A $1.45 million grant from the government-funded Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), matched by industry funding, will help develop and pilot cutting-edge manufacturing technologies.
The new technologies will be used by BAE Systems Australia’s shipbuilding business, ASC Shipbuilding, to build the Hunter class frigates at Osborne in SA.
In partnership with Flinders University and local SMEs, the project will drive digital transformation through advanced robotics, assistive manufacturing and readiness for Industry 4.0 utilisation – both inside the shipyard and more widely in the Australian supply chain.
BAE Systems Australia welcomed the funding from the IMCRC, and noted it matches the company’s own $1.45 million investment to turn the digital shipyard concept into reality.
The new $2.9 million cash investment will create seven new research positions at Flinders University – bringing the total number of researchers to 16 – at the digital test and trial collaboration hub at Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide’s south.
From March 2020 until 2022 – when steel is cut on the first Hunter class frigate – the researchers will work with the shipbuilding workforce to trial advanced manufacturing technologies for application in the shipyard and elsewhere.
These technologies enable connectivity between manufacturing equipment to databases that will provide real-time insights into shipyard and supply chain performance.
Digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive automation and advanced analytics are redefining the Australian manufacturing sector and therefore the nature of its work.
“Australian manufacturers, particularly SMEs, need to learn how to embrace and contribute to new work environments that blend advanced technologies and digital skills with uniquely human skills,” IMCRC CEO and Managing Director, David Chuter, said. “The project researches pathways to successfully adopt new technologies and develop human capabilities.”
“Our employees will use these technologies alongside advanced manufacturing techniques to drive greater efficiency and increased productivity, enabling us to operate smarter and be more agile in our decision-making and responsive to our environment,” ASC Shipbuilding Managing Director, Craig Lockhart, said.