Published 18-06-2020
| Article appears in June 2020 Issue

LOOK LOCAL TO FIX THE CHAIN

17-06-2020

The fragility of Australia’s domestic manufacturing capability has been exposed by the COVID-19 crisis. Subsequently, manufacturers and engineers have sought to fix the links in their supply chains locally.

Wilson & Gilkes, an Australian engineering and manufacturing firm, recently demonstrated some of the advantages of homegrown capability when a large retailer sought a large-scale fitout of sale safety screens in its outlets across the nation.

The Mills Group, which supplies and manufactures a range of shopfitting and signage essentials to clients all across the retail sector, called Wilson & Gilkes to request the outsourcing of a steel bracket required for the safety screens.

“Due to the need for retailers to protect their staff and customers from the risks of COVID-19 as quickly as possible, this project required delivery in incredibly tight timeframes,” says a Mills Group representative.

“So we needed Wilson & Gilkes to be responsive.”

Immediately, Wilson & Gilkes was able to partner with the Mills Group to quickly turn around bracket prototypes, sometimes within hours.

“Wilson & Gilkes supported us in that development process,” the Mills Group says.

“And the project was able to get to the very critical roll out phase extremely quickly as a result.”

Within 10 days, Wilson & Gilkes satisfied the order for thousands of brackets. The essential component was freighted around the country and installed on-site by the Mills Group.

Wilson & Gilkes CEO James Hunt says the execution of the retailer’s requirement was a spectacular success.

“Especially given the design, installation and logistics challenges,” he says.

“And I’m equally proud of what our company was able to achieve. Few could have met the Mills Group timeframe, but thanks to our local manufacturing capability and expertise, our team could respond.”

Hunt believes the COVID crisis is an opportunity for business and government to rethink their supply strategy.

“The COVID crisis has illustrated how exposed our country’s supply chain is to disruption. We understand that the budget of many projects necessitates an offshore supply solution. That said, the crisis highlights the need for business and government to consider, in a post-COVID economy, the benefits of a dual Australian and Chinese supply strategy for appropriate goods.”

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