A manufacturing technology fund could help hit renewable targets

manufacturing technology fund

The federal government could help the manufacturing sector reduce emissions, power costs and drive productivity through a manufacturing technology fund, according to AMTIL. 

Leading industry peak bodies like the Business Council of Australia have had long standing commitments to transitioning Australian business to reach renewable energy targets. But a vital precondition to hitting those targets is for individual businesses to have access to technology and systems that will allow them to get there. 

Speaking on behalf of the growing advanced manufacturing sector, Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited (AMTIL) said there is strong interest amongst many advanced manufacturing businesses to meet both triple bottom line and environmental targets. 

“A lot of businesses would like to upgrade to technology or smarter use of existing technology that reduces their energy bills through a more efficient use of power,” AMTIL CEO Shane Infanti said. 

“Having access to a technology fund that allows businesses to make that upgrade with a tax deduction would encourage a lot to make that transition sooner rather than later.” 

Headland Technology is a consultancy group providing technology and systems solutions to businesses and organisations wanting to reduce their carbon footprint and power costs through a combination of machine technology and reorganising existing production methods through software and digital integrations. 

“We’re finding a lot of businesses are looking for ways to reduce power bills, particularly right now as demand is at its peak,” Headland Technology CEO George Yammouni said. 

“Reducing power usage has the triple benefit of lowering environmental impact, business costs, and taking pressure off the grid.” 

In Australia, while manufacturing reduced its greenhouse gas emissions significantly between 2008 and 2017, in 2017 manufacturing still accounted for 53.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Australian manufacturing sits in the equal second rung of carbon emitters according to the CSIRO at 20.4 per cent. 

And with energy price shocks now pressing in on business owners, along with interest rate rises, technology that can reduce costs are welcome. 

One of the manufacturing businesses that are hoping to make power savings is Metal-Tech Industries which produce high-end, automated metal fabrications. 

“We run a highly automated business that runs 24 hours. Any technology that is going to use power more efficiently is obviously a bonus,” Metal-Tech director Glen Langford said. 

Metal-Tech recently purchased a fibre laser machine which uses 50-60 per cent less power but also better utilises metal, which is highly energy intensive to create, therefore a reduction in metal waste also represents an environmental and economic saving. 

Yammouni wants to see the experience of Metal-Tech expanded to the broader Australian manufacturing sector, but says it’s not just about technology. Headland Technology uses software applications and systems analysis to monitor and rejig existing production to find greater efficiencies and savings. 

“We analyse production processes and machines to minimise waste and power usage. So, for instance we can program operations offline and mitigate idle time on machines, so they draw less power. We can also optimise machine output versus power consumption,” Yammouni said. 

AMTIL suggests the value proposition makes sense for both business and government. 

“If we can get energy savings of 50 per cent that obviously represents a significant benefit to business and to government in its goal of reducing our carbon emissions and driving up productivity,” Infanti said. 

“We’d love to see the federal government roll out a tech fund to facilitate that transition to lower energy intensive manufacturing machinery or processes which will also help with the government’s aim of boosting national productivity.”