F-35 to be used to develop industry 4.0 supply chain

The F-35 Lightning, the world’s most advanced fighter plane, will be used to develop the world’s most advanced digital supply chain under a new partnership.

BAE Systems Australia and the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) will bring Industry 4.0 to reality through a $750,000 project to develop a new approach to supply chain digitisation.

The aim is to avoid having the use of the expensive, proprietary software which is currently a barrier 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, according to a statement.

The first two of 75 F-35 aircraft joined the RAAF in Australia in December as part of the largest air force acquisition in Australia’s history.

BAE Systems masnufactures 300 titanium components for the F-35 vertical tail and will work with on the project with AMGC, Axiom Precision Manufacturing, RUAG, Advanced Focus and Flinders University.

The Defence aerospace industry was selected because of the stringent security and traceability requirements both in Australia and allied nations.

A BAE Systems director Steve Drury said: “This is so much more than replacing paper processes with digital technology.

“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.”

This project is part of a series of BAE Systems Industry 4.0 activities that could ultimately involve other major defence projects including the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) and the Hunter Class Frigate Programme.

The AMGC wants its co-funding to allow SMEs to have access to the trial results and business tools developed as a result of the work.

AMGC Managing Director Dr Jens Goennemann, said: “The development of best practice for collaboration of a defence industry prime with Australian SMEs is another example of how everyone can win from collaboration.

“This will be essential if Australia’s manufacturing sector and economy is to successfully transform as the world journeys [oh dear – is this really a word?] to Industry 4.0.”

Te project was announced by Professor John Spoehr, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research Impact, on behalf of Flinders’ Australian Industrial Transformation Institute.

Picture: Defence/RAAF F-35 Lightning

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