Manufacturing Leaders of Innovation: Advanced Manufacturing In Australia

In the second series of the Manufacturing Leaders of Innovation, CSIRO provided insight into developments in the advanced manufacturing space and why it is important for Australian manufacturers to be consistently on board with innovations.

When we think of Australian manufacturing, medical appliances, pharmaceuticals, health products and perhaps even wine comes to mind. However, the gamut runs far wider than those things. Mining, steel production, packaging technologies, construction would constitute as some of the largest sectors too.

The transformation of the manufacturing industry is already taking place with large upstream manufacturers growing at a quicker pace than the rest. The technology narrative has changed since a decade ago and manufacturers in Australia would do well to adapt to this changing narrative.

CSIRO, Australia’s national research agency, recently rolled out its roadmap for advanced manufacturing in Australia with its report: Advanced Manufacturing: A Roadmap for Unlocking Future Growth Opportunities for Australia which outlined key trends [including that of additive manufacturing] that will dictate the growth of Australian manufacturing.

“Companies that are highly innovative have been reaching out to us to partner with them to develop innovative technologies. They either ask us to create a new product for them or improve on existing technologies to improve processes and ultimately maximise cost savings,” said Marcel Bick, Business Development Manager, CSIRO Manufacturing.

“Our role here is to help out manufacturing industries with the advances of science. The manufacturing business unit has placed researchers in manufacturing businesses that we collaborate with to help them develop innovations in real time.”

An example of CSIRO’s continued commitment to working with the manufacturing sector, especially the SMEs, is their work with Romar Engineering, based in New South Wales, where they are using a 3D printing machine and CAD systems to work on projects.

Bick also touched on CSIRO’s many capabilities to help manufacturing businesses who are not already a partner.

“We [CSIRO] have capabilities in bio-medical manufacturing which can deal with drug delivery or implant technology, high performance metal industries that are developing metal additives to improve metal products and detectors and sensing systems – how you can use sensors and integrate it to systems. Lastly, we do a lot of prototyping in CSIRO, for instance, printed solar cells.”

Of the three case studies that Bick showcased, the one on the wearable tech fountx by aerospace maintenance company, TAE, which was developed by CSIRO. The wearable assisted reality technology is designed to help with maintenance and boost productivity and reduce cost. Essentially, with real time imaging, off-site engineers who specialise in specific processes can help on-site engineers solve issues quickly and effectively.

“Companies who specialise, for instance, in the maintenance domain can now move on to the manufacturing domain with CSIRO’s technology. Initially they were not a viable commercialisation partner because they only operated in the maintenance space but they wanted to diversify and grow their business into the manufacturing space.

“So, through a research grant through the federal government for a technology transfer program, we assisted them [TAE] to create the new fountx product which potentially revolutionises the maintainence market with our research expertise,” continued Bick.

Looking back 10 years back, no one would have predicted that manufacturers would need to diversify their operations that much just to stay relevant or profitable in the market.

Rod Hunt, Sales Manager at Autodesk commented, “Moving forward, the leaps in technology will be quicker and we have to be ready for it. The age of predictive and prescriptive analytics is here. With the advancement of sensor technology, we could have machines telling us exactly what to do to them to preserve their functions or upgrade them.

“We are already in the age of making designs and educated decisions based on things in virtual space. The way we are collaborating on the factory floor to produce products is different today. Also, the ability to interface with people in real time is the reality and it is changing the face of manufacturing today.”

Marcel Bick and Rod Hunt presented at the second Manufacturers’ Monthly Manufacturing Leaders of Innovation event, supported by Autodesk, which also included a tour of CSIRO’s centre for innovation site. Look out for further Manufacturing Leaders of Innovation events that will be held in 2017 in the website and print versions of the publication.