“I guess it started as a kid, pulling my mum’s toaster apart and spreading it across the kitchen table.”
From an early age, Richard Badham’s passion has been the design and construction of complex mechanical systems. Starting with vintage cars, he eventually graduated to airplanes, and in particular, jet engines.
These days, he heads up Invetech’s contract manufacturing team in Melbourne where he leads a group responsible for the manufacture of in vitro diagnostics (IVD) instruments, from the compact Haemonetics TEG® 6s used to measure blood coagulation during surgery, to the large Bio-Rad BioPlex 2200, a significantly complex platform for the detection of autoimmune and infectious diseases. And yet he still finds time to restore vintage cars and bikes, or build miniature electric Bugatti’s for his children.
Planes, planes and automobiles
Richard’s passion for designing and constructing complex systems blossomed in his mid-teens when he secured a vacation job in the UK helping a business specializing in the restoration and modification of vintage cars. It was a journey that continued throughout his university days before eventually landing a job with Rolls-Royce aviation. There, he ultimately became head of the Defense Aerospace Product Configuration group, with responsibility for configuration of all Rolls-Royce UK defense products. He worked on everything from sophisticated modern jet engines such as the General Dynamics F35 Lightning II, helped keep the venerable Concorde in the air, and even delivered a full-scale replica of a WW1 fighter biplane, built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bristol Aeroplane Company.
Richard has also been lucky enough to work on some of the most iconic and rare cars in the world. These include memorable vehicles such as the 1925 Sunbeam Tiger, which at one stage held the land speed record and a custom-built vintage hot-rod, constructed from a modified vintage fire truck (1917 American La France), featuring a supercharged 14.5-liter engine.
Forging a career in manufacturing
Richard’s time at Invetech has quickly evolved from Mechanical Engineer to Product Manager and finally where we find him today, Manager, Contract Manufacturing and Supply Chain. It was his richly creative background that significantly contributed to a design and manufacturing career, and his ability to identify and grow a multidisciplinary manufacturing team.
“I believe my past experience has enabled an ability to visualize how components and parts come together and understand what the final result will look like prior to final design completion,” said Richard Badham. “It means I can help guide our design engineers while wearing a manufacturing hat, and also help guide the designers to create a product that is simpler to construct—which in turn leads to lower design complexity, improvements in reliability, and lower cost-of-manufacture.”
Just as when he worked at Rolls-Royce, quality comes before everything. “In aerospace, if something goes wrong, the consequences are potentially catastrophic. Similarly, if a medical device gives someone the wrong diagnosis, it can be life threatening. It’s a lot of responsibility.” This is what makes Richard passionate about his job: “If you put quality first, everything else falls into place.”
He’s proud to have worked on iconic projects like the Concorde, but even more so of the instrument manufacturing he’s responsible for at Invetech.
“It’s amazing and humbling in terms of what the equipment does, and the difference it’s going make to someone’s life. When you see a product you’ve designed being used in surgery, and know that the product is potentially making the difference between whether they get off that table or not, that’s mind-blowing in a different sort of way.”
One of his proudest career moments was recently having his manufacturing team recognized with an award from a long-term customer. The award acknowledged a broad range of achievements within Richard’s group, including a culture of continuous improvement and client collaboration.
“This was fantastic recognition for the work we do, and the culture we’ve created. Receiving the award is one of the highlights of my career to date.”