Manufacturers flock to Industry 4.0 at Leaders’ Forum

A room full of manufacturers at the AUSPACK Leaders Forum was testimony to the importance that the packaging and processing sector is currently placing on Industry 4.0.

Attendees made it clear that with manufacturing facing several significant challenges, including supply issues, surging demand, shortened lead times, and rising staffing shortages, Industry 4.0 could be a solution to take them forward.

The Leaders’ Forum at AUSPACK included a panel discussion with vastly experienced industry professionals, and touched on Industry 5.0, which is probably best described as Industry 4.0 with a social conscience.

The session opened with a presentation by CSIRO heavy-hitter Christian Ruberg, the organisation’s Future Digital Manufacturing Lead, who said there were “trillion dollar opportunities” in future industries, citing areas including the hydrogen economy and the circular economy as key.

He gave a strong warning that Australia needed to be fully focused, saying Australia “cannot leave the future to the Europeans, the Japanese or the Americans”. He said, “We must work collaboratively. Industry 4.0 is part of the platform, but we must all think strategically.”

Industry 4.0, according to Ruberg, includes the IoT, big data analytics, AI, ML (machine learning) AR and VR, and autonomous machines. 

Ruberg said the mega trends pushing manufacturing to Industry 4.0 included artificial intelligence, climate adaption and new social connections such as 5G, Meta and @Edge. Pitfalls he said included the tyranny of time poverty.

He then went on to outline the six major challenges facing CSIRO as it works to Industry 4.0 implementation for Australian manufacturing, including security for the future, food security, sustainable energy, health and wellbeing, resilient and valuable environments, and future industries.

Following Ruberg’s opening presentation the Forum moved to panel mode, where he was joined by Simon Dawson, director of Industrial Transformation at IMCRC; Barry Hendy, managing director of Andrew Donald Design Engineering; and Allen Frydman, founder and managing director of DC Works.

Dawson spoke first outlining his 30 year experience, and why he believes Industry 4.0 will become a major factor in local manufacturing. He cited examples he had already seen such as a robot laser clamped inside someone’s mouth to perform dental work, and a kangaroo tail being used for human bone repair. When it came to Industry 5.0 he looked to the fashion industry as an example, saying that while Industry 4.0 would enable on-demand clothes manufacturers to make clothes for your exact shape from the data they held, Industry 5.0 would put all that through the matrix of environmental impact.

Frydman said Industry 4.0 would enable the myriad compromises that manufacturing plants have to continually make to be significantly lessened thanks to connectivity.

Barry Hendy however, said he is still not convinced that Industry 4.0 is “little more than a marketing term”, saying as a systems integrator his business is already pulling together various parts into a greater whole, and also pointing out the difficulties of data collection from small operators.

Attendees were told that Industry 4.0 was a concept first identified by former German chancellor Angela Merkel. Ruberg made it clear that the world of 10, 20 and 30 years’ time was going to be significantly different to the world of today, and, he said, all manufacturing businesses needed to think long and hard about how they were going to adapt to the future, with Industry 4.0 in his view being a major part of that future, for if not a business, and the country as a whole, would be left trailing behind.


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