Manufacturing News

New research collaboration to boost advanced manufacturing


Australian and UK researchers and innovators have struck a new agreement to support opportunities to collaborate on modern manufacturing methods for shipbuilding. 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Flinders University, the University of Strathclyde – operator of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland – and BAE Systems was an important step in the establishment of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Exchange.

The agreement aims to foster closer working relationships and facilitate the development of international best practices for shipbuilding manufacturing methods and processes.

This includes exploring innovative applications of advanced manufacturing, digital tools and Industry 4.0 in shipbuilding, spanning automation and robotics, simulation and modelling, materials and light weighting, as well as welding and joining technologies.

The MoU was formalised at a signing ceremony in Glasgow, where South Australia’s deputy premier Susan Close announced $120,000 would be invested to support the establishment of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Exchange.

An exchange of expertise at the Factory of the Future at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland opens up prospects for the adoption of ground-breaking manufacturing technologies and processes, potentially driving the growth of advanced manufacturing for shipbuilding in South Australia and the UK.

Flinders University president and vice-chancellor, professor Colin Stirling, said, “We thank the South Australian government, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and wider Strathclyde University, and BAE Systems Australia for their valuable support.”

In particular, the SA Government’s crucial foundational investment will be the catalyst for vital research placing local and international shipbuilding at the cutting-edge of advanced manufacturing, ensuring our researchers at Tonsley can collaborate in the exchange of ideas delivering real world improvements in manufacturing technology with the UK’s best and brightest experts,” Stirling added.

Professor John Spoehr, pro vice-chancellor of research innovation and director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute (AITI) said the Factory of the Future at Flinders University’s Tonsley campus is supported by $19 million from the federal and state governments, and facilitates the deployment of advanced technologies through world-leading research and capability building, in support of South Australian and UK shipyards and supply chains.

Principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde and chair of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland Board, professor sir Jim McDonald said the partnership opens a potential pipeline for collaborative research, knowledge exchange, high impact innovative solutions and opportunities in education and training between the two countries.

Supporting advanced shipyards in both Adelaide and Glasgow, any innovative research arising from the MoU intends to focus on facilitating the adoption of new technologies deployed effectively to bolster the Hunter Class Frigate Program, underway at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in SA.

BAE Systems Australia director for business development and continuous naval shipbuilding Sharon Wilson said, “By embracing innovations and adopting world-leading research outcomes, we will improve our shipbuilding techniques and processes that will deliver cost and production efficiencies as well as safety improvements for our people.”

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