Manufacturing news briefs — stories you might have missed

Four UQ AIBN researchers earn Advance Queensland fellowships

Researchers at the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) have won funding totalling almost $1.2 million through Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships for research in precision healthcare, nanomaterials, and the bioeconomy, assisting projects with industry partners. Dr Ping Chen will work with Brisbane-based QHeart Medical to help improve their low-cost aortic balloon therapeutic device. Dr Md Masud Rana is linked with Elemental Laboratories to develop a safe, efficient and cost-effective iron flow battery for large-scale energy storage applications. Dr Veronica Martinez will work with Patheon Biologics Australia “to develop a novel platform to guide the design of cell factories for complex therapeutic proteins. Dr Denys Villa Gomes — in partnership with Rio Tinto and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology – is supporting design, development and optimisation of new processes to unlock extraction of rare earth elements and gallium from red mud.

Capex a priority according to new food manufacturer survey

Over 60 per cent of businesses are looking to make capital expenditure investments in areas such as equipment and technology over the following 12 months according to a recent survey by food manufacturing expo foodpro, which also indicated that over a third of respondents are looking to invest in processing and packaging in the same period (37 per cent of respondents). Following priorities were investment in ingredients and food additives (15 per cent) and food science and technology (13 per cent). The survey size was not given. “Whilst many businesses and industries feared for survival, the biggest challenge for food and beverage manufacturing was capacity and supply,” said Felicity Parker, foodpro Event and Product Manager, of the period between 2020 and 2023. “Now that the shipping lines around the world are resuming to pre-COVID frequency, and supply is beginning to catch up with demand, this survey indicates that manufacturers are getting the chance to take a breath and can now look to invest once more.” Foodpro returns this year after a six-year absence, running July 23 – 26 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

CRA to host Collaborate Innovate 2023 in July

Cooperative Research Australia has announced that it will host the Collaborate Innovate 2023 conference on July 10-12 2023 at the Adelaide Convention Centre. CRA said the three-day event will feature leaders from industry, research and government at “an engaging program of workshops, communities-of-practice, plenaries and keynotes” which will “bring together all those who foster collaboration between industry and research through to commercialisation.” Registrations of interest in attending or partnering in sponsorship cam be made here, with actual registrations to open soon.

Bill introduced for a permanent Jobs and Skills Australia 

A Bill was introduced to parliament on Wednesday morning establishing the permanent functions and governance arrangements for Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA.) The Jobs and Skills Australia Amendment Bill will establish a tripartite Ministerial Advisory Board that includes representatives from state and territory governments, unions, employers and experts. Federal skills minister Brendan O’Connor said, “Advice from the Ministerial Advisory Board will ensure JSA’s guidance to government on current and emerging workforce needs is informed by a wide range of views, insights and expertise.” The Bill legislates the requirement for JSA to consult with the tripartite Ministerial Advisory Board in the development of its work plan, ensuring JSA’s work “consults widely with stakeholders to address workforce shortages to help build long-term capacity in priority sectors.”

UniSA study proposes stewardship scheme for solar panels

A new paper published in AIMS Energy has proposed a comprehensive product stewardship scheme for solar panels. UniSA researcher Professor Peter Majewski said incentives are needed for producers to design solar panels that can be more easily recycled if they are damaged or out of warranty. “Australia has one of the highest uptakes of solar panels in the world, which is outstanding, but little thought has been given to the significant volume of panels ending up in landfill 20 years down the track when they need to be replaced,” said Majewski. “There are some simple recycling steps that can be taken to reduce the waste volume, including removing the panels’ frames, glass covers and solar connectors before they are disposed of.”

Quantum computing company releases software supporting NVIDIA CUDA Quantum

Diamond quantum computing company Quantum Brilliance has released a new version of its open-source Qristal software able to compile quantum programs written in CUDA Quantum, the newly-announced, open-source programming model from NVIDIA. The new Qristal represented “a major step forward in hybrid quantum-classical computing”, said Quantum Brilliance, which made the announcement at the NVIDIA GTC conference. “The introduction of CUDA Quantum is a transformative step in the evolution of quantum computing, as it offers extensive tools for tightly integrating high-performance classical algorithms with cutting-edge quantum ones,” said Pat Scott, Software Lead at Quantum Brilliance.

Inflation, energy costs, labour shortage weighing on manufacturers: survey

Manufacturers are expected to face difficult conditions in coming months, buffeted by “high inflation, spiralling energy costs and the enduring labour shortage”, according to the quarterly ACCI-Westpac Survey of Industrial Trends, released this week. Westpac senior economist Andrew Hanlan said a downward trend in manufacturing sector was underway, with a challenging outlook for 2023 and a “deeply pessimistic” mood among businesses generally. “The Westpac-ACCI Actual Composite improved somewhat in the March survey, up to 55.0 from 49.0 in December, but still well down from the mid-2022 highs of around 65,” he said. “The result represents a partial rebound to a modest expansion in the March quarter – but in the context of a trend downturn… Across the Australian economy, the fading of earlier tailwinds and intensifying headwinds from high inflation and sharply rising interest rates are contributing to a downbeat outlook for demand. At the same time, labour shortages and cost pressures continue.”

Picture: credit 5B


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