Advances in manufacturing

DMTC’s Factory in a Box project involves Sutton Tools as the industry partner, with RMIT, University of Queensland and the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre. The project seeks to realise benefits of Industry 4.0 adoption for Australian SMEs and, in turn, to build their credibility and prospects of engaging in defence sector supply chains.

Many commercial offerings related to the adoption of Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things technologies focus on the installation of customised, large-scale manufacturing equipment. By contrast, DMTC’s approach will assist Australian defence SMEs to take vital early steps on the digital transition journey. The concept is to offer a low-cost entry point for SMEs, helping them to understand the commercial return associated with Industry 4.0 investments before moving forward.

A key element of DMTC’s solution is the ability to retrofit the Factory in a Box package of technology to legacy equipment within an SME’s manufacturing facilities, overcoming perceptions that digitalisation is a high-cost or green-field activity.

Use of smart sensors and other digital tools to create a real-time view of a company’s end-to-end processes (sometime referred to as a digital twin) helps to ensure that management decisions are based on hard data, and is a critical step towards full-scale realisation of the benefits of Industry 4.0.

Significant progress has already been made, with manufacturing and testing of several elements of a demonstrator system and the investigation of additive manufacturing techniques to expedite production schedules.

The project is also addressing organisational culture issues by taking a ‘shopfloor’ approach to Industry 4.0, ensuring the whole of the business is engaged on the journey. The deployment of the Factory in a Box will assist SMEs to develop a company-wide Digital Strategy and will be supported by a comprehensive training package.

Future phases of the project are already envisaged, including the possible deployment of Factory in a Box training through DMTC’s Industry Capability Development program.

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