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Flinders University – providing a robotic hand in developing Australia’s future factories

By Yaz Dedovic, Media Advisor, Office of Communication and Engagement, Flinders University


Professor John Spoehr, Director, Flinders’ Australian Industrial Transformational Institute
Professor John Spoehr, Director, Flinders’ Australian Industrial Transformational Institute

Flinders University has partnered with German technology giant Festo to establish one of the few Future Factories in the Southern Hemisphere to explore how digital technologies can reliably help Australian and international industry partners manufacture the next generation of advanced products.

The state of the art Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub (TMI) is driving practical and research opportunities into the role of advanced robotics in manufacturing systems, with the support of the South Australian Government and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).

Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says by showcasing and promoting the application of Industry 4.0 capacity, Flinders aims to accelerate understanding of how cloud-based production systems can be integrated into factories to revolutionise the way companies in advanced economies design and build their products. “TMI’s centrepiece is South Australia’s first Cyber-physical (CP) Factory – a state of the art i4.0 education, training and research facility. The CP Factory is a ‘Factory of the Future’, showcasing the latest automation, sensor, monitoring and robotic technologies. “As a leading creator of knowledge and innovation that has extraordinary potential in manufacturing and defence, we are in turn contributing to the continued transformation of South Australia’s economy by helping to fuel growth of the industries of the future” Professor Stirling says.

Director of Flinders’ Australian Industrial Transformational Institute Professor John Spoehr says TMI will greatly improve industry partners’ understanding of how robotics and automation can be applied to design and manufacturing methods. “TMI will play a key role in accelerating the growth of advanced manufacturing by skilling our future workforce, with the adoption of digital technologies in South Australia giving rise to a new generation of manufacturers and highly skilled jobs”.

Volker Schmid, Head of Asia Pacific for Festo Didactic, and Ambassador Dr Anna Prinz, German Ambassador to Australia

With globally established companies and start-ups already setup at Tonsley, the centre will provide critical education and training which could lead to opportunities in the expanding Defence industry, before large naval projects begin in South Australia. “Companies that engage with the TMI will greatly improve their chances of successful participation in defence supply chains to tap into the $90 billion worth of shipbuilding projects taking place in South Australia” Professor Spoehr says. Spearheading the development of 4.0 capacity with Flinders is Festo Didactic Head of Asia Pacific, Volker Schmid.

“We’re extremely delighted to join hands with Flinders University to jointly compose further frameworks of cooperation in all aspects of training, research, curricula development and human resource development in the context of Industry 4.0” Mr Schmid says.

One of the leading manufacturers based at the TMI Hub will be SAGE Automation. Adrian Fahey, Chief Executive of SAGE Group says the Innovation Hub is an opportunity to build links between education and industry. “Being a part of this Hub gives is an opportunity to continue to focus on what we’re doing in industry 4.0, but also to tap into some of the new thinking from the institutes and the University and collaborate to deliver the very best thinking for our clients” Mr Fahey says.


Read more about the Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub:

Flinders University

Flinders University is a globally connected, locally engaged institution that exemplifies teaching, learning and research excellence. A member of the Innovative Research Universities network, Flinders ranks in the world’s top 2% of universities.

We’re making a difference in areas such as molecular science and technology, defence, engineering, water and environment, to medicine, mental health, and digital health. ERA ranks 90% of our research at or above world standard. Our high tech Tonsley campus is located within South Australia’s premier Innovation District, facilitating our engagement with companies committed to the development and application of advanced technologies. Tonsley is also home to the Flinders New Venture Institute, a leader in entrepreneurship programs.


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