Manufacturers' Monthly http://www.manmonthly.com.au Fri, 21 Jul 2017 04:21:19 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 ABB notes robotics growth during ‘transitional year’ http://www.manmonthly.com.au/news/abb-notes-robotics-growth-transitional-year/ http://www.manmonthly.com.au/news/abb-notes-robotics-growth-transitional-year/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 00:40:50 +0000 http://www.manmonthly.com.au/?p=70888 ABB Group has recorded a 14 per cent increase in robotics orders with third-party base orders increasing by 10 per cent, it has announced in its latest report. However, amid ongoing uncertainty in the global market including the impact of Brexit, 2017 is expected to be a transitional year for the company. According to ABB’s … Continue reading ABB notes robotics growth during ‘transitional year’

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ABB Group has recorded a 14 per cent increase in robotics orders with third-party base orders increasing by 10 per cent, it has announced in its latest report.

However, amid ongoing uncertainty in the global market including the impact of Brexit, 2017 is expected to be a transitional year for the company.

According to ABB’s second quarter review, it showed revenue growth by five per cent, including a net income of US$525 million (A$660 million).

Meanwhile, the company’s operational EBITA margin was impacted by product mix, significantly higher commodity prices and under absorption, which more than offset cost-out measures.

“In Q2, ABB continued to build its growth momentum as our targeted initiatives are delivering,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer. “Order growth was broad-based and across all regions,

“Our industry-leading digital offering, ABB Ability, is taking off and starting to contribute to growth.”

Read: Rise of the machine manufacturer

“Operational performance in the Power Grids and Industrial Automation divisions was solid in the quarter.”

Although ABB’s electrification products and robotics and motion improved margins sequentially, they were not able to fully compensate commodity price headwinds and overcapacity during the quarter.

“While we are pleased with the growth momentum, especially the double-digit order growth in Robotics and Motion, we remain firmly focused on further improving operational execution and our cost base,” Spiesshofer said.

“The successful completion of the B&R acquisition and the handover of our last legacy off-shore wind project, Dolwin 2, are solid examples of the disciplined execution of our Next Level strategy.”

Macroeconomic and geopolitical developments are signaling a mixed picture with continued uncertainty, the report added.

“Some macroeconomic signs in the US remain positive and growth in China is expected to continue,” ABB said.

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Smart lessons from America http://www.manmonthly.com.au/features/smart-lessons-america/ http://www.manmonthly.com.au/features/smart-lessons-america/#respond Thu, 20 Jul 2017 23:46:19 +0000 http://www.manmonthly.com.au/?p=70881 While the number of manufacturing courses available to Australian-based students has steadily declined over the past six years, Steven Impey takes an in-depth look at how America is influencing the future of Australia’s education system. ……… When deciding what future generations of manufacturers should be learning in school, at TAFE, or even inside the halls … Continue reading Smart lessons from America

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While the number of manufacturing courses available to Australian-based students has steadily declined over the past six years, Steven Impey takes an in-depth look at how America is influencing the future of Australia’s education system.

………

When deciding what future generations of manufacturers should be learning in school, at TAFE, or even inside the halls of some of Australia’s leading universities, it used to be much more black and white.

The consensus once upon a time was that apprentices of the trade underwent practical training on factory floors while the white-collar academics focused on writing papers that would define the future of the industry.

With modern-day twists – where technological evolutions are influencing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) – a new wave of visionaries are being sought; an integrated generation ready to ride a change of course and invent a new destination.

“There’s a drive in Australia for more collaboration between research institutions and industries along two fronts,” Mark Goodsell, head of The Australian Industry (Ai) Group’s NSW branch, told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“One is along the lines of technology and product development – blue-sky-to-commercial ideas – while the other is around knowledge-transfer between companies and researchers for purposes of training, education and skill development.

Benefits of integrated learning

“By blending engineering and academics, we are seeing more people who can move seamlessly between industries.

“You are now starting to see more universities become more integrated with companies as we have seen in Europe, where there are already industry-based universities working on projects directly.

“We have a long way to go in Australia while there are still head winds of culture and traditions to push through. While the academics are very useful collaborators, you do get a sense that they are doing it for different reasons.”

Some universities voiced their concerns about a government decision in April to streamline the number of occupations which foreign nationals can apply for temporary employment.

As the Turnbull Government tightens its borders in an attempt to put “Australian workers first” – much like President Donald Trump’s policy to “buy American, hire American” – it is an educational system created under the Obama Administration which is being trialled this side of the Pacific Ocean.

As of last year, around 100 students across Australia were selected to participate in an American-born model which the Federal Government has invested $5.1 million to pilot.

First tested in Brooklyn, New York, P-Tech (also known as Pathways in Technology Early College High School) took shape in 2011 and has since expanded internationally.

Its purpose is to establish long- term partnerships between industry, schools and tertiary education providers and does so by enabling businesses to play an active role in the learning and career development of their future workforce.

Nick Wyman, CEO of the Skilling Australia Foundation, was appointed by the Federal Government to adapt and rollout the same P-Tech programme, which was originally set up in the U.S. by the International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation.

“Back in 2013, while undertaking a Churchill Fellowship, I went looking for fresh approaches to engaging young people in skilled careers,” Wyman explained during an interview with Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“I found many in the UK, Germany, and in parts of the United States. Among the most promising I encountered was P-Tech.”

table-lessons

This year, five new P-Tech schools commenced in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia, with more to come in Queensland and Tasmania next year.

So far, more than 25 employers across Australia have committed to the P-Tech partnership programme.

“I was shocked at how many young people [in Australia] front up for an interview with no idea about what it is they want to do or what opportunities are available to them,” Wyman continued.

“I have to say that parents are also cautious about sending their children near anything that sounds like ‘manufacturing’ – which doesn’t have anything to do with the position the car industry is in, but rather a genuine concern around the media.

“I think manufacturers have since realised that the government isn’t going to solve their skills shortages and that they are going to have to engage at a deeper level.”

By turning more towards high- tech production – the likes seen in Germany and Switzerland – Wyman also believes manufacturers in Australia could also see more opportunities to commercialise new ideas.

“There’s no question young people have opportunities to learn, whether that is working for Price Waterhouse Cooper in augmented reality or artificial intelligence at IBM,” he continued. “It’s about pulling these kids in and really capturing their imagination.”

Manufacturing student numbers in decline

In Australia, only Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) can deliver nationally recognised courses and accredited Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) qualifications.

Since 2011, the number of RTOs that provide at least one manufacturing-related vocational education and training (VET) course has taken a hit with 697 registered this year compared to 770 six years ago.

The number of students enrolled in manufacturing courses is also sliding, according to government statistics, with 123,700 signed up in 2015 versus 139,800 in 2014.

These figures include some unaccredited VET courses that
were government-funded and some non-vocational (e.g. university) level accredited training delivered by dual- sector providers.

Manufacturing-related study encompasses anything from food processing to furnishing; aero-skills to minerals. Data for enrollment in 2016 will be released later this year.

The government does continue to subsidise students studying in the industry, albeit these numbers have also fallen dramatically since a spike in 2012 and 2013, which saw more than 100,000 students financed each year.

As of 2015, the number dropped to 81,200 – although that is more than 5,000 better off than 10 years earlier.

“Apprenticeships are the flagship of VET and are a critical part of our plan to build a highly-skilled and qualified workforce,” said Karen Andrews, assistant minister for Vocational Education and Skills.

“They provide on-the-job learning and have exceptional employment rates for apprentices who complete training [while] advanced manufacturing offers unique opportunities for Australia in both domestic and international markets.”

As part of the P-Tech programme, every state will be incorporated with seven schools now up and running from a target of 14 P-Tech schools.

Its goal is to provide educators with a range of examples of how to work in partnership with industry, and engage and inspire students to pursue STEM education and employment pathways.

lessons-2Looking to America

In the US, colleges also have an input in the sustainability of national industry amid efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and are doing so by working mouth to jowl with industry leaders alongside government policy.

Among the keynote speakers at last month’s 2xEP Energy Productivity Summit held at the Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney,

Denise Swink, CEO for the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC), gave an insight into the steps being taking in the States.

Since it’s inception in 2012, US$600 million (A$796.2 million) in federal government funding went towards SMLC’s multi-state network, which collaborates two-thirds of America’s largest manufacturing companies and eight of the nation’s 10 highest-ranked research and engineering universities.

“Our institutes cannot make a difference unless their academics are all part of the process; for technology development, yes, but critically for workforce development,” Swink explained during an interview with Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“You can’t have one university developing smart manufacturing technology and another university doing something completely different.

“Of our members, 70 are universities. They are the ones who develop the curriculum and are the academics our companies are looking to, to make sure students are covering the skills we want our folks to have.”

According to an Ai Group survey, there is “some dissatisfaction” with the skills of VET gradates within the industry, including problem solving and self-management, as well as basic literacy and numeracy.

The data collated shows that, while more than half of employers want to maintain their current training expenditure, 38 per cent intend to increase it.

In light of problem areas, the verdict is that stronger links are needed between schools, VET sector and higher education to tackle a skills shortage.

Professor Bronwyn Fox leads the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute at the Swinburne University of Technology, in Melbourne, where a new Bachelor of Engineering Practice (Honours) will be offered next year.

In March, she attended the G20’s Digitising Manufacturing Conference in Berlin on behalf of Professor Aleksandar Subic, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor – who also sits on the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce – to discuss the opportunities and challenges in shaping the future of digital manufacturing.

“For me, it was a phenomenal experience to see how they are working in countries like Germany and Austria,” Prof Fox told Manufacturers’ Monthly. “I haven’t seen software on the factory floor used to that extent before.

“It is a huge skill we are going to need in the future. We are aware of what they are doing in Europe and what we need to do to meet our needs in Australia.”

To integrate the industry into global supply chains, Prof Fox also explained how the needs of the employer are changing and how graduates require the skills to make a difference as manufacturing becomes more digitalised.

“We are going to have to further the relationship between mechanical and mechatronic engineering and create an integrated factory floor,” she continued, “where our students work within the industry itself on an integrated level.”

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Boeing opens R&D facility at University of Queensland http://www.manmonthly.com.au/news/boeing-opens-rd-facility-university-queensland/ http://www.manmonthly.com.au/news/boeing-opens-rd-facility-university-queensland/#respond Thu, 20 Jul 2017 23:00:52 +0000 http://www.manmonthly.com.au/?p=70855 Late last month, Boeing Research and Technology Australia (BR&T–Australia) announced that it has moved its Brisbane-based team into a new centre within The University of Queensland’s (UQ) St Lucia campus. The move is the first time in the Asia-Pacific region that Boeing has co-located research within a university. The BR&T-Australia Technology Centre, at the UQ … Continue reading Boeing opens R&D facility at University of Queensland

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Late last month, Boeing Research and Technology Australia (BR&T–Australia) announced that it has moved its Brisbane-based team into a new centre within The University of Queensland’s (UQ) St Lucia campus. The move is the first time in the Asia-Pacific region that Boeing has co-located research within a university.

The BR&T-Australia Technology Centre, at the UQ engineering research hub, opened during an event in the later part of June this year involving Queensland Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business Leeanne Enoch and Federal Member for Ryan Jane Prentice.

According to Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific President Ms Maureen Dougherty, the move would be of “great benefit” to both Boeing and UQ.

“The opening of this centre on campus brings together Boeing and UQ researchers who will collaborate on the next great advances in aerospace,” Ms Dougherty said.

“We are excited to see our relationship with The University of Queensland take this significant step forward.”

About 30 Boeing research and technical staff will move to the specially-designed facility that features a high-tech student interaction display area complete with augmented-reality technology, computer labs and collaborative spaces. Boeing’s research and development team in Melbourne remain co-located at Boeing’s advanced manufacturing facility.

Boeing staff will work with UQ researchers and students in fields including engineering, human movements, neuroscience, chemistry, physics and psychology.

Boeing’s industry workspace will demonstrate the realities of aerospace research and provide UQ staff and students with firsthand experience.

Projects earmarked for investigation include studies in unmanned aircraft and autonomous systems, aircraft simulator technologies, manufacturing technologies, and cabin disease transmission.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the move of the BR&T–Australia Brisbane Technology Centre to the St Lucia campus was a huge vote of confidence in UQ’s students, staff and graduates.

“Boeing has partnered with UQ for more than 13 years and gained a strong appreciation of the quality of UQ staff, students and graduates.

“Its move to campus dramatically boosts opportunities for our creative researchers and talented students to engage with a global innovator, and to explore opportunities to collaborate and work with industry.

“This colocation is a neat fit with the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda and the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland program, and the innovations and expertise generated here will yield important benefits for society.”

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Bosch honours top suppliers http://www.manmonthly.com.au/news/bosch-honours-top-suppliers/ http://www.manmonthly.com.au/news/bosch-honours-top-suppliers/#respond Thu, 20 Jul 2017 23:00:40 +0000 http://www.manmonthly.com.au/?p=70845 The Bosch Group has recognised 44 suppliers from 11 countries with the Bosch Global Supplier Award. This marks the fifteenth time the supplier of technology and services has honoured outstanding performance in the manufacture and supply of products or services – notably in the areas of quality, costs, innovation, and logistics. Bosch presented the coveted … Continue reading Bosch honours top suppliers

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The Bosch Group has recognised 44 suppliers from 11 countries with the Bosch Global Supplier Award. This marks the fifteenth time the supplier of technology and services has honoured outstanding performance in the manufacture and supply of products or services – notably in the areas of quality, costs, innovation, and logistics.

Bosch presented the coveted awards before an audience of some 100 representatives of the supply industry. The theme of this year’s award ceremony was “Partners in success.” Dr. Volkmar Denner, the chairman of the Bosch board of management, emphasised the special role of the increasingly interlinked cooperation between Bosch and its suppliers:

“In the connected world, partnerships are becoming more and more important. Hierarchical value chains are turning into value-added networks. With our open platform technologies, we are in an ideal position to seize the opportunities offered by digitalisation in our partner networks; for example, exchanging Industry 4.0 data using the Production Performance Management Protocol.”

For three of the award winners, this is the eighth time they have been so honoured. More than half the awardees are headquartered outside Germany, and just about one-third of those are located in Asia. Dr. Karl Nowak, the president of the Bosch corporate sector for purchasing and logistics, said, “Bosch’s success is based in no small part on competitiveness, innovative strength, and agility – qualities we can achieve only with fruitful international partnerships.” Bosch conferred awards in a total of six categories: innovation, raw materials and components, electronics and electromechanics, mechanics, resale goods, and purchasing of indirect materials.

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Changing public perceptions of manufacturing http://www.manmonthly.com.au/features/changing-public-perceptions-manufacturing/ http://www.manmonthly.com.au/features/changing-public-perceptions-manufacturing/#respond Thu, 20 Jul 2017 04:20:32 +0000 http://www.manmonthly.com.au/?p=70848 While it is widely reported that Australian manufacturing is “out-dated” and on the decline, research suggests the public values the industry more than expected. Steven Impey reports. …………. Analysis around Australia’s attitude towards manufacturing has revealed a startling misconception about the industry. Despite a culture that is consistently told that the sector is in decline, an … Continue reading Changing public perceptions of manufacturing

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While it is widely reported that Australian manufacturing is “out-dated” and on the decline, research suggests the public values the industry more than expected. Steven Impey reports.

………….

Analysis around Australia’s attitude towards manufacturing has revealed a startling misconception about the industry.

Despite a culture that is consistently told that the sector is in decline, an investigation carried out by a team at the company, Research Now, suggests the public are not as lost on the value of making things as they are led to believe.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the sector invests more into research and development (R&D) than other industries across the nation.

Although it is underestimated in the public eye (many believe innovation in manufacturing is far behind that of scientific services, mining and the media), more than three quarters of the country agree exporting Australian-made products is key to a strong and stable economy.

“There are many paths to becoming a successful manufacturer in this country,” said Mark Goodsell, head of the Australian Industry (Ai) Group’s NSW branch.

Read: Calls for caution after 40,000 manufacturing jobs boost in Australia

“A lot of them are different from what they used to be – even those who have only been around for 10 years.

“When you talk to them, they will tell you they are much more different; that they are much more focused on the customer than their factory.

“That doesn’t mean they run poor factories but rather that being lean and having good machinery is now just the price to pay when entering into manufacturing.

“The real differentiate for success is about knowing which part of the chain you are good at where there may be less competition, and also really understanding the customer – which, in most cases, means knowing the customer better than the customer knows themselves.”

Manufacturing is changing

Speaking at the Manufacturing Matters summit at Parliament House, in Canberra, Goodsell was joined by a panel of industry experts, who discussed the issue of public perception around the sector.

“Most of the public would never know that we made components for the Mars Rover, for example, or even think that we were capable of doing so,” he said.

“They certainly know we can make cars because we have done that before but I want to make the point that there is still a lot of manufacturing success [in Australia].

“It is perhaps hidden away from the traditional public branding and, leading into a second point about our self image around manufacturing, there seems to be several different paths to success.”

managing-director-at-the-advanced-manufacturing-growth-centre-jens-goennemann
Dr Jens Goennemann

One of the research’s findings that stood out relates to a misapprehension that manufacturing is “out-dated” – with more than half of its respondents (55 per cent) saying they disagree with the statement.

“Manufacturing production is no longer the same,” said Dr Jens Goennemann, managing director at the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC). “To be a manufacturer in Australia, you have to be competitive.

“To avoid the drop and to sustain our lifestyle – which does not support manufacturing – you need to be better than anybody else and means you need to serve a market of seven billion and not only 25 million.

“If, as a nation, we transform the opportunity our manufacturing has to offer by moving away from production and offering smarter services, only then can we send something clever from this wonderful country into the world.”

Generational split

In general, the majority of older respondents agreed that manufacturing growth requires government policy and that exports are necessary for success in trade.

Meanwhile, younger respondents were more likely to agree that the industry is in an inevitable decline and therefore government support isn’t necessary.

Dr Jill Sheppard, who works at the Centre for Social Research and Methods, based at the Australian National University, presented some of her own findings.

“Public opinion towards manufacturing in Australia is understudied,” she said.

“We got this data back and we asked people whether they agree or disagree that we rely too heavily on foreign imports.

“I expected the results to be fairly partisan but, [when] we started to break it down, we found that there are some weak spots. There is incredibly wide and robust support for manufacturing in Australia and there are both weaknesses and challenges.”

She calls it a “generational softness”, explained largely by those university graduates who are “not conditioned” to look to manufacturing as a realistic career prospect.

Read: Carr – ‘Australia has capacity to rebuild automotive industry’

“There is a real opportunity here of how manufacturing industries frame manufacturing as a thriving and prosperous industry of the future,” Dr Sheppard continued.

“This is a contrast from potentially what we see in intergenerational replacement – as the older generations die out, they are being replaced by younger generations who don’t expect to work in manufacturing.

“If we take that as being a fact, it does tend to contrast with other intergenerational trends that you see away from materialist perceptions of the world – towards post-materialist attitudes that emphasises environmental sustainability and the luxuries of social progressiveness.

“In terms of framing manufacturing, I think there is definitely an opportunity there to frame it as something that aims to those post-materialist roles, including environmental sustainability and technology efficiency.”

“Manufacturing should be differentiated”

Despite a generational split, the poll shows that 78 per cent of people think that, in the long run, manufacturing will only succeed if it is shown government support.

“Traditional political leverage has been dropped and has pretty much undifferentiated jobs,” Goodsell said. “The manufacturing industry has said for a long time that we’ve got better jobs and have good value.”

But that’s where his view of the industry differs from the current status quo.

“It is reasonably feasible to argue against that however,” Goodsell explained. “The boundaries between manufacturing and other sectors are really breaking down these days

industry-unites-at-parliament-house-canberra
Parliament House, Canberra

“Typically, the model of success shows that successful manufacturing companies are now making more money out of the services they provide than the goods they produce.

“We ought to take it upon ourselves to present manufacturing as part of the solutions for those kinds of problems, which may challenge our traditional way of thinking but that is not a bad thing.”

Over the years of public policy debates, Goodsell insists there are too many manufacturers telling the government what it should do to guide the industry to better days.

Yet, he explains there is too few who say what they are prepared to do to get there and are the people worth listening to.

Replenishing lost workforce

In contrast to the apparent optimism in the public realm, there is concern that the loss of jobs within the manufacturing sector won’t necessarily mean other industries will welcome them with open arms.

On the subject of workforce, only 19 per cent of respondents agreed other industries would naturally create positions for out-of-work manufacturers.

“Our responsibility is to build for the next generation of Australian workers and their families, which is really what this conversation is about,” said Scott Connolly, assistant secretary at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

“If you look at what’s happening in our economy, we have got over a million workers unemployed or underemployed; record low-wages growth, record levels of youth unemployment; unprecedented levels of insecurity, casualisation and uncertainty among our labour market in particular.

“We believe that securing a sustainable future for our manufacturing-related industries has really never been more important. Not just to workers in that sector or related sectors, but much broader in society.”

He described the steel suburb of Doveton, in the southeast of Melbourne, as an example that is now, after 30 years of economic reform, a “shadow of the place it used to be”.

“The factories have all but gone and 7,500 jobs have been reduced to a few hundred,” Connolly said.

“It is critical to see how we got here – both in terms of our collective history on the back of thousands of manufacturing jobs that have built this country across generations and also how we imagine our country to be going forward.

“One where growth is sustainable, more fair and where workers can get decent jobs where we have stable communities and social cohesion.

“We can’t do that without the manufacturing sector. We don’t have to look far to see what it can do for our communities.”

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