapers to that and training materials and even, what's called, a virtual learning environment for when all the soldiers and sailors have to do their courses to keep up to date with everything. So, we host all this on a tiny little box, which is some ground-breaking technology and our reasons for being here is to say, well look, we've done this with the British forces, how about all our friendly cousins around the world and is there anybody in Australia we can work with where we can share the technology and deploy it in theatres here.
Phil Tarrant: And have you made any good connections yet, are we being forthcoming with that?
Quentin Howard: Yeah, we met with the Defence Minister this morning and she took a great interest in what we're doing and so I think now the extension of that is, let's talk to some of the Australian partners and see whether there's means that we can get our technology into the Australian military.
Phil Tarrant: So, do you aggregate everyone else's content and you just provide the mechanism to actually give it to the soldiers?
Quentin Howard: So, we do both actually, we're a really unusual organisation, we do everything from acquiring the content, doing the negotiations with the Hollywood studios to curating it, making the programme content and then we put it out over satellites, we deliver it to the end user. So, we're an end to end provider. And, I think what we're looking for is partnerships who we can work with, Australian broadcasters perhaps or satellite operators who can do parts of that and what we'll do is provide the glue that makes it all work.
Phil Tarrant: Do you find the content manufacturers are more forthcoming to talk with you guys seeing as it's use is that guys, girls, soldiers, war fighters can digest this content, are they a little bit open?
Quentin Howard: That's a really important part of it, because the welfare that you deliver to the forces on the ground makes the difference between whether they think their deployment has been a really good deployment or whether it's just been pain all the way. And, it's a big issue now, for example, in the British military, particularly the Navy for recruitment and retention because young guys and girls joining the military at the age of 17 or 18 they want to take their iPads and their mobiles with them and when you get on-board a ship and you say, oh there's no wifi on-board, you're going to be without social media for three months, they walk down the gangplank and away they go. Our job is to put that back and give people as much of the same experience, as close as you can get to it, on-board a ship, or if you're in deployed overseas on an operation, give them the same media experience they get at home, given that there are constraints of course.
Phil Tarrant: I imagine that a fair bit of work's gone in to actually benchmarking how this type of service increases moral or increases connectivity or operational effectiveness because of just general happiness, any stats or figures around that?
Quentin Howard: Yeah, we do surveys about the value of it and we did an exercise recently where we put some of this new technology, with 200 guys who were out in an exercise in Morocco and the interesting thing about that, they were in the middle of the desert, they had no other communications at all, all they had was our, what we call the, My Player, the device that we do this on and it dished up live TV. We ended the survey and they- would you deploy without it again? And the answer was something like, 95 percent said we have to have this, this is as important as food, water and guns.
Phil Tarrant: It's funny and what makes it innovative is that something that you particularly designed or manufactured or some sort of innovation that you've created to facilitate this?
Quentin Howard: I think what we did, we saw the whole piece, we saw the environment particularly, that this was being delivered in, and when we looked at existing cots off the shelf equipment that would be deployed in broadcast centres or for internet giants, it's unsuitable for the military environment. So, what we did, we understood the constraints of a military environment, either it's a small amount of space or there's no power, or it's just a little Honda generator to give you some electricity, that's very different from a data centre. So, we've designed the kit to be optimised entirely for that military environment and then laid on top of that all the clever stuff that you need to do with the media to get it onto your iPad device.
And do it securely because security is an issue as well, there are lots of nefarious people trying to sniff what you're doing and, although, their ability to watch your wifi and realise you're watching Coronation Street or Neighbours, may not sound like it's important, it's the aggregating of that information as to when are people watching those programmes that becomes the important data that you need to protect. So, the security wrap-around it is also quite key.
Phil Tarrant: It just sounds so simple or common sense to me that, if this is something that you can deliver to increase the moral of your forces, it's just a no-brainer.
Quentin Howard: We call it a force multiplier, it's multiplies the value, over and above what it costs, the value in maintaining people. I've got a great story about some Royal Marines, my wife's cousin was in the Royal Marines, was in 40 Commando and they were out a few years ago in Sangan Province, that was horrible. They lost a lot of their guys and they'd been on rat packs for four weeks and they hadn't had re-supply come in. We'd been in contact with email with my wife's cousin and he said, you know, we want to watch the World Cup and we haven't even got a television. Then, a few weeks later he was back on RnR and I said, so tell me what happened? He said, this helicopter flew out, an army helicopter, to re-supply and they threw out the food and they threw out the ammo and a guy from BFBS with a television under one arm and a satellite dish on the other and he'd come to set television up for us. And he put the TV on and we had the World Cup. And he said, that one thing changed the moral of our group and allowed us to finish the mission.
Phil Tarrant: It's a good story, thanks. I think it sounds really good so best of luck with the Australian Government here. Next person I'd like to invite on is Ben Turner who's the Sales Marketing Director of Copper Alloys Limited. Ben, how are you going?
Ben Turner: Yeah, very good thanks Phil.
Phil Tarrant: How are you finding Sydney? Is this your first trip out here?
Ben Turner: We came last time, a couple of years ago so second and it seems much bigger, much more active and a lot more people coming through the front door, which is great. Already we've seen lots of interest and it's just the first morning. So, it's been thoroughly enjoyable so far.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah, I guess from the last time you were out here, the Government has embarked on a considerable plan to spend a significant amount of money, mainly in naval programmes over the next decade so that's the reason why there's probably so many people here. But, what are you hoping to achieve here at Pacific?
Ben Turner: Well, our key focus is submarines. A while ago, we realised that the main things that can flaw a capability of submarines is basically materials not doing what they're designed to do. A lot of the problems we see, for in-service vessels is, metals just not lasting long enough, it defines the maintenance period of a submarine in the UK and it will do the same here. We had quite a lot of input in the Collins Class build programme and we felt that we could apply some of the lessons learnt from that and some of the technology developments we've made in the decade since to present an innovative solution to the current problems of submarines and the type of environment that they operate.
Phil Tarrant: So, you're looking to get involved in the new submarine programme here?
Ben Turner: Yes, we are to a certain extent. What we're trying to do today is make engineers aware that there's more material solutions, there's more material choices than what there once were. One of the things that I tell people is that there's new material technology on-show today and most people think that's an oxymoron but there are actually new metals that have been developed specifically to make submarines last longer, specifically to reduce the amount of taxpayer money that goes into maintaining submarines over a 50 year lifespan.
Phil Tarrant: So, the material that you can provide into submarine builds so it's more about longevity and maintenance rather than just giving operational advantages, this new material coming online?
Ben Turner: Yeah the main things that the designers of any kind of submarine equipment have to consider are resistance to shock and impact and how long things will last in a corrosive, quite aggressive environment. So, what we're trying to do is to work with native Australian innovative designers and equipment manufacturers to just give them good methodology to underpin the design that they have to do. At the moment they're forced one way or another, we're trying to give them a third way with a material selection.
Phil Tarrant: And how are you finding dealing with the Aussie businesses? Are they quite similar to the UK counterparts? Or do we do things differently here?
Ben Turner: A lot less decisions are made over here in terms of how things are designed, it does seem to be a lot of off-the-shelf or adaptations of existing design. We work with naval groups around the world, on the French platforms as well and we're really trying to get them to understand that it's a different environment that the submarine has to be adapted, the critical systems that drive the performance. The problems that we saw with Collins, when that was first built, we don't want to see them happen again, they can be changed, but it has to be done at the design stage. We can't tie the Australian Government into billions and billions of dollars of maintenance costs ten years down the line, that could have been avoided if the right engineering decisions are made today. And, it's about trying to get that message into the right people today.
Phil Tarrant: Naval ship building for the next period of time is going to be a key driver of employment and technology here in Australia, have you got any observations on how we're going to go about building these subs and these frigates we have coming online, we've got plenty of steel here in Australia, that's not a problem but any views on our capacity to do so?
Ben Turner: Yeah, that's an excellent question. When we were here two years ago, we kind of had an idea of which way the industry was going with regards to Australia and here were no native manufacturers of highly corrosion resistant metals in Australia. What we proposed was to set up a joint venture, we were trying to get support from the Australian Government to enable that really so that we could share some of the technology required to enable the production of these on Australian soil. Unfortunately, to date, that offer hasn't been taken up but we would be willing to talk to people to create a native manufacturing capability so that all of these components, not just the electronics, not just the overall design but from the metal upwards, can be manufactured here in Australia.
Phil Tarrant: See, I wasn't aware of that so it was quite a pertinent question then I just covered there. And, have you met some good people while you've been out here so far?
Ben Turner: Yeah, I mean it's just started but already it's been great being part of the British delegation because you do get some really high profile people. We've had the Minister for Defence come by our stand, we've had all kinds of naval bods from Australia and America and India even, it's a global situation that we're at now. But, for me, it's really down to trying to get engineers, there's a lot of technology available here and there's people trying to sell it, there's people trying to buy it but there's few people trying to understand it to make things better. Australia's got a really unique environment, which it operates in, definitely a lot of the vessels and stuff and it's important that good engineering decisions are made and consideration is given to that.
Phil Tarrant: We have a lot of Australian businesses that go offshore to do the reverse or inverse of what you're doing right now, any tips for those organisations trying to crack new markets?
Ben Turner: What into the UK?
Phil Tarrant: Yeah
Ben Turner: I would say try something new but that clearly is difficult, most of the time new stuff is frowned upon in the submarine industry, it's really risk averse but if you can demonstrate it, like what Quentin said, if you've got figures, you've got data and you don't get put off by the years it will take the change people's perception of things, that's the way to do it. I think if you've facts, that's half the job and then you need someone that people actually listen to, to take it a bit further.
Phil Tarrant: Seems like persistence is pretty important as well right?
Ben Turner: Yeah, I mean, we're doing projects, if you miss a boat you're waiting for years for the next project so that's the nature of the industry, that's why you've got to try and make something different and Copper Alloys, it was all about looking at how things can be done better for the next platform.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah, nice, very, very good nice. Next, and I'm navigating my way through this okay I think, Jo Birk, Jo's the Key Account Manager for Analogue Military Systems. Jo, how are you going?
Jo Birk: Yes fine thank you.
Phil Tarrant: Welcome to Australia, first trip?
Jo Birk: No, been here, this is my third Pacific.
Phil Tarrant: Oh is it, okay.
Jo Birk: So, I was on the island last year, well two years ago and the old conference centre before that, but this is amazing, this new conference centre.
Phil Tarrant: So, do you think it's changing, there's a lot more people here this time around?
Jo Birk: Yeah, it's much bigger, much more presence here obviously with what's going on within the defence spending within Australia, everybody wants to be here.
Phil Tarrant: So, you keep coming back, are you doing any work at the moment within the domestic Australian market?
Jo Birk: To the Navy, we do sell product into the Navy yes. But, obviously, what we want to be doing is getting our new technology onto the submarines mainly, for us, for the C1000, we have a centralised monitoring system, we monitor the atmosphere So, where you've got, and disrespect to the gentlemen standing here, but when you've got a lot of men in a tin can under the water and their breathing out carbon dioxide and taking out all the oxygen, it has to be monitored. So, we are modern day canaries and tweet.
Phil Tarrant: I was going to say, modern day canary. And, how bad can the atmosphere inside a submarine get? I imagine pretty bad.
Jo Birk: Well, I don't think it's as bad as it used to be when everybody smoked and I think every meal was chips. I don't think it's quite that bad now.
Phil Tarrant: I imagine it's a big requirement now in terms of making sure you have a nice environment inside a sub so, your innovation, your technology says, there's a problem over here, we need to fix it. Is that what happens?
Jo Birk: Yes, we'll have a system that tweets, basically, if the atmosphere is incorrect. We have a system now that can monitor over 30 different types of gas, again, as we all go to the toilet-
Phil Tarrant: We could have a lot of fun with this conversation, I'm not going to take it that way. I think we need one of these in our office.
Jo Birk: I'll give you my card.
Phil Tarrant: I could do with a trial, I've got a big sales room, that probably has some atmospheric problems, not going to joke about that, it's the board room.
Jo Birk: So, yes, I think as technology changes, there's different paints being used, different gases are being produced all the time and we have the technology to monitor name gases but also we can either find unidentified species that might be in the atmosphere that then you could take back to the laboratory and work out what it is and the detrimental effect it is to someone's health, or if it's a fire risk.
Phil Tarrant: So, what's the worst it can be if you get the atmospheric conditions wrong on a submarine, what's the flow on effect to people's operational effectiveness? I imagine it's pretty significant.
Jo Birk: Pretty serious, if there's too much carbon dioxide, as an example, in the atmosphere, you can't smell carbon dioxide, it's low lying as well so if you bend down and the gas is there, you're just unconscious and dead fairly quickly really. So, it's quite serious. Again, lack of oxygen, people can get delirious and they can't manage their actions anymore and so it's very, very important to keep the atmosphere correct for the sub-mariners.
Phil Tarrant: And, are you supplying into defence now in the UK?
Jo Birk: Yes, we are yes.
Phil Tarrant: And how long's that relationship been in place for?
Jo Birk: We have a very good relationship with our UK MOD and we work with quite a lot of the big players like BAU Systems Marine, we work through them to the UK MOD and they're probably our biggest customer.
Phil Tarrant: And in terms of competitors, who else creates this type of kit?
Jo Birk: We are the only, well, we believe we're the only company in the world that can pressure correct sensors so, if a submarine is snorkelling and the pressure is changing all the time, then our sensors will correct themselves and not give out false alarms. So, that's sort of our niche point really, that we can do that. There are methods using calorimetric tubes but if somebody's using a tube it's done by someone looking at the tube to read how much carbon dioxide is the atmosphere where ours is done digitally and so the sensors act with whatever's in the atmosphere, the will alarm straight away.
Phil Tarrant: Mm-hmm.
Jo Birk: So, that's where we come from is the-
Phil Tarrant: So, we have a lot of SME's that listen to the podcast and connect with connectdefence.com.au and, what would be your, I'm just trying to get a bit of an insight into how you go about preparing yourself for a show like Pacific, is there two or three people that you just need to absolutely talk to and that's pretty much the extent of who you need to influence or is there a bunch of people you're looking to get in front of?
Jo Birk: Obviously, within Australia there's just a handful of people that we need to get in front of and we are in conversation with them, we are totally aware that Australian Government wants in-country support so we do have a partner that we're working with and, again, with the naval group, we have been over to France and they've been to see us so that's a nice foot in the door.
Phil Tarrant: And they like your-
Jo Birk: Well, we hope so yes.
Phil Tarrant: Well, best of luck with that.
Jo Birk: Thank you very much
Phil Tarrant: It's really good, interesting story. I didn't mean to make any jokes around it but it's one of those products that you need to.
Jo Birk: Yes, it's very important.
Phil Tarrant: It's good. Next along, Nick Cooper. Nick Cooper is the Sales Director of Westley Group, based in the West Midlands in the UK. Thanks for coming out to Aus.
Nick Cooper: Thank you very much.
Phil Tarrant: It's good to see you, how are you finding Pacific so far?
Nick Cooper: Yeah, we're finding it very good, people very approachable and it's great to be part of the British stand because we're having some good visitors that offer us good possibilities.
Phil Tarrant: Your business, what are you providing to defence?
Nick Cooper: We are one of Europe's leading foundry based businesses, so we're supplying high integrity components predominantly to naval defence markets, submarines and surface ships. I think it's not an overstatement to say that no UK submarine would go to sea without the products that the Westley group supply.
Phil Tarrant: Okay and what's the breadth of your products?
Nick Cooper: So, if you were to take a submarine, we're supplying right from the back end right from the propulsion component, pump jet propulsion components, right through primary, secondary compartments into the bowray systems that we supply into, the likes of Talis.
Phil Tarrant: And, you mentioned a foundry business and I sort of find foundries quite an antiquated term these days but I picture hot metal and the banging of steel and et cetera, et cetera, is this type of manufacturing in the UK still alive and well-
Nick Cooper: Yeah, I mean fundamentally that's what you see if you go into a foundry, you'll see hot metal and moulds and this sort of thing but the concept that it's a black art is one that's incorrect. Foundries are highly technical manufacturing environments with a number of critical variables that have to be controlled very, very carefully to ensure that you get a high integrity product and the importance, and it's been discussed earlier, of supplying high integrity components that are A, made from an appropriate alloy but also manufactured appropriately because you can have the right alloy selection but if the thing is made incorrectly, it won't perform the way that you want it to perform.
So, Westley group has a number of proprietary processes that we believe are not available throughout the rest of the foundry industry, and these enable us to produce safety critical, first level components, which, by their nature of course, we take this very importantly because if they fail lives are at risk, but we produce and using various techniques that we think could bring into the Australian market. That could be done through some form of partnership with an existing Australian engineering group but, we see that there's a great opportunity for us here. We've demonstrated this, not just in our home market in the UK market where we supply into all of the primed BAE systems, Babcock International, Rolls Royce, but we've also been very successful in the US. So, we see no reason why we can't do exactly the same thing In the Australian market as well.
Phil Tarrant: And have you any observations on Australia's manufacturing capabilities in this sort of high tech space?
Nick Cooper: Well, I think when you get into these sort of specialist areas, there are manufacturers, there are foundries, there are manufacturers that have certain capabilities that we believe that are, as I say, the processes and the manufacturing routes that we use are pretty unique and they could be something that could very much improve the manufacturing capability of an Australian supply chain. And, we also recognise that these components, they're important that you build a submarine with the right components, with the right quality but also there's a sustainability issue, which perhaps was one of the issues with the Collins class. The ships were built, the boats were built but then there was no infrastructure in place really to support those vessels thereafter.
Partnerships, long term partnerships, there are things that are there to ensure that you support both the build programme and the through life support thereafter, which is very important. So, we see it as a long-term investment for the group.
Phil Tarrant: Well, one of the biggest concerns for Australian ship builders/manufacturers is access to the right talent to support and create this equipment or do this manufacturing process. How does it sit in the UK right now, do you have a skill shortage in terms of good, solid manufacturers, people that can get on the tools and do what they need to do or is there quite an open market for it?
Nick Cooper: I think this is a concern, a global concern in many ways. But, one of things that is pretty active, and certainly very active within the Westley Group, are apprenticeship programmes so, we have a very good and strong apprenticeship programme where we recognise that we need to bring in young talent, that can sustain our business and by sustaining our business we can then sustain the supply chain in the partnerships that we form going forward.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah, that's interesting so what I took from that is that you're open to have dialogues or discussions with Australian organisations by way of JV or sharing technology so you can get involved here?
Nick Cooper: Yeah we are, most certainly.
Phil Tarrant: Okay, nice one, appreciate that. John, John Sutcliffe is the last of our UK innovators who has joined us here at Pacific 2017. John is from Atlas Electronik, UK, which is part of the Atlas Electronik Group. John, how are you going?
John Sutcliffe: Very well thank you.
Phil Tarrant: So, you're the Business Development Director there so obviously tasked with finding new opportunities for the organisations. Can you tell us a little bit about Atlas, what does Atlas do?
John Sutcliffe: So, Atlas Electronic UK is primarily an underwater company. We deliver science and technology projects into the Ministry of Defence and we lead on quite a lot of National capability in that area.
Phil Tarrant: Okay and coming out to Pacific 2017, is this your first trip or have you been here before.
John Sutcliffe: I have never been to Australia before in my life.
Phil Tarrant: First time.
John Sutcliffe: It's a very, very long way away that's what I've appreciated.
Phil Tarrant: When did you fly in? How long ago?
John Sutcliffe: So, I got in on Sunday evening.
Phil Tarrant: Sunday evening and today is Tuesday so it's much worse coming this way than going back towards the UK by the way. How have you found us so far, have they put you on to someone else here in Darling Harbour.
John Sutcliffe: Well, I've been quite lucky in my previous military life, I met a lot of Australian service people, I was a flying instructor and I trained quite a lot of Australian air crew at one point in my career. So, I've got quite a good few connections and I think I've got a reasonably good feel for the Australian culture.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah, typically in Aus, if you can drink beer and chat you're generally okay.
John Sutcliffe: I think you're way beyond that now, I think that's a different world.
Phil Tarrant: The Australians and the English have an affinity in that regard so it's a good line. So, what are you hoping to achieve out here in Pacific -
John Sutcliffe: So, we are delivering to the Royal Navy, probably the most exciting and innovative programme in this current, we're delivering an unmanned, autonomous platform to deliver mine sweeping, takes the man out of the minefield, reduces the risk to the human being and, I'd like to talk to the Australian community about that mine sweeping system. It's not just about the platform and it's not just about the technology behind it, it's about the two things working together. It can be delivered from the air so it can be flown in a C17 A400M, it can be delivered by road if that's a relevant method or it can be taken in the traditional way, on the back of a ship. Then, once it's in the water, it can operate for up to 12 hours doing that job. So, that's really exciting and the Royal Navy takes delivery of the first platform in the spring of next year.
Phil Tarrant: So, it sounds like quite an advantage from a people perspective, probably a cost to operate perspective, can you explain to me, is this just a large, unmanned sort of aquatic vehicle that just flies around under the ocean detecting mines, is that pretty much it?
John Sutcliffe: So, it's a surface platform and one might describe it as a boat but it's really much more than that. It's been designed with shock in mind, it's been designed with signature in mind because there's no point in putting that platform into the minefield and then it's the thing that blows the mine up rather than the system that it's dragging behind it. So, there's a lot of technology into it and on the back of that programme we've also been very lucky to win a competition to deliver work boats into the Royal Navy so there's going to be 35 platforms that have been designed in a similar fashion so they're fitted for, but not with autonomy, they're very modular so you can take out the seats, if they have seats, you can put in some sort of war fighting capability, maybe a todaray which we've delivered to an international customer and that platform can go on for 12 hours and either hunt submarines, hunt mines, do iSTAR, interaction with other platforms for security purposes. There's a whole raft of stuff that, that can do now with less people, equal capability and much more affordable manner.
Phil Tarrant: How would you explain your experience tapping into the Australian Defence supply chain, is it been an easy process?
John Sutcliffe: Okay, so it's early days for us on a personal one to one basis but we do have a sister company here called Sonartech. Sonartech are much more in the field of sonar buoys, analysis and signatures and we do a lot of government to government work in that area through, and with, Sonartech. Sonartech have been very helpful to us in establishing early relationships, I've done a lot of homework before I came out, with the Australian High Commission so that I can tap into that supply base, hopefully get some good contacts that, if we are successful with traction in this capability area, then I've already got some colleagues that can help me get in. Because, you know, we don't want to build the stuff in the UK and bring it over here because, as I've already said to you, this is a long way away, what we really need to find is partners that are going to do that activity for us in a partnership.
Phil Tarrant: Interesting, good. And, just to finish off, that was really well observed, it's good technology, it's needed, it's required and I think it will be a real advantage for the Australian Navy but, did you guys know each other before you came out here or is this all quite new relationships?
Quentin Howard: No, this is the first time we've met, most of us.
Phil Tarrant: How was that awkward first period where you are sort of going, oh who are you? What do you do? Etcetera etcetera Was it like a nice collie gent, let's get out there and have a chat to these Aussies and let them know what we're up to and what we're about?
John Sutcliffe: I would say yes, I think so.
Nick Cooper: It's what we're here to do.
John Sutcliffe: Yeah that's right.
Nick Cooper: I mean, we're all UK PLC but then we're here to…
Quentin Howard: By the end of the week we'll be able to tell customers-
Phil Tarrant: Exactly what each other does
Quentin Howard: What everybody else is doing.
Nick Cooper: I've learned loads.
Nick Cooper: Do you know what? There's not one company that can do everything for the customer and so it's a jigsaw puzzle and the secret is to keep talking to each other, to bring those bits of jigsaw together so eventually you've got the whole thing as an offering that reflects what the customer is looking for, rather than what we, as an individual, think they might want. That's the really important thing.
John Sutcliffe: Strategic partnerships is another way to do that.
Nick Cooper: Yeah.
Ben Turner: There is that relationship between Australia and Britain as well, they've both got the same Queen so.
Quentin Howard: She's still on your coins and banknotes, that'll do.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah on the coins and banknotes but, I think, hence the reason for trade shows like this getting people together in the same room just having a chat, so, thanks for coming out. I think it's great that you're out here flying the flag, not only for UK innovation but also your own businesses so, hopefully it bears fruit for you.
If you've got any questions for any of our guests, listeners, please contact me and I'll pass them on directly, contact me or the team editor at defenceconnect.com.au and I'll hook you into either of our guests today and that was Quentin Howard from Forces Network, Ben Turner from Copper Alloys Limited, Jo Birk from Analogue Military Systems and that was the control of our subs airspace and that was very, very important stuff, Nick Cooper from the Westley Group and finally, we had, John Sutcliffe from Atlas Electronik UK.
Remember to check out defenceconnect.com.au if you're not yet receiving our daily marketing intelligence newsletter, please do, it comes out every morning at 7 o'clock, you'd be the first to know what's happening in defence. You can subscribe at defenceconnect.com.au/subscribe. We'll be back again soon, until then, bye-bye.
UK Delegates 2 Transcript:
Announcer: Welcome to the Defence Connect podcast, with your host, Phil Tarrant.
Phil Tarrant: Okay everyone, Phil Tarrant here. Host of the Defence Connect podcast. Thanks for joining us again. We're gonna continue our theme of the English Invasion, of Pacific 2017. As the UK government has hosted a delegation of English businesses to come out here to Pacific to try and connect and engage with Australian industry.
If you haven't yet tuned in some of our other podcasts, we do have some other SME's coming out from England, please do. But I'm fortunate to catch up with another couple of guys who have come out to Pacific to have a look at about growing their relationships with Australian businesses and connecting, engaging with them. I have Tim Ingram, who is the CEO of Marine Data and his colleague, Julian Swarbrick, who is one of the technical authors. That's an interesting title, and we'll get into that, work out exactly what you do, also from Marine Data, I also have Chris Hay, who is from IMI Critical Engineering. Guys, how're you going? Welcome to Australia.
Tim Ingram: Thank you.
Chris Hay: Thank you.
Tim Ingram: Pleased to be here.
Chris Hay: Enjoying your time okay?
Tim Ingram: Oh superb. Nice weather.
Phil Tarrant: We've turned it on for you.
Tim Ingram: Really, oh okay. We're pleased to be here in the spring now I understand.
Phil Tarrant: It is spring.
Tim Ingram: We're in our rainy season so it's a pleasure to be here.
Phil Tarrant: How's the hospitality? Our ... My colleagues in Australia, they looked out for you guys?
Tim Ingram: Oh God yeah.
Chris Hay: Legendary.
Tim Ingram: Very polite.
Chris Hay: Very calm to visit.
Tim Ingram: Yeah, they can't do enough for us to be perfectly honest. The humour, the accents between us is always a great love.
Phil Tarrant: I spent some time with some of the guys and girls from the Royal Navy and the affinity that Australia and England have is obviously a long-established relationship.
Tim Ingram: Yeah.
Phil Tarrant: You guys sent the best that you have, out to Australia a couple hundred years ago. Yeah, we've done well as a result of it. It's good to see you still out here doing what you do but, Chris I'm gonna start with you. IMI Critical Engineering, what do you guys do?
Chris Hay: We're part of the IMI group, so it's the third biggest valve manufacturer in the world. We're a small part of that, as I'm a true Fed Marine. And we focus on Naval Marine valves for surface ships and submarines, we've got a legacy in the UK fleet and all the UK submarines and almost all the UK surface fleet. But we're also on the Collins Class in Australia. So we focus purely on the Naval Marine market, really important to us.
Phil Tarrant: So you're already working in Australian marketplace?
Chris Hay: That's correct, yeah.
Phil Tarrant: So what brings you out to the Pacific then?
Chris Hay: It's the first time we've come out here for a while. We wanted to see a number of our customers, but also to explore what localization options we've got for the future submarine programme and the future frigate programme. So, we're looking for partners in the industry who may be able to support, maybe be able to manufacture for us, maybe distribute for us, and see where we go from there. So we're making some really good contacts so far.
Phil Tarrant: So you're quite bullish about the role you might be able to play in delivering valves into the future submarine programme?
Chris Hay: Yeah, we're really confident on the quality of our valves, the legacy we've got within the market and we're working with your partners naval group and yeah, so we're really confident of where we can go forward and what we can do to support the Australian Government and the Royal Australian Navy going forward.
Phil Tarrant: And as an English business coming to Australia trying to get into the Australian supply chain, has it been easy or is it quite a tough nut to crack?
Chris Hay: It's not been easy, I don't think this is ever easy but we've found that companies are very receptive. We've made lot so very good contacts out here and I think it's going to follow on to probably visits again, 3, 6 months down the line try to come out here and actually sit down with some businesses and I think we've got some very good opportunities out here now.
Phil Tarrant: And for other organisations, whether it's Australians looking to get into global supply chain or English or Americans trying to come into Australia, what's the secret to forming sort of local relationships.
Chris Hay: I really think it's just go out there, make yourself available, try and meet as many people as you can and do your research before you get here and there's a lot of companies that are here exhibiting, they might not be the biggest companies in the world but they're very specialised and I think doing that research up front has really helped us to make some really good contacts.
Phil Tarrant: That's good and Tim you're CEO of Marine Data, what's Marine Data do?
Tim Ingram: Marina Data, well we've been producing equipment for the last forty years, originally formed in 1978. We do navigational equipment that goes onto the bridge of commercial military ships. We do a whole suite of products that could be used for say, legacy equipment to convert into the more modern equipment, gyros for instance, you know gyros wear out, they'd fit new digital gyros now and you have to interface from one to another. We do a whole suite of instrumentation from heading sensors, rate of turn rudder systems, speed, GPS instrumentation. We do a lot of sensors for measuring earths magnetic field so we can get magnetic heading from solid state sensors, which we developed back in, well one of our engineers who was part of Marine Data and formed it in 1978 produced the first Foxgate Sensor that was originally used in aviation but it's actually come down to ground onto surface fleet. So we do a whole series of technological equipment for the bridge.
You know it comes from a great legacy of development engineers from the 1950s where the engineers formed Marine Data back in the seventies, produced a lot of equipment originally for Sperry, which then went on to working with Boeing and then of course everybody know that Boeing made NASA's hardware so that leads into NASA. NASA we produced for NASA, the engineers produced a lot of instrumentation, gyros, attitude sensors, the gyros for Apollo 11, the engineers produced the automatic landing system for Apollo 11.
So, there's a lot of instrumentation that originally comes from space and aviation has come into Marine Data. We also work with a Atlantic project, tellurometers, altitude sensors, instrumentation. So we've got a great background with technology that's come into Marine Data and that's been passed through the system through the years to today where we use obviously the latest technology, the latest market processes, software tools, artwork CAD systems so.
Phil Tarrant: So are you an engineer? Is that your background?
Tim Ingram: I am, yes, I originate from engineer. My background originated with work doing boat, leisure craft electrical and electronic installation when I was, even while I was still at school. I did that and then when I left school I went to University did software and electronics design. Built my own computer back in ...
Phil Tarrant: So you're a nerd right?
Tim Ingram: Pardon?
Phil Tarrant: You're a bit of a nerd? Which is okay, you know.
Tim Ingram: Nerd, geek, whatever.
Phil Tarrant: Whatever it is?
Tim Ingram: Yeah, bit of a rebel.
Phil Tarrant: Which is the future by the way, you know.
Tim Ingram: I think is a rebel geek. So yeah, so I do a lot of development out of the ordinary and I'm very keen about experimenting with things that people have never done before, just trying to crack our egg and see what happens.
Phil Tarrant: It's interesting, I'm not an engineer, hats off to guys like you who have those skills, that inquisitive mind to actually go and do it but, what do you like about it, you know, do you like making things out of nothing and being able to give something to someone that's of use? What's the ...
Tim Ingram: Well, more mental was my father who did all this aviation and this NASA projects and gyros and stuff and when I was around I remember when I used to live just outside London, my father used to come home with these projects he was working on and I distinctly remember I was around about 7 years old and he started showing me digital displays, which were in valves and I can't remember the technical term behind these valves but they had little phosphorescent.
Phil Tarrant: Little valve expert here by the way ...
Tim Ingram: Little valves they used to come up with numbers, you know. And I was like, what this is fantastic. There was solid state stuff going on here, no moving parts, this fantastic engineering. Then I started messing about and my dad started showing me logic, you know the, nobody will understand, very few people will understand but it's TTL, which is logic by seas. I started playing around with all this and you know, this is from a very young age, I was about 10 years old I started doing digital logic circuits and stuff like that and I used to think it was absolutely fascinating that you could do all this stuff and not see any of it moving.
You've got displays, you've got digital entry control systems and alarm systems and stuff like that and nothing moved, it was absolutely fantastic and then I went into doing guitar amplifiers and valve amplifiers because one of my fathers hobbies, which was to repair televisions. My dad showed me about repairing televisions and he used to take me around to some of his customers and do things like that and I ended up knowing how to repair televisions so when I was at school I used to repair my classmates record players, radios and stuff. Then the teachers started coming to me and saying, "Would you repair my television?" You know, well what's wrong with it? And he's just "It's just got a white line across it." I said "Ah, it's time base, I'll bring in a valve tomorrow."
Phil Tarrant: So Julian, you're a Technical Author, I imagine you're a techie guy as well?
Julian S.: Well I write all their manuals, their data sheets and keep, trying to keep on top of all their documentation. They keep churning out products and we've got to keep churning out manuals to keep up with it. Trying to get the information across in clear manner so that we can put on the website and make sure that everybody's got access to information the way they need it and if necessary in different languages so we do all that sort of thing. That's my main role.
Phil Tarrant: How difficult is it to articulate technical capabilities of a particular piece of kit that you do into some words or some speak to actually educate and influence people to either use it more effectively or actually understand how it works?
Julian S.: Well they need to know, they don't really need to know how it works because the sort of customers we're selling to know what they want. They need to know how to instal it, how big cutaways have to be to store the cables and we do that, that's what we do. My background, my original background is Marine Science. I was actually a trained Fisheries Scientist so I was involved underwater science and I became involved with Marine Data in 2006.
I've been working with them since then, we had a joint project, we were working on an underwater camera system for looking at strangely a common area of interest. Underwater cameras looking at fish in low light conditions in trolls and I needed somebody to make me an intelligent timer and battery charging system and an underwater housing to put all the batteries in. So Tim came along at the time, he'd been working on some other projects for us, he'd been involved in developing stress testing equipment for scallops, believe it or not, we called it the bionic scallop. It was a little scallop with an accelerometers inside it and we'd put this ... it was made of epoxy resin ... we'd put the scallop on the seabed and we'd go and troll over it with real scallop dredge and we'd find out what the stresses and strains it was subject to and then we could work out what the stresses and strains the real scallops were subject to.
So I got Tim working with me to build the underwater camera system we called the Deep Sea Video Recorder, we couldn't think of anything else, DSVR was the name that came out of thin air and we were selling this to fisheries institutes around Europe and it worked really well and that's how I became first involved with Marine Data.
Phil Tarrant: Interesting, and we'll one up boys but Chris, has it been worthwhile sort of coming out to Pacific to fly the flag for the business and represent England out here to try and get into the Australian supply chain?
Chris Hay: Absolutely, definitely. We've met some really key people for us going forward, both in the Australian Navy but also other Navys around the world, it's been a really good networking event for us. So we've seen Rear Admirals, we've seen Chief of Navys, we've seen various people who can actually put us in touch with the right people for us to sort of work with the Australian Navy going forward. It's really exciting for us.
Phil Tarrant: Your tip for Australian SMEs, just get out there and do what you do?
Chris Hay: Exactly. Yeah, just go out there and make the network, yeah.
Phil Tarrant: Ask questions, meet people.
Chris Hay: Make the networking connections and just keep going.
Phil Tarrant: That's good. I really appreciate your time guys. You know I like the hustle, I like people getting out there, creating opportunities and you've got to be on ground to do so.
Tim Ingram: Oh definitely, yeah it's been really good for us as well.
Listen to previous episodes of the Defence Connect podcast:
Episode 61: PODCAST: Expanding UK business interests in Australian defence industry, Stephen Phipson CBE, DIT DSO
Episode 60: PODCAST: Defending the defence industry, Daniel Mendoza-Jones, Mendoza Legal and Consulting founder
Episode 59: PODCAST: Making industry a fundamental input to capability, Andrew Garth, general manager, CDIC
Episode 58: PODCAST: The shifting sands of AIC, Lee Stanley, Daronmont Technologies
Episode 57: PODCAST: Fostering the future of defence industry, Margot Forster, Defence Teaming Centre CEO
Episode 56: PODCAST: Propelling Defence through advanced automation – Andrew Seal, Siemens head of defence and marine solutions
Episode 55: PODCAST: Exports key to the future of Australia’s defence industry, Richard Marles, opposition spokesman for defence
Episode 54: PODCAST: Mining boom to defence boom – Minister Paul Papalia, WA’s Defence Issues Minister
Episode 53: PODCAST: Gearing Victoria for growth, Greg Combet, Victoria’s defence industry advocate
Episode 52: PODCAST: Championing Australian defence exports, David Singleton, CEO, Austal