CENTURY CHARGED TO KEEP AUSSIE MANUFACTURING POSITIVE
The world is facing some very uncertain times, but for Australia’s oldest and most iconic battery manufacturer one thing has never been surer: Australia needs a strong manufacturing revival
Century Yuasa explains that its automotive division has produced batteries in Australia since 1928, with its portfolio including some of the most recognised battery brands and technically advanced products available in the marketplace.
When many countries and overseas suppliers went into lockdown and imports stopped, Century says it was able to support Australia’s economy by doing what it does best – making reliable and quality batteries.
The Carole Park based business has not only been a long-time stalwart of local manufacturing, it has also made a significant commitment to both the future of the business and jobs for its workers.
Century employs around 600 employees across Australia and New Zealand, putting over $100 million back into the Australian economy every year.
The company is about to further showcase this commitment with a multimillion-dollar upgrade of factory equipment and a significant upgrade and expansion of its research and development facilities.
It says this will enable Century to dramatically boost its plate production capability – and it is the plates which are the most critical components of lead acid batteries.
Stu Stanners, the General Manager Automotive Sales (Australia and New Zealand) for Century Yuasa, said the investment would boost annual production capacity by almost 20 percent to 1.3 million batteries.
“Manufacturing in Australia has fallen over the last two decades from 13 percent of gross domestic product to six percent,” Stu said.
“We are committed to continuous new product development and invest significantly in local manufacturing to ensure we set new standards in product performance.
“Our core strength and competitive advantage lie in delivering exceptional products supported with an industry-leading service network.
“Almost every component needed for our manufacturing comes from other local manufacturers – whether that is iron ore from South Australia, recycled components from New South Wales or plastics and signage from Queensland.
“We have Australia’s back and we hope when you need a new battery next, you’ll insist on a Century battery and support an Australian made product.”
The call to buy Australian made also comes from Century Yuasa’s General Manager of Operations, Matthieu Anquetil.
“As a manufacturer we certainly need state-of-the-art machinery, but that can only go so far. We are only as good as our people and our customers,” Matthieu said.
“We want people to know we are about keeping jobs here in Australia, so we need every Australian to really consider Australia-made.
“We have spent many millions in factory upgrades making our facility the equal of any manufacturing plant around the world.
“In fact, it is world leading, allowing us to lift efficiency and reduce costs 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.”
While Century Batteries’ National Marketing Manager (Automotive) Andrew Bottoms also champions the unwavering commitment to Australian manufacturing and creating jobs, the 14-year company veteran says there is even more that sets the company apart from other manufacturers.
“We are uniquely positioned to be more than ‘just a supplier,’” Andrew said.
“We have staff who have been here 40 years. In fact, across the board the average staffer has been here 15 years, which any recruiter will tell you is incredibly rare these days. So, that tells you we are about relationships – and that extends to genuine relationships with suppliers and customers.
“There is integrity to our business dealings that is truly genuine. Whether that is with relationships, with the companies we source our components from, to having local agents across the country to meet with and connect with our customers.
“One thing the COVID crisis has highlighted is people do need to talk to people: so, our business is people oriented and positioned so we can provide a full-service circle and not just be a supplier. Our technical team can offer advice and problem solve for our customers, right down to offering training to their staff. We do promotions in the community and genuinely connect.”
Century’s Brisbane facility is spread over seven hectares with operations divided across four main areas of plate making, assembly line, finishing and then distribution. While 50 tonnes of lead are used every day, as a corporate citizen, 98 percent of lead acid batteries are recycled, and 60 percent of the lead used is recycled lead.
Century has a strong focus on innovation and technical excellence, and it was the first battery company in Australia to introduce polypropylene cases and lids.
Still, the real watershed moment in Century’s success story occurred in the 1980s when it formed an international partnership and signed a technical agreement with Japan Storage Company and Yuasa.
“It was at this point we became Century Yuasa Batteries,” Andrew said.
“From there we started supplying to original equipment manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Toyota. In the late 1980s we entered New Zealand and in the mid-1990s we secured our position as the leading battery distributor in that market as well.
“We have over 8,000 customers in Australia and 3,000 in New Zealand 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.”
With automotive manufacturing the lowest it has ever been in this country; Century says it is on a course to be the first manufacturer to achieve a “Century” in business.
Both Stu and Matthieu say this is achievable with the support of a country that sticks by its mates.
For more from Century Yuasa, visit www.cyb.com.au