Between a burgeoning Australian minerals industry inflating tradesmen's wage rates and transport manufacturers stipulating customers use OEM parts and service, specialist diesel repair and maintenance workshops must work better and smarter or face the consequences.
In the Hunter, the problem is exacerbated by major Sydney players plundering the market.
For Newcastle's Diesel Specialist Services the answer is to work smarter, to invest in equipment that reduces labour while improving product quality. At the same time the firm is scrutinising its work practives and routines to ensure benchmark quality or better.
Owner Craig Palmer makes no bones about the position of small quality workshops.
"We risk being over-run by multi-nationals and large corporate workshopes unless we are able to turn our disadvantage of small size into an advantage - absolute quality control that can only be achieved in a small, tight business," Craig said.
"A large part of this market's available business for repairs and maintenance of diesel fuel pumps, injectors and turbochargers is going to larger Sydney companies that send sales teams on a regular basis.
"Even though we can match them on quality, to complete we just have to be efficient in the extreme," Craig said.
Craig's recognition of the efficiencies to be gained from clever investments came from the most unlikely source, Bulbeck Envirosolutions' parts cleaning equipment.
"We wanted to upgrade our parts cleaning processes to meet international standards for modern equipment with tight tolerances and introduced Bulbeck's F07 micro filtered solvent based cleaning machine.
"Straight away it was saving us around two hours a week. When we combined it with a new wet bead blaster, typical component cleaning times decreased by 300%. Two hour jobs were being dones in 30 minutes," Craig said.
Unlike many workshopes that would have stopped there, Craig next looked at how to improve quality still further and his answer was a maintenance contract for the parts cleaning equipment.
"Most workshops would put these things in the not look at them again for two years. We sat down with the Bulbeck people and worked out a rotating 12 weeks maintenance program to guarantee that filters are at optimal efficiency and the solvent always pure.
"Having Bulbeck's as a supplier is actually one of our advantages. They are right here, a phone call away. Their locally developed filtered solvent cleaner is a market leader and the whole package is under an affordable rental arrangement - all factors that help boost our competitive advantage."
Diesel Specialist Services' commitment to quality is reflected in the company's client base that includes Svitzer, the 170-year-old international maritime services company that operates 550 vessels in more than 35 countries.
In Newcastle, Diesel Specialist Services is responsible for the firm's line boats.