Manufacturing news briefs — stories you might have missed

UOW team shines at Formula 2022 race

University of Wollongong (UOW) students have taken out silver at the Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) Australasia Formula 2022 race held in regional Victoria. The competition draws university students from across Australia and South-East Asia to put the skills learned in the classroom into practice through building an open-wheeled, formula style racing car to compete against other students. UOW Motorsport’s car (pictured) – a 220kg race-car powered by an 80kW all-electric 400V powertrain nicknamed Annie – was built and supported by a team of 19 students from the Faculties of Engineering and Information Sciences and the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. Annie was one of 20 electric vehicles (EV) competing. In just three years the competition has swung from being mostly petrol cars to 80 percent EVs, with the next horizon for the industry is automated vehicles. The UOW team took out second place overall in the EV division and in the individual events, they came first in figure-8 cornering, first place for endurance, which is often considered the toughest event, and 3rd place in efficiency.

Australian businesses in China thriving despite challenges: report

Australian businesses operating in or with China are still thriving and modestly optimistic despite three years of challenges, according to the third Doing Business in China Report report from the University of Melbourne and the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce (AustCham). The 2022 survey results from executives at 160 Australian companies contain key findings, including that pandemic restrictions on peoples’ movement, trade restrictions and ongoing tensions were perceived as top challenges, 58 per cent of respondents indicated China is in their top three priorities for global investment plans over the next three years, and respondents’ sales, investments and headcounts suggests modest optimism in 2022, with growth forecast following a sharp contraction in 2020 and uncertainty in 2021. Vaughn Barber, Chair of AustCham China, said “Considering the challenging operating environment, the survey results are encouraging and speak to the underlying demand from Australian companies, and their desire to be present in the China market.” The full report can be accessed here.

NSW government announces $117 million for R&D infrastructure

The NSW government announced the Innovation Research Acceleration Program (IRAP) on Wednesday, with $117 million allocated in two streams. The one-year Infrastructure Build Out Program is valued at $31 million, supporting shared research and innovation infrastructure that will underpin future industry. The $86 million, four-year fund NCRIS Support Program is dedicated to NSW research facilities supported by the federal government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). The funding will boost research capability and capacity across areas including microscopy, nanofabrication, bioplatforms and imaging. Innovation minister Alister Henskens said, “Research and innovation infrastructure, including high-tech facilities and equipment, underpins the State’s ability to turn R&D into real commercial outcomes, jobs and new industries, Program and application information is available here.

Scientists urge us to overcome fear of nuclear

There is a need to train thousands of people in nuclear science for careers in submarines, cancer treatments, space industry, mining and elsewhere, scientists meeting at the Australian Institute of Physics Congress in Adelaide have said.  A national plan was needed to boost education and training in nuclear science, according to a statement from the AIP Congress. “As nuclear science takes an increasingly important part of our day-to-day life, we need to make people understand that ‘nuclear’ is not something to be scared of, but rather to cherish and appreciate,” said Dr AJ Mitchell, senior lecturer in physics at the Australian National University. “While some of the initial training for submarine operations can take place in the US and the UK, we must take this role on ourselves. This must be a sovereign capability. And it needs to start yesterday.” The release also cites the Bragg Centre being built in Adelaide: the first facility in Australia to provide advanced radiation treatment for cancer using heavy particle beams already available in Europe, mining industry needs, and the upcoming fleet of Australian nuclear-powered submarines.

Conflux Technology’s releases new heat exchanger

Conflux Technology has released its next configurable 3D printed heat exchanger product, a high-performance Cartridge heat exchanger. According to the company, the exchanger embeds an additive manufactured core into traditionally manufactured housings, with its scalable design and its rapid configuration making it suitable industries including automotive, electric vehicles,
defence, aerospace, industrial and energy. “The Conflux Cartridge delivers low pressure-drop and high heat transfer in a compact
design. The embedded thermal transfer lowers plumbing volume, performance impact and risks,” said Dan Woodford,
Conflux’s Chief Product Officer.

Latrobe Valley gets first electric bus for regional Victoria

Regional Victoria has got its first electric bus as part of the state government’s Zero Emissions Bus (ZEB) trial, with bus operator Latrobe Valley Bus Lines (LVBL) to introduce a battery electric bus on routes in the Latrobe Valley. Supporting this is the installation of a new charging station by Victorian-based infrastructure company Mondo at LVBL’s Traralgon depot, where the new electric bus will be based. Latrobe Valley Bus Lines is one of six operators across Victoria taking part in the three-year ZEB Trial which will see 52 zero emission buses – 50 electric and two hydrogen – rolled out across Melbourne, Traralgon and Seymour. Data collected will provide practical information such as how zero emission buses perform and the energy and charging requirements for different types of routes. It will also give insights into how the buses can improve financial and environmental sustainability.

Paul Hodgson is the new chair of QMI

Queensland Manufacturing Institute (QMI) has officially welcomed Paul Hodgson as the new chair of its board. “With deep knowledge and involvement in the area of manufacturing and emerging growth opportunities, his leadership as we set the direction for the future will be invaluable,” said the organisation in a statement on Linkedin. Hodgson is also the Interim CEO of the Scaling Green Hydrogen CRC and was a general manager at the energy industry growth centre, National Energy Resources Australia.

AWU: take note of “doom-laden predictions” on gas

The Australian Workers’ Union has said people should note of “the doom-laden predictions of the gas industry and the Federal Opposition so they can be contrasted with reality” after the federal government’s price cap legislation passed through parliament on Thursday. AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said predictions should be compared to reality as it unfolds. “Here’s my prediction for what will happen as a result of this apparently terrifying new legislation: the price of gas and coal will fall, consumers will feel relief, and the manufacturing industry will gain the confidence to keep operating and investing in Australia,” said Walton. “Those out there hyperventilating about ‘a war on gas exporters’ and ‘Marxism’ and whatever other nonsense they’ve pumped into the media this week will pull their heads in as they’re forced to acknowledge the embarrassing size of their profits.”

ASC expands, takes on 30 new apprentices

Submarine builder ASC recently expanded its footprint in Henderson, WA, with the opening of its Quill Way facility. The newly refurbished building provides extra office space, workshop and storage facilities, and a well-equipped trades and apprentices training centre. “Feedback from those working in the building has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Simon, ASC’s Head of Operations Support. ASC has added more than 30 new apprentices to its highly specialised workforce in 2022, all of whom are now helping to ensure availability of the Collins Class submarine fleet for the Royal Australian Navy.

Recce pharma links up with Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Recce Pharmaceuticals which is developing a New Class of Synthetic Anti-infectives has inaugurated an Anti-Infective Research (AIR) Unit under a research collaboration agreement with Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. This secures for the Sydney company a dedicated Murdoch Children’s research team of infectious disease experts, fit-for-purpose laboratory space access to a library of clinical isolates and drug-resistant pathogens. Securing this research space supports Recce’s expanding pre-clinical programmes, with world-leading infectious disease researchers dedicating their efforts to a suite of pre-clinical studies investigating the antimicrobial activity of RECCE compounds. The programmes support ongoing pre-clinical work generating data demonstrating strong bactericidal activity of the company’s R327 anti-infective drug against a range of deadly pathogens.

Brickworks sells site, consolidates Sydney brick production

Building products manufacturer Brickworks has continued its release of the value of industrial sites it owns with the sale of the 75 hectare Oakdale East Stage 2 site into its JV Industrial Trust with Goodman Group for $301 million. The brickworks and quarry site operated by Austral Bricks has an estimated 50 hectares of net development potential. Brickmaking operations will be consolidated to the company’s existing site at Horsley Park, Sydney. The sale together with other revaluation and development profits and rental income is expected to yield the company property profits of more than $450 million. Meanwhile facilities for Woolworths, Coles, Telstra Australia Post and Xylem are set to be completed at Oakdale West previously sold by Brickworks in the first half of 2023. Brickworks net property trust assets are set to exceed $2.2 billion in the first half of the new year.

Starpharma reports data on its AZDO466 anti-cancer drug

Starpharma has reported preliminary clinical trial data from AstraZeneca research of its AZDO466 treatment for relapsed/refractory leukemia which was presented to the American Society of Hematology. The data shows AZDO466 was well tolerated with no dose-limiting toxicities and no discontinuations due to treatment-related adverse events. AZDO466 is an optimised dendrimer nanoparticle formulation of an AstraZeneca drug which uses Starpharma’s DEP drug delivery technology under licence. Under its agreement with the global pharma Starpharma could receive milestone payments of up to US$124 million. Starpharma is also developing DEP technology through agreements with Merck, Genentech and Chase Sun.

SEA Electric doubles manufacturing space

The manufacturer of e-trucks based on its electric SEA-Drive power-system, SEA Electric has doubled the size of its’s manufacturing base at Dandenong in Victoria to 8,000m2. This will enable production to lift to up to 2,080 units per annum of its light and medium-duty SEA 300 EV and SEA 500 EV truck models. In 2022 the company snared a number of awards including the Sustainable Environment Award at the Australian Freight Industry Awards as well as the Green Car Journal’s 2022 Green Car Product of Excellence Award. SEA Electric President, Asia Pacific Region Bill Gillespie said: “This year will go down in the books as the year Australia finally started to take the change to EV solutions seriously, and SEA Electric has been at the forefront of the conversation with both Governments and industry about how to best facilitate the switch.”

Picture: University of Wollongong

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