BAE Systems Australia and the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) will bring Industry 4.0 to reality through participation in the Joint Strike Fighter program.

The $750,000 project will develop a new approach to supply chain digitisation that avoids having to use expensive, proprietary software which is currently one of the major barriers to Australian SME manufacturers participating in global supply chains.

Digitisation allows for project partners to see plans in real time, identify and resolve issues faster, improve risk management and optimise production.

BAE Systems supplies 300 titanium components per month from its advanced manufacturing facility at Edinburgh Parks in SA for each F-35 vertical tail.

The company will work with its existing Joint Strike Fighter supply chain partners Axiom Precision Manufacturing and RUAG on this project, together with Advanced Focus and Flinders University. Defence aerospace industry was selected because of the stringent security and traceability requirements both in Australia and allied nations.

“This is so much more than replacing paper processes with digital technology," BAE Systems Australia’s Aerospace and Integrated Systems Director Steve Drury said. “If we get this right and develop a freely available, open standard to digitise supply chains, the long-term benefits of this project to the broader Australian industry could be significant.”

Success could also see the adoption of digitisation on other major defence projects including the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) and the Hunter Class Frigate program. 

AMGC, which is part of a Commonwealth backed initiative, expects its co-funding of this project to allow other SMEs interested in participating in future defence projects to have access to the trial results and business tools developed as a result of the work. 

“The development of best practice between a leading defence industry prime and Australian SMEs is another example of how everyone can win from collaboration," AMGC Managing Director Dr Jens Goennemann, said. "This will be essential if Australia’s manufacturing sector and economy is to successfully transform as the global market accelerates toward the adoption of Industry 4.0.”

Across Australia, the UK, and the US, BAE Systems is responsible for delivering up to 15 per cent of every F-35.

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