by Angela Haynes
How are manufacturers responding to COVID-19? What steps are they taking to set themselves up for a successful rebound? Cumberland Business Chamber have spoken to three Wetherill Park industrial manufacturers who are making the most of these unprecedented times.
Many manufacturers have been fortunate to maintain operations during the pandemic. For Premier Steel Technologies, the immediate priority was business continuity. This included informing the workforce and prioritizing health and safety, including mental well-being. Hygiene and segregation strategies were implemented such as split shifts, taking breaks in isolated areas of the premises and establishing working from home options.
In extension of their already family friendly workplace, earlier this year and before COVID-19, Consep Engineering Innovation had opened an in-house crèche 3 days a week. They found this to be very useful during COVID-19 to support workers with young families in continuing to work. Video conferencing was also widely adopted as a great way to retain personal contact in times where we need to be physically distant.
A key COVID-19 response for Fluid Power Engineering Solutions was to have a firm handle on the finances of the company on a day to day basis. This involved working very closely with customers to meet their needs and similarly with suppliers to sure-up critical elements of the supply chain. This has allowed the business to navigate these waters and respond with open eyes.
Fluid Power Engineering Solutions has used COVID-19 as an opportunity to critically assess their businesses ‘in the trenches’ giving management the opportunity to understand internal processes and efficiencies. They’ve developed an ‘Efficiency Group’ to look at areas where they can cut business costs as, like many SME’s, the business is not immune to market down-turns and adverse economic conditions.
“We’re set for rebuild as we’ve assessed and evaluated; we’re lean and we’re confident in our people and partnerships.”John Ferguson, National Sales and Marketing Manager, Fluid Power Engineering Solutions
Grant Steward, Managing Director of Consep Engineering Innovation, describes how Consep have also always manufactured locally and put great value on this. Consep are investing in their local manufacturing capability by overhauling and upgrading their Hallstrom Place facilities, together with increasing skills and people power.
Speaking of investment, General Manager of Premier Steel Technologies, David Allan recognises that a successful rebound will be enhanced by a healthy balance sheet and cash reserves that enable a business to capitalize on growth opportunities, a focus for their rebuild phase.
“I am confident that those companies that make it through this period will become stronger for having survived.”David Allan, General Manager, Premier Steel Technologies
With Australia doing extremely well in containing the disease, manufacturers are embarking on their rebound. Following 15-20 years of products moving offshore to be manufactured, David Allan is cautiously optimistic that demand for Premier Steel Technologies locally manufactured products will increase as a result of COVID-19. He is proactive in discussions with past and current customers about sourcing local product again and is prepared to diversify into non-traditional forms of manufacture if opportunities arise.
As the name suggests, Fluid Power Engineering Solutions has been built on solutions and has been embracing Industry 4.0 and IoT, the Internet of Things for some time. John Ferguson sees further innovation and development of unique propositions as core to FPES rebound strategy. He believes that is not a time to sit quietly and FPES are increasing their external sales and marketing presence and also looking to up-skill their workforce.
For Consep Engineering Innovation, the rebound is already underway following what Grant Steward considers a privilege to have kept operating through COVID-19. Consep have identified external demand for their rubber lining capabilities, which have typically been used in-house only and soon will open up to the wider market. They are also investing in a robot welder to drive quality and efficiency.
Consep has tenders out for major projects in the WA iron ore industry which, if successful, will fill the factory for the next 12-18 months. Their gold mining equipment has had a record quarter with sales to Russia and Saudi Arabia being particularly strong. When international borders open they look forward to servicing, installing and commissioning equipment for their global customers as well as kicking off Consep North America.
Clearly each of these Wetherill Park based manufacturers are serious and on the right track for a successful rebound from COVID-19. Cumberland Business Chamber is proud to be associated with these and other Western Sydney industrial manufacturers who have been tenacious in their COVID-19 response and vigorous in their search for growth and diversification opportunities.