Wednesday, February 28, 2024

‘Modern’ manufacturing: more than a buzzword

The manufacturing sector has seen a massive uptick in the implementation of Industry 4.0 during the pandemic, which necessitated automation and other remote monitoring capabilities.

Industry 4.0 has given way to Industry 5.0, and the sector is poised to take this to the next level with ‘Modern Manufacturing.’ This concept will be explored at the Modern Manufacturing Town Hall at Sydney Olympic Park on 30 March 2022.

“We classify Modern Manufacturing as automation that removes the need for human input in processes, resulting in less error and less labour-intensive work,” explains Gwénaëlle Proust – Academic Deputy Director of Sydney University’s Sydney Manufacturing Hub. “Investing in technology that allows operations to become less labour-intensive helps manufacturers to increase production and cut costs – thereby becoming more competitive and able to claim greater market share.”

Increasing local capabilities

Ms Gwénaëlle is Sydney University’s Academic Deputy Director of the newly launched Sydney Manufacturing Hub – a core research facility dedicated to advanced materials processing and additive manufacturing.

The Hub provides capabilities for design, topological optimisation, the 3D printing of metals, ceramics and polymers, as well as post-processing heat treatment, advanced characterisation and more; paving the way for new technology in industries like aerospace, autonomous vehicles, biomedical, defence, maritime and robotics.

Key local industries will benefit from enhanced additive manufacturing through the reduction of material waste, simplified supply chains, and an independent capacity to create materials, components and even whole machines.

“These capabilities will give local manufacturers the edge needed to compete at a global scale,” says Ms Gwénaëlle.

Sydney at the forefront of innovation

On launching the hub, Ms Gwénaëlle explains that as an educational institution, Sydney University needed to stay abreast of the latest technology trends.

“Many new technologies have been introduced in recent years, and we want our researchers to test and use them in various university projects. Looking at the bigger picture, we are also aware of a significant shift that has taken place in manufacturing. Many smaller manufacturers are interested in integrating these new tools into their operations but do not have the knowledge or budget necessary to do so,” says Ms Gwénaëlle.

“The University’s Manufacturing Hub gives manufacturers a place where they can try before they buy – see what technology is available, get help from researchers on how to implement it in their companies and get the base work done before making a large investment.”

Organised by the International Exhibition & Conference Group (IEC), the Modern Manufacturing Town Hall aims to further the Manufacturing Hub’s mission of democratising access to the latest in Modern Manufacturing technological advancements.

According to Ms Gwénaëlle the event is the first for NSW.

“We really need the industry in NSW to be part of this effort and assist us in getting information around so that smaller companies can learn by looking at what big companies are doing,” she says. “This is also a platform to see what companies need in terms of research and development and collaboration with academia – so feedback is welcome!”

IEC Group CEO Marie Kinsella says, “We are proud to have the official support of the prestigious Sydney Manufacturing Hub at our first ever Town Hall event.”  

“We hope to see smaller manufacturers in particular attend, as this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of the brains trust that will lead Australia to establishing a strong, modern and sustainable manufacturing sector.”

What to expect from the Modern Manufacturing Town Hall

Town Hall attendees can expect to hear from industry leading multinationals such as Thales, Romar and Stryker on how they have applied modern manufacturing. Importantly, these companies have drawn from a wealth of experience in terms of Modern Manufacturing tools and processes thanks to their established partnerships with the Sydney Manufacturing Hub.

“The Town Hall is a great opportunity for people who are curious about Modern Manufacturing and want to hear from companies that are already using advanced technologies. There will be sessions on topics such as safety, quality control, best practice and how new technologies can be best implemented in the manufacturing chain,” says Ms Gwénaëlle.

Funding and grant information

If smaller manufacturers needed any further incentive to attend, the Town Hall program will include a presentation from both the NSW and the Federal Government on their commitment to Modern Manufacturing. The Government has launched several grants that are available to manufacturers to help them invest in new technology in the hopes of removing the financial barrier to implementation and advancing the industry.

“The Town Hall is an opportunity to learn more about what is involved in applying for these grants, as well as a chance to network with the Government representatives who may hold the key to unlocking Industry 5.0 on your factory floor,” says Ms Kinsella.

Giving local companies the competitive edge

Common sentiment is that competitiveness will come from investing in technology that is less labour intensive – this is how Australia can reclaim some market.

When asked what advice she has for manufacturers, Ms Gwénaëlle encourages the industry to take a chance on new technology.

“Take advantage of this new opportunity to modernise your manufacturing facility. Come and see what is out there in terms of technology and government support to help manufacturers invest in their operations,” she says.

The Modern Manufacturing Town Hall is a preview of what’s to come later in the year at the larger Modern Manufacturing Expo, to be held at Sydney Showgrounds on 20-21 September 2022.  The Expo will highlight the future of manufacturing and pathways for digital transformation, with a focus on the latest technology, equipment and operational models.

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