Australian manufacturing: are we ready for the information age?
Australia needs to play to its strengths and transition from traditional manufacturing into new areas of competitive advantage, a white paper from the CSIRO has suggested.
The CSIRO proposes the direction for such a move in Equipping Australian Manufacturing for the Information Age: iManufacturing – Is Australia Ready?.
The paper aims to generate discussion among Australian industry to prepare them for the move away from 20th century modes of production and allow them to compete on the world market.
The CSIRO said opportunities exist both domestically and internationally in the market for high valued, niche manufactured goods and associated services produced here if Australian industry were to adopt and utilise modern information technology and develop the associated skills to make best use of it.
Recognising the worldwide trend towards smaller batches of production, customised products, rapid prototyping, agile manufacturing processes and an emphasis on increased 'servitisation', the report's authors warn that Australian manufacturers must develop appropriate business models and prepare themselves for increasingly innovative and competitive offerings in terms of price and flexibility in their domestic and international market niches.
The paper talks about businesses growing and evolving from the use of traditional IT-based technologies and into eManufacturing (dependent on cloud-based services) or progress further into iManufacturing (or informatics-linked manufacturing).
Transitioning to iManufacturing
To compete globally, the report says, enterprises need to have the right skills and tools to do business, adapt to the future, including:
- Develop workers which combine not only eSkills (general computer/internet abilities) but also iSkills (understanding data, connectedness, the Internet of Things, servitisation) and manufacturing expertise
- Encourage and develop materialisation technologies that more rapidly turn digital, customised data into physical outputs
- Develop collaborations and networks at local and global scales that are not only engaged at the human communications level but are sharers of data, resources, and processes
- Improve supply chain interoperability and material flow efficiencies
- Move manufacturing industries increasingly into the service spaces – the servitisation of manufacturing
- Develop appropriate business models that maximise the potential that these new technologies provide.
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