A network of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the Northern Territory is maximising work opportunities for local suppliers. Jamie Wade writes
Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are the vital foundation for sustainable and healthy remote communities. However, businesses in remote parts of desert Australia are particularly disadvantaged because of distance, lack of critical mass, size of population and labour mobility.
A government initiative — Desert Knowledge Australia — is establishing networks of people to undertake the research, product development and marketing for thriving desert knowledge economies.
Australian Production Line Maintenance Services (APMS) manager, and network partner, Don Murfitt, said a key benefit of the network was retaining local expertise.
His company, based in Salisbury South Australia, principally assembles Sumitomo gearboxes, but also builds, re-ratios and repairs the Sumitomo units and other gearboxes, and has benefited from the network by referring work to local network suppliers and vice versa.
“By engaging other suppliers in the Desert Knowledge Australia Linked Business Network we can approach other suppliers in the region to provide particular work or equipment,” Murfitt told Australian Mining.
“We also recommend network partners to clients for work that’s out of our scope. For instance, we might approach a network partner that’s better equipped to do the job and get them to be the prime supplier, while we work as a subcontractor supplying components to the prime supplier for the job.”
“Likewise if a company in Desert Knowledge Australia’s Linked Business Network feels certain work is outside their scope of expertise they’ll refer clients to us.”
The Network, says Murfitt, has proved to be a successful commerce model.
An example of the benefits of the network were recently demonstrated in a project where APLMS supplied components for an inching drive for a rod mill at a uranium mine while another company conducted the fabrication and another the installation.
“This sort of relationship means network partners have no fear that somebody will come along from Adelaide and take all the work in the region, and vice versa,” Murfitt said.
“The more we do this, the more the trust builds, and the network becomes stronger.”
Fundamental to the Network is its support for small and medium sized businesses SMEs, whose expertise and benefits, says Murfitt, should not be overlooked.
“While SMEs might be small, they’re highly motivated, and more competitive than many larger companies,” he said.
“SMEs are also more reactive when it comes to service. Therefore, building a reputation of reliability is crucial. When SMEs take on a job there’s typically more focus and attention on delivering a successful outcome; every job has to be a winner; there’s no one else to blame if things go wrong.
Desert Knowledge Australia