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Proposed Future Factory to transform manufacturing

The proposed A$ 50 million Flinders University-led Australian Centre for Innovative Manufacturing (ACIM) at Tonsley will be the nation’s first reconfigurable ‘Future Factory’.

As reported, the Future Factory will connect Australian companies with the latest manufacturing technologies and research expertise as well as provide training to modernise workforces.

Australian Centre for Innovative Manufacturing

The advanced manufacturing test bed facility, which is 4000 sq. metres in size, will be located at the University’s award-winning Tonsley Innovation District.

It is expected to play a key role in providing state of the art facilities that will explore the application of new technologies capable of manufacturing next generation products.

Advanced technologies are transforming manufacturing around the world, fuelling the growth of new and existing companies and generating thousands of well-paid and rewarding jobs.

The Centre will be established with a mandate to create jobs and promote growth in areas of strategic importance to Australia.

This includes defence and aerospace, construction, medical devices/assistive technologies, wine and food and minerals and energy.

Step change strategies are needed to enable Australia and South Australia to be at the centre of this technological revolution.

Future Factory

Large scale ‘Factories of the Future’ are playing a key role in accelerating this transition in the UK, Europe and the United States because they bring researchers and companies together in purpose built facilities to explore innovation of existing technologies and experimentation with new technologies.

Advanced manufacturing technologies featured at ACIM could include:

  1. Automation
  2. Robotics
  3. Collaborative robots (Cobotics)
  4. Digitally assisted assembly
  5. Photonic sensing
  6. Land and maritime autonomous systems

The Centre will be an affiliate of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield, UK, which is the world’s leading advanced manufacturing accelerator funded by the UK Government’s Industry Catapult Program.

Moreover, it will work closely with the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) to support the application of new manufacturing technologies for shipbuilding.

The Centre will encourage a “can-do” culture, where students can interact with business and where business interacts with researchers to transform manufacturing processes of the 21st Century.

Economic benefits

ACIM is expected to generate A$ 182 million in economic activity for South Australia and create more than 750 jobs.

It will incorporate more than 200 academics from the University, employ an additional 20 researchers and technical personnel and be capable of hosting up to 50 industry personnel working collaboratively on multiple projects.

The facility will also provide accredited courses in manufacturing and in industry 4.0, advanced education and training for up to 1000 students each year and accommodate up to 50 post-graduate students.

The centre has already attracted significant industry support, most notably in the shipbuilding sector where the benefits of advanced manufacturing practices will be significant.

It will significantly lower the barriers to entry that many companies face when considering the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies and play a brokerage role in helping to connect companies to key enabling technologies and research capabilities.

The University will invest A$ 10 million towards land, capital and operational costs while A$ 30 million investment has been sought from the Federal and State Governments towards capital, equipment and operational costs. Industry investment is expected to be more than A$ 10 million over the short term.

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