The fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, is affecting almost every industry worldwide. It is rapidly transforming how businesses operate.
Industry 4.0 uses transformative technologies to connect the physical world with the digital world. Current trends include:
- advanced automation and robotics (including collaborative robots or ‘cobots’)
- machine-to-machine and human-to-machine communication
- artificial intelligence and machine learning
- sensor technology and data analytics
Four key drivers enable this trend:
- rising data volumes, computational power and connectivity
- emerging analytics and business-intelligence capabilities
- new forms of human-machine interaction, such as touch interfaces, augmented and virtual reality systems
- improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world, such as robotics and 3D printing
Benefits of Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 technologies have potential to provide a major boost to Australia’s economic competitiveness. They can substantially offset our traditional challenges such as high labour costs and distance to markets.
Benefits and opportunities include:
- better connectivity between customers and supply chains through real-time access to production information, logistics and monitoring
- greater flexibility for businesses to produce differentiated products and services to tap unmet consumer demands, compete in global markets and capture emerging opportunities
- enhanced workplace safety, production and improvements across the entire value chain
Our Industry 4.0 initiatives are creating an environment that will allow businesses to grow, explore new models and embrace technologies.
Industry 4.0 initiatives
Collaborating with Germany
The Prime Minister's Industry 4.0 Taskforce formalised information sharing and collaboration between Australia and Germany on Industry 4.0. This taskforce was established following the release of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group report, which recommended government and industry in both countries collaborate on Industry 4.0 and develop global standards.
On 25 April 2017, the taskforce signed a cooperation agreement with Germany’s Plattform Industrie 4.0 [1.6MB PDF] [710KB DOCX]. Australia is one of only five countries with cooperative agreements with Germany.
Adopting Industry 4.0 in Australia
The Industry 4.0 Testlabs in Australia report, released by the taskforce, explores the principles and framework for adopting Industry 4.0 in Australia by establishing testlabs. Standards Australia published a report on Industry 4.0 from an Australian Perspective as part of this work.
To strengthen the industry-led nature of the taskforce, it is now called the Industry 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing Forum and is hosted by Australian Industry Group. The forum continues work on:
- reference architectures, standards and norms
- research and innovation
- security of networked systems
- test laboratories, future of work, education and training
The $5 million Industry 4.0 Testlabs pilot program prepares businesses to transition to the smart factories of the future. The pilot program will establish Industry 4.0 Testlabs at five Australian universities.
Building on the recommendations of the Industry 4.0 Testlabs in Australia report, these testlabs will:
- provide a physical space for businesses and researchers to trial, explore and showcase Industry 4.0 technologies and processes
- enable educational institutions and industry, particularly small and medium enterprises, to collaborate
- develop skills needed to take full advantage of opportunities presented by Industry 4.0
The pilot program opened in September 2018 and will determine support for further test facilities.
Higher Apprenticeship Program
This Industry 4.0 Higher Apprenticeship Program trains technicians to a higher skill level to meet the needs of the economy of the future. The Australian Government funds the apprenticeship program through the Skilling Australians Fund. It is led by Australian Industry Group.
The program model is similar to traditional paid apprenticeship. Apprentices will also enrol in an Associate Degree which covers topics including:
- advanced manufacturing processes
- automation and robotics
- Internet of Things
- cloud computing
- advanced algorithms
- smart sensors
Priority Growth Sectors and Industry 4.0
Australia’s current industry sectors of competitive strength and strategic priority are:
- cyber security
- food and agribusiness
- medical technologies and pharmaceuticals
- mining equipment, technology and services (METS)
- oil, gas and energy resources
The industry-led Growth Centres Initiative aims to drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness in these priority sectors. Examples of Growth Centre Industry 4.0 initiatives:
- Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre partnered with Robert Bosch Australia to develop an audit tool that identifies technological capability gaps preventing small and medium-sized manufacturers from embracing Industry 4.0. The tool will demonstrate the benefits of integrating digital technologies into operations and production processes.
- AustCyber partnered with Cybermerc, La Trobe University, Optus and deception.ai to build a next-generation Intrusion Detection System. Interconnecting physical machines and virtual domains, the system aims to reduce exposure time for sophisticated cyber actors inside networks.
- METS Ignited partnered with Resolution Systems to develop a fleet management software which allows operational areas of mine sites to communicate with each other. The software aims to increase mine truck fleet productivity by 20%.
- MTPConnect provided funding for Hospital 4.0, a cloud-based AI digital health platform. The platform aims to eliminate avoidable and preventable errors by automating best practice clinical guidelines and delivering real time information to decision makers.
Investing in science and technology
We will invest approximately $2.4 billion in growing Australia’s research, science and technology capabilities over the next 12 years to support a stronger and smarter economy.
This funding will include:
- world-class satellite imagery
- improving GPS across Australia
- upgrading the Bureau of Meteorology's technology platform
- a national space agency
- leading research in artificial intelligence
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
As part of the Taking Local Businesses Global initiative, $29.9 million will support Australian businesses and workers to develop artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.
This includes funding for:
- Cooperative Research Centre projects with a focus on artificial intelligence
- a national ethics framework to address standards and codes of conduct for adopting such technology in Australia
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT)
The Australian Council of Learned Academies will examine the opportunities, risks and benefits of AI applications and consider its impact. The findings will cover economic, social, environmental, ethical and cultural impacts that will help guide AI development in Australia over the next decade.
The Council will also examine the opportunities, risks and consequences of the IoT, and consider ways to foster technological leadership while ensuring responsible deployment. The findings will explore:
- the economics of IoT
- social and cultural perspectives of deployment
- educational needs
- governance requirements
- technological standards