Analysis and Commentary

Towards 3% R&D – Factory of the future by Philipp Dautel

Analysis and Commentary

Innovation hubs that allow companies to engage with researchers and test their systems on the latest equipment are seen as part of the answer to Australia’s faltering innovation system. Here, in our editorial series – Towards 3% R&D – Turbocharging Australia’s Innovation Effort – Philipp Dautel of one such hub the Factory of the Future explains how they work.

Boosting the number of manufacturers involved in innovative activities is crucial for Australia to achieve sustainable, high-value manufacturing at a scale necessary to meet future economic, societal and ecological responsibilities.

A fresh approach is needed, which is being addressed by Flinders University’s Factory of the Future at the Tonsley Innovation District in South Australia.

Supported by funding from the federal government’s Department of Industry, Science and Resources and the South Australian government’s Department for Industry, Innovation and Science, Flinders Factory of the Future is a learning factory, where industry can test, trial, research and learn.

Through a facility where industry can effectively engage with researchers, it allows for dynamic knowledge exchange and sharing that brings industry problems into the university and translates solutions into our economy. It builds a bridge between industry and academia.

Researchers at Flinders Factory of the Future are now working with entrepreneurial organisations to accelerate adoption of advanced manufacturing and digital technologies.

This builds on Flinders’ long-standing research and training collaboration with BAE Systems Australia, also a partner in Flinders’ Diploma of Digital Technologies.

This was first delivered to shipyard workers in 2020 so that advanced manufacturing technologies could be applied in the construction of new Hunter Class Frigates for the Australian Government.

Further projects have included researchers from the Factory of the Future working with BAE Systems Australia staff to test and trial new technologies from AR/VR tools to cobots.

@AuManufacturing is publishing contributions from readers for our series – Towards 3% R&D – turbocharging our national innovation effort – over a, month and will shortly publish contributions in an e-Book. Information: Peter Roberts, 0419 140679 or write to [email protected].

The facility also provides significant support for businesses to reduce perceived risks through embracing innovation and digital transformation.

Participating businesses can test the feasibility of new and advanced manufacturing technologies from a technical perspective, and also gauge end-user responses through research activity, testing, trial and evaluation.

This approach seeks to optimise human and technology performance, so that businesses can easily apply successful innovations to production processes at their own manufacturing site.

International collaborations a key

The Flinders Factory of the Future team is supported by a collaborative network of advanced manufacturing facilities internationally including the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield, the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) and the National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland (NMIS) in the UK.

These collaborations strengthen innovation within manufacturing sector by exchanging experiences and knowledge globally with technology leaders, and by learning from joint-research programmes.

To build on these partnerships, scholars are travelling from South Australia to the UK through the Advanced Manufacturing Research Exchange (AMREx) – with insights gained by the inaugural AMREx scholar in 2023 now applied towards activating a six-axis robotic arm located in the Factory of the Future.

The Factory of the Future is inviting SMEs to assist with the implementation of new technologies, introduce leaner work practices, digitisation, robotics and automation.

Co-funding for eligible research with SMEs is available, such as the Manufacturing Growth Accelerator which supports SMEs to develop and strengthen the necessary capabilities that will secure customer contracts and help them participate in global supply chains.

As the Principal Manager, Philipp Dautel supports the Flinders Factory of the Future in strategic and operational matters and builds strong networks and partnerships with industry, government and other external organisations. Prior to joining Flinders, Philipp was Precinct Director at the Tonsley Innovation District, and for the University of South Australia and the CSIRO. Senior Manager – Industry programmes, Stuart Davis and Associate Professor – Future of Work at AITI, Dr Andreas Cebulla also contributed to this article.

See also today: Towards 3% R&D – A national strategy to reverse innovation slide by Dr John Howard

This series is brought to you through the support of our principal sponsor, public accounting, tax, consulting and business advisory BDO, and R&D tax incentive consultancy Michael Johnson Associates.

Picture: Philipp Dautel

Share this Story
Analysis and Commentary

Stay Informed

Go to Top