Robotics adoption matters: Australia’s brightest focus on advanced manufacturing


@AuManufacturing’s latest editorial series, Robotics adoption matters, begins today. In the first article, Dr Cori Stewart, CEO of series sponsor Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub, outlines the purpose of this new independent not-for-profit company that assembles expert teams and resources to help manufacturers digitally transform.

Australia is in a global race to secure its manufacturing future. As a nation, if we don’t want to be relegated to low-skilled jobs and precarious employment that the experts forewarn, we urgently need to create the high-value products and services that require high-skilled jobs. Advanced manufacturing technologies are already an important enabler of all our nation’s major industries, and now, we need to accelerate the creation and adoption of new technologies not only to drive productivity, jobs and growth, but to meet our nation’s sovereign needs brought into focus by COVID19.

Taking the lead, the ARM Hub assembles teams of roboticists, designers, engineers, data scientists, business experts and others from our nations’ leading research institutions, alongside smart tech companies, to form agile problem-solving teams to tackle industry’s most pressing challenges. 

Currently, Australian businesses are not reaping the benefits of our nation’s research institutions and the world class talent within. The systemic nature of the challenges we are tackling is evident in Australia’s rank in the 2020 Global Innovation Index, where the nation sits 13th in the world for the quality of our research – aligned with other OECD countries Japan and Germany – compared to ranking 31st for our ability to commercialise this research, aligning with Bulgaria and Hungary. In other words, Australia excels at inventing things but poor at converting our knowledge into real business advantages. 

The ARM Hub is focussed on meeting Australia’s commercialisation challenge. As an independent not-for-profit company, we are supported by the Federal and Queensland Governments; Australian universities, in particular the Queensland University of Technology (QUT); Commonwealth Science Industry Research Organisation (CSIRO); Innovative Manufacturing CRC; Germany’s Fraunhofer Institutes IAO & IPA; the World Economic Forum; and a wide range of businesses and industry bodies. The Hub is being championed as a model of change – an exemplary model to be rolled out nationally. 

At the ARM Hub:

We collaborate for outcomes. As a trusted innovation provider to businesses across industry sectors, we collaborate to solve challenges. As an open innovation company, we are transparent in offering multiple contracting and intellectual property arrangements in order to meet different timeframes and commercial realities, particularly for SMEs and microenterprises. We also seek opportunities for companies to access industry or research grants, and when needed, we build consortiums to address complex cross-industry, supply chain and investment challenges.

Importantly, our experts offer independent advice, and our success is measured by the growth of the businesses we support. Given that over 90% of manufacturers in Australia are SMEs or microenterprises it is critical we disrupt the mainstay of large-scale costly R&D collaboration in Australia. The ARM Hub supports short to long-term projects and allows for staged investments. Assisting companies to digitise their workflows by implementing technologies is typical for the Hub, technical applications include robotics, augmented and virtual reality, prototyping with cutting-edge new technologies such as new AI, or machine learning to support real-time decision-making. 

We are Australia’s first robotics hub. Queensland has long been recognised as a global centre for robotics, and the Hub’s roboticists have pioneered automation technologies driving productivity in diverse industries, from agriculture to space to medicine across the globe. Foundation partner of the Hub, QUT, is the nation’s leading robotics university, and CSIRO contributes with their extensive robotics expertise.

As key enabling technologies for robotics such as vision systems, machine learning, AI, haptics and more, are transitioning out of university labs and into industry, there are not yet enough commercial technology companies nor the depth of skill accessible to meet industry needs. The Hub bridges this gap so Australian industry can access the technologies and expertise to build the successful industries we need for our future.

We know the value of design. Generating and testing ideas to see if they are the best solution for a business and supporting staff to successfully use new technologies, are two important roles of the designer. Engaging designers is a time saving step that accelerates business’ successful implementation of new technologies and processes. 

With ARM Hub’s growing design team, we assist businesses to digitise their workflow, manage their data, develop new technology tools, and create new products and services. In the ARM Hub, the designer has proven to be the important capability businesses didn’t know they need.

The ARM Hub is the first Hub of its kind in Australia accelerating industry’s adoption of advanced manufacturing. Offering space with access to facilities that enable businesses and experts to collaboratively solve key problems, the Hub accelerates the development of new products and services on a commercial scale. Whether your business needs high-value collaborative robotics for mass-customisation or design solutions to meet your workforce needs and digitise workflow, the ARM Hub is here to help.

@AuManufacturing’s Robotics adoption matters series is brought to you with the support of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub.


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