A Hunter company that manufactures products for underwater vehicles has a philosophy of innovation and efficiency at its heart.
Under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s “ideas boom”, companies like Thornton-based ATSA Defence Services are being touted as role models.
ATSA’s unmanned underwater vehicles are used in the military and oil and gas sector.
To protect its fleet, the Royal Australian Navy uses the vehicles to clear sea mines left behind from wars and other conflicts.
Oil and gas companies use the vehicles for maintenance.
“They’re workhorses under the ocean,” ATSA operations manager Jenny Taylor said.
“We sell and service the vessels and develop complementary products that go with them.”
The Hunter had a competitive advantage in “advanced manufacturing”, Regional Development Hunter chief executive Todd Williams said.
It was considered a sector that could be harnessed and expanded to create the Hunter’s future jobs.
Ms Taylor said ATSA was “not a production-line with large-scale manufacturing”.
“We design and produce niche products,” she said.
Mr Williams highlighted German manufacturing as a good example for the Hunter to learn from.
ATSA’s business philosophy had been likened to the German way.
“It’s about efficient manufacturing, a culture of being innovative and forward thinking,” Ms Taylor said.
She said ATSA had a “strong culture of training and supporting young future engineers”.
“We take a lot of work-experience kids and give them electronic projects,” she said.
Australian Industry Group regional manager Adrian Price said the Hunter was focused on “long-term strategies to increase science and technology skills”.
Mr Price said the region was increasing links between industry and research, which aligned with the German system.
Mr Williams said the Ruhr region in Germany was a good example to follow.
Its economy was transformed into a hub for specialist manufacturing, having previously been based on coal and steel.