‘Factory of the future’ coming to Tonsley

The welcome mat will go out at the new Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub in early 2018.

High-tech and advanced manufacturing companies and researchers in South Australia will be able to use a new innovation hub at Flinders at Tonsley to progress their product and business development.

Funded by a $490,000 State Government grant, as part of the Australian Government’s Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre, the Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub (‘TMI Hub’) aims to accelerate the adoption of advanced digital technologies by local businesses and support the creation of highly skilled jobs for the future.

The new digital technologies hub will train businesses and students and others in the implementation of ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies and business models that will “revolutionise the way manufacturers connect with customers and suppliers through digital internet-based technologies’, says Professor John Spoehr, director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders University.

“The adoption of digital technologies in South Australia is giving rise to a new generation of manufacturers and highly skilled jobs,” Professor Spoehr says.

“The Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub will accelerate this process, helping ensure that South Australia remains at the centre of high-technology manufacturing in the nation.

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with the State Government and the Innovative Manufacturing CRC to establish a truly world-class facility at Flinders University at Tonsley.”

Professor John Spoehr, director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders University.

The TMI Hub will provide practical training and real-world research opportunities for students, researchers and businesses wanting to learn more about automation, advanced robotics and the Internet of Things.

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Mr Kyam Maher says Industry 4.0 is the “next technological wave that will create opportunities for South Australia’s advanced manufacturers to diversity into growth sectors such as defence, food and health”.

“As our economy moves into a new era of advanced manufacturing, we need more companies that are internationally focused with the acility to compete in niche markets based on values and service,” Mr Maher says.

“The TMI Hub will further cement the State’s Tonsley Innovation District reputation as global centre of excellence for industry and research collaboration, with modern facilities to train people for future careers in advanced manufacturing.”

Local business leader Anthony Kittel, managing director of Redarc, at the Robotics and Automation Lab at Tonsley last year.

Facilities at the Flinders Tonsley campus include the new generation of industrial robots – Baxter, Sawyer (pictured above) and UR5 – underwater vehicle development and testing capacity, a Faraday cage, a large hexapod robot for biomechanical testing and a variety of digital manufacturing and rapid prototyping machines.

Professor Spoehr says the latest State Government funding will go towards the purchase of the Festo Cyber Physical Factory, a state-of-the-art i4.0 automation and robotics training and capability building platform.

The new requipment will be located in the ground-floor Flinders University Robotics and Automotation Lab at Tonsley, making it accessible to industry, students, vocational education and training organisations, and collaborators in the CRC for Innovative Manufacturing (IMCRC).

Flinders University will contribute $790,000 towards operational costs associated with the initiative – which includes employment of a dedicated industry engagement manager.

The Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub will play a leading role in Industry 4.0 training, education and capability building in South Australia,” says Professor Spoehr.

The State Government has committed $2 million towards IMCRC projects in SA to assist local manufacturers to transition from low cost manufacturing to advanced manufacturing based on disruptive technologies and new business models.

The federal IMCRC is funding projects up to mid-2022.


Flinders at Tonsley
Flinders at Tonsley

What is Industry 4.0?

(from Reinhard Geissbauer, Jesper Vedsø and Stefan Schrauf, A Strategists Guide to Industry 4.0, PwC, 2016).

The term Industry 4.0 refers to the combination of several major innovations in digital technology, all coming to maturity right now, all poised to transform the energy and manufacturing sectors. These technologies include advanced robotics and artificial intelligence; sophisticated sensors; cloud computing; the Internet of Things; data capture and analytics; digital fabrication (including 3D printing); software-as-a-service and other new marketing models; smartphones and other mobile devices; platforms that use algorithms to direct motor vehicles (including navigation tools, ride-sharing apps, delivery and ride services, and autonomous vehicles); and the embedding of all these elements in an interoperable global value chain, shared by many companies from many countries.

These technologies are often thought of separately. But when they are joined together, they integrate the physical and virtual worlds. This change enables a powerful new way of organizing global operations: bringing the fungibility and speed of software to large-scale machine production. Under the Industry 4.0 model, product design and development take place in simulated laboratories and utilize digital fabrication models. The products themselves take tangible form only after most of the design and engineering problems have been worked out. The networks of machinery that have engendered industrial society become hyper-aware systems of highly flexible technology, responding rapidly not just to human commands but to their own perceptions and self-direction.

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