A new cooperative between defence industry and academia has been established to support the development of advanced manufacturing capability in the shipbuilding space.
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BAE Systems Australia has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Flinders University and the University of Strathclyde — operator of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland — to establish the Advanced Manufacturing Research Exchange.
The cooperative aims to strengthen research and development (R&D) cooperation, facilitating the development of international best practice for shipbuilding manufacturing methods and processes.
This is expected to include the exploration of:
- innovative applications of advanced manufacturing;
- digital tools and Industry 4.0 in shipbuilding;
- spanning automation and robotics;
- simulation and modelling;
- materials and light weighting; and
- welding and joining technologies.
The MoU was officially signed at a ceremony in Glasgow, where South Australia’s Deputy Premier Susan Close announced a $120,000 investment in the Advanced Manufacturing Research Exchange.
The Factory of the Future at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland are now expected to share expertise, paving the way for the adoption of new manufacturing technologies and processes.
Potential applications could include supporting BAE Systems’ Hunter Class frigate program from the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia and future shipbuilding programs at the company’s Govan yard on the River Clyde.
Flinders University Professor John Spoehr, pro vice-chancellor of research innovation and director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute (AITI), welcomed the opportunity to drive innovation through cross-sector collaboration.
“Underpinning advanced shipbuilding research and industry collaboration in Australia and the UK, this agreement is bolstered by funding enabling post-doctoral researcher exchange and the sharing of specialised digital and advanced manufacturing skills to support the digital shipyard agenda,” Professor Spoehr said.
“Collaboration with BAE Systems ensures researchers at Flinders University and Strathclyde are engaging with the latest modern manufacturing processes on large-scale shipbuilding which can directly benefit from the accelerated adoption of new and innovative technologies, like those made by possible by our joint research expertise.”
BAE Systems Australia director, business development and continuous naval shipbuilding, Sharon Wilson, noted the importance of identifying new shipbuilding innovations in support of next-generation maritime capability.
“BAE Systems Australia’s maritime business is responsible for delivering nine of the world’s most advanced submarine-hunting warships for the Royal Australian Navy, which will be built by our highly skilled workforce at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.
“By embracing innovations and adopting world-leading research outcomes, we will improve our shipbuilding techniques and processes that will deliver cost and production efficiencies as well as safety improvements for our people.