UWS study reveals manufacturing is strong and thriving

Date: 01/05/2002

Contrary to popular belief, manufacturing in Australia is not in decline. Instead it is at the forefront of developing new products and processes that make up a dynamic modern economy.

That's one of the surprising outcomes of a new research report by Professor Jane Marceau from the Australian Expert Group in Industry Studies (AEGIS) at the University of Western Sydney.

"The message for business is clear. In order to survive you must collaborate with other organisations, increase the number and scope of services offered and invest in new skills," Professor Marceau says.

Other key findings of the UWS study 'Selling solutions: Emerging patterns of product-service linkage in the Australian economy' include:

Manufacturers are increasingly incorporating services into their offerings to customers. This incorporation is an essential part of what has been called 'new manufacturing';
Service firms are taking products produced by others and adding a broad range of services, in turn often stimulating the creation of new physical products; and
Project-based firms are linking services to services, as well as products to services.

The UWS research report is based on a survey of 479 NSW manufacturers and complemented by detailed interviews with 60 companies in several sectors of the economy. "The data shows that many firms are putting together products and services into 'packages', " Professor Marceau says.

For instance, a high tech equipment manufacturer will also provide financial services to their customers to enable them to obtain cheaper operating costs. Or a manufacturer of medical equipment will train medical staff in the use of the equipment and provide after sales services for hospitals.

"Our research suggests there is a need for a broader review of how a service-rich economy may work at firm-level. Business analysts should view the economy as increasingly being composed of product-service packages rather than of either products or services," Professor Marceau says.

"Policymakers need to think much more creatively about their policies to assist enterprises while venture capital funds must encourage the production of product-service packages rather than physical products alone in order to maximize their investment."

The 'Selling Solutions' project was commissioned by the Australian Business Foundation and funded by the Australian Research Council.

Media contact:

Professor Jane Marceau
Tel: 02 8255 6200
Email: j.marceau@uws.edu.au

Mikael Kjaerbye
UWS Media Manager
Tel: 02 9678 7418
Mob: 0405 356 021