The Australian Manufacturing Week was a week of celebrating and highlighting the full spectrum of industry. Billy Friend attended the event and spoke to industry leaders about emerging trends and highlights from the conferences and trade floor.
There was a buzz of activity on all four days of the Australian Manufacturing Week in Sydney’s International Convention Centre. 170 exhibitors across a myriad of sectors presented their latest technology and services to 6099 attendees from every state across Australia and all around the world. In fact, over 200 attendees came from across our shores, with 1649 of them being CEOS, general managers or owners.
As the country emerges from the impacts of the global pandemic, business bodies and governments have been re-evaluating processes, introducing fresh ideas to boost sovereign capability and reduce overreliance on imports.
AMW supported this new trend by showcasing technologies and processes across six key product zones: Machine Tools, Additive Manufacturing, Robotics and Automation, Weld Solutions, Manufacturing Solutions as well and a separate Australian Manufacturing Pavilion
The event covered every aspect of manufacturing technology, from the largest machine tools, down to the smallest precision cutting tools, as well as state-of-the-art support systems, software and accessories, and the many other services that are essential to manufacturing enterprise.
As mentioned, COVID has had a debilitating effect on workforces of the world over the last two or so years. This has affected workforces, logistics and shipping of stock, well, everywhere. You wouldn’t know it, with so many positive conversations and outlooks to keep improving the state of Australian manufacturing.
Make the Future
The New South Wales Government is building an Australian-first, shared-use advanced manufacturing research facility in the heart of Western Sydney. At the doorstep of the new Western Sydney International Airport, ehe Advanced Manufacturing Research Facility (AMRF) will be a hub of collaboration and innovation supporting the growth of future-facing industries.
On day two of AMW, a raft of key speakers gathered for the AMRF’s manufacturing technology conference, sharing their expertise and advice for the continued mission to move Australian manufacturing forward.
The conference provided opportunity for industry to engage with advanced manufacturing technology providers, hear from the AMRF team about new business opportunities and engage with other manufacturing businesses.
Organised by the AMRF team from the Western Parkland City Authority (WPCA), the conference was a hit for those who attended.
Kelly Godeau, AMGC’s director of corporate affairs, addressed the crowd about capability and complexity in Australian manufacturing. A key message from her presentation was, “It’s not what you make, it’s how you make it.”
Harvard University’s Economic Complexity Index (ECI) ranks a country’s ability to manufacture and export diverse and complex products and components. Currently, Australia ranks 86th, between Paraguay and Uzbekistan.
Australia is known as the lucky country, but it can become the smart country through the application off advanced manufacturing technologies. Godeau discussed how Australia needs to be better, not cheaper, by adding value and making more complex products, to grow its manufacturing future.
Sarah Sharp, GM Technical and Engineering for Thales’s Integrated Weapons and Sensors business line, spoke about Thales introducing a range of advanced manufacturing technologies to its everyday practices in its facilities in New South Wales. Speaking to Manufacturers’ Monthly, Sharp said the AMFR presents a really good opportunity to fill the gaps between research and industry.
“We are really keen to engage with this project,” she said. “It will help fill a gap between research and industry. Being really close to a couple of our facilities will give us an opportunity to train up new engineers with training programs and for them to work with AMRF staff.”
“There’s so many new technologies coming out at the moment which are able to help us increase our efficiency and increase capacity, which helps us respond to events like COVID and to defence requirements when they need us to scale up. Whether it be unmanned vehicles, new sensor technology or new weapons systems, everything requires new manufacturing capability technologies. We really need these centres of expertise to translate for these technologies because we’re doing things we’ve never done before – the manufacturing processes need to keep up with new advancements and research.”
“Thales works across a number of domains – space, aerospace, transport, communications – working heavily on innovation and disruptive products. We’re working closely with universities and small to medium enterprises as really strong partners for us in our innovation. No one can do everything, so working together gives us that opportunity to speed up development, to get these technologies into actual products a lot quicker.”
Peter Mackey, executive director, skills and industry capability at the Western Parkland City Authority sat down with Manufacturers’ Monthly to explain the new education and training model (NETM)– a $37.4 million New South Wales-funded pilot program to deliver 100 micro-credentials over the next four years.
“We’re trying to build a skills density that’s going to enable the people of Western Sydney to realise and get some of these highly skilled, high paid jobs that are close to home,” he said.
“The second reason where we are doing NETM is to try and build skills intensity that is going to keep the confidence for all of the major firms we are trying to get to invest into the aerotropolis because what we know one of the barriers they have a moment is a lack of confidence that we have that skill density.”
NETM is a four-year pilot funded by the state government to rapidly upskill 3000 people in the existing boundaries of Western Parkland City. Very specific targeted training interventions in the form of micro credentials – short, sharp, 40 hours of content that an existing worker can do while they’re working – will look to deliver a significant amount of content, but not take so much time that an employer is worried about being taken offline.
“The NETM is not only place-focused, but it’s also very much sector focused. We’re looking at sectors like advanced manufacturing, aerospace and defence, freight and logistics, agribusiness, because all those businesses will proliferate once the airport comes online. The other target for us is graduates who are about to enter the workforce because employers tell us there’s often a gap between what you get from an engineering degree and what’s expected when you start your first day at work.”
Peter Buckley, general manager of NEPEAN Engineering & Innovation, told Manufacturers’ Monthly there is a buzz of excitement about the AMRF project. NEPEAN Engineering Innovation is an engineering service provider and a trusted supply chain partner of Defence primes.
“We employ 130 People in advanced manufacturing only 20 minutes away from this new facility,” he said. “We feel that we can get stronger and grow our business and our capability by being a partner and collaborator with AMRF. It’s just changing the momentum of manufacturing, particularly advanced manufacturing.”
“The ability to have the new assets or new technology so close to us that we can train our young people and get them involved in events management and manufacturing at an early stage is so exciting. I keep coming back to the momentum and excitement in the industry – I haven’t seen it in 25 years, it’s such a great time to be in manufacturing.”
The conference pitched Bradfield City Centre as Australia’s first 22nd Century City. It aims to be a globally competitive centre for advanced manufacturing and the best location in the Indo-Pacific for industry to research, develop and commercialise innovative products and processes.
Innovative manufacturing accelerated
The Innovative Manufacturing CRC is an independent, for-impact cooperative research centre. The CRC has supported more than 70 industry-led research collaborations, of which 80 per cent have been with SMEs.
At AMW, the IMCRC hosted an industry network function which offered a fresh perspective on innovation. The presentations explored how breakthrough ideas can be turned into real-world solutions. Organisational psychologist Dr Amantha Imber and a panel of industry experts shared how they are fostering innovation within their own organisations and what is required for Australia’s innovation ecosystem to flourish.
Industry experts who spoke on the night included Sally-Ann Williams, CEO of CICADA Innovations, Sylvia Tulloch, Lava Blue chair, Dr Jehan Kanga, CEO and founder of Rux Energy, Maurice Ben-Mayor, Stryker South Pacific president and David Camerlengo, global sector lead manufacturing and technology at Austrade.
David Chutter, CEO and managing director of IMCRC, caught up with Manufacturers’ Monthly at the event.
“We’re very conscious that CRCs exist for a fixed period of time and we’re designed to solve a problem and to capitalise significant investment,” he said. “We granted our last project back in November last year, so our job now is to make sure that the projects we’ve invested in over multiple years really push for outstanding commercial outcomes and real-world impacts.
“And so the purpose today was firstly to bring people back together after a long period apart – I think we’ve heard the power of getting people together. We’ve heard that innovation is about people, it’s about culture. But also to encourage people to accelerate their journey, not to sit back on their haunches because of one successful project and wonder what’s next. Today was about driving some inspiration, driving some more ambition, and creating the power of partnerships and collaboration so that we can rebuild and reinvent our manufacturing sector.”