Manufacturers contributed $1.2 billion to the State Gross Product in 2017-18, while employing around 15,000 people.
Mining expertise in Tasmania has evolved from being focused on winning the resource to providing innovative equipment and improved techniques so that operations can be more efficient and environmentally sensitive. Tasmanians have developed world-class hard-rock expertise and sell their technology to mining businesses around the world.
The Elphinstone Group designs and constructs underground mine machinery in Burnie. Haulmax, in Wynyard, manufactures off-highway bulk haulage vehicles for mining applications. Terratec Asia Pacific, near Hobart, designs and builds tunnelling and drilling machines that can be found working in mines around the world. Railmax, specialises in the design, engineering and manufacture of technologically advanced and certified road rail equipment for use on the repair of rail infrastructure.
The metal manufacturing, casting, specialised machinery manufacturing and engineering sector produces a diverse range of niche products, while also supporting repair and maintenance activity within mining, mineral processing and other heavy industries.
Investment opportunities have been identified in:
- Higher value-added products in fabrication fit-out, plastics and electronics.
- Food and beverage manufacturing and downstream processing, taking advantage of the State's $400 million investment in irrigation.
- Downstream processing or value-adding to Tasmania's rich resource base.
- Maintenance and service of existing and new capital equipment.
A State-wide Advanced Manufacturing Industry Association was established in 2016, with administrative services provided by the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council.
Native Tasmanians made daring blue-water hunting trips to offshore islands in vessels made from reeds. Wooden boatbuilding began within days of European settlement in 1803. The colonists’ first vessel was a wooden skiff whose builders could not have imagined the giant, high-speed 120-metre catamarans that Tasmanians now export to the world. One company, Incat Tasmania, has built 40 per cent of the world’s fleet of large-scale, fast, multi-hull ferries, including the world’s fastest passenger ferry, Francisco. Incat has held the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean for more than 25 years. Other local ship-builders find niches in the design and construction of smaller-scale vessels that take inspiration from Incat’s cutting-edge technology.
As Incat’s Prince of Wales Bay shipyard expanded in Hobart’s suburbs in the 1990s, supply companies grew up around it. This group of businesses has now evolved into the Tasmanian Maritime Network that can provide a one-stop shop for ship builders who want access to the latest technology and quality products and services, including training a construction workforce or fitting out a finished ship.
Members of the network, most of whom grew as suppliers to Incat, are significant exporters in their own right. Liferaft Systems Australia, for example is a world leader in the supply of inflatable lifeboats and ship-evacuation systems. CBG Systems is globally competitive in ship-board fire-protection and insulation. Muir Engineering produces winches and windlasses for mega yachts around the world, while Moonraker Australia supplies high-performance antennae to a number of the world’s navies. Richardson Devine Marine builds fast ferries and offshore support vessels for export markets including Tanzania, Japan and New Zealand. Taylor Bros specialises in large-scale prefabricated ship fitout.
The oceans wash around Tasmanian life. The Sydney-Hobart yacht race is the State’s most important annual sporting event. The people preserve traditional wooden boat-building skills and celebrate them with an international Wooden Boat Festival every two years. Sailing, cruising and fishing are integral parts of island life. So is the building of boats. Marine industry excellence comes naturally to Tasmanians.
A small, highly skilled group of Tasmanian businesses provide precision engineering services, while Hobart is home to a world leader in the miniaturisation of technology. CSIRO’s Paulo de Souza developed tiny, lightweight components for NASA's mission to Mars. He leads a scientific team that gave the world honey-bee backpacks and is testing even smaller devices to be carried by mosquitoes. Prototypes of the minute backpacks are being trialled in Brazil and could become a key weapon in the battle to control the devastating mosquito-borne Zika virus.
Currawong Engineering develops and manufactures small-scale aircraft propulsion systems with engines designed to aerospace standards and fully integrated with fuel systems, exhaust systems and engine mounting systems.
Other businesses in the field include Launceston Engineering, Rolf Hey Engineering and Precision Engineering and Manufacturing.
The Tasmanian business community’s innovation and creativity is reflected in the variety of products they generate. The sector includes world-competitive businesses producing underground mining and drilling equipment, communications technology, fibreglass components including polar shelters, propulsion systems for unmanned aircraft, tiny monitors that can be carried by insects and lightning protection technology.
Facts and figures
- Dual-fuel vehicle and passenger ferry Francisco set a lightship speed of 58.1 knots on the River Derwent in 2013, making the 99m high speed catamaran the fastest ship ever built. Powered by compressed natural gas and marine distillate, Francisco had earlier achieved 51.8 knots at full ballast.
- Members of the Tasmanian Maritime Network include the Australian Maritime College; CBG Systems; Fiomarine; Incat Australia; Richardson Devine Marine; Riley Industrial & Marine Sales; College of Aluminium Training; Liferaft Systems Australia; Moonraker Australia; Muir Engineering; APCO Engineering; Taylor Bros (Slipway & Engineering).
- A Hobart-based team stunned the scientific world in 2013 when it fitted thousands of honey bees with tiny backpacks so their interactions with the environment could be monitored and analysed.
- A maritime tragedy in 1975, when a bulk carrier brought down Hobart’s Tasman Bridge, boosted the business of entrepreneurial ferry operator, Robert Clifford, leading him to launch the R&D that generated today’s giant catamarans.
- Tasmanians own more boats and leisure marine vehicles per head of population than other people in other parts of Australia.
- On 23 June 1990 Hoverspeed Great Britain, built by Incat in Tasmania, broke the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by a commercial passenger ship which had been held for 38 years by the SS United States. Incat vessels Catalonia and CatLink V subsequently improved the record in quick succession in 1998 and the coveted Hales Trophy has resided at the Incat shipyard in Hobart ever since.
- No-one in Tasmania lives further than 1.5 hours from the sea.
- Incat has built more than 70 aluminium ferries and sold them to operators in Europe, Asia, North and South America and the Caribbean.