The Manufacturers’ Pavilion provided a showcase for a diverse range of Australian manufacturing companies, and generally they seemed optimistic about the outlook for the industry.

Romar Engineering is involved in medical device development and manufacture, with former and current partners including Cochlear, Resmed and Vaxxas. Although its stand featured everything from surgical aids to microfluidics, it had seen strong interest in its new DMG Mori Lasertec 65, a hybrid laser deposition welding and five-axis milling machine.

“It’ll bring a lot of value to medical devices, to defence, across the industry, because we can print up to 15 different materials at once with this and we can print up to three different materials in the one component,” said Managing Director Neil Wilson.

The machine is a $1.25m co-investment between Wilson’s company and the CSIRO. Wilson believes collaboration with public researchers is “critical”, noting Romar’s links with universities including University of Wollongong, Deakin and ANU.

Andrew Donald Design Engineering (ADDE) had brought its new end-of-line palletiser, based on a Universal Robot UR10 machine mounted on a column and swing mechanism. General Manager Barry Hendy said the system only took hours to integrate and while the UR10 was able to work with European pallet sizes, this solution had been adapted for Australian-standard CHEP pallets. Interest in ADDE’s core offering of automation solutions had been strong during the show, Hendy said.

“Our projects are sometimes quite significant, so we really only need one job to come from a show and it’s been worthwhile,” he added.

Rae-Line primarily makes interior trim for Kenworth trucks, though it has recently diversified into areas such as sports and safety padding, said Christian Carthew, the company’s Business Development Manager.

“This is probably not our core space,” he said of the show, where the Rae-Line stand was situated next to a big Kenworth rig. “But you never know where your next lead will come from, so we were happy to embrace it.”

Carthew said that the mood in the industry appeared mixed, but predicted things were picking up. His evidence? Truck builds are on the up. This is good news for Rae-Line, but it could also be good news for the rest of the industry – as an indicator of logistics activity, probably driven by consumer demand.

“There’s a correlation between truck builds and the economy – there really is,” explained Carthew.  “But maybe something else is driving it. Hopefully it’s a sign that things are on the mend.”