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South Australia’s Digital Shipyard Transforms Shipbuilding Industry

Australia Flinders University
Photo Credit: Flinders University

Australia’s Flinders University is working with a shipbuilding business in a transformative collaboration that will bring Industry 4.0 and advanced manufacturing to the Hunter class frigates in South Australia’s new digital shipyard.

According to a recent press release, nine Hunter class frigates will be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy over the next three decades.

The Digital Shipyard

  • The new partnership will set up a digital test and trial laboratory as part of the University’s advanced manufacturing research facilities based at the Tonsley Innovation District in South Australia.
  • The researchers, the company and suppliers will be working together in the laboratory. They will be developing and testing the technologies that future shipyard workers will use at the new digital shipyard.
  • The digital shipyard is still currently under construction within the Osborne Naval Shipyard precinct.
  • The partnership will bring together the latest technologies from industries such as mining, automotive and construction.
  • The latest technologies will then be adapted, trialled and tested to suit the Hunter class frigate’s design – specifically for prototyping, which commences in December 2020.

A Fundamental Shift in Operations

The company’s Managing Director shared that applying digital technology in a ship building facility will require a fundamental shift in how the industry has traditionally operated.

A world-leading shipyard is being established in Australia. This will mean the following features of digital shipyard:

  1. Autonomous ground vehicles
  2. Paperless work orders
  3. Cobots
  4. Laser scanning and projection
  5. Virtual reality
  6. Part and tool tracking, among others

The partnership with some of the country’s leading researchers at Flinders University will help create an efficient, safe and productive shipyard.

This will be able to provide long term careers for future workers that are exciting, challenging and rewarding.

Who are Involved?

The University, for its part, is applying its research leadership in Industry 4.0 in order to contribute to faster, safer production and enhanced economic growth.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor explained that their expertise in industrial transformation will bring tangible benefits to the frigate project, which is one of the biggest defence investments in the nation’s history.

Industry 4.0 is a vital part of the digital transformation underway in manufacturing. This new research partnership with the company will help to solve the real world challenges faced in a modern shipyard.

The University finds it delightful to be a partner of choice and to be a part of this important defence research initiative, which will be pivotal to economic growth and workforce development in South Australia.

The shipbuilding company will be part of the ongoing development at the Tonsley Innovation District as the centre of advanced manufacturing research in South Australia and home to Flinders University’s Australian Industrial Transformation Institute.


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