Advanced Manufacturing – Insights from Marand

July 6 2015

Geelong Manufacturing Council’s Excellence Network in conjunction with the Geelong Quality Council hosted a visit to Marand’s Geelong manufacturing facility which was attended by over 40 local manufacturers and related businesses keen to explore what characterises manufacturing in this era and into the future. It was a window into what Advanced Manufacturing as part of a high quality global supply chain looked like.

Marand moved to Geelong in 2012 to set up production for the Joint Strike Fighter JSF F-35 engine installation and removal trailer, and manufacture over 4,000 of the 12,000 individual components, after winning part of the largest defence contract in the world.

We quickly learned that this privately owned business began to diversify from their automotive industry roots before most companies had sensed the downturn. Utilising their ability to transfer technologies and skills to other industries, Marand began to establish a reputation in the defence, aerospace, mining, rail and energy sectors. Their reputation today is borne of many years of developing deep relationships with global customers, and it is this attribute that is made explicit throughout the tour.

Most of us in industry will relate to the importance of building customer relationships, however, with Marand we see this on a new level. It is not uncommon for Marand customers to sit within their project engineering teams, working together to solve problems and design innovative solutions. Paul Brick, Geelong site operations manager attests that the “can do” mindset of the company has impressed many customers. “At Marand we always deliver, we have a no excuses culture, and even if we find we have underquoted, or a better solution comes along mid project, we will always do what is right for the customer”.

Another characteristic of the “modern manufacturer” is the ability to repurpose and recycle existing facilities, plant and equipment; increasingly relevant as traditional industries adjust to new markets, modern technologies and business models. The biggest evidence for this is in the venue itself; Marand set up shop within the old toolroom facility at the Ford plant and have been able to utilise, upgrade and adapt much of the existing machinery. The technology strategy is one which harnesses available resources, maintaining and modifying equipment to suit purpose, investing in the latest designs and assessing the impact of emerging technologies such as 3D printing.

With continually changing projects and products; creating one off models and bespoke systems, a flexible workforce is key. Marand work hard to ensure their employees are well trained and have the lean systems in place to support the variable nature of the work and capture and share learnings. Many manufacturers experience the peaks and troughs of demand, yet when Marand find work levels low, they commit to retain their workforce and build the skills and systems they require for future work.

Whilst they make parts and supply products, Marand wouldn’t describe themselves as manufacturers, “We see ourselves as innovators and designers” says Paul, “we’re not just manufacturers, we put ourselves where our customers need us to be, and do what it takes to allow them to do what they do best”. Perhaps in a nutshell describing what it is that they do best.