Manufacturing news briefs — stories you might have missed

CSL opens its latest Victorian factory

Biotechnology giant CSL has just formally opened its latest investment in Victorian pharmaceutical manufacture. The company’s $900 million Plasma Fractionation Facility (pictured) is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Talent acquisition partner at CSL Sam Edwards said: “This represents a nine fold increase in our production capability for our plasma derived Biotherapies and will allow us to support a significantly higher number of patients worldwide.” The new plant can fractionate the equivalent of 9.2 million litres of blood plasma a year into medically critical medicines and treatments. Edwards said as a result of the opening the company was expanding its Automation Engineering team to support this, and other manufacturing projects.

Bluescope reshuffles executive leadership team

On Wednesday Bluescope CEO Mark Vassella announced a set of changes to the company’s executive leadership team, effective February 2023. Vassella cited significant progress in strategic objectives, particularly in the United States, with the company now having a pipeline of roughly $2 billion in “significant investment priorities including the No.6 Blast Furnace reline, expanding metal coating capacity and pipe and tube manufacturing, and the 500kt debottlenecking at the North Star mini mill.” Tania Archibald, CFO since 2018, has been appointed Chief Executive Australian Steel Products, with Mark Scicluna to be Acting Chief Financial Officer as recruitment efforts get underway for Archibald’s permanent replacement. John Nowlan will take on an advisory ELT role. Kristie Keast moves to Chief Executive North America, taking over from the retiring Pat Finan. Replacing Keast as Chief People Officer is Peta Renkin, promoted from General Manager. Vassella described Finan as “one of the most respected steel industry executives in the US and has played a significant role in BlueScope’s growth and success there”.

Boundary Power marks first east coast deployment

Boundary Power, a maker of renewable stand-alone power systems (SAPS) has announced successful completion of its first onsite deployment for an east coast utility provider. The company’s Solar Qube is a described as a self-sufficient power generation unit incorporating solar photovoltaic panels, inverters, battery storage technology and a backup generator. It was workshop assembled, with all electrical testing and commissioning completed at Boundary Power in Western Australia — a joint venture between Horizon Power and Ampcontrol — before being transported to an unnamed regional, remote site for deployment. Rod Henderson, Director at Boundary Power, said to have their “very first Solar Qube deployed into New South Wales, a market that is seeing significant growth, is exciting for the team who designed the product here in the Hunter Valley.”

Commonwealth, Tasmanian governments sign $23 million, 12-month skills agreement

The federal and Tasmanian governments announced a new skills agreement on Thursday, which they say will provide immediate support for around 3,800 fee-free TAFE and vocational education and training (VET) places in 2023 and boost the state’s skills and training sector by $23 million. The course list includes 1,000 fee-free TAFE places offered in the care sector, 450 in hospitality and tourism, 350 in agriculture, 250 in technology and digital, 200 in construction, 150 in sovereign capability, and around 1,400 in other priority sectors including foundation skills. TasTAFE will deliver nearly all of the training, with a portion of non-TAFE providers delivering training in areas of high demand. The agreement also includes a federal commitment of $2.5 million to immediately improve training facilities in Tasmania, and $630,000 for “essential VET data infrastructure reform.”

Kimberly-Clark has anaerobically digested nearly two tonnes of used nappies since July

Huggies nappies maker Kimberly-Clark announced a new nappy recycling trial on Wednesday, citing a figure of 1.5 billion disposable nappies ending up in the nation’s landfill each year. The first-of-its-kind trial of its kind in Australia, The Nappy Loop has been underway in South Australia since July 2022, the company said, and uses anaerobic digestion to turn the organic materials in used nappies into nutrient-rich compost and bioenergy, which is captured and used to power the recycling process. The team is being led by KCA, along with the CSIRO, Peats Soils and Garden Supplies, Solo Resource Recovery, and early learning and care provider G8 Education. So far they have collected and recycled almost two tonnes of used Huggies nappies, proving that anaerobic digestion is a viable option for recycling. “Today is a very proud day for us, announcing that we have trialled right here in Australia, and it represents a big step in Kimberly-Clark ANZ’s sustainability strategy,” said Kimberly-Clark ANZ Managing Director, Belinda Driscoll.

Collaborative robot Training Centre launched

The Australian Research Council Training Centre for Collaborative Robotics in Advanced Manufacturing (Australian Cobotics Centre) was officially launched at an event on Tuesday night. Led by the Queensland University of Technology, the centre was awarded $5 million over 5 years by the ARC, and further supported by $2.73 million in funding from participating universities and partner organisations, plus $6.8 million in in-kind support. In officially launching the initiative, QUT has partnered with the University of Technology, University of Sydney, the Technical University of Dortmund, and six industry partners on the centre. ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centres support collaboration between researchers and industry partners, “creating the workforce of the future that will seamlessly transition between industry and the research institutions.”

Lixa celebrates WA innovation award

Lixa, a biotech company co-founded by a researcher from The University of Western Australia, received the Wesfarmers Wellbeing Platinum award at the WA Innovator of the Year Awards on Monday, recognising its technology’s potential to combat potentially deadly antimicrobial resistance. Lixa was formed to capitalise on technology that infiltrates the protective biofilm surrounding bacteria, and was founded by Dr Angela Fonceca, a Research Fellow at UWA’s School of Biomedical Sciences, and Dr Maud Eijkenboom. Fonceca said, “All the support we have continues to motivate us to work even harder on our mission to prevent and cure recurring bacterial infections for anyone, anything and anywhere… The calibre of finalists and previous winners across all categories was incredibly high so we are thrilled to be named winners and grateful for this award.”

Construction underway on WA’s first pumped hydro solution

State energy minister Bill Johnston has announced the official beginning of construction on a pumped hydro renewable microgrid, the first in Western Australia. The project is between WA-based engineering company Power Research and Development (PRD) and Western Power and according to a statement is a self-sufficient renewable solution that will significantly improve power reliability for homes and businesses in Walpole, and “will be used as a blueprint for other parts of the State, and possibly nationally and internationally.” The 1.5-megawatt pumped hydro facility will use two farm dams to store 30 megawatt hours of energy, and works by pumping water uphill from one dam to another when renewables are abundant and energy is cheap. The project was awarded $2 million as part of the government’s Clean Energy Future Fund. Following completion of the lower dam, works on the upper dam and pipe installation to connect the two dams are expected to be completed next year, and the renewable microgrid expected to be operational in the second half of 2023.

Picture: CSL

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