Get Smart – CSIRO Putting the Smart into Smart Manufacturing

Get Smart – CSIRO Putting the Smart into Smart Manufacturing 
written by Christian Ruberg, Future Digital Manufacturing Lead, CSIRO

As Agent 86 Maxwell Smart said “missed it by that much”, Australia ranks 91st in the Harvard Economic Complexity Index (ECI). This Index brings into sharp focus Australia’s economic reliance on exporting items of low complexity in the form of commodities, and highlights the opportunity Australia has to improve the complexity of the items it exports, by manufacturing more complex items in areas of competitive advantage. However, incredible ‘once in a generation’ opportunities in the combination of emerging digital manufacturing technologies and future industries such as the emerging hydrogen economy, and the sunsetting of fossil energy sources, are set to turn that all around.

CSIRO’s recently released document ‘Our Future World’ reported that the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as high-performance computing, AI, machine learning, sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and other advanced technologies is growing substantially around the globe. The next wave of digital innovation is expected to generate $10–15 trillion globally, and current available technologies could contribute $140–250 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2025.

Smart Manufacturing sits on a foundation of collaboration, insight, strategy, technology, and delivery.  CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency is solving the greatest challenges through science and research on all these fronts to support Australia’s manufacturing sector.

As a number of commentators have recently noted, Australia needs to develop its innovation eco-systems. Cross disciplinary collaboration between technologists, researchers, innovators, commercialisers, investors, and customers creates the opportunities, and importantly, the “how to” strategies to succeed in global supply chains. Manufacturers can often look to their peak industry organisations such as the IoTAA, AMTIL, AMGC, AiGroup, University Centres and Hubs, for assistance. CSIRO has Industry 4.0 TestLabs, SME Connect, and Kickstart programs which create a platform for industry to collaborate with likeminded change-makers.

CSIRO, and the manufacturing sector, also look to international open technology innovation platforms such as the Fraunhofer EU, Manufacturing USA and Catapult UK models of linked institutes. Each institute has an industry sectoral or technology specific focus, with key open standards, specifically funded technology deliverables, and their network of networks. An important question presents: which features for adoption are best suited to our particular requirements and scale? Noting our SMEs are circa a tenth of their typical size but take up 99.5% of our industrial base. Another is: how to build bigger bolder sustainable businesses from our entrepreneurial SMEs for our children?

Effective insight comes from judicious collection of data and analysing the information it contains. refer to CSIRO’s Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap, the AMGC’s Sector Competitiveness Plan, or more specifically CSIRO’s National Hydrogen Roadmap for some emerging and disruptive opportunities.

Every business and industry sector has their unique challenges, so organisational strategy development is a complex sectoral or organisational task requiring team collaboration, time and quiet thought. Strategies were once considered limited to; lowest cost economy of scale, differentiation and niche positioning. But these may be  further creatively segmented into; cost leadership, value-chain leadership, design leadership, servitisation, future industries leader, syndication leadership, etc. There are many and varied ways of seeing the world through different eyes with the goal of matching organisational capabilities with customer needs.

Lets’s take a look at each in more detail;

  • In many cases creating value in business can be more compelling, but reducing the cost base and efficiency is also important. The use of networked sensors (the Industrial Internet of Things – IIoT) and including positional information and movement (ie; CSIRO’s Embedded Intelligence Platform EIP development) can provide production supervisors with next level coordination and dashboarding which may lead to reductions in common inefficiencies.
  • Every participant in the supply or value chain can take a leadership position. Many industries are, or have adopted, objective measurement systems with shared information, allowing the whole chain to coordinate better. Analysis and use of cloud information can help to predict future needs and avoid production spikes as well as supply chain delays cascading between chain partners.
  • Advances in product design creates competitive advantage and is becoming increasingly lucrative. CSIRO looks to integrate advances in artificial intelligence and computational modelling to optimise product performance. Can AI make ‘left field’ ‘out of the box’ suggestions that create step changes in performance? CSIRO is working on flow chemistry, catalysts, and static mixers to test this hypothesis.
  • More intelligent products that are cloud integrated can offer the opportunity for hardware as a service or ‘HaaS’ (aka ‘servitisation’). Moving costs from capital expense to operational expenses can be attractive to both supplier and client. CSIRO’s revolutionary energy storage efforts are exploring how to make battery management systems more intelligent and integrating both battery chemistry with cloud data such as weather and market forecasts to optimise lifecycle and performance.
  • Some of our generations greatest disruptive forces are coming at lightning speed. The emerging arrival of the hydrogen economy brings extraordinary infrastructure supply chain opportunities in; electrolysis, metering, transfer and transport, storage, and consumption. These occur in both hydrogen and other potential energy carriers such as ammonia. Heavy transport infrastructure, agricultural machinery, and short haul air travel may be the first to adopt this new energy, not only domestically but also globally and Australia is very well placed to pioneer these innovations.
  • Australia has a wealth of SME’s who need to compete with large vertically integrated global supply chains. Could syndication of tendering be an opportunity to aggregate capabilities? And infused with CSIRO’s world class intellectual property achievements IP to capture a competitive edge? How can we best collaborate to create these opportunities?

Successful business is often a result of a new and compelling technology which can lead to better products and services, completely new offerings, or at least more efficient and effective production of them. CSIRO researchers representing both physical and emerging information sciences are developing direct market facing solutions and foundation platforms. Direct to market solutions such as secure and intelligent IoT wireless mesh networks featuring sensor integration featuring and integrated business rules engine.  Another direct to market solution is automated robotic end of arm tool path generation integrated with real-time sensor fusion. CSIRO is also working on foundation platforms to facilitate fast and robust solution development. For example,  artificial intelligence augmented design tools incorporating experimental and computational methods (aka AI4Design). Another solution are novel approaches to integrate multiple computer vision sensors at multiple scales for real-time closed loop process control at the micro-scale such as robotic additive manufacturing, or applied to advanced assembly logistics with movement analytics at the large scale such as in aerospace or defence ship building.

Considering the emerging technologies, let’s look at three case studies.

  • The coordination of Complex Assembly in aerospace structures, ship building, industrial and building construction is challenging. CSIRO is exploring the use of intelligent secure by design wireless mesh networks featuring easily implementable tags that can locate; incoming goods, sub-assembly progress, status of key production equipment, location of key personnel and their equipment, and status of final assembly. Movements and location is uploaded to cloud information systems featuring dashboards and a business rules engine. These features take production performance supervision to the next level. CSIRO’s work to integrate these mesh network tags, with computer vision sensor fusion and calibration, and movement analytics algorithms demonstrates that industrial innovation requires a multi-disciplinary approach and several spheres of high level development.
  • Moving from batch to Flow Chemistry is an exciting development ideally suited to the Australian scale of niche, high value bespoke chemical synthesis. CSIRO is working to harness emerging digital technologies to design processing modules, optimise catalysts with advances in design of experiment DoE techniques including Bayesian optimisation, and monitoring and optimisation of process performance with machine learning ML and multi-scale computer vision. This again demonstrates that leading innovation is a collaboration between targeted research and industrial know-how.
  • Additive manufacturing has had many decades of development, but CSIRO is still leading internationally in many areas. CSIRO’s Clayton based Lab22 facility has pioneered the reliable use of several exotic materials for medical implants. More recently, advances in cold spray, laser and wire arc, have progressed from simple 3D metal printing to complex 6 degree of freedom robotic metal deposition. In conjunction with real-time laser scanning, and patented end of arm tooling path generation, in-the-field repair or modification of metal structures such as defence equipment or foundry castings is feasible. Tools to compare scanned point-clouds against CAD specifications to determine defects, or to place new enhanced features will soon be available.

The development of innovation capabilities, at all levels of the organisation, from designers to electrical fitters, from the ‘C-suite’ to the workshop floor, have been surveyed to be sub-optimal in Australia. Essential skills such as; the ability to create, recognise, and cultivate innovation opportunities, are capabilities that need to be further developed nationally. Potentially new innovation micro-credentials need to be created, such as: global IP scanning, developing an innovation pipeline, conducting discovery sprints, writing innovation savvy compelling investment proposals, embracing the fail fast philosophy, persistence and persuasion against organisational push-back, and general change management are some of the essential tools. We need to get better at “delivery science”.  While many of our corporate leaders have strengths in finance, law, and risk, are they strong enough in science, technology, change and innovation?

Can Industry 4.0/5.0 emerging technologies advance your business strategy, create new opportunities, and advance your globally competitive capabilities? CSIRO’s new Future Digital Manufacturing initiative brings together our domain experts and world leading innovations across physical and information sciences to underpin your business aspirations. If you are an ambitious SME, or you deliver high value manufactured solutions, or seek to target emerging future industries, then CSIRO is positioned to be a solution partner in your challenge.

Postscript: On the positive side the World Economic Forum places Australia in the 4th decile of advanced economies based on their Economic Transformation Readiness index. Similarly, The Economist Intelligence Unit places Australia 10th with their Automation Readiness Index, so, we do have cause for optimism if we play our cards right.

Copyright CSIRO 2022

CSIRO will be joining the Modern Manufacturing Expo 2022 on the 20th and 21st of September at Sydney Showground. Meet us at Modern Manufacturing Expo 2022


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