Metromatics Pty Ltd is an industrial supply company, established in 1989. It specialises in providing system design and manufacturing solutions to transport, Defence, energy and industrial customers. Their head office for administration, engineering and manufacturing is in North Lakes, Moreton Bay. They also have offices for sales and support in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne, and a subsidiary in Auckland, New Zealand.
Metromatics have built their business on establishing strong, long-term working relationships with their customers. This means they first determine what customers require, before providing them with the most appropriate solutions available. They have various long-term projects lasting two to three years. For example, Metromatics provides light weight racks and consoles and large format LCD displays to Defence. For their Transport customers like Sydney Ferries, G:link (Gold Coast Light Rail, Tram Network), Adelaide trains and trams they manufacture wayfinding display signage on high quality LCDs for used at train stations and bus stops, which is interactive and readable in sunlight.
Metromatics not only manufacture these LCD displays or industrial subsystems, their mechanical and electrical design engineers have design capabilities to tailor components to a project and can thereby facilitate system integration. For example, Metromatics provided the design, build and project management expertise for a large format displays for the Australian Navy and ensured this was integrated with their system to meet performance requirements.
“It is critical to communicate with customers and let them know what’s going on. In the whole, customers are understanding, as long as they know what to expect.”
Metromatics have not been severely affected by the pandemic; however, they have adapted to adhere to the restrictions imposed across the various locations of their offices.
Metromatics’ directors are committed to ensuring the company’s long-term sustainability and to retaining their staff. In their Moreton Bay office, manufacturing staff continued working on the premises, adhering to the new safety regulations. But all other Metromatics staff in Moreton Bay and their offices across the country and New Zealand worked from home. As they already had virtual private networks (VPN) in place prior to the pandemic for their remote office, the transition was smooth. Staff with children at school found it challenging to balance work and homeschooling, but Metromatics was understanding in this respect. When restrictions in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales were lifted, staff moved back to working from their respective offices.
A challenging consequence of world-wide COVID-19 shutdowns has been disruptions to global supply chains. Metromatics are not immune to these disruptions and have had to deal with increased lead times and increases in the cost of freight for imported components. As most of Metromatics’ offshore suppliers are in the United States, China and Korea, this means that their customers have seen an increase in lead times from 12 to 20 weeks. Further delays are caused by getting supplies out of the port, as these authorities have been overwhelmed. Technical Sales Manager Mitch Callon says customer focus is paramount: “It is critical to communicate with customers and let them know what’s going on. In the whole, customers are understanding, as long as they know what to expect.”
Supply chain disruptions have impacted on Metromatics’ cashflow, resulting in a decline in their turnover. However, the business qualified for JobKeeper and so was able keep their staff employed and manage their cashflow with the wage supplement.
While some aspects of their business have experienced challenges, Metromatics have received interesting challenges from customers. The decline in turnover has meant their engineers have had time to come up with innovative solutions they might not ordinarily have time for, benefitting customers and business-customer relations.
Due to the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, Metromatics must consider supply chain impacts and exchange rate fluctuations to cost projects appropriately. While most of their suppliers are local, they will seek to build more resilience into their supply chain for imported components. Mitch said they look forward to seeing how “buy local” campaigns will influence established businesses, as they have found they are sometimes overlooked as a local supplier in the Moreton Bay area for wayfinding and LCD signage.