The Australian Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) has flagged the defence industry as a key player in redefining manufacturing within Australia.
AMGC's managing director Jens Goennemann spoke with Defence Connect about Australia's manufacturing industry and stressed there is a need to redefine our current viewpoint on what it actually encompasses.
"We need to define manufacturing differently," Goenneman said. "We need to define it differently, because in manufacturing, the way we look at it, the way we measure it is very much production-centric, and if we would like to capture all the companies who do the right thing and move up and down the value chain, if we count them in our statistics as service companies, as engineering companies, and not as manufacturers, they only exist because of manufacturing! We are doing something wrong."
The former managing director of Airbus Group Australia Pacific said research and development (R&D) and design are often left out of the manufacturing discussion, a detriment to the industry.
"We see companies, like Ford for example, closing down the assembly of cars but at the same time Ford has built up a workforce of more than a thousand engineers who work in R&D and design. That is high skilled, high value work in Australia, which should be captured as manufacturing, because that's the right thing to do," said Goennemann.
Goennemann used the example of welding as one area, once perceived as a more traditional trade in manufacturing, as one that Australia has the potential to transform, particularly with the upcoming shipbuilding projects.
"Welding is certainly being perceived as a traditional trade. But it is not about what we do, it is about how we do it," Goennemann said.
"So if welding transforms and merges with robotics for example, welding as a traditional trade will eventually transform itself, and they are on a fantastic track into a trade which combines robotics as a modern technology, with a traditional one. And if I just think forward of all the confined spaces in future ship build, welding has its place, but it should be the smart welding. It should be the welding which deploys, utilises, the technology of robotics, which are then not only building our ships on shore and sustains them, but is a globally competitive feature and technology we possess."
To hear more about manufacturing and the defence industry from Jens Goennemann, listen to our podcast here.