AUSSIE BATTERY MANUFACTURER CHARGES AHEAD WITH MAJOR EXPANSION
Century Batteries’ $7 million capital investment project was focused on improving factory efficiencies, equipment utilisation and quality consistency
Demand for Australian-made batteries surged through the peak COVID-19 period as iconic Australian battery manufacturer Century Batteries readied to unveil state of the art machinery to meet future markets.
Century Batteries National Marketing Manager (Automotive), Andrew Bottoms, said from May to August this year there was a 15 percent increase in the sale of Australian made batteries over the same period last year.
Andrew said little did the company realise before the new machine even began test runs, that COVID-19 would create increased demand as the disease significantly changed the import landscape.
“Supply chains were interrupted and with so much uncertainly at how events would play out (not to mention for how long), across the country industries were looking for homegrown products they may have previously sourced overseas,” Andrew said.
“Then the next wave came as borders closed. Our retail partners reported a massive push for Aussie-made products, particularly for car batteries and then camping and leisure products as families looked to holiday and travel closer to home.
“The new rotary plate making line will increase production to over 1.3 million batteries a year: the realisation of a three-year project.
“Factory 2020 was dual fold in its ambitions: to improve and upgrade the factory but in doing so double down on our manufacturing footprint. That meant a commitment to Australians, that they could buy a homegrown battery, designed and made here for our extreme conditions.
“We had confidence in Factory 2020, but like many companies manufacturing Australian goods we would need consumer support: research showed Australian-made was important to customers.
“Our factory upgrades are also a commitment to the more than 600 people employed by Century Yuasa. Buying Australian has never been more important, especially when it means keeping fellow Australians in a job.”
Century Batteries’ $7 million capital investment project was focused on improving factory efficiencies, equipment utilisation and quality consistency. The company says it puts $100 million back into the Australian economy and not only that, but it also fully supports other Australian companies.
Century Yuasa General Manager of Operations, Matthieu Anquetil, said almost every component needed for the manufacturing process came from other local manufacturers.
“Whether that is lead from South Australia, recycled components from New South Wales and plastics and signage from Queensland: we are invested in manufacturing in Australia,” Matthieu said.
“Our factory upgrades equal any manufacturing plant around the world: allowing us to increase our manufacturing efficiency so we can compete against imported products. Manufacturing in Australia is getting tougher, so we have to become more innovative, designing batteries that better suit the Australian climate.”
The factory upgrades included a complete revision of the factory layout for better efficiencies transitioning to lean manufacturing and improved safety.
Lead plates are the critical components of lead batteries and the new rotary expander line replaces three existing plate making lines (reciprocated expander lines) and runs at a speed of 45 metres per minute compared with 11 metres per minute for each of the older machines.
The upgrades also include four new curing ovens, designed by Century’s engineering team, with automated buggy systems controlling each step of the curing process. Century has also invested with significant upgrades and expansion of its research and development facility.
Not only did the project reportedly ‘future-proof’ the business and protect current jobs, but additional permanent positions were also created.
“We have over 8,000 retail customers in Australia and 3,000 in New Zealand,” Matthieu said.
“And while a small percentage of products in the Century range are imported from Century Yuasa affiliated and approved suppliers, the majority of the more than two million units Century Yuasa sells every year are manufactured in the Queensland plant.
“The COVID-19 crisis has shone a light on many Australian industries that are critical to our economy and for keeping our supply chain moving with increased support of local manufacturing, a standout.”
For more from Century Batteries, visit www.centurybatteries.com.au