Military apparel specialist on a mission

With an esteemed history stretching back to 1912 supplying uniforms to Australian Defence Force diggers, Australian Defence Apparel Ltd (ADA) was awarded the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) Wearable’s Contract in 2020.

Currently occupying temporary facilities in Palmerston North, ADA’s new purpose-built headquarters due for completion September this year is located next to Palmerston North Airport, and will include offices, warehouse and showroom.

ADA’s New Zealand Programme Director Sarah Pender says a key reason for choosing Palmerston North was the development of its new easy to access central North Island distribution and logistics hub.

“The location is known as a real growth area for distribution and logistics. Linton Military Camp and RNZAF Ohakea Base are also on our doorstep. Waiouru Military Camp is very hard to access apart from Palmerston North, and the NZDF Headquarters is in Wellington. So, they’re all in very close proximity for logistics, and that has enabled us to respond very quickly to demand.”

Sarah tells the story of a group of soldiers deploying out of Linton as part of the Cyclone Gabrielle response. The team included soldiers from Fiji who arrived at Linton on the Saturday, were measured for uniforms on the Sunday, and were helping on site wearing their new kit on the Monday.

ADA’s scope of responsibility is to manage the end-to-end supply chain for the NZDF, including procurement, inventory management and distribution. ADA NZ also manage the design and development process on behalf of the NZDF.

The substantial range of items sourced and supplied by ADA includes clothing headwear, footwear, gloves, packs, carrier vests, mess tins, sleeping bags and tents.

“We do individual ‘pick and pack’ for individual service personnel, and manage the clothing stores at the nine camps and bases, so the personnel can get sized and place an order. We have twenty-nine staff in the clothing stores, including a seamstress or tailor in each store for alterations.”

The team of 25 staff located in the new Headquarters includes warehousing and distribution staff, an operations team, contract manager, customer service and research and design.

“Our customer service team are all locally based, and we have also added a local HR Manager,” says Sarah. “Our accounts payable team is all local too, ensuring our New Zealand customers are serviced in a New Zealand environment. We do all the research and development and design and development, and have a textile specialist and a senior designer. “We even have a specialist with a PhD in Physiology who is a leading expert in integration of clothing system. For example, shirts must integrate with body armour or a pack. With a demonstrated history working in the apparel industry, Sarah was recruited by ADA in 2014, with the goal of targeting the NZDF contract and building valued relationships over time.

With a demonstrated history working in the apparel industry, Sarah was recruited by ADA in 2014, with the goal of developing key relationships in New Zealand and winning the New Zealand contract.

“ADA tends to employ people from the apparel industry who experts in their field, and everyone is very passionate about providing the right clothing to enable the personnel to do their job. We are very innovative in our thinking and because we’re still privately owned, we have the ability to be very agile. If an opportunity arises to improve on what we’re doing for the end user we can do make changes very quickly. At this stage we just have the contract for NZDF, but we will be looking at other government first responder contracts going forward.”

Richard Loader – Business Central  NZ

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Australian Defence Apparel Officially Opens Canberra Multi-Function Logistics Hub

Australian Defence Apparel (ADA) has officially opened its Commonwealth Hub in Canberra on Thursday 13 April 2023. The space will serve as a critical multi-functional site for personnel across the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Commonwealth clients.

ADA Chief Executive Officer, Mr Chris Dixon led the official opening and proceedings.

The 5000sqm central Canberra hub furthers ADA’s ability to provide greater efficiencies in total apparel management for 10,000+ personnel. Services include the design and engineering of uniforms and inventory management. Providing an overall improved wearer experience for the members, the space will also accommodate fittings, tailoring, returns and exchanges. To date, the hub has processed over 300,000 items for personnel within the AFP and ABF.

ADA are leaders in uniform technological advancement and total apparel management systems, a first responder core focus spanning defence, law enforcement, healthcare, government and corporate industries.

Chief Executive Officer of ADA, Chris Dixon said: “Centrally located in Hume, our facility is perfectly positioned to best support our Commonwealth clients. The official opening of the ADA Canberra Commonwealth Hub is instrumental in delivering on our commitment to combine leading textiles and new technologies to best serve our diverse clientele. We trust that the ADA Canberra Commonwealth Hub will allow ABF and AFP personnel to receive the highest quality care and service, complemented by high-tech apparel systems offering them an increased sense of pride and allow them to perform their duties with comfort and ease and take less time away from work duties.

“We are delighted to open this state-of-the-art, multi-purpose facility that includes an expansive showroom, store and warehouse facility office space. The facility provides a unique, seamless and special experience for fitting, kitting and distribution,” Mr Dixon said.

All attendees were given a formal tour of the facility, led by ADA CEO, Mr Dixon. There were exclusive opportunities for networking, meet and greets, photos, a first-look official tour of the hub, and refreshments provided.

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Legacy Centenary: Australian Defence Apparel supplies torch relay regalia

Australian Defence Apparel camouflage is a common sight on Aussie troops, but now the defence manufacturer has partnered with Legacy Australia to supply 1,500 uniforms for The 2023 Legacy Centenary Torch Relay.

The torch relay, presented by Defence Health, starts in Pozieres, France on 23 April this year and travels 55,000 kilometres around the world in the arms of 1,500 torchbearers. It also carries special significance as the 100th year of Legacy Australia.

The relay leaves France on Anzac Day and treks to London, then Perth, and around Australia passing through more than 112 locations before arriving at the finish in Melbourne for the Centenary Conference around 13 October.

The six-month event stops at all 45 Legacy Clubs and aims to raise more than $10 million to support the families of Australian Defence Force men and women who lost their lives or health in conflict.

Australian Defence Apparel (ADA) lead designer Melinda Suares, who created and put the 1,500 torchbearer uniforms into production, said initial design concepts and meetings had been worked on for around five months before the final product was made.

“The key element of the design was showcased through a sublimated print. The centenary torch logo was an essential part of this uniform design, incorporating the red and blue hues from the logo,” she said.

“The design is then complimented with intertwining strips that emerge upon the legacy logo on the chest.

“The light green and blue stripes form two helping hands, which touch the end of the torch relay logo. This represents (the) unity and harmonious help both Legacy and Defence Health do to support veterans and their families with stability, guidance and care.

“It was about capturing the true essence of Legacy and what the foundation was all about. Understanding the meaning behind the 100-year centenary torch relay was important in the initial design concept stage.”

ADA chose a validated fit for the t-shirts, shorts, and trackpants and worked with Perfect Events to make minor changes and cater to the people who would be wearing it, she said.

The Australian defence manufacturer will also be contributing to the event at various community days, profiling individual torch bearers, manufacturing bespoke products to support the relay and hosting a Bendigo Factory tour with Legacy volunteers.

Legacy Australia chairman Eric Easterbrook OAM, said the relay is a wonderful opportunity to commemorate 100 years of Legacy supporting veterans’ families.

“Legacy’s centenary is an important commemoration for our nation. It recognises the sacrifice of so many families over the past century as well as the efforts of countless volunteers who have supported them throughout grief and hardship,” he said.

“Their support will help Legacy remain strong for another 100 years and continue to support and empower all our veterans’ families to build their best future.”

By: Robert Dougherty – Defence Connect

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Australian Defence Apparel and Nova Systems Announce Partnership to Support Defence Focused Programs

Australian Defence Apparel (ADA), Australia’s primary manufacturer of high-tech uniforms and equipment, and Nova Systems, a leading Australian-owned engineering services and technology solutions company, today announced a partnership to deliver high-tech innovative clothing systems solutions for uniform requirements.

ADA has established a proven track record of designing, manufacturing and managing apparel programs across the military, law enforcement, healthcare and numerous government and corporate industries.
The partnership between ADA and Nova Systems will allow for the implementation of comprehensive clothing programs to meet the unique demands of clients underpinned by data-driven insights and engineering management expertise.

“It is my pleasure to announce that ADA is continuing to engage with local industry partners to advance our services. Nova Systems is renowned for its advanced systems integration solutions, and our combined capabilities will ensure superior outcomes for clothing program management,” said Chris Dixon, Chief Executive Officer of ADA.

ADA is committed to innovation and modernisation, to ensure clients have access to high-tech apparel systems that are enhanced by seamless fitting solutions and processes.

ADA plans to apply systems engineering methods and processes aligning with policies, as well as meeting the needs of the Services Clothing Manual to deliver the full program scope with certainty, ensure robust engineering processes, and meet the challenges of technical data transparency.

The partnership and development of a Clothing Programs Engineering Support system will encompass research and material sourcing, establishing user requirements, design and development, patternmaking and grading, rapid prototyping, technical data, drawings and specifications.

Nova Systems is experienced in complex program delivery and is a trusted partner to the Australian Defence Force, supporting major Defence projects for the past two decades.

Nova Systems Chief Executive Officer Jim McDowell said: “Nova Systems brings truly sovereign, world-leading systems engineering, digital engineering, integrated logistics support and engineering management expertise to the ADA partnership, ultimately ensuring our Defence personnel are equipped with the best, cutting-edge clothing systems to protect our servicemen and women on the front-line.

“Our partnership provides a turn-key solution for all clothing requirements supporting everything from manufacturing, sourcing, engineering and logistics, and it’s for this reason, we believe we are a really strong team.”

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NZ troops perfectly fitted for victory with new 3D scanning tech

The New Zealand Defence Force will receive the latest fitted uniforms and equipment under a new partnership between Australian Defence Apparel New Zealand and Australian 3D-scanning technology company, Bodd.

The Australian Defence Apparel (ADA) subsidiary will work with Bodd’s real-time scanning technology to provide instant sizing matched to each service personnel’s measurements.

By matching the scanned proportions of a recruit against the inventory of every item of clothing they require for their duties, a unique database is developed as part of their NZDF record.

The 3D scanners are manufactured in Australia through a Bodd partnership with Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions.

The technology is expected to drastically reduce resource requirements and significantly speed up traditional manual fitting processes, according to ADA chief executive officer Chris Dixon.

“ADA’s partnership with Bodd is instrumental in delivering on our commitment to combine leading textiles and new technologies to solve apparel distribution challenges,” he said.

“This revolutionary digital fitting technology allows for a seamless user experience, as it drastically reduces time required for fitting and kitting of defence personnel. We are excited to be rolling this out first to the NZDF this year.”

ADA is expected to make the digital fitting technology and its benefits available across military, law enforcement, healthcare, government, and corporate industries.

Bodd co-founder and chief executive Rob Fisher said in the future, NZDF will have optional access to additional data regarding health and wellness information which can be derived from a scan session.

“This is one of Bodd’s first military deployments, following successful implementations globally across a range of protective and government services. We are incredibly excited to be rolling out with a local defence partner right here in our own backyard,” he said.

“With our world-class technology, we can size a recruit to an incredible degree of accuracy. From 30  to 45 seconds of scanning, they can be fitted head to toe, from combat clothing to service dress  uniforms, including footwear and accessories.

“It’s almost limitless what you can do.”

By: Robert Dougherty – Defence Connect

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Aussie defence clothier has the arms suitably covered

The fashion industry is notorious for reducing designers to tears and ending careers for the mere “crime” of choosing the wrong colour or look.

Clothing, textiles and apparel veteran Chris Dixon’s customers potentially face far worse. They can get shot at, stabbed, assaulted, must run into burning buildings and face the prospect of entering a real war zone.

And all the time they must be sensibly dressed in clothing that is comfortable and functional.

He’s proudly flying the flag for nation’s clothing sector, against conventional wisdom that Australian textile manufacturers moved offshore decades ago.

As the chief executive of Australian Defence Apparel, Mr Dixon runs a business that is more than 100 years old and which has played an integral role in the creation of Australian Defence Force uniforms and apparel. Not surprisingly khaki green is always the right colour.

And while Australia’s clothing and textiles manufacturing has shrunk, Mr Dixon’s factory in the regional Victorian town of Bendigo has built up annual turnover to more than $170m.

It has orders, not only from Australia’s army, navy and air force but from local emergency services and police departments – and now offshore orders too.

“It’s the largest textile facility remaining in country Australia. I think in short we’ve just been supported by many of our clients that still see the value of offering capability – particularly the ADF – and we are still making all of their operational clothing requirements, the combat uniform in country, both the manufacturing side and the raw materials,” Mr Dixon told The Weekend Australian from the recent Land Forces Expo in Brisbane, where his company was showcasing its latest designs, combat and clothing technology.

Australian Defence Apparel recently was awarded the Queensland Police contract for ballistic vests and armour, and there are orders for uniforms from Canadian and New Zealand defence forces.

“We have secured the entire clothing contract to the New Zealand Defence Force and went live with that contract in February, and that will see us build a brand new facility in Palmerston North in New Zealand,” he said.

“So I went from a couple of staff last year to some 50 staff over there (New Zealand) this year in the creation of ADA New Zealand – and it’s been quite nice to be working with some local New Zealand manufacturers and we’re running a bit of the New Zealand Defence Force requirements through the Bendigo facility.

“And equally, some of those New Zealand suppliers are supplying back into Australia in sort of a swap deal which has been fantastic. Fantastic news for them and for us.”

The demand for ADA’s specialist clothing which must be capable of withstanding fire, mud and even bullets – is not limited to the defence forces.

The client base spans military, healthcare, law enforcement, government, and corporate industries. As many as 450,000 personnel are eligible for uniforms produced by ADA’s factories.

The ADA facility can produce 600,000 garments a year and is supported by in-house design teams.

The importance and resilience of having a local manufacturing base was underlined through the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic when local manufacturers – whether they produced jeans, skirts or army fatigues – faced stretched supply chains and uncertainties over shipments.

“Yes that was difficult – supply chain challenges and longer lead times and freight constrictions. But the (army) contract actually is the only one of its kind that requires everything to be procured, secured, manufactured (locally) right from the fabrics made in Wangaratta (Victoria) and we ship it across to Bendigo and manufacture there.

“So that part of it has allowed us to remain stable. And regarding those supply chain challenges, we’ve actually seen a nice resurgence to a local preference. Recently the CFA in Victoria introduced a volunteer uniform and similarly they have gone with a 100 per cent Australian-based solution using the same textile manufacturer in Wangaratta and having those goods manufactured in Bendigo.

“And I haven’t seen that kind of activity from a manufacturing standpoint for years and years, so it is nice. It is a romantic return.”

Mr Dixon said that control over manufacturing was highlighted during the pandemic and has helped win ADA the notice of local government agencies requiring uniforms.

ADA is now pivoting more towards law enforcement and first responders, such as police and fire.

“Certainly law enforcement and the first-responders sector – what we saw was an ability to leverage some of that defence heritage that we basically have known for 100 years. And it has really paid dividends,” Mr Dixon said.



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New Navy uniform a collaborative success

The rollout of Navy’s new maritime multi-patterned uniform (MMPU) has begun in the Sydney region.

The Australian-designed and manufactured uniforms have been a collaborative effort between Defence and industry and are already delivering significant benefits to Navy people both in shore-based positions and for those personnel serving at sea.

Director-General Navy Logistics, Commodore Nathan Robb, said the contribution of Australian industry had been critical to the development of the new uniform.

“This project has delivered significant benefits to Navy people, who have been a key contributor to the outcomes by way of testing and feedback in the design of the uniforms during the project,” Commodore Robb said.

“By listening to our people and working with industry, the uniform delivered is more lightweight, fit for Navy purpose and suitable for the range of conditions and environments our Navy operates in.

“The design and delivery of the MMPU is an excellent example of collaboration to deliver improved capability for our people and, beyond that, it is an Australian solution that provides resilience in supply chains and benefits local industry.”

The garments are manufactured in Australia by Australian Defence Apparel (ADA), based in Bendigo and Melbourne, Victoria, and Workwear Group in Melbourne using fabric manufactured by Bruck Textiles in Wangaratta, Victoria.

ADA’s Australian industry capability manager, David Frith, said ADA embraced the opportunity to be involved in the MMPU project to demonstrate Australian capability and to benefit ADF people.

“We designed this uniform in partnership with Defence, and we searched globally for the best fabric we could find, and then designed and tested solutions that met Navy’s requirements,” Mr Frith said.

“The result is a complete Australian solution, designed in-house at ADA in Victoria incorporating the latest research and development approaches to better solve things like the fire-retardant properties required for the at-sea version of the uniform.

“Our large research and development team and designers looked at trends and innovations globally to bring advanced solutions for the MMPU uniform.

“This project is evidence that Australian manufacturing can deliver and compete very strongly with the rest of the world.”

Bruck Textiles’s Group general manager, Vineet Dhawan, said the manufacture of the MMPU material in Australia showcased the ability to innovate and deliver capability in Australia.

“We are very proud to have produced this new, innovative, lightweight solution, which has made the shirt 25 percent lighter, the trousers 15 percent lighter, and has incorporated the fire-retardant properties within the fabric, not in addition to the fabric,” Mr Dhawan said.

“Being involved in this great project helps keep both industry and the capability sustainable.”

The new uniform has received positive feedback.

Able Seaman Shona Bartell said she loved the new MMPU.

“The MMPU is very breathable and light, and I don’t have to worry about taking off my jacket so much, especially when working in in warmer conditions,” Able Seaman Bartell said.

“The new positioning of the pockets and the better visibility of rank slides are also benefits.”

Initial rollout of the MMPU began in Darwin and Cairns in October last year, followed by Western Australia earlier this year.

The rollout of MMPU across Navy is scheduled to take place progressively across remaining states and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022.

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The future soldier reimagined through human-centred design.

The 2021 Land Forces Expo in Brisbane will display a complete suite of ADA’s apparel innovations in the Soldier Combat Ensemble sphere.

Building on ADA’s ethos of human-centred design, the group will demonstrate local capability with a cascade of uniforms, body armour and load carriage innovations researched and engineered in the past 24 months with a range of revolutionary products prototyped to validate proof of concept.

The show is led by the evolution of load carriage and the breakthrough in ergonomics, resulting in a future where crucial challenges faced by personnel are addressed, injuries minimised, unit agility maximised, and performance optimised. The 3-day event will be the first reveal of the full collection of the load carriage solutions built to conform to 24–120 hour operations.

The display will include interactive next-generation and future soldier apparel systems providing a glimpse into adaptive camouflage technologies, innovative hybrid textiles with cutting-edge uniforms and body armour systems powered by fabric pioneers, Polartec.

In addition, the show will comprise the first-ever female fit soldier combat ensemble engineered and body-mapped to work with the female-specific form
Furthermore, the presentation will entail a live human augmentation exoskeleton demonstration to see the wearable product in full motion. Plus, provide visitors with an opportunity to take a closer look at the future of uniform program management with the latest technology in digital and virtual fitting solutions and uniform stores.

Collectively, ADA plans to unify industry with academia from Bond University Tactical Research Unit led by Dr Rob Orr to spark innovation, and possibility, and further strengthen the trident approach to solving performance challenges in soldier systems.

ADA’s division LEGEAR will also co-host on the stand introducing the latest products in the tactical market. See firsthand the newest products from GHOSTHOOD® camouflage systems featuring the CONCAMO confusion camouflage pattern, Trango training Infrastructure solutions to build modular and realistic training environments for personnel and new arrivals from UF Pro Tactical Clothing.

Register for entry to Land Forces here.

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