AW Bell: Acting local, thinking global

Casting solutions company AW Bell is showcasing Australia’s high-precision manufacturing capabilities to the world.

Tech know-how, innovation and good old-fashioned customer service have seen AW Bell rise to the top of the global advanced manufacturing industry.

AW Bell delivers advanced manufacturing solutions differently.

Its core business is in ferrous and non-ferrous investment and sand casting. The company provides high-quality components, machined and assembled parts for customers across the globe.

It also offers OEM equipment, design, engineering and manufacturing support to its worldwide client base. This includes aerospace and defence customers like Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Marand, as well as other companies like Johnson & Johnson and Space X.

‘We have a really strong heritage in the foundry industry,’ says Sam Bell, the third-generation Bell leading the company.

‘From that we’ve developed excellent technical capabilities. This, alongside innovation, allows us to provide our customers with comprehensive solutions. That is what really sets us apart.’

From local patterns to global precision

Originally, AW Bell supplied patterns to the tooling industry. It has since evolved into a component manufacturer showcasing Australia’s high-precision manufacturing capability to the world.

‘AW Bell competes against the biggest foundries and equipment providers in the world,’ says Bell. ‘And we compete well.’

The company’s high level of vertical integration drives its efficiency. This ensures reduced effort and costs for customers across the globe including North America and Europe.

Looking to the skies

In the last 12 months, AW Bell has expanded its global aerospace and defence market. It recently secured a key North American aerospace defence contract. The deal will have significant impact on AW Bell’s bottom line.

‘The focus on expanding our international aerospace and defence customer base was to capitalise on the success of our existing exports in this area,’ says Bell.

The new contracts have led to the company expanding its engineering and business development departments. It will lead to more staff hires as production ramps up.

Rolling out rolling stock

AW Bell has also formed a rolling stock customer base. The strategy is to grow AW Bell’s portfolio and reduce risk.

In the past year, AW Bell secured close to $1 million in new rolling stock orders while still delivering on its key projects. These successes mean greater opportunities into Singapore and Europe.

Pushing to grow

AW Bell also experienced a 50% improvement in its New Zealand and China exports in the past year.

The addition of a business development manager to the sales team aims to expand these markets. It will also provide further focus in Europe for its OEM equipment division. This will continue to produce new equipment with greater automation features and efficiencies.

Other recent achievements include 2 new pieces of intellectual property. These are based around high-strength aluminium alloys and high-thermal connectivity aluminium alloys.

‘We’re excited to introduce them to the market; we believe they will make a significant impact to finished products,’ says Bell.


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Customer service as a competitive advantage

Bell says AW Bell’s biggest exporting challenge has been changing customer ideas about dealing internationally instead of locally.

‘To be successful, we must provide exceptional service,’ he says. ‘We must be easier to deal with than local suppliers. And that means late-night phone calls. It’s early morning video conferences. It’s long trips, especially to the US. This ensures we are seen as a local supplier.’

Power in the people

Bell believes that AW Bell’s competitive advantage comes down to its people.

‘Our team has a can-do attitude towards meeting our customers’ needs,’ he says. ‘Everyone takes great pride in what we do for our customers.’

AW Bell is heavily invested in training its staff. It has a training program based around the foundry industry and takes on many apprentices.

‘We found that our staff couldn’t get qualified in foundry skills locally,’ says Bell. ‘So, we supported and upskilled them by developing our own program.

Celebrating the win

Bell encourages other companies to apply for the Australian Export Awards. ‘Seeing the smiles on our team’s faces and seeing how proud they are to be recognised makes it well worthwhile,’ he says.

Bell says it’s ‘just amazing’ to be named the Australian Export Awards Manufacturing and Advanced Materials winner 2021.

‘I haven’t had the smile off my face since we were told! It’s a great recognition for the fantastic work the team has done.’

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