Vernier Lunch 13th April

Vernier Lunch 9th March

Vernier Lunch 9th February

Collaboration with AMTIL

In his ‘Opinion’ piece in December AMT, the magazine for all the AMTIL members and really anyone who has a passion for manufacturing and technology, the CEO Shane Infanti uses the ubiquitous coffee bean to explain how machine tools are the “Mother of all products”. Machine Tools helped produce the whole machinery set involved in delivering coffee from plant to the cup. And these machines and processes are being increasingly automated. I can vouch for this personally as some coffee aficionados I know used to hand grind their own beans – the only way – but they have even moved to the latest automatic grinder! My reference to this move into automation is exactly the point that Shane makes; we are accelerating into a totally automated world and machine tools, in their many forms of innovation and advancement will continue to underpin this automation. This is the first message in Shane’s piece – that our manufacturing companies “need to continually invest in manufacturing technology if we are to call ourselves an advanced manufacturing industry”.

He then makes another important point to all AMT readers about rejuvenation in this accelerating world of change that is very pertinent to Vernier. It was Tom Peters book in the 1990’s that first introduced me to the statement “If it is not broke – break it!”. In other words, change and adaptation need to be an essential part of business planning today. This is why, I assume, Shane has shared the AMTIL Board’s revised Vision and Mission statements. It was the last part of AMTIL’s mission that resonated with me “ensuring advanced manufacturers [although I think it should be all manufacturers] have access to the latest manufacturing technology through promotion, networking, collaboration and advocacy” [my italics]. These four words are relevant because the Vernier Society’s purpose (or mission) strongly focuses on the first two ‘promotion’ and ‘networking’. And the Vernier Foundation is really in the advocacy business, advocating for careers in manufacturing and engineering to the next generation.

Each of these words is a noun but they can also be a verb. So, I am sure the CEO is now looking at actions as to, ‘how does AMTIL fulfil its mission statement’? What are the exciting things AMTIL can do to adapt the organisation to further deliver advancing technologies to the industry? This is a question Vernier are currently asking themselves and in early February next year, the executive members will meet to review their strategies and propose ideas of how to increase our collaboration, both within Vernier and with other industry associations? One of AMTIL’s excellent promotions is the “Australian Manufacturing Week” to be held again in Melbourne in early May 2023. Vernier through the Foundation is pleased to have been invited to participate in the event, adding an embryonic ‘Education’ focus into the advocacy armament of AMTIL mission and allowing Vernier a great promotion opportunity.

Collaboration is all about the sharing of ideas and inspirations and I am sure both the Society and the Foundation would welcome any member who wishes to participate in the Vernier Strategy meeting or increase participation in Vernier’s mission in any way!

Jack Parr Vernier Society member and Foundation Coordinator
December 2022

Ronson wins major contract for evolved Seasparrow Missile Program

Ronson Gears are delighted to confirm that we have been awarded the contract to deliver precision gears and gear assemblies for the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) program.

The three year full rate production contract is part of the collaboration between BAE Systems Australia and a major US Defence prime. The program consists of a consortium of up to 12 nation states including the US, Australia, Canada and Norway.

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Vernier Dinner December 1

Vernier in November 2022 – Lunch @ Kooyong

Where did the project for rejuvenating manufacturing fit into the “Jobs and Skills summit”?

Before his election, Anthony Albanese made encouraging statements about manufacturing. “We need to make more things in Australia … have advanced manufacturing … boost vital skills by investing in education and training … and supercharge productivity”. At that point I was enthusiastic; this new government will make rejuvenating manufacturing a real and successful project. But I was also cognizant of the classic stage descriptions of how many projects go.

My initial enthusiasm (I could really never have ‘wild enthusiasm’ (1) where a Labour government is involved) was boosted by the announcement of a “Jobs and Skills Summit”. I hoped this would be a strategic meeting, where a small number of skilled and knowledgeable people would thrash out a real plan for Manufacturing. A plan for long term investment in skills, training and STEM in schools. But when it was announced it would have 100 delegates and last but two days, ‘creeping doubt’ (2) sprang to mind. How could 100 people over two days, really tackle manufacturing’s revitalization? But doubt did not come creeping, it jumped in loudly when the Treasurer’s 14 page “Issues Paper”, released to quell the already conflicting attendant voices. did not even have the word ‘manufacturing’ in it, let alone as a major ‘issue’.

The list of delegates swelled officially to 142, and I saw my local MP Zoe Daniel (not on the list) had, not only got a seat but a speaking role, so every man and his dog had got a guernsey. But one man not worthy of an invite, it seems, was the ‘Minister for Manufacturing’ Senator Tim Ayres. His boss the ‘Minister for Industry’ was there, but according to the one real manufacturing representative, Ben Eade of ‘AuManufacturing’, the industry minister did not mention the word manufacturing at all either!

Stage 3 ‘disillusionment’ came as I witnessed a cleverly orchestrated event. The solutions were announced before the event; the government and the unions had already resolved how to solve Australia’s huge capability deficit. Were the inputs from the delegates just to be seen as cheers for the “emperor’ showing off his new clothes”? The solution was to raise wages, increase the number of women in, and diversify the workforce – it is that simple! Yes, while this is being achieved, we need to recruit the necessary skills from overseas because we are really short of nurses, (agreed), construction people and managers (definitely required if they know how to build to budget), IT people (really?), childcare workers (more men for equity balance?) and chefs (to feed the increasing workforce)! The revelation is that wage growth is held back by the weakness and confusion in the Enterprise Bargaining System! (Not the underpinning totally unrealistic Awards system itself). This was confirmed by pre-summit announcements of ‘Understanding Agreements’ made by CBA and COSBOA with the ACTU. Westmacott’s CBA, representing the ‘Big End of Town’ (and grossly overrepresented at the summit) agreeing with the Unions; Bill Shorten must be turning in his parliamentary retirement home at the irony of such an agreement!

We have truly entered stage 4 ‘descent into chaos’, if ‘multi-employer bargaining EBA’s are believed to be even part of an appropriate solution to the challenge! Real wage growth can only be driven by productivity improvements in both labour and capital. Increasing inputs through increasing female participation will increase output but that is not productivity, what has to change is the ratio. Yes, skilled migration produces efficiency but only if the mechanisms for work are more productive. Bargaining for higher wages will only produce higher costs that will be passed on in prices, further driving inflation! Productivity improvement through better skills and innovation is what feeds wage growth!

The next stages in the project progression, if you remember, are ‘punishment for the innocent’ (5), ‘search for the guilty (6)’ and ‘promotion for the non-participants (7)’. Will Manufacturing be punished? Probably no more than they are now! The increase in Tafe places may be appropriate for chefs and hairdressers but it is well accepted that Tafes cannot cater to the skills and future needs of the manufacturing industry! Maybe the newish ‘Tech Centre’s can but not without substantial investment in the latest technologies and people but these good people are zealously held on to by companies themselves. The industry can keep on investing in automation, particularly while money is so cheap. But what of the long term vision and growth? Another ‘innocent’ in all this is STEM in schools! Our national proficiency in Science and Mathematics is falling further behind the OECD countries but is this recognized? It seems more important to teach diversity than literacy in Victoria!

Why am I writing this? It is definitely GOMS – “grumpy old man syndrome. I hope it is amusing but it is more than that. It is still the passionate belief in innovation as a driver for manufacturing; in the conviction that manufacturing things through skills, ingenuity, drive and collaboration are essential to future prosperity. It is also a call to arms! The members of the Vernier Society over the last 80 years were convinced of that.

— Written by Jack Parr and moderated by the Vernier Committee

Vernier on October 13 – Lunch @ Kooyong

Wasted Capital in Major Project Development.

Pearls and Irritations


The establishment of the Australian Public Service (APS) Review Panel is a powerful opportunity to examine the state of play of project development at the federal government level and kick-start a positive step change in performance. This will apply pressure to state governments and business to achieve similar step changes in performance.

The inability to shape, define and build sound business cases on which to base project investment decisions, and then execute projects in accordance with the time cost quality and functionality set out in the approved and documented business case, is an endemic problem in Australia across business and government.

Research (by PwC and others) has shown that business has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars in capital project development and that 70% of capital projects fail in terms of cost, schedule or functionality (or all three).

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Vernier on September 8 – Lunch @ Kooyong

Vernier on 11th August – Lunch @ Kooyong