Why do we believe in Australian manufacturing?
4 Min Read
Most of us have a sense of why buying locally-made products is positive – It supports the local economy, businesses and communities. While this is a great reason to shop local in and of itself, what is often overlooked are the substantial benefits to designers, specifiers, purchasers and the end client when choosing products that are produced locally.
In our experience within the A&D industry, we’ve noticed that our products are often assumed to be fabricated offshore, when in reality they are always designed and made locally – often sourcing all components from within a 20km radius of our studio.
Is this reflective of a broader mindset that fabrication no longer really happens here in Australia? The truth is there are hundreds of small to medium local designers and makers that can benefit greatly from support from specifiers. On the flip side, using local designers and makers benefits the specifiers, and all parties involved in their projects, in a number of ways.
As the building and refurbishment periods of projects are becoming more intensified, so is the demand for efficiently produced, readily available products. Pair this with an ever increasing demand for customised, project specific products and this is where lead times can start to become an issue. In some cases, imported goods are subject to longer and often rigid lead times and/or fluctuating supply levels. Local manufacturers can be much more responsive to lead-time pressures due to their proximity to the project and availability to project managers and builders.
Small businesses want the work and they will make the effort to make it happen. Often local manufacturers are smaller in scale and therefore have the agility to either switch their production schedules or modify products to respond to lead time adjustments.
Specifiers and clients can be more engaged with the entire process when dealing with a local manufacturer. Finish samples can be viewed first hand, giving a tactile experience that can be an invaluable part of the decision making process. We’re always happy to sit down with clients to discuss ideas and concerns about the project, explain the process and usually find this helps expand the scope of the project and iron out any potential problems before they happen, making the process much more efficient. Being directly involved allows more minds to come together, each adding their specialized experience and knowledge to achieve a greater resolution of the project.
Communication, Support and Maintenance
Local businesses can minimise delays caused by communicating the intricacies of project demands through the long chain of command (managers/clients – builders – contractors – wholesalers – suppliers). In such a long chain the weakest link can cause untimely and expensive problems. Dealing with local networks is more likely to avoid such issues.
Local manufacturers can provide immediate and ongoing support for projects from the design and specification stage through to project completion. When communicating with local manufacturers you are dealing directly with someone who knows their products from the inside out, who understands their application and can give insightful advice on how they can best be utilised within your project, giving greater potential to the final result.
Further to upfront support throughout the project timeline, the end user can also benefit from local maintenance support. Any issues can be responded to immediately.
The more people that come together on a project, the stronger our local network and knowledge base becomes. Aside from purely economic benefits, we help to grow the creative & intellectual economy, which is really the lifeblood of the industry, and the more we give, the more we get. As our product range develops and grows, so does the capabilities of our network, which in turn enables us to push more boundaries and refine our output to a higher degree. It also helps in building positive long-term relationships, which can be extremely useful when any of us are in a bind. We’ve all had to ask for favours at one point or another, and it helps to know we can get by with a little help from our friends.
Locally sourced production vastly reduces the shipping distances required in the logistics of projects. Emissions regulations are also more strict here than many other places, though we still have much room for improvement in that regard.
Manufacturing locally allows us to source and trace materials that meet our high standards for producing ethical and sustainable products. This approach can also be scaled up to produce at very high quantities, not just confined to small scale manufacturing.
The future of Australian manufacturing
Australians have always been proud of our manufacturing ability, and rightly so. From a thriving car industry to agricultural and mining machinery to new advanced manufacturing technologies we’ve had a sense of punching above our weight. This is despite the slow pace of some Government policies which could better assist the security and evolution of the sector. The misconception that Australia’s manufacturing sector isn’t competitive (especially in terms of volume) should be challenged and changed. We must embrace the next wave of contemporary design movements and continue to enhance the lives of everyone who makes and buys our products. If you underestimate Australia’s ability to succeed in this environment you might be surprised…