Manufacturing news briefs — stories you might have missed

Australia set to pass 100,000 electric vehicles

New research by the Electric Vehicle Council has shown Australia on track to soon pass a milestone of 100,000 electric vehicles, with more than 83,000 EVs estimated to be on the country’s roads now. The research in the Australian Electric Vehicle Industry Recap 2022, also found that of the 83,000, 79 per cent are battery electric vehicles (BEVs) versus 21 per cent plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). Only 44,000 EVs were in circulation at the beginning of 2022. The number of EVs purchased increased by 86 per cent in the last year, with 3.8 per of all new cars electric. The Council’s CEO Behyad Jafari said purchases were up, but not the trajectory wasn’t enough to satisfy national emissions targets. “…[We’ll] need a near fully zero-emission vehicle fleet by 2050. To stay on track that means reaching 1 million EVs by 2027 and around 3 million by 2030, he said. “We can definitely hit these goals, but not without an ambitious fuel efficiency standard to expand the supply of EVs to Australia.” He added that the federal government should introduce a standard this year as a matter of urgency.

Magnetite, GFG Alliance sign port services agreement

Magnetite Mines and GFG Alliance company Whyalla Ports have signed a non-binding MoU to investigate export services for the Razorback Iron Ore Project. The purpose of the MoU is to investigate the use of port handling and shipping facilities for the export of high-grade magnetite concentrates from Razorback, Magnetite Mines said in a statement on Monday. Whyalla Port, operated by Whyalla Ports Pty Ltd, is operating an integrated iron products export facility located on the northwestern coast of Spencer Gulf, adjacent to the city of Whyalla, South Australia. It currently exports in excess of 9 million tonnes per annum of iron ore products. The port is 200 linear kilometres from the Razorback site and has featured as the preferred port option for the project since a 2021 pre-feasibility study, offering a low capital option with established iron ore export facilities and connection to the Project site by rail.

RMIT researchers help in fight against superbugs

RMIT University scientists have created a new type of antibiotic they say can be rapidly re-engineered to avoid resistance by dangerous superbugs. The antibiotic was developed by PhD candidate Priscila Cardoso (pictured) and principal supervisor Dr Céline Valéry and “has a simple design that allows it to be produced quickly and cost-effectively in a lab” according to the university. Named Priscilicidin, the antibiotic’s amino acid building blocks are small, so it can be tailored to tackle different types of antimicrobial resistance. The World Health Organization has called antimicrobial resistance “one of the top ten global public health threats facing humanity”. Priscilicidin is a type of antimicrobial peptide, which are produced by all living organisms as a first defence against bacteria and viruses, and was derived from indolicidin, a natural antibiotic found in cows’ immune systems. The team’s paper in Frontiers in Chemistry can be accessed here.

CDU launches cyber security training hub

Charles Darwin University (CDU) launched a new hub “for training frontline troops in the fight against cyber threats” it announced on Tuesday. The Cyber Territory Skills Hub is a virtual centre bringing together the university, Northern Territory Government and industry partners in the training of people to improve cyber awareness and management. Students are able to be involved in the centre by enrolling to study a new Certificate IV in Cyber Security, with businesses able to make use of a new Vocational Training Package in Cyber Security Management. “It is critical to provide cybersecurity study in the Northern Territory as it is a growth sector with significant skills shortages across the nation,” said CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman. The new training initiative has received funding of over $3 million from the federal and Northern Territory governments and CDU.

ManuFutures hub expansion complete

Deakin University’s expanded $20 million ManuFutures hub is now complete and working in partnership with 14 businesses, the university said on Tuesday. The ManuFutures 2 building at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus has doubled the facility’s size and increases the number of tenancy opportunities, new manufacturing incubator programs, training, and product engineering services. It was funded by the Victorian government ($10 million) and Deakin University ($10 million) as part of part of the state government’s $350 million Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF) launched post-COVID. “Four new manufacturing businesses have already moved into the new spaces as tenants, with room for two more. A total of 14 successful and emerging global manufacturing businesses now call Deakin’s ManuFutures home,” said Deakin Research Innovations Regional Manufacturing Director Mark Curnow. According to Deakin, ManuFutures has helped create more than $1 billion in company value, incubated more than 17 advanced manufacturing start-ups, helped companies establish export markets in more than 35 countries, hosted 500 student placements, and created more than 120 advanced manufacturing jobs.

CRC grant information session to be held today.

Cooperative Research Australia will be delivering an information session on CRCs in collaboration with the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources at 2:30-3:30 PM, AEST on Wednesday. The virtual information session will explain how to apply for a CRC, what makes a competitive application, hear first-hand experience from recent successful bids, and have a Q and A with the panel. Speakers are Chris Gonzalez, Department of Industry, Science and Resources; Wendy Craik, Chair, One Basin CRC; Ganga Prusty, Director of Research and Bid Lead, The Sovereign Manufacturing Automation for Composites (SOMAC) CRC; and Jane O’Dwyer, CEO, Cooperative Research Australia. More information can be found here.

Baraja cuts headcount by three quarters: report

Lidar technology startup Baraja, which was valued at $300 million at the time of its most recent external funding round in 2021, has made deep job cuts, according to a report in The Australian Financial Review on Tuesday. The eight-year-old company did not disclose the number of jobs shed, but The AFR cites unnamed sources estimating the redundancies as high as three-quarters of the workforce, which numbered 125 at the $40 million raise in March 2021. “With a change in industry outlook, Baraja has scaled back its legacy products to focus on its next-generation LiDAR. We’ve restructured the engineering teams in Australia and the United States to deliver Spectrum HD 2025,” co-founder and CEO Federico Collarte said. Baraja’s technology is used by driverless vehicles and its Spectrum HD25 is based on a proprietary scanning platform, which the company says “enables the range, resolution and performance required for true autonomy.”

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