Manufacturing news briefs – stories you might have missed

Vitura Health expands from cannabis to psychedelics

Medical cannabis product company Vitura Health has linked with Canadian-based PharmAla Biotech in a new joint venture Cortexa to tackle the emerging psychedelics product market for research and therapeutic use. This follows the decision of the Therapeutic Goods Administration to permit from 1 July the prescribing of MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. Cortexa will import MDMA and Psilocybin, which is found in fungi, and become the first company to sell the two in Australia. Cortexa will licence PharmAla’s manufacturing technology to allow onshore manufacturing of the two drugs. Vitura will also advance a $2 million loan to Cortexa to provide initial working capital.

FYI rescopes high purity alumina plans

Materials company FYI Resources has rescoped its plans to build a high purity alumina (HPA) plant in Western Australia and will initially build a small scale production/demonstration facility. The company said its target was now the construction of a 1,000 tonne per annum plant for HPA which is utilised in lithium-ion battery separators, and in synthetic sapphire for LED lights and semiconductor wafers used in the electronics industry. The plant will be used to revalidate operating parameters and produce high quality HPA tor qualification by 25 end users. “FYI proposes a phased and scalable development pathway towards commercialisation of the HPA project,” the company said in a statement.

Stealth Technologies’ new focus on mining sector

Robotic security vehicle manufacturer Stealth Technologies has widened its interest to the mining sector and is developing its own hardware and software for mining customers. Stealth has an agreement with industrial sofrware company Honeywell for the commercialisation of Autonomous Security Vehicles for perimeter security which have been trialled in the Western Australian prison system. Now Stealth is progressing developments in the mining sector, including the processing of data collected by autonomous vehicles from live underground mining environments ‘with a major mining company’. According to Stealth: “Solutions that are capable of increasing mine throughput and productivity in the short term are being targeted.”

Overseas VET students mainly study for employment reasons – NCVER

International onshore VET students mainly study to gain employment in Australia, according to new survey figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER). The centre’s study International onshore VET qualification completer outcomes, 2022 found that employment was the main reason for training nominated by 72.3 percent of students. This was followed by 24.7 percent for personal reasons and 3.0 percent for further study. Of employment reasons, 23 percent wanted to start their own businesses, 16.4 percent to improve general educational skills and 14.8 percent to gain skills for their current job. In terms of outcomes 73 percent had better outcomes after training, up 8.9 percent from 2021, and 80.3 percent were employed after training.

Hydrogen-powered waste collection truck in upcoming commercial trials

Remondis Australia will trial one of the world’s first zero-emission waste collection trucks as part of its commercial operations, which it says “could be the precursor for a major roll-out” of zero-emission heavy vehicles across its global network. The truck was developed by Hyzon Motors ANZ in Australia with mobile waste collection and compaction equipment company Superior Pak. Its fuel cell electric engine relies on hydrogen funnelled from specially made tanks, which combines with air to generate electricity that powers the truck, and produces only water vapour emissions. Trials in the Illawarra region of NSW are scheduled from mid-2023, the first time such trial in Australia. Hyzon’s heavy-duty garbage truck has been designed against the industry benchmark of a 200-kilometre range and 1,500 bin lifts per working day. Last year Hyzon announced development of Australia’s first purpose-built assembly plant in Melbourne’s South-East to manufacture hydrogen-powered trucks, including this one.

Industry marking one year of contraction: Ai Group

The Ai Group’s Australian Industry Index fell 14.0 points in April to -20.1 points, which the employer group said indicates contractionary conditions, and contraction for the last 12 months. A result of 0 equals no change and the distance from 0 indicates the strength of the expansion or decline. “Australian industry marks a disappointing anniversary in April – 12 months of continuous contraction,” said Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox. “Activity and sales have fallen into contraction as demand is weakening, a pattern now affecting every subsector within industry.” The Index breaks down industrial sectors into all manufacturing, all construction, chemicals, minerals and metals manufacturing, machinery and equipment manufacturing, other manufacturing, and business services. On the positive side, the report noted, “Supply chain disruptions and labour absenteeism are both reported to be easing in the new year, lessening the two major constraints on the manufacturing and construction industries since the pandemic.”

Bluechiip announces new partnership

ASX-listed Sample management solutions company Bluechiip has announced a new partnership, including receipt of initial purchase orders, with the biospecimen repository of the NY State Psychiatry Institute (NYSPI). The institute is located in Columbia University in New York City and manages and hosts a core biobanking facility for 12 clinics and academic research laboratories within Columbia University and the New York area. NYSPI has purchased Bluechiip advanced sample management solutions and placed initial orders for delivery of Bluechiip cryogenic labels. Andrew McLellan, Bluechiip Managing Director, said, “Being partnered with a broad base of Ivy League research facilities further emphasizes Bluechiip’s applications. Their feedback will allow us to further expand our offerings for our core Bluechiip technology. World-renowned facilities of this nature, with substantial sample collections, act as an important reference point for Bluechiip as we grow our business especially in North America.”

Tech Council welcomes quantum strategy

The Tech Council of Australia has said the new Quantum Strategy released by industry minister Ed Husic MP, presenting a roadmap for the future of quantum technology in Australia, is a “pivotal step in cementing Australia’s leadership in this critical sector.”
CEO Kate Pounder said the strategy provided “national leadership at a crucial time”, in which quantum technology is at an inflection point. “The strategy builds on the momentum from the Australian Government’s $1 billion commitment to critical technologies under the National Reconstruction Fund, the recent announcement of a $3.4 billion Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator in response to the Defence Strategic Review, and the Australian Quantum Graduates Program,” said Pounder. “Our challenge is to now become a leader in commercialisation… We welcome the strategy’s focus on improving investment and commercialisation opportunities for quantum in Australia as these are crucial to get right.”

Picture: Vitura Health

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