The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub: an industry-led approach to innovation and research collaboration

Cori Stewart

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The digital transformation of manufacturing is happening now, and is accelerating at an unprecedented rate across the globe. Countries and regions are asserting their competitive strengths through industry policies that seek to secure their place in the emerging, but not yet prescribed, global network of advanced manufacturing production.

This paper outlines Australia’s bold new approach to industry-university collaboration, designed to boost the nation’s manufacturing competitiveness: an industry-led innovation centre dubbed the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub (ARM Hub). The ARM Hub is a commercially-embedded, advanced manufacturing ‘learning factory’ that leverages Australia’s globally-competitive strengths in robotics and design-led manufacturing.

The primary challenge addressed by the ARM Hub is servicing the digital transformation needs of the Australian manufacturing industry, where over 95% of companies are small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), and the majority of these (over 90%) are small companies (under 15 employees). To meet the diverse needs of SMEs, the ARM Hub has brought together industry, government and research institutions to facilitate technology adoption and innovation in SMEs as well as start-up companies, and to support collaboration with larger companies to accelerate access to the global marketplace.

The ARM Hub functions as a type of network orchestrator: a multifaceted role encompassing that of knowledge broker, innovation broker, innovation service provider, network entrepreneur and leader/strategist. The ARM Hub will engage with the breadth of manufacturing functions across industry sectors, from medical devices to construction. The company is scheduled to launch late 2019. In its first four years the ARM Hub aims to:

• Provide leadership in advanced robotics and design-led manufacturing, to accelerate SME adoption of advanced manufacturing
• Drive R&D for advanced manufacturing to increase the scale and capability of manufacturers
• Engage with other sectors to share knowledge and collaboratively expand Australia’s global market access
• Drive business-to-business advanced manufacturing, growing the economy and creating new high-value jobs

The ARM Hub also provides opportunity for manufacturing industries globally to collaborate and engage with Australia’s world-class industry and research capabilities.