Flinders to establish Australia’s first reconfigurable ‘Future Factory’ at Tonsley  

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Flinders University has unveiled plans for a new Australian Centre for Innovative Manufacturing (ACIM) that would generate $182 million in economic activity for South Australia and create more than 750 jobs.

The proposed $50 million centre, to be located at Flinders’ award winning Tonsley Innovation District, is intended to be the nation’s first reconfigurable ‘Future Factory’, connecting Australian companies with the latest manufacturing technologies, research expertise and providing training to modernise workforces.

Federal Labor has made a $20 million commitment to support the delivery of the 4000m2 advanced manufacturing test bed facility while Flinders will invest $10m towards land, capital and operational costs.

The University said in a statement that a $30 million investment has been sought from the Federal and State Governments towards capital, equipment and operational costs, with a further $10 million to be brought to the table by industry participants.

Professor John Spoehr, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research Impact and Director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute, said ACIM will be tasked with creating create jobs and promoting growth in areas of strategic importance to Australia including defence and aerospace, construction, medical devices/assistive technologies, wine and food and minerals and energy.

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“This is an initiative that transcends politics and is deserving of broad support in the state’s – and the nation’s –  interest,” Professor Spoehr continued.

“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.”

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

It will be an affiliate of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield, UK – the world’s leading advanced manufacturing accelerator – and will also 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 provide accredited courses in manufacturing and in industry 4.0, advanced education and training for up to 1000 students.

It has already attracted significant in the shipbuilding sector, most notably by BAE Systems and SAGE. BAE will explore the potential applications of robotics and automation technologies in shipbuilding, while SAGE plans to co-locate its Skills Lab Head office and main laboratory in ACIM.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said the facility 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.

“We’re helping to revolutionise the way we live and work, by placing Australia at the forefront of Industry 4.0 change to help accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing companies and jobs” Professor Stirling concluded.

Image credit: news.flinders.edu.au