Siemens Australia chief says Australian manufacturing must rethink approach to innovation


Siemens Australia’s CEO Jeff Connelly said Australia must choose the battlefields where it possesses natural competitive edge and play to its strengths as a ‘second league’ economy.

Image: Free Digital Photos user Nutdanai
Image: Free Digital Photos user Nutdanai

The pronouncement made by the local head of Siemens at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia held last week comes as the country braces for multiple plant closures in the auto sector and most recently Alcoa’s announcement that it will shut down its aluminum smelter in Geelong.

In a report on Herald Sun Mr Connelly said Australia cannot compete with the scale of China and the United States, but it boasts strengths in natural resources, quality food products and medical sciences.

“We need to find our place in the global second league,” Mr Connolly said.

“We need to understand where we fit into the global supply chain and then develop those strengths.”

Mr Connelly said Australian manufacturers should rethink their approach to innovation, as well as their geographic position, citing 3D printing as an example in which parts can be built on site instead of being transported to far places.

“Despite current setbacks in manufacturing in Australia, we can and should have a successful and robust manufacturing sector, but don’t expect it to look the same as it does today,” he said.

Mr Connelly said the global manufacturing renaissance is happening outside Australia but the new industrial revolution is not blue collar in nature.

“The digitisation of product development … means design, production planning, engineering, manufacturing and services are merging into one unit, instead of being sequential.”