Hunter Manufacturing Awards (HMA) placed the spotlight squarely on the region’s global opportunities when it launched its 2023 campaign on Wednesday 24 May at MITS Alloy in Newcastle’s Mayfield North.
It was a fitting venue given HMA’s theme this year is ‘Made in the Hunter, for the World’.
MITS Alloy was HMA’s 2022 Manufacturer of the Year (for businesses with 50 or more employees) and its biggest market is now North America.
HMA represents all businesses actively engaged in the manufacturing sector, including their allies, in the Upper Hunter, Lower Hunter, Central Coast, Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Port Stephens, and Mid-North Coast regions.
The awards inspire, encourage, and recognise vibrant and enduring manufacturing in these regions. A mission to promote best practices in manufacturing motivates the HMA.
In highlighting the achievements of the best, it encourages and sustains the aspirations of those who want to join them.
Not every entrant in HMA’s 2023 awards will have the export market on their mind, but in promoting the Hunter’s manufacturing diversity and intuition, HMA is keen to push the message of international opportunities.
The Hunter’s location and impressive transport infrastructure provides the region with a compelling advantage in accessing international markets.
Although there are strong road, rail, and air links in the Hunter, the major competitive transport advantage is the Port of Newcastle. With the export culture well-established, HMA encourages the growing and diverse base of established and emerging manufacturers to look beyond Australia and take their products and services to the international market.
HMA Chair, Jacqui Daley believes it is important to recognise the growth of manufacturing in the Hunter and to celebrate the innovations and commitment.
“Hunter companies are transforming traditional manufacturing processes by upskilling staff, implementing lean manufacturing and applying new technologies and automation to improve processes, eliminate waste and increase efficiency and productivity to unprecedented heights,” Jacqui said.
“In addition to this, many Hunter companies are now increasing the levels of design for technologically complex, innovative, reliable, affordable, and available products, which are better, more sustainable and solve a variety of society’s problems. It enables them to compete globally.”
MITS Alloy did so after revolutionising the manufacture of utility trays and canopies. It now boasts a North American master distributor, 14 resellers and is growing its footprint across the globe at a rate of knots.
At an overland expo in Oregon last year, major North American industry stakeholders conceded they consider MITS Alloy the international market leader and main innovator in the overlanding industry.
“MITS Alloy is a worthy venue to launch the 2023 awards,” Jacqui Daley said.
“But another winner from last year, Sirron Holdings, turned its Caves Beach commercial dishwasher factory into a disinfectant and sanitiser manufacturer when the COVID pandemic hit in 2020. It now releases 230 products.”
Sirron Holdings won multiple categories last year, which the judges noted demonstrated a ‘resilient and flexible approach to compete and succeed on the world stage.’
Jacqui said manufacturing employs more than 20,000 people in the Hunter and is a major driver of the local economy.
“There are about 600 large and small-to-medium manufacturing, engineering, and technology companies in the region and the industry contributes about $3 billion in value add to the Hunter economy and 6.6 per cent of its GDP,” Jacqui said.
Manufacturing has been a major component of the Hunter economy for about 160 years. While the region still has a large heavy engineering footprint, the advanced manufacturing sector grows apace.
Using smart technologies, Hunter industries are improving products and processes in many traditional industries including medical, food, supply chains, and others.
With global demand for products on the rise and a renewed government focus on increasing advanced manufacturing capability across the nation, manufacturers from the Upper Hunter, Lower Hunter, Central Coast, Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Port Stephens, and Mid-North Coast are enjoying a renaissance.
HMA encourages all manufacturers in these areas to enter the 2023 awards. There are 14 categories available for application, including Excellence in Innovation, Building Workforce Capability, Sustainable Operations, and Collaboration.