The CSIRO has released a roadmap on advanced manufacturing, that sets out a vision to transform Australia’s manufacturing industry over the next 20 years into a “highly integrated, collaborative and export-focused ecosystem that provides high-value customised solutions within global value chains.”
It says that, under this vision:
- Australian manufacturers will be more customer and export-focussed, deeply integrating within global value chains;
- The sector will place greater focus on pre-production (design, R&D) and post-production (after-sales services) value adding, and sustainable and high margin customised manufacturing;
he majority of manufacturing growth will come from increased global value chain operations in aerospace and defence; transport; pharmaceuticals and medical technologies; scientific instruments; and mining equipment, technology and services.
At the centre of the CSIRO’s vision is “an ecosystem where businesses, research, education and customers work together, often in co-located clusters, to allow for improved transfer of knowledge … [enhancing] the number and impact of technology breakthroughs and increase the rate at which these innovations are commercialised.”
The vision eschews the idea of creating large manufacturing firms. It says that, instead of aiming to grow into large businesses, Australian SMEs should “shift from the micro to medium scale, operating within niche markets that supply to multinational organisations as well as being exporters in their own right.”
Small is beautiful
Staying small and retaining their agility and adaptability will, it argues, allow Australian SMEs to continually meet changing customer demands. “While the global manufacturing market continues to transform, Australian manufacturers – both big and small – will learn to embrace the volatility and build resilience into their strategic planning.”
It adds: “ This rate of change is no longer feared, but instead seen as an unlimited supply of emerging opportunities.”
CSIRO says it has worked closely with businesses to develop the roadmap, which it intends to be a bridge between high-level sector strategies and specific technology roadmaps.
The roadmap says businesses and the supporting manufacturing ecosystem (industry bodies, suppliers, research, education, investors and government) need to invest in a variety of science, technology and business enablers and it discusses these enablers and recommends actions that are designed to best position Australian manufacturing for the long-term opportunities identified.
The roadmap was developed though a series of workshops to bring together businesses from a range of manufacturing industries, one-on-one interviews manufacturing businesses and a survey of businesses and industry bodies to identify Australia’s manufacturing comparative advantages and disadvantages.
Key technologies identified
The roadmap identifies five key science and technology areas for the future of Australian manufacturing:
- sensors and data analytics;
- advanced materials;
- mart robotics and automation;
- additive manufacturing (3D printing);
- augmented and virtual reality.
It says Australian manufacturers must transform the way they run their businesses if they are to realise the full potential of these technologies, and invest in new knowledge and practices including:
- greater focus on, and participation in, global value chains;
- an improved ability to attract and retain staff with skills in digital literacy, leadership, customer interface and STEM capabilities;
- a more diverse workforce (age, gender, ethnicity);
- improved business-to-business collaboration and less fear of local competition;
- improved collaboration and alignment between industry and research.