NMW 2013’s second day looks to the future

Day two of National Manufacturing Week included two areas of particular concern for the industry, the Asian Century and what our factory’s might look like in the future.

Day two of National Manufacturing Week included two areas of particular concern for the industry, the Asian Century and what our factory’s might look like in the future.

The day began for some with the Manufacturers’ Monthly Leaders Summit – a roundtable featuring presentations by Dexter Clarke from the nation’s leading automotive parts maker Futuris, Phillip Bourke of Austrade, and Robert Dravers from EFIC – which focussed on How Australian Manufacturers Can Benefit From The Asian Century.

Futuris first entered China in 2005, with support from Austrade. They formed a joint venture with Chery Automotive and Wuhu Economic Development Zone in September 2005.

Futuris’s story, also including its expansion in Thailand, highlighted some of the issues around intellectual property, as well as the importance of thorough research before considering branching out into China – an investment, not a cost – which was echoed by Bourke afterwards.

“There’s an anticipation in Australia that we stand on the edge of the Asian Century,” said Clarke.

“From our point of view, though, the Asian Century is not something new, from a manufacturing point of view, but also from an automotive point of view. It’s two decades old at least for automotive manufacturers.”

A comprehensive account of the discussion will be available in the next edition of Manufacturers’ Monthly.

Elsewhere during the summit, the CSIRO delivered a paper on technologies including assistive robotics and augmented reality, and how these might be used in ways that would be particularly beneficial to SMEs for mass customisation purposes. Collaboration with robots would boost a worker’s skills and not replace them.

Dr Peter Kambouris, a researcher on the paper, said that the three types of technology being investigated would suit manufacturers dealing with, “Low runs, very high product variances; if you move the person out of the loop you wouldn’t be able to respond to those changes.”

“We can apply these across a spectrum of industry sectors,” he told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“The actual applications, whether it’s assembly tasks or control tasks or a machining task or a welding task really depends on the applications people have in mind.

The CSIRO’s work on the project started in February with preliminary consultations with 26 organisations who would benefit from the technology.