Australia’s manufacturing industry is making a comeback, with the Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index indicating a strong pace of recovery, and a faster rate of expansion. This is largely being driven by federal government investment in the industry, particularly in areas such as green manufacturing.
As the government continues to invest in building the manufacturing sector, opportunities are growing for local manufacturers. However, as the industry re-emerges, competition will also rapidly grow. Manufacturers that use a combination of smart and green technologies, which involve automated processes and renewable energy, for example, are likely to perform much better than those that take a more traditional manufacturing approach.
The future of Australian manufacturing will be based on renewable technologies, the green-collar workforce comprised of environmental and sustainability experts, and smart manufacturing technologies that drive process efficiencies. This will lead to more manufacturing opportunities in areas such as sustainable transportation, lithium battery production and related products, and green hydrogen. Australian green steel is already paving the way for green manufacturing globally using hydrogen and carbon from old tyres and plastics as an alternative for coal and coke in the steelmaking process.
Australia’s green manufacturing future will depend on smart green technologies that give manufacturers the capability to optimise production efficiencies and seamlessly incorporate new raw materials and processes within the production line. Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap supports accelerating the development, manufacture, and commercialisation of new low-emissions manufacturing technologies. For example, new cloud-based manufacturing platforms use real-time data gathered from internet-enabled devices on production facilities, transport fleets, networks, grids and more to provide specific services for design, production and delivery. This optimises workflows and reduces energy use by allowing for fast and easy changes to the type and quantity of items being made, which lets producers reduce costs, improve labour productivity and machine efficiency, reduce raw materials inventory and increase production rates. Advanced manufacturing software manages changing levels of production on demand, which helps improve yield and profits as customer demand evolves. Key environmental benefits of this type of technology include a reduction in raw material use, lower energy consumption, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Australian manufacturing company, Nupress, is leading the industry in the use of smart technology that delivers adaptability throughout the digital chain by automating the creation of thousands of unique parts from a single intelligent 3D model. This optimises energy use and reduces manufacturing waste. It also significantly reduces manufacturing cost and time compared to legacy manufacturing methods. The streamlined workflow capability that Nupress has achieved allows the company to scale and adapt to take advantage of emerging green manufacturing techniques without needing significant investment in new production processes.
The clear winners in Australia’s manufacturing industry leading into 2030 are likely to be those that use smart technologies to enable green manufacturing in their production processes. Manufacturers that can consistently deliver high-quality finished products tailored to customer needs will become the manufacturers of choice within Australia. To be among the leaders of green manufacturing globally, manufacturers must also capitalise on opportunities to reduce emissions and support circular economies through the reuse of materials in the manufacturing process, and implement zero-waste initiatives.