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Manufacturing stories

LSA wins British contract

Edition 190_Carrier

Tasmanian advanced manufacturing business Liferaft Systems Australia (LSA) has signed a contract to build inflatable marine evacuation systems for a new class of warship being built in Britain.

LSA has the best order book in its 25-year history and the contract signed in London capped a good run for the State's advanced manufacturing sector, with four new deals worth a total of more than $80 million generating nearly 50 new skilled jobs.

  • Tamar Hydro in Exeter will create 20 new positions after being selected to build turbines for an extensive mini-hydro network in Indonesia.

  • Taylor Bros in Hobart will build two high-powered Antarctic landing barges for Australia’s new icebreaker RSV Nuyina.

  • Penguin Composites in Penguin is working on its first major Defence-related contract and is putting on 15 new employees.

LSA will supply its world-leading marine evacuation equipment to BAE Systems which is building Britain's Type 26 Global Combat Ship.

The company will take on an extra 13 workers, bringing total employment to 75.

The export-oriented Prince of Wales Bay business is looking at options for an expansion of its working space.

The Managing Director of LSA, Michael Grainger (also Chairman of the Brand Tasmania Council) said: "Our contract with BAE Systems is good, long-term work and follows on from previous orders with the British Navy.

"We're battling to keep up with orders and are working two shifts at present.

"Fortunately, we have been able to educate most customers that there will be a lead time of at least a year on new orders."

Mr Grainger said there was also potential for LSA to benefit from new contracts in the pipelines of long-standing customers Incat Tasmania, just across the road, and Austal Shipping, in Western Australia.

As well, BAE Systems Australia is one of three remaining bidders for Australia's new frigate fleet and if it succeeds LSA could expect further work.

"I'm having a good time," Mr Grainger said.

Victorian-based Mackay Consolidated Industries will supply parts for the Type 26 project and Australia's Minister for Defence, Christopher Pyne, expects other Australian companies to benefit.

“Australian companies that demonstrate their ingenuity are valued by global prime companies in the United Kingdom and in other markets around the world,” Mr Pyne said.

“This highlights the global competitiveness of our Australian defence industry."

Meanwhile, the contract signed by Tamar Hydro in November is expected to bring in about $45 million over three years.

General Manager, David Hillier, said it was a significant deal for the Exeter-based business which is now looking for a larger factory in the Westbury or Bell Bay areas.

“This contract will bring us into the modern age with new machinery ...  a lot of our equipment is fairly old – 30 years – so we need to re-tool,” he said.

Tamar Hydro has built more than 200 turbines for Asia-Pacific projects after starting life in the 1970s in a small shed on the banks of the Tamar River.

Work will be undertaken across about 16 sites in Indonesia and will include the refurbishment of existing turbines, deploying new ones and constructing dams.

Prominent Tasmanian Polar Network business, Taylor Bros, is scheduled to have two barges completed by 2020 when Nuyina begins operations, replacing the long-serving Aurora Australis.

Designed, engineered and built locally, the barges will carry 45.5-tonne trucks from ship to shore, giving the icebreaker unprecedented unloading and reloading capacity.

Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding is building the ship in Romania for the Australian Antarctic Division.

It will be 156m in length, with a beam of 25.6m and will be able to break ice up to 1.65 metres thick at speeds of 3 knots.

Nuyina will supply Australia’s research stations in East Antarctica and Macquarie Island with cargo, equipment and personnel.

Penguin Composites has signed an $8 million contract with Thales Australia to build bonnets and other parts for a new generation of army vehicles.

Melbourne-based Thales Australia signed a $1.3 billion contract in October to supply 1,100 Hawkei vehicles and more than 1,000 trailers to the Defence forces.

The three-year deal is Penguin Composite’s first major Defence-related contract and is expected to create around 15 new jobs at the company headquarters near Penguin, on the Bass Strait coast.

Mr Grainger said: "These are all examples of the type of niche manufacturing projects that Tasmanians do very well.

"We're innovative and agile.

"We may not be able to compete with major global manufacturers in terms of scale, but when we choose a niche and concentrate our efforts we take a lot of beating."

A Government spokesman said: "Advanced manufacturing is one of Tasmania’s competitive strengths and the Government is supporting the sector by helping train and retain skilled staff and also through initiatives like buying locally produced buses for Metro’s fleet."

Image courtesy of Liferaft Systems Australia

5 December 2017, Edition 190

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