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Matchmaker to boost Australian manufacturing

COVID-19 becomes catalyst for booming local manufacturing in protective equipment

5 Jun 2020

THE federal government has established a vital lifeline that links manufacturers and Australian businesses to access personal protection equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, hand sanitisers and many other goods for business during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The COVID-19 Manufacturer Response Register, developed by the government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), is aimed at a broad range of business but includes automotive industries including car dealerships, service centres, parts stores, taxi and ride-share operations including Uber and GoGet, and suppliers and accessory outlets.


The interactive register uses a self-managed platform that introduces manufacturing partners and customers under an innovative match-making program.


It identifies collaboration and market opportunities to allow the supply of protective, medical or critical care equipment in response to the COVID-19 crisis.


AMGC said the crisis has led to a boom in demand for PPE, medical and critical care equipment.


Organisations needing this equipment - including surgical gowns, gloves, goggles, face shields and masks, and hand sanitisers - are encouraged to create a request for products.


Manufacturers involved in the register include Ford Australia making face shields, and a venture with Bosch, Braemac and Marand that has already supplied an initial 3000 ventilators for the federal government.


In addition, four Australian-owned and operated manufacturers have joined a global medical technology company to make emergency hospital beds; South Australian firm DetMold has changed from making packaging to producing masks and respirators; Clets Linen is making thousands of surgical gowns; and medical mask maker Med-Con and hand sanitiser producer Ego Pharmaceuticals have boosted production.


AMGC managing director Dr Jens Goennemann said the willingness of Australian manufacturers to support the current crisis demonstrates the strength of the industry.


“Australian manufacturers are highly skilled, resilient and willing, and this enhanced platform allows them to continue to support the COVID-19 response while offering their services to a broader range of potential customers,” he said.


“Collaboration is key to the manufacturing industry’s continued success and we encourage manufacturers, suppliers and customers to leverage the platform to benefit all participants.


“We want to ensure that the overwhelming offers of support from manufacturers, suppliers and individuals live as a resource and continue to provide solutions long after this pandemic.”


The COVID-19 Manufacturer Response Register is an initiative of AMGC, supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.


The minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said finding a solution to connect local supply and demand for PPE was a key in the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.


“Industry asked for this and we have delivered. This digital platform is the missing puzzle piece that will unlock widespread collaboration across the manufacturing sector and boost domestic capability by creating and expanding local supply chains,” she said.


“The matchmaking platform has already resulted in local businesses pivoting to produce essential medical supplies for COVID-19 – keeping Australians in work and building long term capability in the recovery phase.


“Importantly, the platform can be used by hospitals, GPs and community groups to find Australian suppliers of essential products such as hand sanitiser, ventilators and PPE not just now but into the future as well.”


Ms Andrews said the manufacturing program was designed to be ongoing and would not be a “flash in the pan”.


“This needs to be a capability that industry maintains well after we come out the other side,” she said.


The AMGC launched the register in late March and subsequently, more than 2500 Australian manufacturers have put their name down to help.


More recently, the AMGC and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources have added two key functionalities to the register - matching capability with supply; and allowing users to search and filter listings.


Registered manufacturers, suppliers and buyers will be able to connect through the platform. Once a business has requested a connection with another business through the platform, a notification will be sent, requesting an invitation to connect.


Only after both entities have explicitly expressed an interest to connect, will they be able to share contact details to continue the conversation outside of the platform.


On April 1, changes were made to the program to stop exploitative exports of essential goods, while PPE goods in the custody of Australian Border Force would be required to be surrendered to the National Medical Stockpile, or destruction if the goods are defective.


These changes do not apply to exports by legitimate manufacturers, businesses or humanitarian organisations and do not intend to prevent trade flows.

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