RMIT goes Industry 4.0 with Siemens and Festo

Published on the 02/07/2020 | Written by Heather Wright

Workplace Transformation_Industry 4.0

Building business-education links for Industry 4.0…

Australia’s RMIT University has launched a new Industry 4.0 push, teaming up with Siemens and German automation specialist and industrial trainer Festo Didactic to establish an Industrial Digital Innovation Hub for Australasia.

The companies have ambitious plans for the Melbourne hub, at RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct, to ‘help drive workforce transformation for Industry 4.0’ across the region. It’s designed to facilitate digital progress at scale across different geographic locations, disciplines and industry environments, eventually linking RMIT in Australia with its Vietnamese campuses.

“An industrial revolution doesn’t discriminate – it impacts every sector and therefore requires a multi-disciplinary approach.”

KPMG says the fourth industrial revolution represents a ‘multi-trillion dollar’ opportunity for Australia. But a report from the professional services company found Australia was at risk of falling behind in Industry 4.0 technologies, with less than half of business leaders surveyed having a good understanding of Industry 4.0 and its implications, and maturity lacking.

Meanwhile, earlier this year a Deloitte Industry 4.0 survey found a big mismatch between the current skill sets of graduates and those needed in the future, with 57 percent of the 2,000 C-suite executives surveyed believing the education system was inadequately preparing incoming workers.

That’s a mismatch the new hub, which will be established with a ‘significant’ high-tech industrial software grant from Siemens, will be looking to address with its strong education-business (albeit vendor) ties.

“It has never been more important to provide this type of industrial digital environment for the development of workforce of the future, that allows collaborative interdisciplinary teams to co-design and co-create remotely across borders and industry sectors,” says Aleks Subic, deputy vice-chancellor of RMIT’s College of Science, Engineering and Health and vice president for digital innovation.

“It’s time to think big with Industry 4.0. 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,” Subic says.

Festo Didactic’s Australian and New Zealand manager, Damien Sinclair says as we encompass more Industry 4.0 and advanced manufacturing technologies, there is an increase in cohesion and interlinking of learning.

“No longer is there such as divide within different areas of academia and industry,” Sinclair says.

Siemens Australia chairman and CEO, Jeff Connolly, says the memorandum of understanding between the three organisations comes as increasing numbers of industries are impacted by digital technologies.

“The fourth industrial revolution describes the impact on manufacturing, but the reality is that it has significant implications for energy, healthcare, transport, building and construction, engineering, sustainabilty as well as advanced manufacturing,” he says.

“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.

“It’s fitting to establish an Industrial Digital Innovation Hub because digitalisation has no borders and we have to learn how our economy can participate in ways which won’t require us to be in a factory or an office or at a site,” Connolley says.

Subic says up to 10,000 RMIT students, across a range of disciplines in engineering, science, technology, health and design are expected to ‘access some of the most advanced industrial software available over the next three years’.

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