RMIT University in Melbourne has been chosen as the site for a new Industrial Digital Innovation Hub to help Australian businesses transform for Industry 4.0.
RMIT have signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with global automation giants Siemens and Festo to explore major areas of cooperation that includes the establishment of the new Hub to service the Australasian region.
In a statement, RMIT says the Hub will be designed to enable digital innovation at scale in a collaborative effort across different cultures, disciplines, geographical locations and industry environments. Eventually, it will be linked RMIT’s campuses in Vietnam.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of RMIT’s College of Science, Engineering and Health, and Vice President for Digital Innovation Professor Aleks Subic said the agreement represented a new model of public-private sector partnership based on collaborative systems leadership at a scale never seen before in Australia.
“It’s time to think big with Industry 4.0,” Subic said.
“An industrial revolution doesn’t discriminate – it impacts every sector and therefore requires a multi-disciplinary approach with a holistic view across the entire continuum of education and training from TAFE through to Higher Education.
“We expect as many as 10,000 RMIT students across a range of disciplines in engineering, science, technology, health and design to access some of the most advanced industrial software available over the next three years.”
Subic says it has never been more important to build a facility that allows collaborative interdisciplinary teams to co-design and co-create remotely across borders and industry sectors.
The Industrial Digital Innovation Hub will be partly funded through a “significant” hi-tech industrial software grant by Siemens.
These funds will be managed out of the RMIT Advanced Manufacturing Precinct, a key Industry 4.0 facility focused on digital manufacturing and design.
Siemens Australia Chairman and CEO, Jeff Connolly said the fourth industrial revolution has significant implications for energy, healthcare, transport, building and construction, engineering, sustainability as well as advanced manufacturing.
“The announcement comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is fundamentally forcing Australians and Australian businesses to look for new ways to keep the engines of the economy running,” he said.
Collaborative approach to education and training
Connolly says digitalisation has no borders and Australia must learn how its economy can participate in ways which won’t require people in factories or an office or at a site.
The new hub will be the cornerstone of a number of initiatives being explored as part of the MoU by the three organisations in a collaborative approach to education and training.
Festo Didactics’ Australian and New Zealand Manager, Damien Sinclair said digitalisation and the integration of Industry 4.0 technologies are opening a world of opportunity for the future workforce.
“As we encompass more Industry 4.0 and advanced manufacturing technologies, we also see an increase in cohesion and interlinking of learning. No longer is there such a divide within different areas of academia and in industry,” he said.
“COVID-19 has changed our mindset for how we work and what is possible.
“It has created a great transformation in our learning environment, showing how opportunities exist and how we may further embrace digitalisation, virtual and mixed reality platforms and continuous digital learning as key parts of the future in education, manufacturing and broader workforce environments.”
Caption: (from left) Siemens Australia Chairman and CEO Jeff Connolly, RMIT Pro Vice-Chancellor Vocational Education Mish Eastman, RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor College of Science, Engineering and Health, and Vice-President for Digital Innovation Professor Aleks Subic and Festo Didactics ANZ Manager Damien Sinclair at the Advanced Manufacturing Precinct in Melbourne.