Manufacturing News

Industry looks to ‘smart’ systems

THE inaugural Innovation in Manufacturing Series event, Embedded Systems Technologies – the future for smart object manufacturing, was held at the Western Sydney Business Centre in North Parramatta recently.

Organised by the Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Board (GWSEDB) and the Department of State & Regional Development (DRSD) Western Sydney Business Centre, representatives from industry and universities presented some of the latest developments in embedded systems, with the keynote address delivered by Dr Chris Nicol, from National ICT Australia (NICTA).

Nicols spoke about the potential market opportunities and estimated value ($68bn) of embedded systems technology for Australian manufacturing.

Bob Germaine, GM of GWSEDB, said, “By bringing together academic institutions, government and industry through events like this, we eventually want to create a database of capabilities to create a reservoir of innovative researchers and manufacturers to tap into for the benefit of local industry.”

Manufacturers Monthly spoke with two key speakers at the event, Dr Jayantha Katupitiya, Senior Lecturer, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW and Dr Chris Lewis, key researcher, CSIRO Industry Physics, to find out how embedded systems technology can be applied in industry.

In his presentation, Applications of Embedded Systems, Katupitiya demonstrated how autonomous systems technology can be adapted to suit a range of applications.

“This kind of technology can be deployed in equipment like forklifts and is particularly suited to varied environments, such as a warehousing situation where an autonomous forklift could load, deliver and unload items of its own accord,” he said.

Katupitiya also demonstrated a fibre optic grinding machine with the capability to manufacture extremely small micro lenses (6 micron diameter) on optical fibres.

“These lenses are very useful in focussing the light signal that travels inside an optical fibre (e.g. in a television broadcast) to a detector that needs to pick up this signal for presentation on a TV screen.

“This type of machine is within the reach of Australian manufacturers, and can be used to micro-machine very small components that are in high demand in the miniature sensor industry.”

In Lewis’s presentation, Engineered Emergent Behaviour A model for future embedded systems, he examined how natural process control systems found in biological structures such as magnetic termite mounds, could offer key findings for improving current manufacturing control systems.

“We wanted to highlight design structures in a different light and show that instead of adding a huge amount of functionality into one product or agent, simple devices connected together could actually make a more robust and effective ‘intelligent’ system,” Lewis explained.

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