Business is looking good for Aussie manufacturers but businesses need to work harder to ensure that today’s opportunities aren’t wasted tomorrow.

Australia’s manufacturers have rebounded strongly in recent months and are confident of improving profits next year due to rising turnover and a lower Australian dollar, according to the latest edition of the Australia Chamber-Westpac Survey of Industrial Trends (September quarter).

According to the survey, the Westpac-AusChamber Actual Composite index rebounded in the September quarter to 57.3 points, up 2.3 points, reflecting strength across new orders, output and overtime, and an emerging resilience in employment.

Home building and renovation activity contributing to growth
James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says the survey shows that “manufacturers are tapping into new home building and renovation activity in Australia and a more competitive currency internationally to make sales at home and abroad”.

“The positive outlook is encouraging, with a net 25 per cent of manufacturers expecting the general business environment to strengthen in the next six months,” he says. “With new orders and output rising, many businesses plan to increase overtime and hire new staff.”

R&D is more relevant than ever
According to John Cooke, Manager, Manufacturing Industry, NSW Business Chamber, the results of the survey are positive, with opportunities for employment growth and businesses indicating an intention to invest in capital, however the industry can’t afford to be complacent. 

“Now is an ideal time to invest in R&D and product development to develop more advanced products and the supporting services  we offer customers,” he says. “Overall, it’s an opportunity to develop more advanced manufacturing models with respect to process, product and services – that is, at a more strategically advanced and competitive business model level.”

Other areas to address during periods of strong demand include:

•    invest in more dynamic business models, such as those having a more future-oriented and global outlook fitted to ever-changing business and technology advancements
•    develop managerial and leadership capabilities for sustainability in a global business environment
•    develop stronger competitive advantages 
•    work with Government procurement to ensure competitiveness on both cost and innovativeness
•    learn how to turn invention (where we are very good) into innovative products (where we are very poor)
•    invest in future manufacturing skills by increasing apprenticeship uptake and  otherwise working with the VET sector to improve future skills development. 

“An index above 50 means demand is strong but we must use this opportunity to invest in our manufacturing future,” Cooke says.

Develop your skills as a leader
NSW Business Chamber’s Manufacturing Division has launched a Leader Development Program.

The program covers a number of critical components to leader (not leadership) development, including Business Strategy, Change Management, Leader Development pathways, Systems, Structure and Innovation – all of which are applied to the participants’ workplaces.

Focusing on the cognitive development of the individual, the program, over a period of around eight months, initiates a process which should then continue under self-directed learning for a lifetime.

For more information, please contact John Cooke, Manager – Manufacturing Industry on 02-9458-7474 or john.cooke@nswbc.com.au.
 
Now is an ideal time to invest in better products, through R&D and product development, and the service we offer customers. Overall, it’s an opportunity to develop a more advanced manufacturing model.