By Belinda Willis
In his 12 years working with Axiom Precision Manufacturing, Shannon Wride has seen a transformation in the way the business operates.
“We’ve strived to take on that high end work, and as a company we’ve always tried to do the jobs other people say they can’t do,” says the company’s operations supervisor and Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassador.
“We’ve had people come to us saying no one else is willing to touch this and we’re always willing to give it a crack.”
When Shannon started out with Axiom as an apprentice in 2006 the company was then called Diemould Tooling and was based in Edwardstown, the work focused around the state’s automotive industry in producing plastic injection moulds.
As automotive work slowed down and China began taking over an increasing slice of the sector’s manufacturing pie, the SA-owned company took stock and began looking to change the way it operated.
The business began courting defence and aerospace companies and, eventually, new jobs began to roll into the workshops.
Before long, Diemould Tooling was merged with Numetric Manufacturers in Wingfield and the company renamed Axiom Precision Manufacturing.
Now the family owned business that started in 1979 works extensively on high-end metal component design and manufacturing jobs for the aerospace and defence industries.
It has worked hard to achieve AS9100 accreditation – meaning its quality system meets top level aerospace requirements, and the business has its highest ever staff numbers at about 60.
There are also plans to further develop land owned by the company next door to its Wingfield site, where its purpose-built manufacturing facility, delivering special purpose equipment, tooling and injection moulded components, is based.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround for a company relatively new to the nation’s defence industry. And it’s one that saw the company win a 2016 Defence Industry award for Most Outstanding Small-Medium Enterprise from the state’s Defence Teaming Centre.
The award recognised how it had excelled in engaging with the defence industry “to build their capability and to work in defence”.
Shannon, who first completed a four-year tool making apprenticeship, is now in charge of “day-to-day operations”, scheduling machine loadings and overseeing the inspection department.
He is in charge of “trouble shooting” and ensures orders reach customers on time with Shannon saying the company’s client base stretches across Australia.
He says one of the jobs he’s proudest of overseeing involves making moulds for a device that protects frontline defence forces from bomb detonations.
“We’ve heard first-hand from people who have come in and seen these devices work in the field,” Shannon says.
“It’s saved lives, just hearing that is so rewarding, we are contributing to the protection of our defence forces.”
The company’s capabilities in precision machining also has seen it selected to manufacture components for space projects, from world class telescopes to high precision components supplied to Orbital ATK.
This space company manufactured fuel cells that launched the space shuttles to the International Space Station.
Axiom also makes components for the Australian Collins Class Submarines, ranging from precision-machined engine components to electronic hardware and the manufacture of tooling for battery components.
And it has a decade of experience in manufacturing medical devices and components including producing bone plates, dental implant components and specialised surgical equipment.
It’s this range of work – from defence to mining, food and beverage and medical devices industries – that’s kept Shannon committed to his role in a company that is not only growing but also taking on apprentices to train staff for high-end manufacturing in the future.
The business currently has three in-house apprentices and is looking to have another start next year with Shannon saying the state has a bright future.
“We hear that manufacturing in SA has been through a rough time but the ones who have managed to diversify early enough, we are booming, we haven’t had a quiet spell in years,” he says.
“And we’re attractive as employers, we’ve got a guy working here from South Africa and he picked SA because of the liveability and cheaper housing and with talk of the state being a defence hub as well.”
I Choose SA for Advanced Manufacturing stories are made possible by City of Salisbury:
Industry in focus: Advanced Manufacturing
Throughout the month of September, the state’s advanced manufacturing industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.
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