Before you decide to choose a brand and machinery supplier to work with, consider these points to ensure you have made a solid choice and have covered all your bases.
Being the 3rd generation in my family to dedicate my career to the Packaging and Manufacturing sector, and after over 25 years in the industry, I have employed the services of, and bought a couple of machines from manufacturers in my time. I have also helped hundreds of people in manufacturing make smart choices in this regard.
What are your options?
With the gradual disappearance of manufacturing in Australia there are fewer and fewer options from one perspective, and greater and greater options from another. Once upon a time Australia was at the forefront of technological advancement in manufacturing, now we are sending our industry overseas. Cars, trains, boats, products, packaging, machinery etc..
It seems now there are more companies offering imported products than there ever were making them here, but is imported the best decision for your business? And the bigger question, is this the best choice for the packaging and manufacturing sector of the country?
Why is this important to you?
Well I could go on and on about quality, safety and performance standards, OH&S, jobs, skills, food safety, resources, our local economy, carbon footprint, peak oil, climate change, the GDP of Australia. But really what im talking about is far more localised… what do you do when you need products, parts or support? How often will cheaper items fail on you, and what is the cost of that?
Will you still be able to acquire a brand/type of machine at a later date and use your existing spare parts and consumables given the global economy? And when you put everything together to manufacture your product, how confident are you of the ingredients and components you use?
With so many producers of so many great things in Australia, like food for example, why are we importing so much of it? And in the long run what is the impact of that on our planet?
If we continue outsourcing the manufacturing of key machinery and technology to the point where we are no longer self sufficient we simply become a very dependant consumer that won’t move with the times.
Personally I have always made significant efforts to support local manufacturing, and we were a long term member of Ausbuy, before even that shut down due to the decline, even the directory and listing body that promoted Australian manufacturing has gone. We need to stand by and support our Australian GDP, from the farmers, products and machinery of everything down to the food we eat and the products we use to care for ourselves and our families.
Local or imported?
There used to be a time when dealing with a local manufacturer that they would be able to let you test the machine, try it out, prove that it works, and support you a long the way. Those days seem to be well gone, and I hear from customers all the time about all the imported machinery they have collecting dust that they purchased and then it didn’t work, either shortly after or immediately importing it, and then weren’t able to get support or replacement components.
With everything that went on, and is going on, with our banking and finance sector, obtaining finance options on imported products can be extremely difficult. You can no longer say im buying from this known local supplier and your broker says sure I will go have a look at it… you say I want to import 200k worth of unknown product from who knows overseas, and wait for the hurdles you will need to overcome. Not to mention the fact you will need to pay upfront with no real assurances or hope of refund should your purchase not perform.
Where is this supplier located?
Once you have made your purchase, how is the machine going to get to you? If its small and simply in a cardboard box, with a manual, if you have some experience, know what your doing or even just some smarts about you, you might be able to simply unpack it, put it together and commence use immediately without ever requiring assistance.
However… most people… even with the small stuff…. Still need to make a call or book a technician and get some technical support. Even if its not for the set up, there’s maintenance, repairs, modification, product changes, packaging changes, marking-labelling-identification-specification-process-material or even temperature changes that might mean you need some further support from your supplier.
When you get to this point the location of your supplier is going to be key to overcoming whatever difficulty you are experiencing, or providing what ever help it is you may require.
And if they are down the road, or just across town this is a massive advantage to your business. If however they are hours away, in another state, or in another country… you can find yourself in a big pickle with no production, which may in turn mean you end up spending a fortune, even more than the machine cost you, to try and find someone locally, who can figure out how it works, how to fix it, and even make parts for it.
Technological innovations and advancements in manufacturing are a big topic right now, and the market is moving quickly, innovations such as 3D Scanning and Printing, IoT, Industry 4.0, Robotics, Block Chain, QR Codes, AI, Data and Comms, CAD CNC, improvements in Safety and Control, all these things are making an impact, and they are happening right here, offshoring the revenue behind these advancements is simply moving us down the list and slowing down our advancement.
As a nation we are becoming less independent and technically capable, depending on the rest of the world to supply us with necessary products and equipment.
We have to overcome this problem all the time with the machinery we support that is imported, expensive swags of spares and parts need to be accumulated, and when there is a technical issue accounting for time zones and getting technical support is a nightmare.
What qualifications and licencing does your supplier and their staff have?
Many companies out there in the manufacturing world are charging $100 to $150 upwards per hour for technical support, so if they don’t have specific experience and the necessary qualifications to do the work you require, you’re going to end up paying an arm and a leg for them to learn about the product you purchased, you need to know this on the way in and chose a supplier that can accommodate your needs and support you, post purchase.
CoOL, or Country of Origin Labelling was a new thing implemented and enforced in the last year or two that had a wide spread impact on manufacturing in Australia, and still is as we get transparent about where things come from and where they are made.
Before spending your hard earned dollar you need to know what you’re actually buying and who made it, ask where things are made, where did they come from, and often a machine is made from various components sourced from different suppliers in other countries around the world, even if the machine is made locally, what control elements and components have been used such as the pneumatic circuit and circuit boards, and where will parts come from when they are needed.
“Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. Its coming up with ideas, testing principles and perfecting the engineering, as well as final assembly”
What sort of support is available from the supplier once you have decided to purchase their product or use their service.
Do they have a local office, local technicians, locally stocked parts, and technical support to back you up when things go wrong. Too many times I have heard of companies waiting 3-4 months for shipping of an internationally stocked part to get their production facility back up and running, you need to know, and have a contingency in place.
A good supplier doesn’t just tell you the best way THEY can supply you, they tell you the BEST way to help you, if they simply aren’t the best fit for what you want they should be able to give you some leads to point you in the right direction of another business that can better help you get from A to B.
Another way a supplier may serve you better is to say, we do this part well, and can assist you with these things, but for that requirement we know another company who can fill in the blanks for you, not everyone does everything and you can’t assume that because someone makes machinery or provides a service that they have, produce, and can supply what you need.
Packaging is like medicine or Tax Law, no one knows or can help you with everything… its too big and too broad, and to try would mean you would basically only be able to do the basics of any one process.
“Sometimes life gives us lessons sent in ridiculous packaging” Dar Williams.
If you require any advice or assistance with your packaging machinery we have offices in Sydney and Melbourne, by all means give us call on 1300 377 512,