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SAE-A calls for more investment in local industry

Silver lining: The Society of Automotive Engineers – Australasia has welcomed Ford’s decision to keep its local product development centre open.

Greater focus on exports, more investment and cost-reduction key to strong industry

23 May 2013

THE Society of Automotive Engineers – Australasia has applauded Ford’s decision to maintain its product development centre in Australia, and has called for more investment and a greater export focus for all local manufacturers.

SAE-A executive director Geoff Pearson said today that the decision by Ford to cease manufacturing in 2016 was another warning for Australian manufacturers.

Many of the 1000 designers and engineers at the Ford development centre are members of the SAE-A.

“All Australian manufacturing is challenged by high costs,” Mr Pearson said. “Low labour and production costs and high volume production in sophisticated overseas plants have made Australia an export target.

“Together with the high Australian dollar, this has resulted in the diversity of 65 brands of vehicles and 365 models in an Australian market of only one million vehicle sales a year.

“While local Ford design and engineering will continue here, Ford vehicle exports remain minimal. To compete in manufacturing internationally, Australian businesses need to adopt best practice processes, systems and technologies.

“Reducing costs through the application of state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies and an export focus must be critical objectives for Australian manufacturers.”

Mr Pearson said the SAE-A was disappointed over Ford’s decision to cease production in 2016.

“Among the 1200 jobs that may be lost when Ford ceases local manufacturing are those of the skilled technicians and engineers who work on the production lines. There will be similar impacts on those businesses that supply the Ford manufacturing plants,” he said.

“The society is concerned that such a large number of skilled production people may be lost to Australian industry if other manufacturers do not expand operations, or new enterprises open.”

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