Humanity Drives Automation
Automation and Robotics park
Project 412 creating a project to build a world class Automation and Robtoics industrail park in Western Australia. Project 412 is seeking partners who wish to be involved in the fantastic opportunity to build Australia's capacity.
The Resource sector has been an early adopter of automation and robotics, with the Pilbara region of Western Australia home to the largest fleets of autonomous haul trucks in the world. This automation and robotics revolution will continue to accelerate over the next decade to ensure Australia’s resource-based economy remains competitive. A recent report from AlphaBeta suggests that if this capability to deliver autonomous and robotic solutions is developed locally it will realize over $70 billion to the economy and create 80,000 new jobs. This will not happen naturally, and it will require a whole of industry approach to realise this vision. Without a competitive local supply chain, these automation and robotics products will be sourced overseas. Australia will need to compete with the world’s leading locations for these products and services. The AlphaBeta report lays out the strategic elements required for this transition and the call to action from key actors including Industry, Government and Educators.
Currently, a considerable proportion of this equipment in mining was either developed or tested in the US, from two key locations, Pittsburgh and Phoenix/Tucson. Caterpillar, Komatsu and BHP all have test mines for testing and developing autonomous haul trucks in the Phoenix/Tucson area. Understanding how these locations dominate this space will assist in understanding what needs to be done in Australia to build a competitive location. The Automation and Robotics Park has been designed from understanding the lessons of these two locations and to be a competitive solution that will kick start Australia’s push to realise the potential from the AlphaBeta report.
Project 412 proposes is to establish the Automation and Robotics Park as a jointly funded entity to promote and develop the advanced field technologies supply chain (cluster) for the energy resources and mining sectors, with 4 key objectives:
Establishes and develops the cluster and necessary support infrastructure, with Perth, Western Australia as the initial cluster, with additional nodes where further demand is identified; (physical location)
Strengthens collaboration between primary firms, supply chain firms and educational and research and development institutions; (Incentives to compete with Pittsburgh and Tucson)
Develops an entrepreneurial eco-system where there is access to funding, availability of skills, places to work, locations to innovate and an ability to reach potential customers easily (access to testing facilities); and
Builds skills and the research and development platform, working with educational and research and development institutions to improve short and long term skills in advanced field technologies and incentivize key research and development activities. (Research and Development capabilities around automation and robotic to compete on a global stage.
The competitiveness of Australia’s advanced field technology supply chain, supporting automation and robotics in the energy resources and mining sectors, was compared with successful clusters around the world such as Pittsburgh, Phoenix and The Hague using these nine drivers of cluster competitiveness. The conclusion of this assessment is that it compares very favourably in terms of the strength of domestic and global demand in the energy resources and mining sectors and somewhat favourably in technological advantage, more so in the mining sector than in energy resources. It does not compare as well in innovation and research and development, commercialisation of technology, skills and capability, collaboration and regulation and policy. For Australia to remain competitive and increase jobs over the long term, these market failures require a coordinated, strategic approach to developing and leveraging technology locally with the intent of global category leadership.
To overcome these deficiencies, to create a successful cluster and to ensure the inevitable adoption of automation and robotics in Australia adds maximum value to the economy and creates jobs, the report recommends primary firms and government will need to work together to build a vibrant, innovative, internationally competitive and export capable supply chain by:
Bringing industry and government leaders to the table and committing to develop this capability together.
Setting up a cluster around automation and robotics technology in an appropriate location with the right governance and branding. International experience shows that when well-managed, clusters facilitate innovation, collaboration and knowledge sharing to everyone’s benefit.
Developing an entrepreneurship ecosystem where there is a thriving marketplace for commercial technology. This means an environment where there is access to funding, availability of skills, places to work, locations to innovate and importantly ability to reach potential customers easily.
Building skills and a research and development platform through universities, TAFEs and firms that will meet the rising demand for skills and innovation. Meeting the new skills demand and improving the research and development process will be two of the biggest challenges to remaining internationally competitive in the long run and will require a cross-industry approach.