Australian manufacturing alive and well

When asked why he still manufactures many of his products in Australia when it’s cheaper to make them overseas, Ron Mileham doesn’t hesitate to respond.

“We know exactly what we want the product to look like and what it should be made from and how, says Ron.

“Also, we can make improvements in a flash – we can test and modify immediately and we can control the quality at every stage of manufacture.”

Ron admits Australian made products mainly applies more to “one-offs” and “small runs”, rather than repeatable, large volume items.

“But King Materials Handling specializes in solving materials handling problems first, with the particular equipment necessary to complement the overall task second,” says Ron.

“Manufacturing in Australia has been greatly affected by the colossus that is China, with the consequence that many process workers have been laid off, retrained or retired, says Ron.

“Multitasking is the order of the day, along with a work ethic that corresponds with today’s highly paid skilled workforce.”

Manufacturers must therefore determine the selling price of the product based upon the level of design, raw materials, factory time, machinery use, skill and personnel time that goes into the manufacturing of a complex product.

“The sobering point is when a product manufactured overseas, becomes cheaper to buy
and ship to Australia than the locally produced product, says Ron. “This is something that all manufacturers here are on the lookout for.”

One answer is to produce either single unit or small runs, where local production can be supply time efficient, with local back up relating to spares and service.

And with the prices of raw materials and labour costs rising in China local manufacturers
can now focus on large runs where the majority of the work is by automated machinery with little or no labour input.

“Manufacturing has had to take a good hard look at itself, and has been forced to make some hard decisions, says Ron. “The result has been a thinning out and a more focused, more globally aware group.”

Ron says it is becoming more difficult for manufacturers who are not pro-active in seeking new work.

“Those with knowledge of the Internet, a creative and possibly interactive web presence and latterly social networking are stealing a march on those who are not connected,” he says.

Changing times means that manufacturers must more than ever before, be aware that competition for their products is at an all time high.

So the question is, where do you stand in the market place?

“Can you be a proud Australian manufacturer which can beat the pants off any inferior imported product and where price is not the buyers major consideration, says Ron, “Or are you a me-too? If that’s the case, then times will simply get tougher for you.”

Australian manufacturers must make a stand, he says.

“We need to think about how we can make great innovative products at a competitive price or be so unique as to not care about competition, he says.

“We are a nation of innovative thinkers. We have produced many hundreds of thousands of products in the past, which have been adopted world wide. We need not to care about how China has ripped the guts out of the everyday product manufacturing and sold it off cheaply to the world.

“We need to get that brain power working for a better future for all Australians.”

To this end, King Materials Handling has formed a company called The Midas group. Its motto is “turning ideas into gold”. It is a forum where ideas, new or existing products (which may have stalled) are fed into it.

The group, made up of highly experienced marketing, design, accounting and manufacturing identities, look at the submissions and rate the merits of each.

For more information contact Ron Mileham at:

King Materials Handling
Ph: 03 9720 7181