New Zealand is the second-best country in the world to do business with (Forbes 2016)
A little over two years ago I went to my first exhibition within the engineering industry – SouthMACH.
With eyes wide open, I was excited at what I would see while also very interested at just what sort of a trade show it would be. Having been to some over the largest shows on this planet with footprints of over a million square feet, I wondered at just what this one – at the other end of little ol’ New Zealand and scale – would be like.
The first morning gave me plenty of time to zip around and chat with a few suppliers to the industry… attendee foot traffic was low. Instead of any excitement the industry suppliers I visited might have had at meeting the new editor of Engineering News, I quickly got a feeling of just how much time and investment these companies put into their tradeshows. All of them were nervous with sweaty brows and eyes darting in all directions to catch the first glimpse of what they hoped would be a stampede of potential customers through show doors.
That stampede came… thankfully for exhibitors, with it just being a slow start and by the end of the event nearly all I talked to displayed high positivity at the show.
Combined with EMEX every other year, the industry has two ideal foils, particularly at a time that it hits yet another boon-like gear such as it is experiencing. I do get plenty of hardship stories at the expense to exhibit at these types of shows with stands to be bought and machinery that needs shipping, but what is mostly very nervous banter has always turned to accolades (and relief) post show as orders are taken and appointment books filled.
This issue features our second instalment of preshow coverage of SouthMACH (Page 16) and some of the exceptional companies that will be there for you to see.
Another section of the magazine we have in our March issue is engineering in the food industry (Page 22) and this is one sector of the industry that has done plenty to turnaround people’s thinking on an international scale.
I picked up the phone and called 16 key suppliers to this industry – just for a chat – and a few I have featured within this section. But what was interesting was not only that the category is in full on explosion mode in terms of supply (which means there are plenty of you out there who are doing really, really well) but that the, “She’ll be right,” and ‘No.8 Wire’ perception from international businesses has largely dissipated. This is by no means a small feat.
The aforementioned mentalities which were once the cornerstones used by Kiwi companies to overcome problems has somewhat dogged us in the worlds of precision and hygienic standards. But, it seems, no longer.
The suppliers I chatted with told me that international companies are hunting down what is now a swag of locally made product that not only fits their needs but has been made better than what others can offer.
Furthermore, you can even isolate this excellence in manufacture to pockets. For example, more than one told me of how companies manufacturing dairy related machinery not only meet but far exceed standards and quality of those produced internationally, which makes sense considering our devotion to the dairy industry across the board. And those who seek our products are getting smarter, starting their search within areas such as the Waikato, where dairy is top dog and where the manufacture of products and machinery to the industry gets greater prominence.
Pats on many backs all round.
But it’s not just the food side of engineering I’m seeing doing well. Auckland based RR Bramley (Page 42) has bought another CNC machine from Okuma as it tools up to meet expanding needs, while Steel Rollformed Products (Page 40), a company that builds its bespoke machinery for use in production, has already doubled in size and looking to double again.
Then there is McClay Tooling in Christchurch (Page 30), a company that has also tooled up with a new CNC machine from Haas which has greatly contributed to its ability to keep its unmanned machines going around the clock. And with plenty of work on it needs to.
All these and more combine to partake in subsequent accolades from throughout the world, such as Forbes’ 2016 list which had New Zealand as the second-best country in the world to do business with.
Not bad for a small country that is ‘under’ Down Under. Or should that be ‘on top’?
– Greg Robertson, publisher