Ferra Engineering

15 December 2020

Ferra Engineering is a global technology company founded in 1992 that has worked closely with the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) since its inception. They produce mechanical and electromechanical sub-assemblies and sub-systems for Defence aerospace applications.

Over a number of years, Ferra has developed relationships with prime contractors in the defence industry, which has given them opportunities to develop the capability to provide final integration of ‘vacuum brazed components’ — a unique method of joining two metals together. This was done with a view to creating sovereign capability enabled by co-investment with the Commonwealth.

Ferra has previously engaged with the CDIC on the Global Supply Chain Program, Joint Strike Fighter F-35 Program (JSF), business advisory services, trade studies and exhibitions, and various CDIC grant programs. When the opportunity arose earlier this year to procure a key piece of equipment (DNM 6700L CNC Vertical Machining Centre) for the JSF program, Ferra reached out to the CDIC for current advice and assistance.

The equipment was located in Perth, and was needed by Ferra’s Brisbane production site to support its vacuum brazing capability for use on the JSF Program.

Aaron Thompson, the Managing Director of Ferra Engineering, reached out to the CDIC Defence Business Advisory (DBA) Services Team for assistance in obtaining a grant to allow them to purchase the equipment. Ferra needed timely advice to take advantage of a very small window when this particular piece of equipment was available on the marketplace.

The DBA Services Team was quickly able to provide Mr Thompson with advice and recommendations on how the purchase of the equipment aligned to the Defence Global Competitiveness Grant Program.

Prior to contacting the CDIC, Ferra had two main issues:

  • rapid purchase of a piece of capital equipment that was in such high demand that it would usually take 10 to 12 months to set up
  • the need for co-investment from Government to obtain the equipment.

Through open communications with the CDIC, Ferra received advice that streamlined their application process and optimised the use of internal resources for preparing the grant application. The completed application was submitted to the CDIC, approved and a funding agreement was in place within two weeks.

’We had open, transparent discussions with the CDIC and through prior engagement and our strong working relationship with them, the CDIC was able to provide great advice and timely communication to assist us in purchasing this capital equipment – an opportunity we most definitely would have otherwise missed out on,’ Mr Thompson said.

Ferra was able to successfully purchase the equipment, arrange shipment from Perth to Brisbane, commission the equipment, and produce their first commercial part all within five weeks from first contacting the CDIC.

Mr Thompson was delighted at the ‘time and speed of the whole process,’ and credits the success and short turnaround of their grant application to receiving ‘solid, timely and effective advice from a Defence Business Adviser, as well as the timely processing by the Grants Team.’

Ferra plans to continue, build and manage complex supply chain projects for prime contractors in the defence industry over the next 6 to 12 months, and to be involved in more export programs, with the ultimate aim to build Australia’s sovereign defence capability.

For businesses looking to break into the defence industry, Mr Thompson believes they should be very clear about what their ‘value proposition is, be able to articulate it and then execute that with affordability in mind.’ He recommends businesses identify the unique capability they bring to the market and how they can provide the best value product, platform or program.