With the 2012 Rail Suppliers Forum just five weeks away, we spoke with ARA General Manager Suppliers and Forum Chair, Garry Whiting to discuss the issues impacting the rail supply sector.
What do you think are the main challenges for the rail supply sector in 2012 and beyond?
I think that forecasting accurately the levels of demand in front of them, plus retaining the capability to compete over time is a real challenge for rail suppliers.
The resources sector continues to predict significant capital investment, while at the same time, all governments are predicting a reduction in investment. The uncertain economic climate makes it very difficult to accurately forecast demand.
The theme for the Rail Suppliers Forum is galvanising Australia’s rail manufacturing and contracting sectors and enhancing their position in the global marketplace. Can you tell us a bit about the work being done at the ARA and the broader industry to achieve this?
At this stage the best way to describe the work being done by the ARA to date is achieving an organised policy agenda for suppliers – Whilst at the same time raising the profile and understanding of the significance of the sector.
Given the ARA supplier function has only been in operation since 2009 it is fair to say we are still in the early stages of policy work. Yet I expect to see an escalation now as we have been establishing a ground swell of support and structures to support companies of common interest to pursue sub-sector agenda initiatives.
For the first time in 2012 the Rail Suppliers Forum will be examining the contracting side of rail supply in addition to its tradition focus of manufacturing. What is the reason for this? What lessons do you think contractors and manufactures can draw from one another?
In 2009 we commenced with rail manufacturing, rail contracting only started to form in 2011. Although rail contracting is a sector of strategic significance for the general contracting companies, market growth is seen as coming from rail and water. This sector is also of great importance to the overall rail industry so we had always planned to bring the sector on stream at an appropriate stage.
And finally, what are you most looking forward to at Rail Suppliers 2012?
This program brings together managers at all levels in order to promote networking. So, most of all, I look forward to the opportunity to reconnect with existing friends and to establish new friendships.
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About Rail Suppliers 2012
Rail Suppliers is the only event in Australia specifically developed for the benefit of the Rail Supply sector.
This high-level networking forum will feature a variety of greatly relevant case studies and presentations from government officials, transport operators and associations, academics and industry experts with the common goal of facilitating industry-wide cultural change so that Australian rail manufacturers and contractors reach their full potential and achieve a competitive edge over global competition.
As proven successful in the last two years, the ARA Rail Suppliers Forum will update the sector on what’s been happening in the last year to ensure its success and identify future opportunities for the rail supply industry that builds on its current and developing capabilities