being granted a green light. The details of this process are confidential, however suffice to say it uses hard data and in-depth market research and is used by some of the most successful companies in the world. SLA: Is the EDGE Caravan as a exemplar of entrepreneurial activity emerging out of the design and manufacturing integration at Bolwell? OB: Bolwell has always integrated design and manufacturing, ever since Campbell made his first car. But recently we have become more focused, more disciplined in the way we integrate it. Firstly, the numbers need to stack up, the data needs to support the initiative. Second, we look at what we are trying to achieve and the capabilities we have with which to achieve them. The interesting thing here is that when we come across something that requires a capability we don’t have, we go in search of it and in the process take it on as our own or cement a relationship with a trusted supplier. This in
Spring Issue 2013
CASE STUDY: MELBOURNE DESIGN NOW
turn allows us to then offer this capability to our contract-manufacturing customers. The EDGE has enabled us to tap into an underlying desire in the Australian caravan market for something innovative and in turn has allowed us to explore new ways to build it, to innovate within our own processes. As far as the current marketplace is concerned, it seems that there isn’t much of an innovative nature for customers to choose from. There are some exciting brands but you could probably count them on one hand. Following on from the EDGE we’ve identified other new opportunities in this market segment that will enable us to provide an even broader offering to these customers into the future. SLA: What would you describe as the key opportunities within the design and manufacturing model for other SME Australian manufacturers? OB: The design and manufacturing model still works for Australia. But it is different.
Whether we like it or not, we operate in a global environment and can no longer rely on the ‘tyranny of distance’ or import tariffs to protect us from our international competitors. Five years ago we made the decision to embrace this internationalisation of the manufacturing environment and setup our own, 100% Bolwell owned and operated factory in Thailand. Keeping all of our design, engineering and technical support in Australia means we are in constant contact with our customers here and have a local presence. While our manufacturing customers are still building items in Australia for Australians, they require a skilled supplier who can offer them localised support. The key is in also offering a low-cost manufacturing solution where the component prices are internationally competitive; this prevents clients going off in search of low-cost alternatives that may prove unreliable. By being able to offer these two things: low cost production coupled with localised support, we are able to help our customers
Published on Mar 31, 2014