Ararat primed in bid

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Ararat’s po­si­tion as a na­tional as well as state and re­gional manufactur­ing hot spot will gather mo­men­tum if a Victorian bid for a multi bil­lion-dol­lar mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle con­tract is suc­cess­ful.

Ararat elec­tri­cal wiring man­u­fac­turer AME Sys­tems is a part­ner in a BAE Sys­tems Aus­tralia bid for a Com­mon­wealth LAND 400 Phase Two project.

A win­ning bid prom­ises to pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment mo­men­tum for the busi­ness and long-term eco­nomic stim­u­lus for the re­gional city.

De­fence con­trac­tor BAE Sys­tems Aus­tralia is one of two short-listed bid­ders for the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment con­tract, which in­volves con­struc­tion of 225 com­bat re­con­nais­sance ve­hi­cles.

The other bid, from global de­fence man­u­fac­turer Rhein­metall, in­volves a Queens­land-based con­tract.

If BAE is suc­cess­ful, AME Sys­tems will have the re­spon­si­bil­ity of as­sem­bling elec­tri­cal sys­tems in Ararat for pro­posed AMV35 mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles in a project that might lead to fur­ther ex­pan­sion op­por­tu­ni­ties.

AME Sys­tems gen­eral man­ager Nick Carthew said a win­ning bid might be worth be­tween $15-mil­lion and $30-mil­lion to the com­pany and rep­re­sent fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties to build on a grow­ing work­force.

“It is hard to put a num­ber on how many ex­tra em­ploy­ees we would re­quire, but on its own the project is likely to in­crease our staff by be­tween 15 and 20 peo­ple,” he said.

“The nice part of it is that it would in­volve 30 years of sus­tain­abil­ity in the pro­vi­sion of parts and ex­per­tise.”

Jobs

AME Sys­tems, as a re­sult of an ag­gres­sive growth di­rec­tive, is al­ready on the hunt for more em­ploy­ees to meet the needs of a grow­ing and di­verse cache of con­tracts.

“Across the busi­ness, which in­cludes sites in Bayswa­ter and Malaysia as well as Ararat, we’ve put on 70 peo­ple in the past cou­ple of months,” Mr Carthew said.

“We have an over­all work­force of about 360, have a mul­ti­tude of projects on the go and we are look­ing for an­other 30 peo­ple to work in Ararat.”

The State Gov­ern­ment has signed a Heads of Agree­ment with BAE Sys­tems to build the state-of-the-art eightwheel ve­hi­cles at a former Holden site at Fish­er­mans Bend, should it win the con­tract.

Mr Carthew said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment was likely to an­nounce a win­ning bid in the first quar­ter of 2018.

“This also rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity for in­vest­ment into a re­search and de­vel­op­ment de­fence centre of ex­cel­lence at Port Mel­bourne,” he said.

“For us, we have had quite an ag­gres­sive ap­proach in pur­su­ing the de­fence and aero­space sec­tor.

“Our sales team has been work­ing dili­gently for the past 18 months. We’re about de­vel­op­ing elec­tri­cal dis­tri­bu­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems. Heavy trucks, de­fence, aviation – any­thing with a wire in it. Dog wash, car wash, if it has a wire in it, we’ll build it.”

Apart from AME Sys­tems, BAE Sys­tems has part­ner­ship agree­ments with com­pa­nies Marand, MOOG Aus­tralia, Motec, RUAG Aus­tralia, DVR Engi­neer­ing and APV to build ve­hi­cle parts.

Ararat mayor Paul Hooper agreed that AME Sys­tems set an im­pres­sive bench­mark for proac­tive and pro­duc­tive re­gional manufactur­ing.

He said dis­cus­sions with high-level manufactur­ing in­sid­ers, even AME Sys­tems com­peti­tors, re­vealed the Ararat com­pany had lifted the bar across the in­dus­try and was now set­ting the stan­dard.

“They are cer­tainly a jewel in the crown of Ararat and if this is suc­cess­ful it will rep­re­sent an­other crit­i­cal step in a long jour­ney for AME. It is not just a great op­por­tu­nity for their busi­ness but Ararat as well,” Cr Hooper said.

“If they are suc­cess­ful it will mean an ex­pan­sion of the work­force and firmly con­sol­i­date Ararat as a Victorian leader in re­gional manufactur­ing and pro­cess­ing.

“These are no fly-by-night em­ploy­ers. They have been with Ararat through thick and thin, have been fan­tas­tic cor­po­rate cit­i­zens and are part of the fab­ric of Ararat.”

AME Sys­tems al­ready has a glow­ing na­tional de­fence-con­tract track record, pro­vid­ing elec­tri­cal cir­cuitry for mil­i­tary Bush­mas­ter ve­hi­cles de­vel­oped in Bendigo.

Premier Daniel An­drews said in a pre­pared state­ment that Vic­to­ria was the tra­di­tional home of ve­hi­cle manufactur­ing and the project would cre­ate thousands of jobs at a time when the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor was in tran­si­tion.

“Our mes­sage to Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull is sim­ple – bring this work to Vic­to­ria. We have the work­force, the track record and the sup­ply chain to get it done,” he said.

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