Why Australian made is the ‘weigh’ to go

21 May 2024

Optiweigh assembly team Dale Hamilton, Joel Klein and Mick Ryan. Pic: Supplied.

An article by  Alex McLaughlin

For Optiweigh Founders, Bill and Jacqui Mitchell, maintaining an Australian-made and owned status has been a priority.

During Australian Made Week, APlus News explores why this has been so important for the farmer-developed portable weighing system that has created a solution for measuring animal weights in real-time directly from the paddock.

The portable weighing system was developed by Mr Mitchell and his wife Jacqui, along with their children Sophie and Henry, who run a grass-fed backgrounding and fattening operation in Northern NSW.

Based out of Armidale, the Optiweigh team is made up of developers, fabricators, marketers, product design, data analysts and customer service.

Optiweigh Founders Bill and Jacqui Mitchell. Pic: Supplied.

“We’re very proud of the fact we've been able to keep it all local, that’s everything from steel work through to electronics, tag readers and electronics boxes,” Mr Mitchell said.

"It's really important to be growing and contributing to local economies. We need vibrant local economies.”

He outlined that local manufacturing also meant control over quality and the ability to make improvements quickly.

"You've got local control over your manufacturing. Sure, you can save a lot of money (manufacturing overseas), but you ultimately end up with a better product if you're doing it all locally," Mr Mitchell said.

"The outcome should be worth much more than the costs, so saving costs from not being local should not be significant.

“Being Australian made has given us more advantages than obstacles.”

Mr Mitchell also expressed his appreciation for his local community, team and clients.

Cattle are enticed onto the Optiweigh platform using attractants like molasses, lick blocks, or salt. As the animal steps on, its electronic identification (EID) is recorded and its front feet are weighed. This data is then sent to the cloud, where an algorithm calculates the total body weight. The portable weighing system measures one animal at a time, and can be towed behind a buggy or ute.

Optiweigh has sold its Australian made units to New Zealand, Uruguay, the US, Canada, and the UK, and now weighs more than 500,000 animals monthly.

"We will undoubtedly face competition, most probably not local, with some price advantages. We hope Australian farmers recognise the benefits of dealing with a local company," Mr Mitchell said.


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