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Swinburne Factory of Future announces partnership with CWX

Swinburne University of Technology’s Factory of the Future has said it will “enter the metaverse” through a new partnership with tech company CWX Technologies, whose software will create 3D digital twins of FotF’s production systems. Swinburne’s Vice President, Innovation and Enterprise, Dr Werner van der Merwe says the partnership will position the university as a leader in the “enterprise metaverse movement.” Van der Merwe said that, “We are thrilled to partner with CWX to apply this emerging technology in new and impactful ways and create additional opportunities for our many industry partners…” The university said its Digital Innovation Lab would work closely with CWX and researchers on “intelligent manufacturing processes, system engineering, artificial intelligence and advanced image processing to help shape future applications of metaverse technologies for manufacturing and enterprise.”

CSIRO appoints new digital science leader

CSIRO, has appointed Perth-based Rebecca Ostergaard to the newly created role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO), to lead how the national science agency will reimagine the digital experience for its people and partners. Professor Elanor Huntington, CSIRO Executive Director – Digital National Facilities and Collections said: “CSIRO has profound ambitions to disrupt the way science is done, to empower our researchers through leading edge digital technologies, skills and ways of working, which will ultimately support CSIRO in using science to create a better future for Australia. Rebecca is a skilled digital executive with wide experience leading digitisation across multiple sectors. She will lead our digital strategy, working with researchers across CSIRO to define and deliver the digital thread that runs through our Corporate Plan.” Ostergaard brings 25 years of experience and has held several roles in digital leadership positions, most recently as Digital Services Project Director at the Office of Digital Government, within the Western Australian Government.

Zero emissions buses come into service in Qld

The Queensland government said this week that the number of zero emission buses in the network will “more than double in the coming months” from the total of 25 battery electric buses are currently operating in Yarrabilba, Redland Bay, Cairns and on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. An additional 40 zero emission buses will be launched throughout 2023. Transport minister Mark Bailey said “we’re also planning for the future and looking to build more zero emissions buses here,” adding that it had received strong industry feedback, with “70 different businesses and organisations come along to our industry roundtable discussions.” Among the new e-buses coming into service are a pair built at Volgren’s manufacturing facility at Eagle Farm, which will operate on the Spring Hill Loop.

Imagion Biosystems secures $15 million funding facility

Medical imaging company Imagion Biosystems has secured a funding facility of up to $15 million to support the next phase of developing its breakthrough cancer detection device and associated MagSense HER 2 breast cancer imaging agent. The company has secured the funding package from US investment fund manager Mercer Street Growth Opportunity Fund LLC. This includes $1.5 million to be initially drawn down, which adds to funds received from a pro rata non-renounceable entitlement offer to existing shareholders. The company will now prepare MagSense for the next phase of clinical development aimed at growing oncology detection indications to areas such as prostate and ovarian cancer.

Furniture sector tackles skills shortages

The skilled labour shortage for upholsterers and textile fabricators is being addressed by an innovative new training initiative launching in April. The ‘Take a Seat With Us!’ Taster Program embeds the Design Specification and job-ready tasks into the delivery. The Multi-Industry Collaboration Group (MICG) involved in the initiative includes five industry groups made up of the Australian Furniture Association (AFA), Boating Industry Association Victoria (BIAV), Caravan Industry Victoria (CIV), Specialist Textiles Association (STA) and Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce (VACC).The primary focus of the MICG is to respond to the increased demand from Australian manufacturers which has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. This surge in product demand has created a significant need to address the backlog of orders for furniture, exterior specialised textile products, cars, caravans and boats. The programme will attract individuals who have an interest in a career in upholstery or textile fabrication. The Australian Furniture Association (AFA) will lead the programme that helps address the specific Australian Skills Shortages and together with Victoria’s Holmesglen Institute and workplace engagement, will deliver the 12-week taster programme which will see 100 students get a feel for the industry and promote transition into apprenticeships.

Skykraft to test satellite communications system for aircraft

Satellite communications manufacturer Skykraft and Airways New Zealand will work together to develop Skykraft’s space-based air traffic management service in the 30 million square kilometres of airspace over New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southern Oceans and the Tasman Sea. Canberra-based Skykraft will use its satellite constellation to gather data on aircraft movements and then test it against the data held by Airways, which manages the airspace. Skykraft is developing a space-based, global service combining an air traffic surveillance system and a Very High Frequency (VHF) radio communication system, displacing older technologies. Skykraft’s five satellites were launched successfully by SpaceX from Florida, United States in January 2023, and further launches are scheduled for mid-2023 and early 2024. Skykraft’s Chairman Air Vice-Marshal (Ret’d) Mark Skidmore said: “It’s a great opportunity for an Australian space company and New Zealand’s air navigation service provider to use new technology to make flying across the Pacific and the Tasman even safer and more efficient.”

Traffic Technologies secures $3 million in new equity pledge

Roadway signage and IoT traffic systems company Traffic Technologies has reached agreement with Dolphin Corporate Investments to provide standby equity to the company of up to $3 million over the next three years. Traffic Technologies paid $25,000 to Dolphin to create the facility, with the subscription placement process and share price remaining under Traffic Technologies control. Any shares issued would be made at a floor and final issue price set by Traffic Technologies. DCI did not place any restrictive covenants on the company raising capital by other means.

Ampcontrol backs STEM skills in the Hunter

Strengthening its commitment to providing a diverse workforce and the next generation of innovators, engineering group Ampcontrol has announced its sponsorship of Hunter, NSW-based industry schools outreach program HunterWiSE. HunterWiSE is an initiative for women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) aimed to positively impact perceptions of STEM careers amongst school-aged girls to increase overall participation by women. Women only make up 27 percent of the workforce across all STEM industries. Ampcontrol Capability Development Manager Halford said: “Ampcontrol is serious about creating diverse teams with women an important and integral part of the vibrant engineering and technology world. We recognise the need to engage students at an early stage in their learning before they reach their final years in school.”

Soft Plastics Taskforce supports industry-led recycling scheme

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has said it welcomes the Soft Plastics Taskforce’s recognition of the industry-led National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS) as the model for soft plastic packaging recycling. The Soft Plastics Taskforce includes supermarkets Coles, Woolworths and Aldi, and was appointed in response to the collapse of plastics recovery program REDcycle. Return-to-store collection will be reintroduced as a transitional solution and the Taskforce supports the NPRS as a model for a sustainable, long-term solution to divert more plastic packaging from landfill. AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said the Taskforce Roadmap highlighted the importance of increasing Australia’s soft plastics recycling capacity and developing end markets for recycled packaging content.

Steel industry inclusive of women: ASI

Women are increasingly turning to non-traditional pathways such as steel for careers, drawn by operational and social advances, according to steel industry peak body the Australian Steel Institute. The ASI said it counts 50 per cent of the organisation’s staff as women. ASI founding member steel producer BlueScope agreed, and in a statement on International Women’s Day on Wednesday, Queensland chapter president of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and BlueScope Qld specification manager Sheree Taylor said historical perceptions were changing. “It’s an exciting, dynamic industry at the cutting edge of change for women,” said Taylor, adding: “we have world-class safety standards, a culture of trust and respect and are investing in emerging, responsible steel technology.”

Nyrstar opens female changehouse facility at Hobart site

Nyrstar Australia announced the opening of a Female Changehouse facility in response to an upturn in women working at its Zinc Works site in Lutana. The new changehouse was purpose-built providing modern amenities with 100 lockers, eight showers and toilet facilities to cater for women working across its operations, said Nyrstar on IWD. adding that it had seen a 40 per cent increase in female employees over the past 12 months and an increase of more than 100 percent since 2018. “Previously, there were five change facilities for females across the site of varying location and quality and we have traditionally only had small numbers of female employees,” Nyrstar Australia’s Regional Manager – HR Business Partnering, Georgia Thomas said. “This new Changehouse will provide a centralised and purpose-built facility to accommodate the recent growth in women employed at Nyrstar Hobart as well as the females we look forward to joining our team in the future.”

Picture: Ampcontrol employees at IWD breakfast (supplied)

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