Victoria’s best and brightest manufacturers converged on Geelong on 12 September for the 2018 Victorian Manufacturing Showcase.

Held at the GMHBA Stadium, home of the Geelong Football Club, the event brought together hundreds of local manufacturers under the theme ‘Evolve.Grow. Prosper’. Ben Carroll, the State Minister for Industry and Employment, officially opened the event, which provided a chance for leading industry figures to share their experience and knowledge with smaller manufacturers.

“Manufacturing has a bright future in Victoria – and we’ll continue to back local businesses – so they can create jobs and boost our economy,” said Carroll. “The Manufacturing Showcase brings some of our best and brightest manufacturers under one roof – and highlights the diversity of the multibillion-dollar industry.”

The Showcase featured a wide array of speakers discussing a broad range of subjects. Professor Saeid Nahavandi of Deakin University gave the keynote presentation ‘Manufacturing & The Future’, examining the current wave of disruption under Industry 4.0, and looking forward to the next wave, Industry 5.0. He was followed by Vanessa Kearney, Commercial Manager at Viva Energy, who gave an account of the work she led to improve productivity at Geelong Refinery, for which she won the inaugural Woman Manufacturer of the Year award at this year’s Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame Awards.

Businesses in transition were the subject matter in the next two presentations – from Nicholas Kerr of Farm Foods and Steve Garner of Keppel Prince Engineering. The initial sessions concluded with a panel discussion on ‘Women in Manufacturing’, with Kearney returning to discuss the issue alongside Lyn George, Corporate Director at Austeng, and Karen Hapgood, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science Engineering and Built Environment at Deakin.

Following a break for morning tea and networking, a second panel discussion looked at ‘Advanced Materials and Collaboration’, with Lyn George once again taking the stage alongside Derek Buckmaster of Carbon Nexus, Carl de Koning of Quickstep Holdings, and David Peart of Geelong Manufacturing Council. Then there were individual presentations from three highly accomplished Victorian manufacturing companies: Dean Haritos from the MH Group of Companies; Vanessa Katsanevakis of Sussex Taps; and Jake Dingle of Carbon Revolution.

As well as the speaker program the Showcase also featured an exhibition area with more than 40 displays showcasing locally made products. In summing up at the end of the day’s presentations, Grant Anderson, Executive Director of the Industry Capability Network, ICN (Victoria), thanked all the speakers as well as the companies and organisations who had participated in the event.

“What an outstanding attendance we’ve had here today. It reflects the interest in the manufacturing sector in Victoria,” said Anderson. “Our ability to develop, manufacture and export, and to create value for this fantatic country, is truly inspiring. Our speakers today really show what is possible when there is passion to improve and make a difference.”

Victorian manufacturing is currently thriving, recently recording 17 months of consecutive growth in the Ai Group’s Performance Manufacturing Index – the longest run of expansion ever. Manufacturing contributes $27.7bn to the Victorian economy, with over 13,000 businesses employing more than 280,000 people. It also exported $18.16bn of manufactured goods in 2016-17.

The Geelong region is home to almost 10,000 workers in manufacturing in fields like carbon-fibre, chemicals and refining, advanced fibres, industrial textiles, defence, agribusiness and transport. The local manufacturing industry is backed by Deakin University, whose Waurn Ponds campus houses cutting-edge facilities such as Carbon Nexus, the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation, the Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training, the Institute for Frontier Materials, and ManuFutures.