Yesterday Swinburne University of Technology received a $135 million industrial digitalisation software grant from Siemens Australia to fully digitalise what is believed to be Australia’s first Industry 4.0 ‘Factory of the Future’ facility in Hawthorn, Victoria.
The largest ever software grant in Australia will help develop the workforce of the future across the entire work lifecycle from apprenticeships to PhDs. Chairman and CEO of Siemens Australia Jeff Connolly said the country’s future relies on companies working with key educational and research institutions to get our workforce ready for the fourth industrial revolution.
“The world is changing rapidly through technology and Australia needs to equip our future generations and our existing workforce with the necessary capabilities and tools to make things faster, cheaper and better – ultimately this is about jobs and competition.”
The software grant provides a suite of advanced PLM (product lifecycle management) software and the new generation cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) platform ‘Mindsphere’, which will allow students and researchers to have access to the same apparatus being used by leading industries on the most advanced projects.
“These are the same tools used to create digital shipyards for the US Navy,” said Connolly, also chairman of the Prime Minister's Industry 4.0 Taskforce.
Connolly explained that creating a digital twin, not only of the product but of the entire manufacturing process, would do away with the need for costly and time consuming physical prototypes.
“Everything from the assembly line to tooling, ergonomics and resources can be fully simulated digitally.”
The grant also includes a co-contribution by Swinburne for initialisation and ongoing interaction with and global support by Siemens expert software engineers.
According to Professor Aleksandar Subic, deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Development) and chair of Industry 4.0 Testlabs on the PM's Taskforce, digitalisation of manufacturing is critical to help Australian industry transition to the future.
“We’re immersed in the fourth industrial revolution and we want to make sure that students and researchers are equipped with the required advanced capabilities and technologies to help Australia access global value chains. The international competition will be fierce in the Manufacturing domain, which is why this development is so timely and critical.”
Subic said the facility will set an Industry 4.0 benchmark and provide an environment for workforce transformation that is in line with the most advanced economies in the world.