Manufacturing news briefs — stories you might have missed

Scott Basham resigns as Group CEO of HighCom

Scott Basham, Group CEO of ASX-listed defence business HighCom Group — known as XTEK until November last year — has tendered his resignation to the board. “It’s been a tremendous privilege to lead and work with such a great group of people over that time all around the world, and I will miss them all, as I will miss our great partners, suppliers, customers and industry colleagues” he posted on Linkedin on Tuesday. “The work our team does is meaningful and important, and they will continue to grow and further transform the HighCom business to achieve its full potential, of that I’m certain.” He has been in the role for 2.5 years.

MicroTau seeks new Operations Associate

Sydney aerospace company MicroTau is seeking to hire an Operations Associate “to assist with running day-to-day operations, implementing new processes, and supporting our scale-up. As a strategic partner to the CEO and COO, your mission is to support the team and ensure we are effective in our day to day operations” the company posted on Linkedin. “You will be reporting to the COO, leading projects across the business, and supporting the senior team on key initiatives.” Microtau is commercialising its shark skin-like material, which is fitted onto plane wings to reduce friction drag and fuel use. Applications for the role close Feb 26. More information is available at this link.

Zip Water Australia to launch EV fleet trial

Appliance maker Zip Water has said it is “making strides toward a more sustainable future” via a trial to shift its motor vehicle fleets in Australia from diesel to electric. Zip said that in the United Kingdom it has successfully converted 52 per cent of its fleet to electric vehicles, setting a 100 per cent by 2027 target. The landscape in Australia and New Zealand was more challenging, however. “We have been closely monitoring the rise of electric vehicles abroad, and now manufacturers are beginning to introduce electric vans in Australia,” said Mike Abbott, Managing Director ANZ Zip Water. “The challenge lies in the ongoing development of infrastructure for these vehicles.” Zip said its trial in Australia will start with the purchase and registration of an electric van for the Canberra region., which “will also be based in New South Wales, offering an opportunity for local teams to engage in the EV experience. This initial trial will then enable, the trial to extend to Brisbane, Canberra, and Melbourne, providing teams in these locations with firsthand exposure to electric vehicle operations… The valuable insights gained from this ongoing trial will therefore play a crucial role in enabling Zip Water to integrate further electric vehicles into the company’s fleet.”

Ampcontrol’s record apprentice cohort welcomed

Electrical engineering firm Ampcontrol has welcomed a record 56 new apprentices into the 2024 Ampcontrol Apprentice Program, helping support rapid growth across the business, it said. The Apprentice Program, a stream of the Ampcontrol Careers Pathways Program, is undertaken over a nominal four-year period, combining part-time study with structured work experience in trades such as electrotechnology, fabrication, electronics, electrical fitting, mechanical fitting, and engineering. Of the 56 new apprentices who joined the 2024 Ampcontrol Apprentice Program, 38 have started their apprenticeship in New South Wales, nine in Queensland, and nine in Western Australia. Of the total intake, nine placements have been secured by women. These apprenticeships cover a range of trades, including electrical, fabrication, mechanical fitting, and machining. The 2025 Ampcontrol Apprentice Program intake will open for applications in May. More information is available here.

AI expert group announced

Following the federal government’s interim response to the Safe and Responsible AI in Australia consultation, industry minister Ed Husic announced the establishment of a new Artificial Intelligence Expert Group on Wednesday. According to a statement from Husic, the group will provide advice to the department of industry on transparency, testing and accountability, including options for AI guardrails in high-risk settings, to help ensure AI systems are safe. It met for the first time on Friday, February 2. The 12 appointees to the group are: Professor Bronwyn Fox, CSIRO Chief Scientist; Aurélie Jacquet, Chair of Australia’s national AI standards committee; Dr Terri Janke, an international authority on Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP); Angus Lang, a legal practitioner; Professor Simon Lucey, Director of the Australian Institute for Machine Learning at the University of Adelaide; Professor Jeannie Paterson, founding co-director of the Centre for AI and Digital Ethics; Professor Ed Santow: Co-founder of the Human Technology Institute; Professor Nicolas Suzor, A Future Fellow at QUT, and Chief Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society; Professor Toby Walsh, Chief Scientist at; Professor Kimberlee Weatherall, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society; Professor Peta Wyeth, a human-centred artificial intelligence scholar; and Bill Simpson Young, Co-founder and CEO of Gradient Institute. The group will be in place until 30 June 2024.

Advanced Navigation awarded CRC-P grant

Advanced Navigation has been awarded a $1 million grant under Round 15 of the Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P), announced this week. In a statement on Wednesday, the company said it will help it accelerate development and production of their Light Detection, Altimetry and Velocimetry (LiDAV) technology for Earth applications. Currently, LiDAV is supporting NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to improve the safety and reliability of autonomous landing manoeuvres on the lunar surface. The Earth-solution of LiDAV will solve complex autonomy challenges across aerospace, automotive, weather, as well as railways and logistics. “This world-first innovation will strengthen Australia’s sovereign capability in the high-end uncrewed autonomous vehicle (UAV) market while enhancing SME project partners’ global competitiveness,” it added.

Picture: credit Advanced Navigation

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