Alan Lipman – Predictions for 2022 Australian Manufacturing

Alan Lipman

From our origins as a traditional manufacturer more than 50 years ago, Romar Engineering is now a leader in innovative manufacturing solutions, including silicon injection molding, elastomers, medical device manufacturing and additive manufacturing for mission critical applications.

Romar Engineering CEO, Alan Lipman, has steered Romar through a period of sustained growth by investing in niche, world-class technology and expertise, enabling us to deliver robust manufacturing solutions for aerospace, medical, mining and defence.

Whilst Australian manufacturing has faced significant challenges over the last two years, Alan Lipman sees promising signs for 2022 and beyond. Here he explains what to expect.

Industry 4.0 concept

Navigating pandemic issues

We’ve seen significant impacts on the manufacturing sector since the start of the pandemic, most notably in staff shortages and in supply chain issues that are currently affecting manufacturers, distributors and customers internationally.

As Omicron has shown, new COVID-19 variants may continue to make an impact into 2022. However, innovative manufacturers are responding – by streamlining internal processes, building shorter supply chains and broadening or adapting capability.

The December 2021 ACCI–Westpac Survey of Industrial Trends and the U.S. focused 2022 Manufacturing Industry Outlook from Deloitte both acknowledge the continued impact of COVID into 2022, citing intense cost pressures, labour shortages and continued supply disruptions.

They both however also point to an increase in demand as sectors emerge from lockdowns (and outbreaks) and with continued vaccine uptake.

At Romar we managed to keep COVID out until January 2022, when several staff and/or close family members contracted COVID – the effect being that we had a labour shortage across the business over a period of weeks. This impacted our manufacturing ability but we adjusted shifts to cope and have now worked our way through this.

This is all part of “living with COVID” that we now deal with every day.

Other areas that are impacting the business are shortages of material such as silicones and rubbers which, if you can find them, have been subject to very substantial price increases. By way of example, silicone for one customer has increased from $7/kg to $13/kg from the last order to the current order. This is typical of current price pressures which are being exacerbated by transport and logistics issues in importing products and getting them delivered to Romar.

We are very fortunate to have a highly experienced team that can work its way around these types of issues and keep supply coming, manufacturing on track and customers with stock.

That said, there has been no shortage of new business enquiry and Romar is expecting continued growth in 2022.

An airplane being fix by the mechanic

Aerospace continues to soar

Alan Lipman sees huge potential for Australian aerospace manufacturing, and it’s a key focus for the Australian Government.

In 2021 the Australian Government awarded Romar a $5.8 million MMI grant to grow our Australian-designed fluid and motion control solutions. We’re using the grant to grow our world-class team as we work with cutting-edge manufacturers such as Gilmour Space Technologies, which looks set for a 2022 hybrid rocket engine launch.

We have a world-class repertoire of skills, in house, encompassing design engineers, materials engineers, manufacturing engineers and test engineers – led by the highly experienced Steve Milanoski, a SpaceX veteran.

The design, manufacture, testing and delivery of our mission critical devices is on track. The tested parameters of our devices exceed the design requirements giving customers confidence in the performance and reliability required for flight certification. We expect several customers to launch this year with Romar devices on board.

Using an ipad to control a machine

Smart factories, smart solutions

We reported last year that Romar is moving in new IT directions, with system integration to streamline processes and Industry 4.0 manufacturing.

Our additions include ProShop, an ERP (Enterprise Resource System) with an inbuilt MES (Manufacturing Execution System) and QMS (Quality Management System).

We have continued to invest heavily in new technology, particularly around design, to ensure that the team has the most up-to-date software for design, simulation, test and build.

Our software suite includes but is not limited to Fusion 360, nTopology, SolidWorks and Moldex.

Having the right software to do the job saves time and money for customers because we can accurately model the performance requirements, test the final design and make any adjustments before we press the ‘go‘ button on a build – knowing it is likely 99% right with perhaps minor tweaking to finalise production quality.

A 3d model of a device in two laptops

Sustainable manufacturing

In November last year the Manufacturers Leadership Council, a membership body of global manufacturing executives, released a report on manufacturing and sustainability. It found 87% of respondents thought manufacturing had a special responsibility to society to work towards sustainable manufacturing, and 72% felt sustainability was essential or extremely important for future growth.

Sustainability can take a number of forms. Romar, for instance, employs finite element analysis (FEA) among its advanced manufacturing techniques to determine potential weaknesses and assess material functionality to optimise design for manufacture. The offshoot of this is reduced material usage – and wastage.

Whilst Romar has customers that require specialised parts in the hundreds of thousands and even millions, we also have niche, cutting-edge additive manufacturing technology, including our Lasertec 65 3D metal printer and GE Concept Laser M2 that can sustainably manufacture one complex part at a time. Manufacturing this way saves time and material and makes complex shapes with high-performance requirements economical when compared to other manufacturing methods.

crowd of business people at a trade show booth

Face to face networking back

Alan Lipman believes face to face networking is important to identify opportunities and build robust manufacturing partnerships. Pending further COVID disruption, Alan is hopeful that face to face networking will be back in 2022 and we will be able to resume our international and interstate travel commitments to customers.

The Modern Manufacturing Expo, for instance, is scheduled for September 20-21, with a launch event at Sydney’s Town Hall on March 30. The Expo will showcase future manufacturing directions, including the latest technology. Steve Milanoski, Head of Advanced Manufacturing will be a speaker at this event.

Also this year, the Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited (AMTIL) is hosting the inaugural Australian Manufacturing Week, an industry showcase set for 7–10 June at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney. Romar will be there on the CadPro Systems stand to talk about the work we do with Fusion 360.

Romar’s engineers deliver innovative and world-class manufacturing. Please contact us to discuss your project.