David Thompson Posted:
So very, very true. It beggars belief that we consider ourselves to be a developed nation when so much of our economy is based on selling milk powder or logs. BTW, I own a Plinius amplifier (my second) that drives a set of Theophany speakers.
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David Thompson Posted:
A robust but sobering report. It concerns me that confidence is rising, yet sales and exports are down and "manufacturers and exporters are still lagging behind other sectors". Surely we should wait until we're earning more money before we start spending more?
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siemens Posted:
Yes true! The only thing that will never die in this world is the nature and its science behind it. Great post.
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Kieran Ormandy Posted:
Thanks for the question Steven, Germany has seen increases in manufacturing employment since 2009, and Switzerland has had stable manufacturing employment between 2006 – 2011, even in the face of ongoing Euro-zone issues. Korea has seen increases in manufacturing employment since 2008 and Israel experienced large increases since 1998, while being stable over the last 4 years. Singapore has had increases in manufacturing employment over the last two years. These countries all value their manufacturing sectors and work to protect them, this is reflected in the above numbers and their performance through the GFC. Note data around the above examples was sourced from OECD labour market stats.
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John Walley Posted:
Point one: you should have no doubt what our Association says publically represent the views of our members. Point two: we don’t knee jerk responses, if you trace back our comments around NZPower you will see them link all the way back to our research in 2004 and 2005. All that material is fully linked from our comments above. Point three: you will note our comments on major users, sadly the same advantage does not accrue to smaller industrial users. The perverse incentives of the LRMC approach in all this are well known. Point four: the NZMEA is not like any other Association in New Zealand we admit only manufacturers and exporters into membership, and our public expressions are the views of that restricted membership.
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High Value Manufacturing Article - KSI

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The following is an article written by NZMEA President Brian Willoughby. He is writing a series of articles based on interviews with various high valued added manufacturers in New Zealand. These articles originally appear in BNZ Chief Economist, Tony Alexander’s monthly newsletters.


I recently met with Dr Steve Kerr and David Lovegrove of Kerr Scientific Instruments, to discuss their product, the challenges faced and what they have learnt from the journey.

Kerr Scientific Instruments (KSI) sells one product, their brain slice & tissue recording system, which can be used to assess the effects of drugs and toxins on living, electrically excitable tissues. It sounds technical and it is. The product looks high tech, beautifully made and looks right at home on a laboratory bench. The device was created by Dr. Steve Kerr, a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Otago, through the desire to be able to run hands-on class room experiments in electrophysiology on living brain slices. Existing equipment was expensive, large and unsuitable for a realistic teaching environment.

Steve designed his own compact and easy to use solution, which was then improved and designed for manufacture by David Lovegrove, of 4ormfunction. “An initial prototype was developed in the US, but even then I decided early on I would rather see it manufactured and assembled here in New Zealand. The reason is I think local things should be kept local for the benefit of the NZ economy; think global, but act local.” says Kerr.

Although their intention was, and still is to sell whole class sets of the device, many systems have been sold to individuals for research purposes. It has been especially useful for those with little prior experience in electrophysiology, due to its simplicity and ease of use. These research users have served as a marketing and validation tool for potential customers, because the device is now being listed as a key part of published research. Word of mouth recommendations have proved to be an important part of the selling process.

Their most successful market is the US, but a number of units are spread through New Zealand, Australia, UK, Canada, Japan, Germany and Thailand. There have also been units sold to large Pharmaceutical companies in Europe and USA. Kerr’s own department at Otago University has adapted the use of the device. “It has been a great success. Our own personal student numbers doubled within 2 years, largely on the back of this and some other innovative things we did in our teaching labs which really thrilled the students” says Steve.

KSI has a very niche product with their sales and access to the market mostly being developed through trade shows. Fortunately KSI has been able to internally fund development and sales operations, through a mix of founding investment and sales revenue.

Their biggest challenge has been closing sales, largely due to tighter budgets at institutions, an increasing trend since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). “The capital just isn’t available and a lot of institutional budgets and spending is frozen. Consequently there is not a lot of money going into blue sky endeavors such as scientific research.” said Steve. This has not been helped by the strength of the NZ$ against the US$. “Obviously the higher US$, the lower our margins, and that affects our business. But we cannot constantly push up our price. There is a set global price in US$, so we just have to live with what the market will support.”

“I am a big believer that science is a big driver of industry in a good stable economy. I think around the world, those countries that have strong programs in science are better off. It may not be the only thing, but we can’t neglect science”.

tags: ksi, steve kerr, exports, manufacturing


1 Comment(s)

siemens - 27 September 2013 at 21:15 PM
Yes true! The only thing that will never die in this world is the nature and its science behind it. Great post.

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