Manufacturing news briefs — stories you might have missed

NIOA Group announces new Chief Growth Officer

Defence contractor the NIOA Group has announced the appointment of a new Chief Growth Officer, defence industry executive Andrew Crickenberger, formerly Vice President of Strategy for L3Harris Technologies’  Aerojet Rocketdyne division. According to a statement, Crickenberger has a career spanning over three decades as a senior executive with multi-national defence companies. He will be based in the US and lead efforts “to capitalise on emerging opportunities in the global allied guided weapons and munitions sector.” The announcement follows NIOAs strategic agreement with Rocketdyne last November to explore the co-production of critical guided weapons components under the Australian Governments $4.1 billion Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) Enterprise. CEO Rob Nioa said With Andrews leadership and deep understanding of missile systems we are confident in our ambition to accelerate a broad range of critical munitions priorities for Australia and allied partners while also strengthening our domestic defence industrial base.

Norco claims biggest chunks

The nation’s oldest and largest dairy cooperative, Norco, has introduced an Australian-first Cape Byron ice cream range, which it says “boasts the biggest chunks of inclusions on an individual stick than any other ice cream on the market”. According to a statement on Thursday, Norco has invested in a new machine at its Lismore factory able to produce “up to two centre-metre inclusions in ice cream: taking ice cream decadence to the next level.” Three favours in the range are Chocolate Lava Brownie,  Affogato and Classic Cookie Dough. Ben Menzies, Norco General Manager of Commercial and Strategy, said the team travelled to Europe for inspiration in creating the ice cream desserts, currently available through Coles supermarkets.

Quick repair bolsters relationship

A collaborative effort between the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) has strengthened ties during HMNZS Manawanui’s visit to Sydney recently, according to a statement from Defence on Thursday. While conducting joint exercises off the East Coast of Australia, Manawanui experienced a defect with its rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB), a potential issue that Fleet Support Unit (FSU) helped rectify during a later port visit to Sydney. After an initial inspection, FSU sailors took up the challenge to manufacture a bespoke adapter within the machining workshop and install a CO2 canister to restore the RHIB’s self-righting system. The quick repairs enabled the ship to remain operational and strengthen relationships with other countries, with no impact to a busy ship’s program.

Round three of Maker Projects grants launched

Industry minister Ed Husic has launched round three of the Maker Projects Community STEM Engagement programs, offering total funding of $1 million per year over two years. Grants of between $20,000 and $100,000 are available to organisations across the country to deliver STEM projects through collaborative partnerships with entities such as libraries, schools, and non-for-profit bodies. “Young people who live in the regions, the outback and the outer suburbs should have the same opportunity as kids from the city to engage in a wide range of STEM learning tools, said Husic in a statement on Thursday. “We will need more and more young Australians to pursue STEM skills and qualifications, so they’re equipped to enter the global tech-based economy.” More information is available here.

IonOpticks commences construction of purpose-built facility

Scientific instrument maker IonOpticks announced this week that it is “entering an exciting new phase of expansion, having outgrown its existing facilities in recent months”, taking on a new lease and appointing a builder to construct a purpose-built facility. David Murphy of Challenge Group will build the new facility, designed by JMA Architects. According to a statement from IonOpticks on Tuesday, the “stunning art-deco premises in Melbourne’s inner east will see the fit-out span two floors and house IonOpticks’ bespoke manufacturing facility, R&D laboratory, and corporate headquarters.” Managing Director Xavier Perronnet said, “The new facility will not only increase our manufacturing capacity but also provide a dedicated space for research and development, fuelling the continued collaboration and creativity that has delivered us our rapid success.”

Potential of AR for manufacturing examined

Flinders University experts believe high-tech factory workers will in future rely on training and support from Industry 4.0 technology, such as augmented reality head-mounted display modules (AR-HMD, pictured), to manage workflow and remote trouble-shooting. Trials of such technologies will improve software, tracking and other promising features, according to a new online article published in the journal Ergonomics (linked.) Australia had been slow to adopt Industry 4.0 technology, said first author Dr Valerie O’Keeffe, a Senior Researcher in Human Factors. “Interface design, tracking, gesturing and device durability were most likely to limit AR-HMD adoption and require improvement to ensure efficient uptake in operations,” said O’Keefe. “However, our findings suggest encouraging levels of technology acceptance and motivation in the workforce, with potential to promote learning and productivity.”

Picture: Flinders University graduate Kosta Manning (credit Flinders)

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