An expert in quality management is forecasting a significant increase in components and machinery made locally under the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy, resulting in improved availability and safety of consumer goods in Australia.

The Government is investing $1.5bn into the Modern Manufacturing Strategy. Manufacturers can apply for a grant to help strengthen their local supply chain, handle mass production, upskill employees, scale up and improve competitiveness.

According to Saeid Nikdel, quality management expert at SAI Global, COVID-19 restrictions across the world have impeded availability of goods due to parts and components held up in international supply chains. The problem has highlighted the Australian manufacturing sector’s dependence on overseas markets for the supply of machinery, tools, parts and product components. Most of the machinery brought into Australia comes from the US and Europe, while product components and parts mostly come from China. In the last 12 months, local manufacturers, assemblers and distributors have faced delays almost twice as long as in 2019.

“These have impacted their ability to produce local goods” says Nikdel. “Manufacturers have also struggled to scale up operations to meet the increase in demand. It has been a wake-up call for our manufacturers, who now realise they must strengthen their supply chains. A number of our manufacturing clients are now looking to produce their own product components in Australia. The growth and strengthening of Australia’s manufacturing sector is dependent on this happening and the Government investment is timely.”

Nearly nine in ten Australians believe we should produce a higher proportion of essential products locally, and 82% think our infrastructure projects should use Australian-made products whenever possible, even if it costs more.

While, most evidently, the growth in production and manufacturing on our shores will benefit our economy, consumers will also see a significant shift towards quality through supply chains, not just improved availability.

“We have higher standards and statutory and regulatory requirements than other countries, benefitting the end user with superior-quality products with safer design considerations,” Nikdel adds. “Safer products will result in minimal incident risks or product recalls, increasing customer satisfaction. Our high safety legislations, codes of practice, and quality standards are the reasons why Australian-made products are so popular in international markets. As our manufacturers start to produce more locally, they can place a stronger focus on providing quality and safety products and services by certifiying to Quality Management System ISO 9001 and OHS Management System ISO 45001.”

Nikdel is optimistic that government investment will improve its target manufacturing segments: space, resources technology, critical minerals processing, food & beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, and defence.

“As demand for Australian suppliers increases, our local manufacturers will also need to boost their workforce and facilities to scale up their operations. Right now, the manufacturing sector has a shortage of skilled machinery operators. The Government’s direct funding of the sector will not only result in new manufacturing areas, but also an increase in skilled workers and manufacturing facilities.”