NSW local supply chains are open for business

The word “shutdown” is not in the vocabulary of ICN NSW consultants, as they work hard to ensure local supply chains are able to operate as usual.

“We may not be able to get our coffee or go to our favourite restaurants, but industry is trying to maintain business as usual, with some preventative measures in place,” Executive Director Ian Hudson said.

ICN NSW has “relied heavily” on the national COVID-19 Response project page, which has been widely circulated to the NSW State Government, local councils, and local chambers of commerce.

Each week, the agency provides the NSW government with the lists of suppliers and potential suppliers for the various items needed. 

“The Department of NSW Regional requested and received listing for suppliers of Nasopharyngeal and Orapharyngeal swabs,” Ian said by way of example.

“We helped Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre with potential suppliers for a list of components required to make ventilators.

“We were asked to find packaging and an alternate source of ethanol for hand sanitiser manufacturers, including NowChem in Nowra.”

NowChem Sales and Marketing Manager, Casey Addison, said that although the company was able to use its regular suppliers in the end, the response from ICN was “excellent”.

“They had a very good understanding of what our business required by way of volume and because Wally Hirsch [ICN consultant] had been here before, he understands what we do.

“It’s also opened up further possibilities to work with these new suppliers in the future.

“I would use ICN again, especially if I was going to manufacture a new product.”

The ICN Gateway page also listed Western Sydney packaging manufacturers who could supply packaging for hand sanitiser and Western Sydney transport companies that could help with transportation of dangerous goods, such as ethanol.

Meanwhile, family-owned Australian Manildra Group has announced an expansion of its Nowra distillery, to produce an additional 90 million litres of ethanol.

“We’ve been operating our world-class distillery round-the-clock to increase production of pharmaceutical-grade ethanol, the active ingredient in hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants. The use of these products has skyrocketed as a result of coronavirus,” Manildra Group Managing Director John Honan said

“This includes in the frontline fight by NSW health and essential services workers – who we have been able to equip with the hand sanitiser critical to the safety of both patients, workers and communities,”

NSW has also seen a few projects fast-tracked, including a number of Department of Transport, WaterNSW and Defence projects.

‘The Batemans Bay Bridge project is now operating seven days a week instead of the contracted five and half day and work on the Wyangala Dam in the Central West of the state has been brought forward.

 “Defence also changed their payment terms to 48 hours, with an expectation that their suppliers would reciprocate throughout the supply chain,” Ian said.

The Bango Windfarm project has been delayed and others have been affected by various restrictions.

“ARTC Inland Rail Project is being affected due to Central West NSW not being able to do on site group briefings. Doing one-on-one email and phone with suppliers is slow but working.

Some regional suppliers have also pivoted to address demand, including Hunter-based, global electrical engineering company Ampcontrol which is now manufacturing ventilators, rather than transformers.

Outside of project work, ICN NSW consultants are regularly feeding information into the state task force about issues being faced by businesses.

When the pandemic first hit, NSW staff worked at the office on a roster basis to ensure social distancing. They are now all at home, working online and attending virtual meetings and conferences.

“Newcastle University has developed a virtual conference facility which is gamified. The presenter can move around the room, address individuals and present slides. Individuals can also speak to other attendees, leave the room to chat in the hallway etc. The rooms are amphitheatres and meeting rooms. It is called “I See”,” Ian said

“The Hunter Defence Industry Group is using this very successfully and our consultant Dusko Bajic has attended.

“ICN staff have also been able to attend “Town Hall Meetings” relating to the bushfire cleanup project, even though they were being held hundreds of kilometres away.”

ICN has taken part in a webinar about procurement for NSW Treasury and has sent  a reminder to all manufacturers to update their profiles, to be ready for an expected influx of enquiries from companies wanting to onshore some or all of their supply chain.

“Of course, we all miss the comradery and banter we usually engage in. The Regional Managers are itching to visit new companies that might have a role to play in future projects.”