LA Services + OutLoud : An opportune collaboration for social betterment

As a traditional manufacturer, our ventures towards a digital realm has been one of the many catalysts that prompted a new way of thinking. We learnt development of a business purpose comes from more than a financial motive. It taught us how a social cause can stimulate a drive to be an active member of the community.

And this newfound realisation allowed us to understand the importance in B2B community collaboration as a way to help better society through genuine efforts in inclusion. We can credit this realisation to the Canterbury Bankstown Chamber of Commerce (CBCC) as they are one of the leading organisations here in our Local Government Area (LGA) to connect businesses. Regardless of industry, they will network companies with similar values in hopes to enrich communities through collaboration. 

Very recently we saw the power of community collaboration as our very own David Fox networked with OutLoud to talk about school-based programs and engagement models. What was supposed to be a mere conversation ended up turning into an instance of collaboration between different industries coming together with the aim of community advancement.

As we walked into the office of Finn Branagáin, who is the current director and CEO of OutLoud, or also formally known as Bankstown Youth Development Centre (BYDS), we saw walls decked out with photos of young and old, performing in high spirits as crowds cheered amongst them. Whilst munching on some Lebanese goods from the local bakery, we started to discuss the amazing work of OutLoud. A resounding sense of pride permeated around the room as we started to understand the amazing complexities of what it means to be a true member of the community. 

As a manufacturing company, one might not expect us to interact with an organisation like OutLoud who are key role models in the Bankstown-Canterbury area. The teaching powers of OutLoud are not limited to only school children as we astonished ourselves through Finn’s encouragement in becoming social leaders of the community. Though we went in open-minded and optimistic about our start into a socially driven journey, it made us realise that we undermined the potential in our own abilities as we learnt a valuable lesson in becoming a socially-conscious business.

What we thought would be a simple conversation ended up with us reimagining our own efforts in school engagement as we started to understand how we could help our community to thrive in our own, industrial way.

We were able to connect with Finn and her amazing work through the Canterbury Bankstown Chamber of Commerce, an organisation created to connect local businesses together to enrich the community by stimulating local investment. They hold networking events and allow businesses like LA Services to interact with fellow community members who would otherwise have no opportunity to do so. 

Finn first guided us through the RESPECT project, arguably one of the most important and established programs of the organisation. Supported by the Australian department of Social Services and Bankstown communities for Children through the Smith Family, it connects young boys under the age of 12 to singer/songwriters to create their own songs that discuss Family and Domestic Violence. It is a 12 week early harm reduction initiative and focuses on anger management and gender stereotypes – prevalent issues that perpetuate a cycle of violence. By allowing boys to personally partake in the creation, it allows them to become “active agents of change.” The sheer scale of the program is immeasurable and has worked with many schools across the board from Chullora Public School to Bankstown Public School. It was exciting to hear about an overlap in our visions where we both aim to create a meaningful impact on future generations and reaffirmed that the manufacturing industry is not purely limited to its product and service but rather what it can do for the greater good.

OutLoud (1)

Image Courtesy :

A study conducted by Murdoch University has proven the consequential change in students as 98% of them have shown an increased understanding in healthy relationships and domestic violence. Hearing the quantitative results was a real reminder of the impact in school programs to help shape the perceptions and minds of the future, and our potential to help bolster these improvements as an active member of the community. It reaffirmed our own journey in becoming more socially conscious and to do so in a genuine and responsible manner. 

Finn continued her enthusiastic explanation with her vision for current and future initiatives, adding onto the already extensive list of work she and her team have achieved. She announced the exciting creation of the female counterpart to the RESPECT project, where she hopes to tackle body image and perceptions in unhealthy relationships. We also learnt about her work in providing resources and counselling to young queer LGBTQ+ youth in the community, highlighting one of the many issues that we were once ignorant about. 

Despite achieving so much with just RESPECT, her vision to do even more in the community was inspirational. It was extremely humbling as we learnt to check our privilege in society and served as a reminder that being an active member of the community meant that complacency and willful ignorance must be proactively fought against. 

This was an introspective experience as we started to understand the magnitude of being a social innovative leader. She reassured our vision and potential in becoming a revolutionary figure both in the industry and the community as she complimented our drive to widen our own perceptions and worldview for the better – a value that is stereotypically unexpected of manufacturers. 

We concluded the meeting with a newfound respect for Finn’s work as the immensity of OutLoud hit us and she graciously offered to help with our own vision by guiding us through the proper structure needed to engage with students to create a widespread and meaningful impact. 

Who would have thought a chance meeting between a youth organisation and a manufacturing company could stimulate so much ideas and inspiration into bettering society. 

LA Services Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak

16th March 2020 : Our response to the escalating COVID-19 situation has been focused on creating an agile internal ‘action plan’ to support our decision making through this evolving social and business situation.

As we all try to make sense of an ever changing health pandemic landscape, LA Services is guided by two principles; ensuring the health and wellbeing of our people, our clients and our community as our first priority, while minimising the disruption to our operations and employment continuity. We are doing this by ensuring our approach is always based on the expert medical advice of Australian Authorities.

Our COVID-19 Response Position

LA Services Operations and Personnel

  • We do not plan to shut down except for Easter (Fri 10th Apr. returning Wed 15th April)
  • Employees arriving in Aust. from “midnight 15th March 2020 or think they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus are required to self-isolate for 14 days” as advised by the Aust. Gov. Department of Health¹. If they returned before this date, their case will be managed based on previous advice, and suitable preventative measures   
  • Employees who have respiratory, cold or flu symptoms are requested to stay at home
  • We ask all employees to apply social distancing and good hygiene practices at all times

Travel and offsite activities, we request

  • Personnel limit face to face offsite business meetings, by utilising phone or video conferencing if possible
  • Any face to face networking or business event / conference be re-considered
  • Utilise private transport if possible, if not support social distancing by travelling outside peak public transport times and apply good hygiene practices, such as hand washing upon arrival at your destination, before commencing work or meeting with others
  • International business travel be postponed, and re-consider any national travel
  • Employees and supporting contractors to notify management if they intent to travel internationally, so the self-isolation period can be included in leave planning

Visitors, Contractors and Inspectors, we request

  • Any individual who has returned from overseas or has been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus abide by the current self-isolation requirements
  • Meetings be arranged by phone or video conference for people who are experiencing coronavirus symptoms or generally feel un-well
  • All visitors, contractors and Inspectors exercise social distancing² and good hygiene practices where possible when on site for the benefit of both parties

¹ ‘Isolation guidance’ details are outlined in the Australian Government, Department of Health fact sheet, available online at: [accessed Mar 16, 2020]  
² Keeping approx. 1.5 metres of distance between yourself and other people where possible, avoiding shaking hands, hugging or kissing. (reference: AU Gov. Dept. of Health, available at: [accessed: Mar 16, 2020])

Collaboration – I4.0 Capability Building in SME’s

There is much talk about industry collaborating with academia to deliver game-changing products, services and business models in the manufacturing sector. Like many other businesses today, LA Services has been redefining innovation into a meaningful framework and understanding the ‘demons in the technology details’ that will underpin a new era for this sector.

Realising the complexity of digital when applied to an integrity-driven industry that relies on rigours engineering, LA Services engaged with academics to discuss the underlying problems and challenges of applying cyber-physical technologies to the age-old pressure equipment manufacturing industry. Our objective is to enhance the operational uptime of these assets through advanced predictive maintenance analytics.

After more than 12 months of informal meetings over coffee, UTS academics provided clarity on a pathway that could bring these two worlds together with the rigour that is necessary to serve the engineering needs of our products and services. As a result, we are pleased to announce on the 18th July 2019 LA Services signed off on a 12-month research placement project with UTS Faculty of Engineering and IT to develop the data streams, digital interoperability and AI systems that will bring our heritage into the 21st century. This project is supported by an ‘Innovation Connections Grant’, under the ‘Entrepreneurs’ Programme’. It is part of the Commonwealth Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science initiative, set up to drive the development of SME’s like LA Services so they can build the required capabilities needed in an advanced manufacturing environment.

This project follows on from foundational work LA Services did with Western Sydney University through a Tech-Voucher agreement set up by the LaunchPad. Getting to this point with our digital strategy would not have been possible without the support of a vast network of people across business, academia, government and industry bodies.

Getting Comfortable with Innovation

It is often said in business ‘innovate or die’. However, what does innovation mean or offer a company? Not much in isolation of a context that can make it meaningful to the user. However, if an opportunity comes along to play with a piece of technology, being open-minded to experiment on the fringe of possibilities can be worthwhile. LA Services has been exploring digital applications for a few years now and incrementally finding comfort in getting outside its comfort zone, a change in behaviour that is helping the company to re-think its place in Australian manufacturing.

Leading by example our Managing Director and founder Louie Chouaifaity, while far from comfortable in the VR environment, continues to be open-minded about the possibilities of digital, in an industry context that helps him to become accustomed to the disruptive innovations impacting a sector he has lived and breathed for more than 40 years. So, in the spirit of LA Services’ purpose ‘to lead our industry through innovation,’ he recently immersed himself in unfamiliar technology, so he could step into a familiar environment (a pressure vessel) while catching up with a past industry acquaintance Allen Palmer from IndustrialXR at The Chill Café Wooloowin QLD. While the experience itself may not be innovative, the human connection and enthusiastic conversations about the possibilities that followed over coffee under the tree canopy of this outdoor café, is what underpins the pathway to meaningful innovation and a new frame for comfortable.


Adding Manufacturing to The Smith Family Work Inspiration Program

The Smith Family is an organisation that may not come to mind when thinking about a manufacturing organisation, but then again in today’s business environment, collaboration can present unexpected synergies.

In the last week of May, LA Services had the pleasure of working with The Smith Family and Leonie Lam from My Focus to deliver a module from their Work Inspiration Program, where students from Wiley Park Girl High and Punchbowl Boys High got a glimpse into the  career paths and jobs in the changing world of manufacturing.

The session kicked off with a presentation by LA Services General Manager David Fox reflecting on his own career pathway, sharing an insight into what industrial asset manufacturing, and its connection to the gas, water, chemicals and fuels that we all use every day. The group then experienced some of the technologies that are changing the industry such as VR Welding, Mixed Reality through devices like HoloLens and Augmented Reality. A workshop tour was also included to remind students about the importance of traditional trades such as fabrication and welding to make the ‘thing in the Internet of Thing’. The session ended with a series of interview rounds, where the students were able to ask staff questions about the roles they play in manufacturing

We would like to thank Janine Blake, the Beyond School Transition – Project Manager from The Smith Family for making the event easy to coordinate, and our staff who volunteered for the interviews and assisted in organising the morning: Debbie Hinchcliffe – Administration, Jamie Smith – QHSE, Hassan Syed – Projects, Grant Staunton – 3rd year Apprentice Fabricator, Raaid Allam – Design Engineer, Norman Chouaifaity – Operations. We would also like to thank Kirk Duncan from The Mobile Apps Man for providing and supporting the digital technologies, Lincoln Electric Australia for lending their VR welding machine, and Jessica Sarkis from The Animo Affect for her assistance with the student engagement and ongoing support for our youth programs.

Product Price and Project Cost

Is it worth paying a higher product price for something now when it is a known, or paying for an unknown project cost later?

LA Services works with clients across a number of industries, historically we have serviced the oil and gas sector, a sector with a focus on quality assurance and compliance and rightly so. The processing assets this industry uses, and manufactured by LA Services, are engineered for high risk critical environments typically containing high temperatures, pressures and corrosive or volatile fluids so quality assurance and manufacturing integrity is paramount.

Over time LA Services has witnessed occasions where asset buyers steered away from price certainty by purchasing a ‘cheaper’ product. However, this short-term product price saving can become eroded as repairs or modifications on newly installed equipment requires rectification of non-compliant workmanship. Overall project costs can also escalate when the customer needs to increase their presence in the project management or inspection processes, (to oversee that the work is being done correctly) potentially adding significantly to the original product price.

Our point is there are sometimes costs associated with the risk management of highly engineered purchases that are less likely to be present when purchasing from an experienced local supplier like LA Services.

When large corporates invest with local SMEs it provides opportunity for lasting relationships that reduce business to business costs by building mature supply chains that understand where value resides, which can bring significant project savings over time.

Investing in Australian SME manufacturing companies it also provides opportunity to build a skilled workforce adapt and capable for future maintenance, repairs and upgrades, ensuring a ‘sovereign’ capability underpins the assets and systems Australia has in place and requires to maintain its standard of living and security.

Investing in and working with forward thinking Australian businesses now will save time and money for everyone in the future.

Bridging Sectors – Educators visit Manufacturing

While the business year winds down at the end of this week, staff at Liverpool Boys High are already planning their 2019 project-based learning activities. Jessica Khoury (Community Officer) and Amy Gilchrist (Head Teacher of Science)

visited LA Services this week to discuss a collaborative environment sensor project between Ben Moir from Snepo, David Phan a Big Picture Student at Liverpool Boys High and LA Services under the direction of our graduate engineer Raaid Allam.

The project is being designed as an educational opportunity that will deliver learnings across air quality sensor kit design and manufacture, digital communication, data storage and statistical analysis of factory working conditions mapped over energy and productivity data. The project has been a background discussion with Liverpool Boys and Girls High for some time and will be LA Services first attempt at scaling our industry / education engagement into main stream subjects such as science and math. The objective of the project is to advance LA Services digital skills, deliver visibility across our energy management in the context of production and strengthen our contribution to industry-based STEAM in schools.

We are grateful to the staff at Liverpool Boys High, Ben Moir (Snepo) and Samira Bawden (Liverpool Girls High) for their input over the many months to formulate a project framework that can deliver a meaningful outcome for LA Services, while supporting the industry education bridge that will help to develop the essential skills across our community for advanced manufacturing.

New Blood – Generational Diversity to Step Change

LA Services understands that to improve and move forward sometimes needs a fresh approach, but retention of heritage knowledge and skills is also essential to ensure operational integrity, client trust and longevity of engineering services.

Confronted with the challenge of widening the purpose of our engineering function, LA Services decided this step change required two elements, new blood and a return to first principles that would underpin the application of digital in the engineering design arena.

Raaid Allam a recent Mechanical Engineering Graduate from Macquarie University joined the LA Services team in March 2018 as an intern working on one of our innovation projects. Impressed by his agility to adapt between digital and mechanical he was hired on graduation to lead our push into computer aided engineering.

To ensure Raaid acquired the principle knowledge and skills to design ‘practically engineering’ pressure equipment we needed a weekly focus on design. So, a mentor routine was setup up with legacy designer Allan Bruce and one of our existing younger engineers Hassan Syed. The program is stepping these young engineers through the application of mechanical engineering in the context safe pressure equipment design.

Attention then turned to front loading projects with engineered knowledge, requiring improved project planning and embedding engineering in our tender process. Once again Macquarie University introduced the right resource, Antonio Zanin an Engineer from Italy who was on an exchange, Master of Engineering Management program. Antonio brings a practical background in fabrication, skills across project portfolio management and the application of Microsoft Business Intelligence. Antonio is now working in modelling our project portfolio and supporting tenders.

Together this new blood combine with new digital tools and legacy knowledge is beginning to re-shape the engineering face of LA Services. We look forward to supporting our engineers in developing their craft and in turn they are enhancing our capabilities by helping to advance ‘how we make it’, a necessity in strengthening Australian manufacturing.

ANU Interviews LA Services – Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Activity

On the 21st of November 2018 Jihye Yeo a PhD candidate at the Research School of Management, Australian National University (ANU) visited LA Services to get some insight from the coal face about innovation activity in the Australian advanced manufacturing space.

ihye and her supervisor Dr Alex Eapen (also from the Research School of Management, ANU) are conducting a research project to investigate the drivers of innovation in the Australian Advanced Manufacturing sector. Their research examines cases of manufacturing firms that have successfully transformed themselves into providers of innovative products and services. As adopters of innovative technologies (including but not limited to additive manufacturing, industry 4.0, etc) and new business models, these businesses symbolise the future of Australian manufacturing. Jihye’s research seeks to understand the strategies that have enabled innovation in these firms as well as the catalytic role played by innovation intermediaries in the sector. As such, her research will yield important insights for Australian manufacturing firms that will enable them to improve their innovation processes and outcomes.

Jihye sat down with LA Services’ General Manager David Fox to discuss the various R&D projects currently being pursued across their digital strategy and its industry / education engagement business model, a project that is helping to bring fresh new thinking to how the business approaches both its linear (process improvement) and non-linear (the next curve) innovation activities.

We would like to thank Jihye for taking time to visit our facility and hear firsthand about the experiences and challengers of navigating both Advanced Manufacturing and innovation, and its place in the fabrication and welding landscape.

Liverpool Boys High Student / LA Services Intern wins Scholarship

On Monday the 19th Nov 2018 David Phan a student from Liverpool Boys High (LBH) who is also a student intern with LA Services’ investigating software design & IoT succeeded in securing a scholarship from the Australian Business and Community Network which in part relates to the opportunities LA Services and Kirk Duncan from The Mobile Apps Man is providing to David through his internship.

The scholarship will begin January 2019 and will continue for 3 years (Yr 11, 12 & first year of uni), providing him with financial assistance ($7000) and linking him with a professional mentor that will guide him in setting and achieving goals.  There were only 30 successful students out of 300 applicants.

Access to David’s passion-based learning environment, which includes a long-term internship with LA Services, is due to David’s commitment to learn, the outstanding leadership of Liverpool Boys High and their teaching staff that have all embraced the Big Picture Education program, making it possible to build a meaningful bridge between the classroom and industry for students from year 9 onward. The synergy of this relationship is allowing David to stretch his intellectual capacity beyond what might be possible in a traditional school setting and in the process developing skills to deal with real world challenges in preparation for his chosen career path (software engineer).

LA Services congratulate David and his Big Picture advisors for their efforts in this achievement.