New-age Manufacturing at REDARC

Read the latest article on REDARC’s Managing Director, Anthony Kittel published in the Sunday Mail 18/7/15. The Sunday Mail is leading the way in opening a discussion about how to unlock the state’s prosperity between now and 2030.

Words by Anthony Kittel

"While traditional manufacturing struggles, fast-changing technology and social changes are opening up myriad new opportunities to make quality products."

I believe in a 2030 vision for manufacturing where South Australian made products and services are a global mark of quality and innovation. Smarter technology will help get more out of workers, using fewer resources. Scientific breakthroughs in photonics, nanotechnologies, recycling and remanufacturing technologies, mechatronics and embedding electronics – focus areas of research in SA today – will realise highly efficient and zero-emission manufacturing. Intelligent engineering with specialised materials including graphene - mined in SA – and the integration of functions will open up opportunities for our engineers.

Products and production will be designed, tested and commissioned digitally, linked to real-time optimisation, redesign, quality checks and process flexibility. Every aspect of engineering design across all products and processes will be completed simultaneously and collaboratively, reducing time-to-market by half.

Our factories of 2030 will have production systems that self-learn, optimise, diagnose and configure. Human-machine communication will be improved and automation systems standardised, wirelessly integrated and modular with decentralised intelligence. Industries and products will be able to create a digital shadow where information is stored and constantly updated in a common database. Iconic companies like Coopers Brewery, Haigh’s Chocolates and Hills Industries will be 168 years, 115 years and 85 years old, respectively, and the SA Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) will be 21.

At REDARC, where we make battery chargers and accessories, we will have continued a strong growth trajectory in Australia as the number of grey nomads continues to expand. We would be benefiting from an established presence in export markets, including the US, Europe, South America and the Middle East. We will be innovating, manufacturing and developing talent in Australia after 51 years of successful business.

Proliferation of electric vehicles and enhanced battery technologies augur well for our business in the future. All this will happen because we have the strength of our green food industries, particularly those linked to Asia, our resources and world-leading research and development efforts across industries. Our future success will also be about leveraging talent from our universities - roped in by encouraging local and foreign companies to do their research and development here.

Building a talent pool of scientists, engineers, and workers with expertise in manufacturing disciplines, will go a long way toward building an innovation powerhouse despite our size. Opportunities exist in the areas of e-mobility (e-cars, engines, batteries), health (medicine, chemistry facilitated by SAHMRI), bio-products, food, agricultural, environmental sectors, energy, water and customised consumer goods. It won’t be an easy decade, though. A major challenge is building freight and communication networks to seamlessly connect with domestic and export customers. We will be getting older with fewer workers to support retirees and young dependents - a ratio of one worker to three non-working individuals by 2030.

New manufacturing leaders will have to be trained to deal with ambiguity, conflicting trends and demands and highly aware consumers - all in a world where slow growth, resource scarcity and fluctuating commodity prices become the norm. Changes for the future are here already - or at least the stepping stones are in place. Already, strategic cooperation of our industries with our universities provides students with ideal learning conditions.

We are already collaborating to create financial strength, ensuring our ideas are turned into local value. Our innovation hubs – Majoran, Hub Central and Venture Dorm – are creating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. We can sustain our well-known businesses and create new ones, providing employment for generations and a strong economy for us all. The next decade is about playing to our strengths and grabbing the right opportunities. Anthony Kittel is managing director of electronics manufacturer REDARC, Telstra’s 2014 Australian Business of the Year award winner."