Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a strong view that Australia was still lagging behind some of the world’s major economies in the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 technologies.
Almost two years on, this is no longer the case. The manufacturing sector has seen a massive uptick in the implementation of Industry 4.0 during the pandemic, which necessitated automation and other remote monitoring capabilities.
Industry 4.0 has given way to Industry 5.0, and the sector is poised to take this to the next level with ‘Modern Manufacturing.’ This concept will be fully explored at the Modern Manufacturing Town Hall at Sydney Olympic Park on 30 March 2022.
“We classify Modern Manufacturing as automation that removes the need for human input in processes, resulting in less error and less labour-intensive work,” explains Gwénaëlle Proust – Academic Deputy Director of Sydney University’s Sydney Manufacturing Hub. “Investing in technology that allows operations to become less labour-intensive helps manufacturers to increase production and cut costs – thereby becoming more competitive and able to claim greater market share.”
Increasing local capabilities
Gwénaëlle is Sydney University’s Academic Deputy Director of the newly launched Sydney Manufacturing Hub – a core research facility dedicated to advanced materials processing and additive manufacturing. It focuses on the production of lighter, stronger and more flexible components in a manner that minimises waste.
The Hub provides capabilities for design, topological optimisation, the 3D printing of metals, ceramics and polymers, as well as post-processing heat treatment, advanced characterisation and more; paving the way for new technology in industries like aerospace, autonomous vehicles, biomedical, defence, maritime and robotics.
Key local industries will benefit from enhanced additive manufacturing through the reduction of material waste, simplified supply chains, and an independent capacity to create materials, components and even whole machines. “These capabilities will give local manufacturers the edge needed to compete at a global scale,” adds Gwénaëlle.
Sydney at the forefront of innovation
Speaking to why the Hub was launched, Gwénaëlle explains that as an educational institution, Sydney University needed to stay abreast of the latest technology trends. “Many new technologies have been introduced in recent years, and we want our researchers to test and use them in various university projects. Looking at the bigger picture, we are also aware of a significant shift that has taken place in manufacturing. Many smaller manufacturers are interested in integrating these new tools into their operations but do not have the knowledge or budget necessary to do so.”
“The University’s Manufacturing Hub gives manufacturers a place where they can try before they buy – see what technology is available, get help from researchers on how to implement it in their companies and get the base work done before making a large investment,” says Gwénaëlle.
“We really need the industry in NSW to be part of this effort and assist us in getting information around so that smaller companies can learn by looking at what big companies are doing. This is also a platform to see what companies need in terms of research and development and collaboration with academia – so feedback is welcome!”
“We are proud to have the official support of the prestigious Sydney Manufacturing Hub at our first ever Town Hall event,” says IEC Group CEO Marie Kinsella. “We hope to see smaller manufacturers in particular attend, as this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of the brains trust that will lead Australia to establishing a strong, modern and sustainable manufacturing sector.”
Giving local companies the competitive edge
Common sentiment is that competitiveness will come from investing in technology that is less labour intensive – this is how Australia can reclaim some market.
When asked what advice she has for manufacturers, Gwénaëlle encourages the industry to take a chance on new technology. “Take advantage of this new opportunity to modernise your manufacturing facility. Come and see what is out there in terms of technology and government support to help manufacturers invest in their operations.”
Lastly, Marie notes that the Modern Manufacturing Town Hall is a preview of what’s to come later in the year at the larger Modern Manufacturing Expo, to be held at Sydney Showgrounds on 20 & 21 September 2022. The Expo will highlight the future of manufacturing and pathways for digital transformation, with a focus on the latest technology, equipment and operational models.