Manufacturing news briefs — stories you might have missed


Austin Engineering awarded $5 million for advanced manufacturing

Perth mining equipment manufacturer Austin Engineering has been awarded a grant of up to $5 million from the WA government’s Investment Attraction Fund to boost advanced manufacturing capabilities at its Kewdale plant. The IAF seeks to bring investment, jobs and economic diversity to the state, increasing local demand and entering new sectors and markets. The grant will support greater automation and efficiency as part of the company’s global advanced manufacturing plan, which is separately modernising facilities in Indonesia. Austin CEO David Singleton said: “The grant will allow us to continue investment into advanced manufacturing and technology in our WA operations, to create more local jobs and deliver world class designed and engineered products to our mining customers.” Austin has already begun manufacturing of its ultra-lightweight High Performance Truck Tray, which can carry a payload of additional ore due to its lighter weight.

Thales Lithgow Arms completes new building at historic manufacturing site

Thales Australia has completed construction on a new advanced manufacturing building at the company’s Lithgow Arms site, the home of sovereign small arms and integrated weapons systems manufacturing in Australia. Deputy NSW Premier and Member for Bathurst Paul Toole (pictured) inspected the new facility which is being fitted out with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment. Funding for the new advanced manufacturing building has been supported by the NSW Government via a $1.12 million grant from the NSW Regional Job Creation Fund Round 2, with funding matched by Thales. The building will create a further 56 jobs to increase production capacity on both military and civil manufacturing lines, as well support export growth over the next three years. The grant further builds on Thales Australia’s $70 million investment over the past decade to develop the Lithgow facility to create a modern manufacturing and integration hub for the design, development and precision manufacture of next generation weapons systems for the ADF and industrial partners and export customers.

Responsible AI to tackle pandemics, drought and emissions

Three Australian-US scientific teams will set their sights on minimising the impact of health pandemics, harmful environmental emissions and drought using AI approaches. Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic welcomed the announcement that the US National Science Foundation and Australia’s national science agency CSIRO have awarded grants under their Collaboration Opportunities in Responsible and Ethical AI initiative. The grants total $1.8 million on the US side and $2.3 million on the Australian side, and include researchers from the University of NSW, RMIT University, University of Technology Sydney and the University of Melbourne. Husic said: “These grants will support valuable research in ethical artificial intelligence, while strengthening relationships between US and Australian research organisations. The NSF-CSIRO initiative will bring the best Australian and US researchers together from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, to share knowledge and learn from each other.”

Futuremap finds a new home at the Ai Group  

Futuremap, a digitalisation readiness platform developed by the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), is now under the custodianship of the Australian Industry Group. The IMCRC launched a search for a new long-term custodian of futuremap late last year before finished its seven-year term in January. IMCRC’s outgoing CEO and Managing Director David Chuter said futuremap had helped over 1000 manufacturers transform their digital operations over the last four years. According to Swinburne University, businesses participating in futuremap reportied an average increase of 15.5 per cent in sales, 21.5 per cent in wages and 6.6 oer cent in staff. “The results demonstrate futuremap® could and should continue to add value to Australia’s manufacturing ecosystem by helping SMEs innovate. We are incredibly pleased that, under Ai Group’s custodianship, this important tool can live on and continue to grow post-IMCRC,” added Chuter. The arrangement ensures existing deployment partners – Swinburne, University of Technology of Sydney and the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Hub – maintain non-exclusive licenses to deploy futuremap.

Nova Systems offers first of its kind training course

In an Australian-first, defence consulting group Nova Systems will deliver a Test and Evaluation (T&E)
Advanced Practitioners Course set to equip participants with the skills and knowledge to deliver world-leading Defence capability. The four-week course, developed and delivered in-person by leading Nova Systems T&E practitioners, is designed to teach participants the very latest current and future T&E techniques. Content delivered will focus on teaching critical skills Australia’s future T&E workforce requires, including scientific test and analysis techniques to test systems-of-systems and joint force assurance. The Nova Systems T&E Advanced Practitioners Course will teach T&E practitioners how to apply synthetic modelling and simulation environments in complex T&E programmes, and how to validate their results. The course compliments Nova Systems’ training offerings as a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

Australian-made eVTOL aircraft makes maiden test flight ahead of Avalon

Australian green aerospace company AMSL Aero announced on Tuesday that its Vertiia — which it says is the world’s most efficient and longest-range Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft — has successfully completed its maiden test flight. Vertiia completed its tethered hover by remote control in the Central West region of New South Wales in strict accordance with Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulations, AMSL said, adding that this represented a vital milestone for the zero-emissions craft. AMSL Aero CEO and Vertiia inventor Andrew Moore said it is nearly 130 years since Lawrence Hargrave invented the box kite, which the Vertiia’s “box wing” design is based on. “As Vertiia lifted off, we felt the same rush of adrenaline that Lawrence Hargrave must have felt nearly 130 years ago. The Vertiia prototype flew better than we expected. It was remarkably smooth and a delight to fly,” said Moore. Vertiia is on display at the Avalon International Airshow next week, from February 28 to March 5 2023.

Gale Pacific EBITDA growth up more than 25 per cent in half-year result

Blind and shade manufacturer Gale Pacific announced results on Tuesday that it said were in line with guidance for the first half of the 2023 financial year. EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation) was $7.9 million, up more than 25 per cent compared to the first half of the 2022 financial year, with improved earnings in both the company’s largest regions, the Americas and Australia and New Zealand. “The trend toward normalisation in global supply chains was a welcome change as international shipping capacity increased and container shipping costs declined in the second quarter, a trend that has continued into the second half,” said John Paul Marcantonio. “This stabilisation has allowed us to reduce manufacturing and sourcing lead times and begin to lower the elevated inventory in which we invested to ensure consistent service to our global customers in the volatile operating environment of the last two years.”

Picture: Thales Australia/Deputy NSW Premier and Member for Bathurst Paul Toole (front, centre) at Lithgow Arms

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