THE PROBLEM-SOLVING ‘mechanic’s friend’ spray cans of innovator CRC Industries Australia are celebrating a half-century of service to Australian motorists, engineers and manufacturers this year.

CRC Australia’s registered brands also include Kitten, So Easy, RE-PO, Trefolex, Aerostart, Maniseal and the CRC Greenlight food safety program

It is a remarkably special milestone for the Australian division of the global CRC Industries company – manufacturing in Australia since 1969. 

CRC Industries today enjoys the status of being an iconic local manufacturer, supplying speciality products for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) professionals across a wide array of industries including automotive, industrial, mining, food and beverage, utilities and defence.

While CRC was first established in 1958 in a small Pennsylvania, USA, garage, the company started manufacturing in Australia after being incorporated as a proprietary company of Australia on October 13, 1969. Previously, US-made CRC products made the journey ‘Down Under’ throughout the 1960s thanks to the Balfour Buzzacott Division of Email Limited, a company which which also distributed products of the well-known Dymo Labels brand.

Following the incorporation of CRC Industries Australia, the business model switched to a focus on manufacturing and facilities at North Ryde in Sydney were established. By 1974, the installation of aerosol and bulk filling lines were completed, allowing locally manufactured CRC products to be sold throughout Australia and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.

The company enjoyed such growth that by 1980, a larger facility was needed and was opened in Castle Hill in Sydney’s north west region.
Progress continued steadily for the company and, in 2004, CRC Industries Australia acquired iconic Australian auto care brand Kitten to join its growing stable of products.

To this day, Kitten sits amongst a full range of CRC products which are produced and packaged in the Castle Hill factory including market-leading products such as CRC’s famous 5.56, Brakleen, Penetr8 and CO Contact Cleaner.

CRC Australia has also established export agreements with more than 15 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. 

“What an exciting time this is for all involved in CRC Industries Australia,” CRC Industries Australia managing director, Shona Fitzgerald said.

“Fifty years of manufacturing is a tremendous milestone and one that we are very proud of. From the establishment of a small operation in Sydney in 1969 just 11 years after the global beginnings of the company, CRC Industries Australia has experienced exponential growth to today be a market leader and a key contributor to the global success of CRC Industries.

“Our mission is to satisfy the needs of our customers with the highest quality speciality chemical products while always remaining customer focused. We do this in a forward-thinking and creative manner and with a keen focus on innovation and R&D.  

“We empower our employees and support our communities which has allowed us to prosper where many others have failed,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Our growth and longevity here in Australia is a true testament to the efforts, dedication and skill of all involved in CRC Industries Australia and I send my thanks to our employees, our suppliers, our distributors and our partners for the roles they have played in bringing us to where we are today.

“The future certainly looks bright and we can’t wait to see what we can achieve over the next 50 years.”

CRC Industries is a global supplier of chemical specialty products; manufacturing more than 1,300 items and developing specialised formulas to meet the unique needs of its customers. The company operates 26 facilities throughout the world. 

Family-owned investment management company, Berwind, acquired CRC Industries in 1981. With its roots dating to 1886, Berwind has evolved from its beginnings as a coal mining company to a diversified portfolio of highly successful manufacturing and service companies, which are leaders in their respective markets.


UNIVERSITY of Queensland chemical engineering and business graduate, Alex Bell, may have started a revolution in Australian rum distillation with the creation of a ‘four-in-one’ liquor still. 

Hoping to reinvigorate Australia’s passion for rum, Mr Bell has combined his engineering and business nous to create a new kind of micro distillery capable of producing a range of spirits including rum – superseding traditional stills that are usually limited to a single product.

“The distillery consists of a single still that performs the same function as four dedicated stills and is capable of producing several thousand bottles a year of a variety of marques and spirits,” Mr Bell said. 

“The distillery has been designed with versatility in mind, while minimising its size.

“It’s essentially four-stills-in-one: a dual retort Jamaican rum still for producing heavy rums; a column still for producing light rums; a regular pot still for brandies and traditional rums, and a gin still that will be using to create a range of spiced rums and aperitifs.”

Mr Bell said his system allowed for each product to be designed from scratch and able to be reproduced exactly, no matter the scale.

“This is achieved by directing the flow of vapour via several valves,” he said.

“Each fermenter is temperature controlled, allowing full precision of fermentation temperatures to allow for consistency between batches, but also to encourage the microorganisms to produce the desired compounds at the right time.

“The distillery also has the ability to produce our own ginger beers without affecting production volumes of spirits.

"All the design work and problem solving involved in the distillery was a direct result of the tool set the engineering degree provided me,” Mr Bell said.

The Brisbane-based entrepreneur’s revolutionary idea was nurtured and developed through UQ Idea Hub, a startup pre-incubator for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“The UQ Idea Hub also gave me the opportunity to bounce my ideas around a vast number of experienced people from a range of industries, which helped continually refine my idea,” Mr Bell said.

“In 2017, I participated in the Shanghai Startup Adventure, a UQ Idea Hub program that provides students a one-month internship in Shanghai, and this was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.

“I learnt how hard and fast you have to work in a startup.” 

UQ Idea Hub director, Nimrod Klayman said the UQ Idea Hub innovation and entrepreneurship workshops and Startup Adventures were great opportunities for students, UQ staff and alumni looking to broaden their entrepreneurial mindset and gain a global perspective.

The new micro-distillery is operating at The Malecón Bar in Milton, Brisbane. Mr Bell plans to expand the business in the future.



BOSCH AUSTRALIA has been named Large Business Manufacturer of the Year in the Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame Awards, just as the company celebrates 110 years in Australia.

Bosch Australia manufactures about 20 percent of global automotive diodes and supports other Australian manufacturers through its  capabilities in making special purpose machines.

The Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame Awards, staged at Crown Palladium in Melbourne in May, were hosted by the Victorian Industry and Employment Ministry and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

The awards recognise outstanding achievements by local businesses and individuals across manufacturing and innovation in the Victoria region and beyond.

“Congratulations to the Bosch Australia manufacturing team for taking out the award for Manufacturer of the Year,” Bosch Australia president, Gavin Smith said.

“Our team has done a great job over an extended period to ensure our ongoing competitiveness and innovative strength. This award is recognition of that hard work and dedication.”

In 2017, Bosch Australia manufactured about 120 million automotive power diodes, all of which were exported. Bosch has made significant investments in manufacturing for the global automotive sector including A$8.5 million to increase diode production capacity in 2018.

Bosch Australia’s Manufacturing Solutions business, established in 2015, now supplies special purpose machines, manufacturing equipment and services to the Australian manufacturing sector and overseas.

In 2017, Bosch celebrated 110 years of activity in Australia and is investing in future oriented technologies including the Internet of Things, the Factory of the Future, Automated and Connected Mobility and a new initiative, Learn@Bosch, an outreach program to spark enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with primary school students. 

Bosch has had a presence in Australia since 1907, opening its first wholly-owned subsidiary, Robert Bosch (Australia) Pty Ltd, in 1954. The company was set up in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as what he called a “workshop for precision mechanics and electrical engineering”.



CRAIG International Ballistics, a leading Australian manufacturer of combat-proven body armour systems – which has supplied more than 100,000 soft armour inserts and hard ballistic plates to Defence and local police forces – is set to step up production to meet new export demands.

Craig International Ballistics has signed a joint venture agreement with the United Kingdom’s Cooneen Protection Limited to manufacture and sell composite ballistic protection to the UK, Europe and Middle East.

The joint venture, Cooneen Craig Limited, is the result of strong collaboration between the two companies. Together, they are already participating in tender opportunities to New Zealand, France, Singapore, Belgium and the UK.  

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne witnessed the signing of the agreement at the recent Eurosatory defence and security international exhibition in Paris.

“This joint venture is a great example of the huge opportunities on offer for Australian businesses in the defence sector, and the strong and growing links that exist between the Australian and United Kingdom defence industries,” Mr Pyne said.

“With companies like Craig International Ballistics leading the charge for export success, the Australian sovereign defence industrial base we need will be more robust, more resilient and better able to meet Australia’s defence capability needs.

“Through the Defence Export Strategy and Australian Defence Export Office we are providing the confidence and support Australian business like Craig International Ballistics need to seize opportunities and pursue export success,” Mr Pyne said.

Mr Pyne said all defence exports would continue to be subject to approval according to Australia’s rigorous export control regulations.


ALTHOUGH the manufacturing industry in Australia is undergoing significant change – and some companies are finding their futures hard to navigate – the innovators are finding success by embracing and adapting new technologies.

A good example of a company embracing what is being called ‘Industry 4.0’ is Queensland-based Watkins Steel, an innovator in using new digital measurement and augmented reality (AR) technologies creatively and economically to both shorten manufacturing times and attract new projects. 

Watkins Steel was recognised in the 2017 Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Business Awards, winning ISPT Award for Digital Adoption Strategy and being acknowledged for its contribution to the continued growth of the Brisbane economy.

One of Watkins Steel’s highest profile projects became a centrepiece within the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Athletes Village and it illustrated Watkins’ expertise in digital manufacturing.

The Commonwealth Games Architectural Arbour Model was designed by Watkins Steel with the aid of AR systems that have been developed utilising Tekla software technologies and Microsoft HoloLens systems, combined with the training assistance of the Queensland-based manufacturing skills educator, Outsource Institute of Technology.

So impressive was the Commonwealth Games Architectural Arbour Model that it won a Tekla Building Information Modelling (BIM) Award for Australia and New Zealand. Watkins Steel won the international Sports and Recreation Category Award for its Tekla model of the 2018 Commonwealth Games Athletes Village Architectural Arbour and Disc Structure.

Outsource Institute of Technology managing director Carl Spruce said Watkins Steel was embracing the technological changes in manufacturing and is taking its lead in Australian steel fabrication to new levels.

“They have implemented augmented reality (AR) as part of their customer communications,” Mr Spruce said.

“For instance, Watkins Steel can design and draft entire buildings through their augmented reality and display the buildings in full size or scaled-down sizes so that their customers can see their new buildings (depicted) in real time and on site. 

“This feature also allows the company to plan their installations with greater accuracy and efficiency and it might also help them to provide a better service to their customers and to satisfy them to a greater degree.”

According to Watkins steel the advantages of utilising digital systems and AR include less time to produce steelwork; the quality of that work improves and rework is minimised; consistent and reliable data collected by the scan can be used by all parties; on-site time is reduced, allowing other trades to progress; and the project is completed sooner for handover and use.

Outsource Institute trains Watkins Steel’s employees in the Certificate III in Engineering – Technical CAD/CAM. The training so far has focused on Watkins staff who are directly involved with the drafting of the steel structures and converting the computer aided drafting (CAD) files into computer aided manufacturing (CAM) files for the workshop machinery.

Watkins Steel staff members also learn to build the AR files as part of the manufacturing process, so the structures can be viewed through the HoloLens AR/VR goggles by both staff and clients.

The process Watkins Steel is developing is a portent to future manufacturing – which is dubbed Industry 4.0 – where manufacturers are increasingly likely to rely on computerisation, automation and AR skills.

Watkins Steel has linked together a range of systems and developed almost 100 percent accuracy in design through to manufacture and installation. Results so far show Watkins producing steelwork in 12m lengths to plus-or-minus 1mm accuracy.

Watkins Steel’s unique system ties together a Faro Focus 3D Laser Scanner and Realworks Software for site measurement, Voortman V808 Coping Machine for automated and precise steel fabrication, Trimble Robotic Total Station and Field Link Software for onsite steel installation, and Trimble Connect for sharing models with clients in the cloud, interlinked by Trimble’s Tekla AR systems. 

Although there are other fabricators in Australia with some of this equipment, Watkins Steel is the first to link it all together and fully develop the four-step process between each element of steel manufacturing and installation.


While manufacturing in Australia took a body blow with the demise of large-scale automotive manufacturing in 2017, with the final closures of Ford, Toyota and Holden plants, the sector has rapidly diversified and there are doors opening in areas such as defence and, according to recent reports, space industries.

According to Outsource Institute and based on CSIRO research, while there has clearly been a decline, manufacturing remains a core part of Australia’s economy and represents the sixth largest sector in Australia in terms of total jobs. Manufacturing in all its forms currently accounts for 8 percent of national employment and remains one of Australia’s most important industries.

This new wave of technological advances in manufacturing, such as additive manufacturing and 3D printing, cyber-physical systems, cloud computing and cognitive computing is dubbed Industry 4.0. Outsource Institute's Mr Spruce said Industry 4.0 was characterised by improvements in efficiency and flexibility and the acquisition of previously unattainable capabilities, mostly through new technologies.

The demand for more expensive and bespoke products suggests that the manufacturing industry is not declining but evolving. According to research by the Australian Welding Institute, these changes are opening up opportunities for existing workers to expand their knowledge of the latest technologies and fill the science and technology gaps by upskilling.

Organisations at the forefront of this change, that are wanting to remain competitive in the industry, have commenced upskilling their workforces – and Watkins Steel is a prime example.

“Despite the declining traditional manufacturing industry in Australia, there are many opportunities for companies to fill the technology gaps by upskilling and cross-skilling workers for the more advanced manufacturing wave,”Mr Spruce said.

“Industry 4.0 creates what has been called the ‘smart factory’ and smart factories will need a ‘smart workforce’.

“The pressures that manufacturing is experiencing are not unique to Australia. Skills for the modern tradesperson are paramount to the success of a country’s manufacturing capability and their overall economic success – and therefore, this new wave involves upskilling.

“Industry 4.0 shows how fast technology advances and keeping up with these changes is crucial to everyone’s career progression.”

Outsource Institute’s new courses in Hydraulics, Instrumentation, Advanced Welding Technology and Pneumatics have been designed to specifically address upskilling challenges facing Australian manufacturers.

“There are other crucial skills that are important in the advancing manufacturing industry to bring your engineering career to the next level such as leadership skills and strong communication skills, which give you the capability to communicate your engineering knowledge to an uninitiated audience,” Mr Spruce said.

“Diversifying your skills will make you stand out in a competitive employment market and increase efficiency, customer satisfaction and effectiveness.”

According to the Australia Institute Centre for Future Work report, Manufacturing: a moment of opportunity 2017 “There is more economic space than at any time in recent years to expand investment, production, and employment in value-added manufacturing.”

For the Australian manufacturers who move quickly to upskill their workforces and invest in new capabilities – as Watkins Steel has – the future will be bright according to the Outsource Institute of Technology.


AUSTRALIAN Research Council (ARC) chief executive officer Sue Thomas believes a new ARC Centre of Excellence will help to boost Australian manufacturing through accessing innovative research into ultra-low energy electronics. 

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET), led by professor Michael Fuhrer, was officially launched at Monash University recently. Monash University is receiving $33.4 million over seven years under the ARC Centres of Excellence scheme. 

Professor Thomas said researchers at this Centre of Excellence were collaborating with other researchers and partners around the globe to develop a new generation of ultra-low resistance electronic devices.

“This ARC Centre of Excellence will focus on addressing the global challenge of reducing the energy used in information technology and computation, to develop revolutionary electronics and communications technologies,” Prof. Thomas said.

“More efficient, low-energy electronics technologies and devices are critical to the future of computing and communication, to address the limitations of present technology.

“FLEET will develop novel methods of resistance-free electronic conduction that will meet the growing demand for computation that can operate at ultra-low energy consumption,” she said.

“Working collaboratively with other participating universities and its Australian and international industry partners, the Centre of Excellence will equip the next generation of researchers with the skills and industry experience to lead this field into the future,” Prof. Thomas said.

The Centre of Excellence led by Monash University is working with six other key universities: University of New South Wales; The Australian National University; RMIT University; Swinburne University of Technology; University of Wollongong; and The University of Queensland. It is also partnering with the National University of Singapore; Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany; Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO); California Institute of Technology; University of Maryland; Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz; Columbia University, New York; University of Colorado, Boulder; Tsinghua University, Beijing; Synchrotron Light Source Australia Pty Ltd; University of Wuerzburg, Germany; University of Texas, Austin; and Joint Quantum Institute.


AUSTRALIA’s only remaining watchmaker and timepiece manufacturer, Woolloongabba-based Adina, realised very early that the key to longevity was well-trained and enthusiastic staff.

As the last watchmakers to design and assemble their products in Australia, Adina’s founders and leadership team – founder Bob Menzies and his son and managing director Grant Menzies – understood that detailed training and support was vital for the heritage of the brand.  

Adina was founded in 1971 by Australian Robert ‘Bob’ Menzies – a determined entrepreneur and skilled timepiece engineer who dreamed of creating a watch capable of withstanding the rigours of the Australian lifestyle.

After months travelling the world sourcing premium components and advanced technology, Mr Menzies returned home to begin assembling his first watch collection. In a small storeroom in his family home, he designed and crafted each watch by hand, painstakingly ensuring the quality through an ever-fixed eyeglass.

This attention to detail and culture of hard work remains at the core of Adina’s business today as Adina remains the only company to design and assemble its complete watch collection in Australia.

Today the business has grown to a staff of 20, including Mr Menzies son Grant, building the craft of quality Australian watchmaking through the generations. Each year Adina produces more than 40,000 artisan watches from its Brisbane factory, available in over 300 retail outlets across the country.

The Bob Menzies vision lives on through Adina’s apprentices trained at the Australian Watchmaking School, a division of TAFE, at Ultimo in Sydney.

Making a watch is no easy task, the attention to detail required to produce quality timepieces are at the core of Adina’s values.

It is something apprentice watchmaker, Lindsay Baxter, knows it all too well. Having been with Adina for the past two years, he is half way through his watchmaking apprenticeship at the Australian Watchmaking School. 

Growing up in the regional Queensland town of Charters Towers with an interest in mechanics, it was an easy choice for LindsayBaxter to turn this fascination into a reality when an opportunity came up to undertake an apprenticeship and join the Adina Watches team.

What was not easy, though, was he lived almost1800km from the Adina workshops in Brisbane and a further 1000km from the Australian Watchmaking School in Sydney.

Determined to take the next step and kick-start his career as a watchmaker, Mr Baxter moved permanently to Brisbane and has travelled over the past two years from Brisbane to Sydney every six weeks to do a three-day block of the course.

“Travelling back and forth for years was definitely hard, but it has been well worth it,” Mr Baxter said. “Watchmaking is like no other job I’ve had within the engineering industry, and it’s something I’ve truly grown to love.

“The Adina Oceaneer ZT02 S5XB is probably my favourite watch to make. The highly technical elements can be quite challenging, but it’s like solving a beautiful and intricate puzzle – I just really enjoy it.”

Handcrafted in Brisbane by passionate watchmakers like Lindsay Baxter, Adina’s watches don’t just tell time, their unique, sophisticated and timeless designs make the perfect statement accessory for all occasions.

Through quality craftsmanship and evolving design, Adina has made a history of specialising in limited release watch collections. The brand remains a stronghold in regional Australia, where Adina watches are trusted to endure the outback’s harsh conditions. Their classic, lifestyle and contemporary fashion watches, for everything from a red carpet event to surfing, feature this same dependable and superior technology.

From the unassuming workshops of the factory, where the watchmakers carefully construct the timepieces, to the dynamic father and son figureheads, Adina continues to set the standard in design and technological innovation, while remaining true to its Australian roots.


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