Think HBR

Hunter ready to meet manufacturing challenge

On site at Downer with NSW rolling stock

Manufacturers from the Hunter, Central and North Coast regions are enjoying a renaissance, with global demand for products on the rise and a renewed government focus on increasing advanced manufacturing capability across the nation.

This, coupled with the NSW Government commitment to build the next set of trains in NSW, has local industry leaders asking - why not build them in the Hunter?

Recently appointed Hunter Manufacturing Awards Chair Jacqui Daley says long gone are the days of thinking of manufacturing in the region as the stereotypical reference to BHP steel making… today’s manufacturing industry is diverse, technically advanced and it’s building a name for itself both nationally and internationally.

“The newly elected NSW Government have committed to building new trains in NSW, and we are suggesting that they look no further than the Hunter. We have a strong pedigree in building rolling stock with Cardiff-based Downer building the high-performing Waratah Trains fleet. It has also recently been announced they will be building 65 new six-car trains for the Queensland Government.”

In addition, the Australian Government is set to establish the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund focussed on supporting Australian innovation and industry. The fund will provide finance options for projects to help Australian industry lead the way in renewables and low emissions technologies, medical science, transport, defence and resources.

“Newcastle based energy technology company SwitchDin are building southern hemisphere’s largest test lab for energy products like solar inverters, batteries and EV chargers. We have solvable auto cleaning tablets being made at Caves Beach, hydrogen battery storage at Tomago, and electric boats at Port Macquarie – manufacturers across the region are developing innovative products at a rate of knots.”

“We are connected by land and sea to markets around the world and we know how to get products from the factory floor to the customer with minimum fuss.”

“Collaboration is at the heart of the industry here, with many businesses – big and small - working together, sharing knowledge and resources. This is when innovation happens and it’s great news for expanding our sovereign capability in manufacturing across industries – we can absolutely make things here in Australia.”

“Having a supply chain that is resilient to shocks from global disruption is smart business, and the manufacturing industry – especially in the Hunter and surrounding areas – is more than up for the challenge of tackling some of these major projects – whether it’s building a fleet of trains, landing gear on a F35, turbines for an offshore wind farm or ladders to access mining vehicles.”

Manufacturing spotlight

• Downer manufactured and maintain 119 Waratah trains in NSW – Australia’s largest passenger fleet on Australia’s largest passenger network.

• Mits Alloy manufacture high-end aluminium trays and canopies both nationally and internationally. They are based in Mayfield and are seen as the market leader globally.

• Sirron Holdings Group’s rapid development of products in response to the corona virus has introduced 230+ consumable products into the market, including a solvable auto cleaning table range officially launched into Supercheap Auto this month, substantially reducing single use plastic, all from their facility in Caves Beach.

• Ampcontrol is at the forefront of developing and supplying advanced technology, products, and services to the resources, infrastructure, and energy sectors. An example includes DRIFTEX, a Battery Electric Vehicle purpose-built to support the mining industry's transition to electrification. Global distribution with their head office at Tomago.

• Newcastle-based SwitchDin have created a platform that securely communicates with and controls virtually any solar system, battery or load, delivering performance intelligence, insight and remote management capabilities.

• Hedweld manufacture jigs, joists, hoists, farm fencing and plenty more. Global distribution, with their head office at Mount Thorley.

• Resourceful Living manufacturer a range of tailor-made products from 100% plastic waste and are based in Kurri Kurri.

Hunter Manufacturing Awards will be launching their annual program this month which culminates in the awards presentation in October 2023.

HMA are a not-for-profit organisation run by a volunteer board. They have recently elected a new Chair Jacqui Daley, with previous Chair Steven Smith stepping down from the role but remaining on the board. The board includes

• Chair Jacqui Daley, The Measured Marketer

• Deputy Chair Brett Allan, Molycop

• Treasurer Andrew Gresham, BAE Systems

• Steven Smith, Emergent Group

• Graeme Vennell, HunterNet

• Frank Sammut, Central Coast Industry Connect

• Kristy Hedley, Hedweld Group

• Steph Loadsman, KPMG