Engineering design and high-value products such as carbon fibre aircraft components are taking Australia to the forefront of global manufacturing innovation.
Australia continues to be a global innovator in manufacturing says Professor Murray Scott, chief executive of the CRC for Advanced Composite Structures (CRC-ACS).
“There are plenty of good news stories to be told about Australian manufacturing. We just need to be reminded of them a bit more often,” he says.
Professor Scott will be speaking on future challenges facing Australia’s manufacturing sector at the CRC Association’s annual conference at Parliament House in Canberra on 26 May. He’ll be part of a panel discussing what drives manufacturing innovation and will be emphasising the role the CRC program has played in creating new products, skills and export markets.
“The CRCs are still the best mechanism for engaging in the kind of long-term, industry-focussed research that’s needed to drive high-impact outcomes for manufacturing,” Professor Scott says.
Over the past 25 years, the CRC program has been behind many success stories in innovative Australian manufacturing, and CRC-ACS has been a standout.
One of its projects – developing technologies for composite wing trailing edge devices such as flaps and ailerons for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner commercial aircraft – is creating more than 3,300 direct and local flow-on jobs in Australia and will earn more than $4 billion in manufacturing export revenue over the life of the aircraft construction program. The production parts are manufactured in Port Melbourne and shipped to the 787 assembly plant in the United States.
And, when the US President Barack Obama visited Australia in 2011, he gave a nod to the project in his speech to federal parliament. “Our workers are creating new partnerships and new products, like the advanced aircraft technologies we build together in Victoria,” President Obama said.
CRC-ACS innovations include novel assembly methods for composite structures, retrofit technologies to improve the crash safety of military helicopters, and lightweight composite clamps to repair oil & gas pipelines.
“Most things in modern society are underpinned by engineering, and Australia already has a global reputation for innovative design. It is one of our acknowledged strengths in manufacturing,” Professor Scott says.
“A major characteristic of the many CRC success stories has been the high knowledge content that has contributed to new products and skills. Developing unique approaches to design and manufacture of high quality products is a critical factor in achieving commercial success, and the CRC program brings industry and researchers together to do that.”
The CRC Association’s annual conference is celebrating 25 years of science impact and achievement by the national research program. The CRCs were created in 1990 to bring scientists and industries together to work on some of the biggest challenges facing Australia.
These have included better bushfire science, manufacturing, digital technology, biosecurity, sustainable farming, water management and mental health issues underpinning the unacceptably high suicide rate among young people.
“The CRCs are an Australian success story. They were designed to create research impact, and their 25 year record of achievement speaks for itself,” says CRC Association chief executive Dr Tony Peacock.
Details of the conference program can be found at http://australia2040.com.au/