Advancing Manufacturing

Kangarama recycles PET bottles into stylish anti-viral medical scrubs

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

HOW DOES a company making scrubs carve out a niche?

Sydney-based Kangarama makes scrubs that are completely sustainable and anti-viral at the same time. According to its founder and CEO Parry Laxman, that future-proofs the product.

Mr Laxman said the scrubs are made in Sydney out of plastic recycled bottles turned into polyester yarn. The yarn is processed in a factory located in China. Laxman said it remains the only place in the world that can process the yarn. The process itself is completely confidential.

“We’re a material science company. Our main focus is to develop products that are sustainable and that’s a future-proofed product,” Mr Laxman told Talking Business

“We’re finding that a lot of uniform companies don’t really focus on the sustainability aspect, so we’re growing. We have a range of fabrics.

“In the future, we will stay away from using recycled polyester. There are other yarns we are using (now) that are a lot more sustainable.”

Signficantly, Kangarama started during the COVID pandemic in 2020. It took about a year to get the business operating well and working with wholesalers.

“We just need to get our product out there into hospitals and that’s our focus at the moment,” he said.

After getting through the issues of manufacturing locally, it saw the better option to be getting it done in China.

A unique niche business

Mr Laxman agreed that Kangarama has a real niche business.

“We want to get it out there in the world. Our next market that we are looking at is the UAE,” he said. 

“UAE is a big market. There’s a lot of big medical schools. The medical sector is growing there and this product is attractive to the UAE market.”

So why would the UAE be attracted to Kangarama?

“I think because we started making it in Australia,” Mr Laxman said. “The other thing is that it’s an Australian brand. It’s an alternative to another brand whether it’s from the States or Europe.

“Also the level of testing we have done is attractive to them. We’re not badging on a product. We make the product from start to finish. It’s all designed in-house. Everything is done by our team,” he said.

The tops and lab coats are all sold at a standardised price.

Sustainability helps build new markets

Mr Laxman sees Kangarama becoming a sustainable global brand.

“A brand where we focus no just on the medical sector but other areas also,” he said.

“We believe that in the child care industry, this product would be quite useful. There’s the airline industry, there’s the cruise industry. They’re the areas where we would like to focus in the future,

That, he said, was the long-term plan for the company.

“Once we get the medical sector right, once we have the product right. Our goal is to create a natural compostable, biodegradable scrub,” Mr Laxman said.

“We don’t want to add anything to the landfill. We want to develop a product where, whether it’s the government, whether it’s the private sector, they buy our scrub, they wear it.

“We know the scrubs they wear in hospitals are only worn for three months, that just adds to landfill. We want to get a product where, if they need to replenish that product, it can be composted and it can break down.”


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



Nestle Professional boosts manufacturing innovation – starting with waste-saving Hot Chockee cups

NESTLE Professional has invested more than $2.5 million in its Smithtown factory in NSW, to bolster local manufacturing and support collaborative product developments – starting with a new recyclable Hot Chockee cup. 

A partnership between Nestlé Professional and 7-Eleven has focused on the innovative development of a recyclable cup, including the label and foil seal, now accepted through kerbside recycling. The result could save up to 95 tonnes of waste from entering landfill each year.   

Nestlé Professional Oceania general manager Kristina Czepl said, “The recent investment into Smithtown factory has allowed us to collaborate on exciting new packaging solutions, like the Hot Chockee cup.

“It is a great example of working with likeminded partners to pioneer alternative materials to facilitate better recycling. 

“In addition, the investment will see the factory produce up to 4.7 million cups of Hot Chockee over the next 12 months.” 

7-Eleven Head of Sustainability Fiona Baxter said, “We are incredibly proud to continue our partnership with Nestlé Professional and invest in innovative packaging solutions. Our new 7Eleven Hot Chockee still has the same delicious taste, made and packed in Australia, with approximately 68 percent of ingredients sourced locally. 

“The cup is now recyclable via kerbside recycling services. All elements of the cup can be placed in kerbside mixed recycling. This innovation helps both Nestlé and 7-Eleven to continue to work together towards our packaging sustainability targets." 

Since 1921, the Nestlé Smithtown factory has been an integral part of the Nestlé Professional Australian food and beverage manufacturing, home to Aussie favourites such as Milo , Nesquik and Nestlé Hot Chocolate.

The investment into Smithtown factory will enable Nestlé Professional and its partners to bolster new product development in Australia, Ms Czepl said.


Australia’s DroneShield provides UAV protection systems to Ukraine and beyond

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

IMAGINE THIS. An Australian hi tech defence business is providing Ukraine with the necessary counter-drone detection and destruction systems to stop the Russian advance. In the war, both sides are using drones for field reconnaissance, directing artillery strikes, general intel gathering and dropping charges, with small and large drones being used in direct attacks.

DroneShield, an Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) listed company, works with the Department of Defence, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies around the world. Those are its biggest customers so far. Other customers include airports, prisons, and power and water utilities. 

“I think, over time, the customer set will extend towards more corporate and VIP customers, but today government agencies are the bulk of the people we work with,” DroneShield CEO Oleg Vornik told Talking Business.

DroneShield had made a shipment to Ukraine right at the start of the war, at the end of February, and it is now in discussions with other government agencies. The equipment shipped to Ukraine was for the detection and defeat of nefarious drones

Australia has traditionally relied on the US, the UK and France for its military equipment.

But Mr Vornik said Australia realised a few year ago that it wasn’t just about “getting the right kit” but also about building sovereign industry – and DroneShield is part of that movement.



Australia has a relatively small population but it is the 12th biggest defence spender in the world. Australia can’t produce everything, in terms of defence materiel, because of its size, but the government has identified key areas it can make a difference in such as robotics, and hyper-sonic weapons.

“Our business, which is very much in that robotics warfare space, is very much part of those priorities,” Mr Vornik said. 

He said DroneShield’s engineers were all based in Australia. The products are being designed and built here and the company is Australia owned with 8000 ‘mum-and-dad’ shareholders. All of its directors are Australian based and Australian citizens, and the majority have Defence clearance.

Mr Vornik said DroneShield, which has a workforce of about 60, played a critical role in building Australia’s skilled workforce.

“We are a hi-tech defence business,” he said.

“There are a lot of companies that fill important roles that I would consider lower tech.

“We are very much at the high end of the equation. This requires very high skilled engineers.”



Mr Vornik said it had taken DroneShield several years to build the right base of equipment and the company had roughly doubled in size over the last two years

“This is very much a talent game,” Mr Vornik said. 

“It takes a long time to build a skill set.”

Mr Vornik said these skills were unusual “but for us, on the upside, we don’t have to compete with Facebook, Amazon or Space X here in Australia”.

The company is seven years old and counter-drone technology has come a long way since DroneShield started. Mr Vornik said companies all around the world were now recognising the importance of drones.

Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Ukraine are now big markets for DroneShield.

DroneShield uses artificial intelligence to detect drones being operated through wi-fi and Bluetooth systems – and doing it precisely. In electronic warfare, this could mean detecting a missile or an enemy tank or a frigate.

Mr Vornik sees the business expanding into airports and prisons in the US to detect contraband.

In Australia, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act obliges all providers of critical infrastructure to consider all aspects of their security. Counter drone security would come into that consideration, Mr Vornik said. 


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



Are resources companies helping drive Qld manufacturing revival?

QUEENSLAND resources companies are increasingly turning to local businesses to supply their goods and services, according to a new report, helping to drive a resurgence in the state’s manufacturing sector.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has released a report showing Queensland businesses secured almost 20 percent more resources work in 2019-20, with local expenditure rising from $22.4 billion in 2018-19 to $26.7 billion in 2019-20.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the latest data showed four in every five resources’ dollars was now being spent with local machinery and equipment suppliers, earthmoving contractors, food service providers, heavy engineering businesses and a range of other service providers.

He said it was the first time since the QRC began publishing its annual Local Content Report, nine years ago, that local goods and services’ expenditure had risen for three consecutive years.  

Mr Macfarlane said a resources-led revival in Queensland manufacturing was the result of resources companies working more closely with local suppliers to give them every opportunity to tender for work, to build on the state's capacity to support the mining sector.

“This ‘local first’ approach is strongly advocated by the Queensland Local Content Leaders’ Network, of which the QRC is a member, and it’s amazing to see the steady stream of cost savings, innovations and good ideas now flowing back to our companies through better engagement with suppliers,” he said.

Mr Macfarlane said 24 percent of member CEOs agreed the capabilities of local suppliers had increased over the year, with none reporting a decrease.

“About 16 percent of CEOs said Queensland suppliers had improved their price competitiveness, with none reporting a decrease in this category, and 44 percent said they expect to spend more with local suppliers over the next 12 months, and none expected to spend less,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“This is fantastic news and shows the resources sector’s focus on building the capability of local supply chains is delivering more opportunities for Queensland suppliers than ever before, with more growth to come.”

Mr Macfarlane said rising global demand for Queensland’s in-demand commodities and raw materials plus a commitment to pursue new technologies to achieve net zero by 2050 meant resources would continue to underpin the state economy for decades to come.   

“Regional centres, in particular, are leading the way in providing the innovation and expertise needed to keep the resources sector operating at a high level, particularly as we transition to a lower emissions future,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Local suppliers are more likely to understand the high-tech needs and local conditions of our sector and are better placed to help companies manage supply chain risks, which has been an issue for all industries during the pandemic.

“Working with local suppliers also helps our companies reduce their transport costs and fuel consumption, which is better for the environment and adds to the long-term sustainability of resources communities.”

The QRC’s Local Content Report shows resources companies also spent less on internationally-sourced goods and services in 2019-20, recording a $600 million drop compared with 2018-19.

International procurement fell from $1.1 billion, or 3.6 percent of total purchases, to $500 million or 2 percent of total purchases in 2019-20.



Manufacturing-from-home the only option for some small businesses in COVID era

THE NUMBER of people working from home has increased worldwide since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last year – but for Sunshine Coast-based family business I Heart Wall Art, keeping their operation flourishing while at home has been far from simple.

“We sell canvas prints, art prints, wallpaper and decals and we manufacture them ourselves,” business owner Edwina Cameron said.

“We sell only online, and we saw a very rapid increase in sales at the start of the pandemic as people starting turning more to online businesses. That meant rapidly ramping up our manufacturing operations.

“But, with children suddenly requiring home-schooling and huge uncertainty around what was to come, we had to scale up those operations from home.

“My husband Gerry does most of the canvas stretching and framing from a converted garage and newly-built shed which doubles as a studio for people to come and see samples,” she said. 

“Our rumpus room now houses a large format printer and cutting machine, as well as the tables and equipment for our art print framing.

“I’ve had to move my desk back into my bedroom. We’re all constantly tripping over each other staff, kids, in-laws, visitors to the studio – so it’s definitely been an exercise in patience for everyone.”


Edwina and Gerry are not alone.

ABS head of household surveys, David Zago, said the latest Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey conducted from February 12–21, 2021, showed two in five people with a job (41 percent) worked from home at least once a week in February 2021, compared with 24 percent at least once a week before March 2020. (Source)

With population increases across the Sunshine Coast, more people than ever before are reconfiguring their homes to allow for offices, studios and workshops.

“We’re hoping to move the business out later in the year, but we’re waiting for the right space to come up in Maleny and to see what happens with the pandemic,” Ms Cameron said.

“Until then, we’re making do the best we can. We’re just lucky we’ve got a bit of space and very supportive neighbours.”


For more information, contact Edwina Cameron on 0408 203 922

Mask u-turn set to create jobs

A MELBOURNE manufacturer of reusable protective masks is set to recruit up to 10 new staff following yesterday’s announcement by Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews.

As the Victorian Government took the decision to recommend the wearing of masks in high risk areas, the Melbourne firm saw sales jump by 800 percent. 

FloatPac Group CEO Gavin Hodgins said website traffic had now increased by a staggering 3,500 percent after the site initially crashed under the influx of orders.

“At one stage last night we were receiving 15 orders a minute," Mr Hodgins said. "It’s been huge. For us, it’s been a life saver, keeping an almost 40-year-old firm afloat.

“Sales to the general public have been coming thick and fast, and we are actively engaging with the State Government to secure some of the orders for 2 million masks that Premier Andrews is ordering – it looks as though masks could become a way of life, at least in the short term.

“We have a very busy few days and weeks ahead of us, but we’re delighted to be in a position to create new jobs. Producing masks became a sideline as we fought to keep our staff employed, after Covid-19 wiped out the majority of our core business. From a community perspective, it’s a real privilege to be playing a part in helping to stop the spread.”


UniSA industry workshops help Defence sector innovation fight COVID-19 impacts

YEARS OF HARD WORK have gone into developing the networks and connections, the expertise and investments and the global partnerships to make South Australia the ‘defence state’. But what impact will the COVID-19 pandemic have?

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt just as the defence sector has been ramping up some of the most significant defence projects Australia has ever seen, including $100 billion being spent on the new BAE Systems Hunter Class Frigates in Adelaide and the Naval Group Attack Class Submarines. 

University of South Australia (UniSA) researcher in its Centre for Workplace Excellence, Shruti Sardeshmukh, who is undertaking research into the development of the defence industry, is conducting a series of online workshops with defence stakeholders, defence companies large and small, government and industry organisations, to assess the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

“I want to incorporate an understanding of the impact of COVID-19 into my research on the defence industry sector and its resilience as part of a globally networked industry,” Dr Sardeshmukh said.

“Many homegrown SMEs (small and medium enterprises) from South Australia have been successful in winning critical contracts just recently.

“And we are in a unique situation where international primes are working with local companies on projects of enormous national significance, so understanding more fully the impacts of the pandemic will be vital as we plan for business beyond COVID-19.” 

Director of Defence at UniSA, Matt Opie, said adapting to the challenging circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact.

“While public health and the health of the economy are top priorities right now for everyone, we can’t afford to allow the pandemic to impact our efforts to develop critical Sovereign Industrial Capabilities within the defence industry,” Mr Opie said.

“If anything, COVID-19 is teaching us that we need to strengthen Australia’s industrial and manufacturing capacity across the sector, and what we are developing through defence, in both know-how and in vital partnerships, will have applications beyond the sector.”

Dr Sardeshmukh said the industry consultation workshops will help to inform the wider research project and provide strategies to ensure current projects are delivered successfully.

Industry representatives wanting to take part in the workshops can register with Dr Sardeshmukh at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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