An engineering firm believes a multi-million dollar expansion will ensure it can continue manufacturing despite the mining downturn.
Hedweld Engineering’s new Mount Thorley facility in the Hunter is expected to open in February 2016, and will be home to the latest robotic metal processing technology.
The company has spent $8 million, including $2 million from the Commonwealth’s manufacturing transition program.
Hedweld general manager Chris Eccleston said it is one of the biggest changes the company has gone through in 36 years.
“This decision has future-proofed our business and manufacturing in the Hunter region,” he said.
“If we hadn’t have done it, no we probably wouldn’t be in the game as far as manufacturing goes in the future.
“It’s not just about the investment in the technology, it’s about collaboration with other businesses, and diversification into other sectors.”
Mr Eccleston said Australian businesses must start training staff in automation technology if they are going to survive.
“It gives us some of the latest technology in machining, in robotics, and revolutionises the way that we actually process our steel components,” he said.
“Automation is the way of the future and manufacturing, and we need to be able to have those skills in our tradespeople.