There were five objectives of the Manufacturing into the Future Residency.
Objective 1: Provide guidance in the development of a manufacturing industry strategy and an implementation plan that involves both government and external providers. This report meets Objective 1.
Objective 2: Transfer knowledge about business model innovation with an emphasis on small to medium enterprises. A series of workshops with 10 South Australian manufacturers were held and the process will be documented a handbook that can be used to implement the process on a larger scale.
Objective 3: Assist in bridging the gap between research needed by industry and the instigation of university research projects. Discussions with universities and industry organisations were held set against the backdrop of an article outlining the relationship between university research and industry innovation—a relationship that is frequently misunderstood by academics and the federal public sector in Australia. Recommendations towards achieving changes in the present situation were provided in the meetings and are included in this report.
Objective 4: Raise awareness of emerging opportunities in a globally competitive manufacturing sector and accelerate the emergence of a new manufacturing paradigm for South Australia. Discussions were held with as many stakeholders as possible, nationally as well as in South Australia, and the author participated in key events relating to manufacturing throughout Australia. Key recommendations are included in this report and were also presented through public lectures and debate.
Objective 5: Provide advice to the manufacturing sector on the skills development needed for modern manufacturing. Discussions were held with universities, TAFE institutions and industry organisations and the advice is touched upon in this report.
South Australia’s resources boom brings transformative opportunities to this small state, but it also brings the clear threat of economic structural problems. To overcome these problems and to take advantage of international studies on the needs of small economies, this report makes an argument for substantial government involvement in the areas of industry, innovation, research and associated policies.
Manufacturing is a vital and significant contributor to the Australian economy with well understood multiplier effects on the rest of the economy that are larger than for any other sector. Manufacturing, like all sectors, is continuously changing. This can be seen through the increasing presence of services and solutions in the business offerings of manufacturing firms. This growing servitisation is blurring traditional boundaries of industry and causes reliability issues in public statistics. One consequence of this is an underestimation of the growth, size and importance of the manufacturing industry in modern economies.
In spite of Australia’s long record of achievement in manufacturing, our performance compared to leading manufacturing nations like Sweden, Finland, Germany and Switzerland is relatively poor. This is cause for concern, as manufacturing is the primary source of technological innovation across the Australian business sector. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the success of countries like Sweden has been widely ascribed to their technologically advanced export oriented manufacturing. Now, more than ever, it is important to be a country that makes things.
The South Australian manufacturing sector is moving into a technological environment of boundless promise and unprecedented challenge. In order to emerge as a strengthened global player making a vital contribution to the South Australian economy, it is essential that the sector be encouraged to grasp these new opportunities.