Manufacturers’ Monthly July 2024

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In this issue’s Manufacturer Focus, we find out more about Hygiene Co. and their commitment to sustainable and domestic manufacturing. We spoke with co-founder, Phil Scardigno, to learn more about the company’s inception. Later in this edition, we speak with Trakka Systems, who discussed how Hardman Bros and R&I enabled their products.

Lastly, in this month’s Engineering Focus, we look at RMIT’s latest development, a low-carbon concrete. Happy reading!

Promising prospects for Australian manufacturing

As we step into the fiscal year 2024/25, the landscape of Australian manufacturing is set for a transformative journey, propelled by the newly announced federal budget. The latest strategic framework, the Future Made in Australia Act, along with substantial investments in various sectors, underscores the government’s commitment to bolstering the nation’s industrial capabilities and securing a prosperous, sustainable future.

The 2024/25 budget unveils a formidable $22.7 billion investment package under the Future Made in Australia Act, targeting key industries such as renewable hydrogen, critical minerals processing, green metals, low-carbon liquid fuels, and clean energy manufacturing, including battery and solar panel supply chains. This comprehensive approach not only addresses the pressing need for sustainable energy solutions but also positions Australia as a global leader in clean energy technologies.

Among the standout initiatives, the new $7bn critical minerals value-adding Production Tax Credit (PTC) is a significant step toward enhancing Australia’s critical minerals sector. This initiative, along with the additional $3.2bn for ARENA technology commercialisation and the $6.7bn hydrogen production tax incentive, exemplifies the government’s strategic focus on fostering innovation and driving economic growth through sustainable practices.

Tim Buckley, Director of Climate Energy Finance, aptly encapsulates the essence of this budget by emphasising the government’s understanding of the imperative to transition to a clean, green superpower. He highlights that this budget is not just a financial allocation but a strategic response to secure Australia’s place in the new net-zero world economy. Buckley’s insights resonate with the overarching goal of the budget, which aims to catalyse Australia’s

opportunity in a century, steering the nation away from its fossil fuel-reliant past.

In addition to the green energy initiatives, the 2024/25 budget also underscores the importance of bolstering Australia’s defence capabilities. With a staggering increase of $50bn, bringing the total to $764.6bn over the next decade, the budget ensures that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is well-equipped to meet contemporary and future challenges. The allocation of $330bn to the rebuilt Integrated Investment Program (IIP) reflects a commitment to not only enhancing national security but also strengthening the sovereign defence industry, creating jobs, and promoting local manufacturing.

Pat Conroy, Minister for Defence Industry, emphasises that the government’s investment in defence is about delivering capabilities that make Australians safer while simultaneously fostering a future made in Australia. The $11.1bn investment over the decade to support the Surface Combatant Fleet review and the additional $1bn for accelerating ADF preparedness are pivotal steps in enhancing the nation’s defence readiness and industrial strength.

The budget’s focus on local communities and businesses is further exemplified by the City of Sydney’s $2.2bn commitment over the next decade. This investment, aimed at supporting local businesses, creatives, and vulnerable communities, reflects a holistic approach to economic recovery and growth. The operational expenditure budget of $579.3 million over the next year, coupled with substantial investments in capital works, underscores the city’s dedication to maintaining and enhancing community infrastructure, thereby fostering a vibrant and resilient local economy.

Moreover, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) has welcomed

in Queensland. This landmark announcement, which includes establishing PsiQuantum’s AsiaPacific headquarters in Brisbane, signifies a major leap forward for Australia’s quantum industry. This investment will not only advance quantum technology but also create 400 jobs and support PhD positions, reinforcing Australia’s position as a global leader in this emerging field.

ATSE CEO Kylie Walker’s remarks highlight the transformative potential of this investment, enabling Australia to build on its early quantum computing success and fostering a strong innovation culture. This move aligns with the government’s broader strategy of supporting advanced manufacturing and technological advancements, which are critical for securing Australia’s economic resilience and competitiveness.

The new CommBank Manufacturing and Supply Chain Insights report further reinforces the optimistic outlook for the manufacturing sector. With 61 per cent of businesses targeting a moderate or significant uplift in production levels and 83 per cent expressing confidence in the conditions over the next 12 months, the report underscores a robust production forecast across various states. However, it also acknowledges the persistent challenges posed by cost-related factors, driven by energy prices, inflation, and interest rates.

As we navigate these transformative times, the government’s initiatives, such as the National Robotics Strategy and the AI Adopt Program, play a crucial role in modernising businesses and boosting productivity. Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic’s emphasis on the potential of robotics and automation to transform advanced manufacturing and support the transition to net zero is a testament to the strategic vision guiding these investments.

The AI Adopt Centres, providing expert advice and training to small and medium-sized businesses, will be instrumental in leveraging AI to drive productivity and innovation.

Ultimately, the 2024/25 budget aims to set a promising future for Australian manufacturing. The strategic investments in sustainable energy, defence, quantum technology, and advanced manufacturing not only address immediate economic and environmental challenges but also lay the groundwork for a resilient and prosperous future. As we embrace these opportunities, the manufacturing sector stands at the cusp of a new era, poised to lead Australia towards a sustainable, innovative, and globally competitive future.

Weld Australia demands answers:

will the Australian Government manufacture wind and transmission towers locally or outsource

to China?

Weld Australia calls upon the Australian Government to provide a clear and immediate public response regarding the manufacture of wind and transmission towers. Will wind and transmission towers be manufactured locally in Australia, or offshored to China?

The transition to renewable energy is paramount for Australia’s future, yet the foundational infrastructure for this transitionwind and transmission towers-remains neglected. Despite extensive lobbying and clear communication from industry leaders, the Australian Government has no concrete action or investment plan.”

For well over two years, industry leaders have been asking the Australian Government for a decisive plan to build these essential structures domestically. Instead, what we have received are vague promises and unspecified funding allocations. It’s time for

the Australian Government to make a commitment: will these towers be built in Australia, or are we outsourcing this vital work to China?

Weld Australia commends the programs outlined in the 2024 Federal Budget, including an expansion of the Capacity Investment Scheme that will unlock over $65 billion worth of investment in renewables by 2030; and the much-anticipated Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund that will deliver $1.7 billion to power new ‘green’ industries.

The problem is: the federal government’s planned investments are earmarked for solar power,

batteries and hydrogen projects. All these renewable energy technologies are long-term solutions that will come to fruition in 10 to 20 years’ time. We need a much more immediate solution. We need wind towers erected now. The Australian Government must stop prevaricating.

The Australian Government’s recent $1 billion investment in the Solar Sunshot program must be replicated in wind tower manufacturing. The domestic demand for wind towers over coming decades is huge-we need at least 6,000 wind towers nation-wide. Based on Australian Energy Market


With the right policy levers, it’s conceivable to imagine significant investment in new world-class steel manufacturing businesses supplying both components and complete solutions to support Australia’s energy transition. “
Weld Australia asserts that while transitioning to renewable energy is crucial for Australia’s future, the essential infrastructure for this shift, particularly wind and transmission towers, has been neglected

Operator (AEMO) scenarios, the market could range from $20 billion anywhere up to $80 billion.

The sheer scale of wind and transmission tower manufacturing in Australia will require significant investment in plant and equipment. This investment is not only about building infrastructure but also about creating jobs and ensuring the long-term sustainability of our manufacturing sector.

Timing and urgency

At least half of the remaining 14 coal generators on the eastern seaboard are set to close within the next decade. State governments are increasingly nervous that not enough new renewable energy generators, storage projects, and transmission lines are being built to keep power supplies and prices stable.

In mid-May, the New South Wales Government announced that it will pay Origin Energy up to $450 million over the next two years to extend the life of Australia’s largest coal-fired power station, Eraring, into 2027. This decision follows a 10-year forecast by AEMO that highlighted an increased risk of blackouts in NSW due to the slow rollout of renewable projects. The Victorian Government has already intervened to ensure two of its biggest coal generators do not shut prematurely.

Australia’s great energy transition - from fossil fuels to renewables - is not going well.

For example, Project EnergyConnect, a new 900km transmission line to allow for future connections

from renewable energy sources is currently 12 months behind schedule. Similarly, commissioning of the Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone Link in New South Wales has also been pushed out by 12 months-to August 2028.

Having met with the Australian coal fired power industry, all their engineers have contingency plans in place to extend the life of their plants. It is almost a foregone conclusion that the coal fired power plants will have to be maintained to ensure the delivery of consistent, reliable power to the Australian public-Australia’s renewables transition is nowhere near ready.

Weld Australia demands transparency from the Australian Government:

• W ill wind and transmission tower manufacturing be undertaken in Australia?

• W hat are the concrete steps and timelines?

• W ho will be responsible for making these decisions?

This is not a state issue-states should not bear the responsibility for funding these large-scale industrial projects. It’s a national priority that should have been addressed well over two years ago. The Australian Government must take immediate action to start these projects and provide the necessary funding or-at the very least-the confidence for local manufacturers to invest in their facilities.

The rhetoric of green energy and renewable investments is meaningless without the real work

and real jobs that come with building the necessary infrastructure. Industry needs tangible answers, a definitive delivery plan and real investment for wind towers-and we need them now.

The opportunity for manufacturers and fabricators

With the right policy levers, it’s conceivable to imagine significant investment in new world-class steel manufacturing businesses supplying both components and complete solutions to support Australia’s energy transition.

Within five years, at least one large-scale brandnew state-of-the-art window tower fabrication facility could easily be making 100 towers a year, and supplying them into projects across renewable energy zones. While there might still be a need to import towers during peak demand periods, our reliance on overseas manufacturing to achieve our targets would be greatly reduced.

In Eastern Australia alone, four facilities would be capable of manufacturing sufficient towers for 500 MW of power generation per annum – a total of 2GW. Each facility would occupy around 20 hectares of land, cost about $170 million, employ 180 full-time workers, consume 40kt of locally-made steel plate per annum, and require access to road and rail for incoming materials and outgoing completed towers. Given the infrastructure and land required, and the social license issues relating to movement from

heavily-populated port precincts particularly in NSW, all facilities could be located in regional areas, greatly boosting economic growth and employment in these areas. Due to the substantial cost of transporting tower sections by road, spreading facilities across the three Eastern states would be the most economical way to meet the needs of the market, while maximising and distributing the economic benefits.

The sovereign manufacturing capability would extend to other sectors, with new and existing fabricators potentially investing in capability to supply monopole transmission towers and componentry or complete system solutions for solar tracking. All of these investments would result in thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

For major steel manufacturers, the underpinning of a long-term sustainable market will enable them to continue realising their modernisation plans. This will mean multi-million dollar investments in sales and marketing to promote and sell Australian steel into the industry, ensuring a fit-for-purpose product suite. It could also stimulate further investment in product development and innovation to meet market needs, such as new chemistries, coatings or technologies.

At the same time, fabricators are hoping to not only see an increase in anchor cages, but a general boost to their day-to-day work. For example, a new Renewable Manufacturing Hub is in development

in Western Sydney, with the opening target date of early 2027. Government spending could transform this facility into a powerhouse of capacity, with two of the fastest-cutting lasers in the world, Kinetic 5000 drilling machines with Oxy-cutting and drilling capabilities – all manned for 24 hours a day.

Towards a global renewable superpower

Beyond the benefits to the manufacturing sector, signals within the Future Made in Australia Act could accelerate our decarbonisation plans and support the shift to a circular economy that recycles end-oflife products. For example, it’s possible to imagine using renewable energy to mine Pilbara iron ore, which is then used in locally-milled steel, powered by wind and solar that is also made with recycled, locally-made steel.

A policy lever like this would almost certainly open the door to partnerships and investments that cannot be imagined in our current climate. But most significantly, it means Australians will benefit from cheaper, cleaner energy sooner.

The precedent has already been set in the United States, where there Biden Government signed into law a similar piece of legislation, The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA). A key feature of the IRA is a domestic content bonus tax credit if a certain threshold percentage of iron and steel is originated and manufactured in the United States –

encouraging domestic supply chains.

The IRA has already unleashed a green energy boom, driving more than $360 billion in private sector clean energy manufacturing and helping cut household electricity rates by as much as 9% by 2030. Together with the CHIPS and Science Act, it is responsible for the creation of over 113,000 new jobs.

As in the US, there is a real opportunity to transform Australia into a renewable energy superpower. However, the latest government initiatives must be backed by measurable and enforceable local content procurement requirements, stipulating that 60% of all fabricated steel used in renewable energy projects is manufactured in Australia by local welders.

This will provide local manufacturers with the long-term security they need to invest in skills and equipment – and help realise Australia’s comparative advantage on the global stage as a producer of abundant renewable energy.

The renewable energy revolution is Australia’s chance to undo some of the damage done over the past 60 years – both to the environment and to the Australian manufacturing industry. But for government funding to achieve its full potential, it is imperative that local content procurement requirements are attached to both the Capacity Investment Scheme and the Future Made in Australia program.






















South Australia’s nuclear submarine construction yard finds concept designers

Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) and an AECOM and Aurecon Joint Venture have been announced as the design partners for the new nuclear-powered submarine construction yard (NPSCY).

Deputy prime minister, Richard Marles said the announcement is another step closer to a conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine program in South Australia.

“Not only will this ambitious project create thousands of local jobs, it will deliver the most critical defence capability acquisition in our nation’s history,” said Marles.

KBR has extensive experience in supporting design and project management for defence infrastructure facilities across the nation and will design the steel processing and fabrication areas of the NPSCY.

The AECOM and Aurecon Joint Venture will deliver the concept design for the rest of the site to support the outfitting, consolidation and commissioning of the submarines.

The design teams bring together nuclear infrastructure specialists and personnel from

previous shipyard infrastructure projects at Osborne, Henderson and in AUKUS partner nations.

The NPSCY development will be more than 75 hectares and will be built to the highest security and safety standards.

Miles said the project alone is set to create up to 4,000 jobs at the peak of construction and 4,000-5,500 jobs for Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines in South Australia.

Preliminary works required to support the NPSCY’s future construction commenced in December 2023 with site mobilisations and works for a new car park.

The NPSCY’s infrastructure will rely on highly skilled Australian engineering and design consultants, project controls specialists, project managers, tradespeople and construction workers.

A new Skills and Training Academy at Osborne to educate and train the elite naval shipbuilding workforce is also being designed.

This announcement is part of the Australian Government’s $53-63 billion investment in this program over the next decade.

Image: CPOIS
Nina Fogliani/Department of Defence
The NPSCY will rely on skilled Australian engineering consultants, design consultants, project controls specialists, project managers, tradespeople, and construction workers.

First ever NSW manufactured livestock vaccine has been developed

An mRNA vaccine for border disease virus (BDV) has been successfully manufactured for the first time in New South Wales, thanks to a fast-tracked NSW Government pilot project.

The cutting-edge emergency animal disease vaccine is a part of the NSW Government’s investment in the biosecurity of NSW.

Minister for Agriculture, Regional and Western NSW, Tara Moriarty said the capability to produce vaccines against emergency animal diseases is critical.

“Developing local capacity to produce vaccines against emergency animal diseases is a critical priority for Australian agricultural industries and the economy,” said Moriarty.

This is one element of the NSW Government’s

plan to boost biosecurity to avoid negatively impacting the state’s $21.2 billion primary industries sector.

The BDV vaccine was manufactured in Sydney by the UNSW RNA Institute after first being developed by US-based biotechnology leader, Tiba Biotech.

Other contributors include the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Meat & Livestock Australia and the NSW RNA Pilot Facility.

The learnings from this successful pilot project are now being applied to the developing vaccines against lumpy skin disease (LSD) and foot-andmouth disease (FMD).

Economic costs of a large multi-state outbreak of FMD alone have been estimated at more than $80 billion over 10 years Australia-wide.

This cost is why the NSW Government is working with other governments and animal industries to safeguard livestock from these threats.

Work so far indicates that the test LSD mRNA vaccine is quickly metabolised and cleared from the animal.

Australian regulatory authorities have very strict standards to demonstrate that the vaccine will be cleared from the animal very rapidly and that there is no safety risk to people.

As biosecurity matters increase in regularity, complexity and severity, this vaccine works to safeguard the future of NSW primary industries.

NSW produces its livestock vaccine, including ground-breaking mRNA vaccine for border disease virus.

2024/25 Budget details new investment under Future Made In Australia Act

The Federal Government has announced $22.7 billion in new funding initiatives under the Future Made in Australia Act strategic framework.

Industries targeted by the budget include renewable hydrogen, critical minerals processing, green metals, low-carbon liquid fuels and clean energy manufacturing, including battery and solar panel supply chains.

Initiatives apart of Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ 20242025 Federal Budget include:

• $ 3.2 billion in additional funding for ARENA technology commercialisation.

• A $6.7 billion hydrogen production tax incentive and $1.3 billion of additional hydrogen headstart funding.

• $209m into the Net Zero economy authority.

• $168m to prioritise approval decisions for renewable projects of national significance.

• $500m Battery Breakthrough Initiative.

• $14m to strengthen high-quality critical minerals benchmarks with trade partners.

• $179m in additional employment & skills supports for regions.

• $56m in Building Women’s Careers program.

• $91m to accelerate the development of the clean energy workforce and to expand the New Energy Apprenticeship Program.

• $777m for strong First Nations workforce participation & development.

On top of the $21 billion is the funding of $1 billion to Solar SunShot and $466 million to PsiQuantum funding.

Director of Climate Energy Finance, Tim Buckley

said it was excellent to see the $21 billion down payment.

“Tonight’s budget shows a government that understands both this imperative to act to transition Australia to its future as a clean, green superpower…,” said Buckley.

The Government will establish a ‘new front door for investors’ with major investment proposals related to Future Made in Australia.

Buckley said the budget is reflective of Australia’s response to a global energy transition that is speeding up.

“This is Australia’s biggest investment, employment, and export opportunity in a century to reorient from our fossil fuel-reliant past, but we clearly needed this budget to respond strategically, proportionally and fast, which it has done,” said Buckley.

The Federal Government’s $22.7 billion Future Made in Australia Act strategic framework includes substantial investments in renewable energy.

New investment to create pharmaceutical manufacturing facility and highly-skilled workforce

Minister for Jobs and Industry Natalie Hutchins has announced investment aimed at IDT Australia to build a new facility which will create 25 highly skilled manufacturing jobs.

With the expansion of the national pharmaceutical manufacturer, the Victorian Government is making sure more live-saving cancer treatments are made in the state.

The investment is a part of the Government’s $15 million Made in Victoria Industry R&D Infrastructure Fund and $20 million Manufacturing and Industry Sovereignty Fund.

Hutchins said the funds aim to boost the local MedTech sector to drive new developments, save

lives and create new local jobs.

The new facility will house four new laboratories featuring world-class equipment to manufacture life-saving cancer treatment therapies called Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs).

This new facility is set to be the first facility in Australia to locally produce accredited ADCs, which are targeted medicines that deliver chemotherapy agents to cancer cells.

This treatment is set to replace almost 50 per cent of all chemotherapies in the next 15 years.

ADCs have highly accurate targeting ability which means more efficient treatment for

patients and changing the lives of countless people battling the disease.

IDT Australia CEO Paul McDonald said the company is thrilled with the support of the Victorian Government.

“We are thrilled with the support of the Victorian Government to accelerate our advanced technology in antibody drug conjugates and add to the state capabilities in this progressive technology to treat cancer patients,” said McDonald.

This investment backs Australia’s world-class medtech sector which includes 650 medtech companies that employ 6,000 people and generate $1.4 billion in economic value every year.

Minister Hutchins unveiled investment for pharmaceutical facility, generating 25 high-skilled jobs at IDT Australia.

Australian Made Week launched at local manufacturing factory

Australian singer-songwriter Jessica Mauboy serenaded factory workers at the launch of Australian Made Week, lending her voice to the call to buy local.

Family-owned manufacturer GME hosted Mauboy and the minister for Industry and Science, Honourable Ed Husic, who urged shoppers to prioritise Australian products.

“We Aussies have a reputation and passion for creating things. For me, it’s my music and I’m excited to lend my voice to celebrating other Australians who put their heart and soul into producing home-grown products,” said Mauboy. The events launch at GME seemed fitting given

how the company has served had 65 years as a 100 per cent Australian industry leader in the RF communication technology space.

If every household $10 more a week on Australian Made products, almost $5 billion extra would hit the economy each year and 9,000 new jobs would be created, according to research from Roy Morgan

According to KPMG’s most recent Family Business Survey, 67 per cent of all businesses in Australia are family-owned and operated.

This means that half of the nation’s workforce is employed by a family business.

The Roy Morgan research shows that 91 per

cent of Australians want to see more Australian Made options and 72 per cent are seeking to buy more Australian Made products in the next 12 months.

Australian Made Chief Executive Ben Lazzaro said Australian Made Week aimed to celebrate local makers and growers.

“From automotive to arts, beauty to boating, clothing to cleaning products and many, many more, every single purchase of products bearing our unique country-of-origin certification, helps create and support local jobs and boost the economies of the cities, towns and regions where the goods are produced,” said Lazzaro.

Australian Made Week kicked off at a local manufacturing plant with Jessica Mauboy attending.
Image: Australian Made

Premier to lead US mission to maximise AUKUS opportunities for SA

Premier Peter Malinauskas will lead a high-level mission to the United States, with a focus on maximising opportunities for South Australia out of the AUKUS submarine program.

Malinauskas said every opportunity surrounding the ‘once-in-a-generation’ AUKUS in South Australia must be maximised.

“As the home of the AUKUS submarine program, it is vital that South Australia forges even stronger ties with our partners in the United Kingdom and the United States for the long term.

“The scale of this project is astonishing. This will be the biggest project our state has ever seen, building the most complex machines on

earth,” said Malinauskas.

The Premier’s trip in mid-May included highlevel meetings with leading figures in the US defence program and submarine supply chain.

Malinauskas will also visit two nuclearpowered Virginia Class submarine shipyards including the Newport News shipyard in Virginia, the largest shipbuilding company in the United States.

The Premier will also visit General Dynamics Electric Boat’s submarine shipyard in Groton, Connecticut.

A key focus was on ensuring South Australia is best placed to develop the highly skilled workforce required for AUKUS.

The trip also included a series of high-level meetings with key leaders and decision-makers in Washington DC.

In April, it was announced that Adelaide-based shipbuilders ASC and BAE Systems will build Australia’s SSN-AUKUS submarines at Osborne. Construction is set to begin on the first SSNAUKUS submarine by the end of the decade.

Between 4,000 and 5,500 direct jobs are expected to support the building of AUKUS submarines when the program reaches its peak.

Already 26 Australian suppliers are being supported to qualify their products in the US submarine supply chain as part of the AUKUS program.

Construction of Australia’s SSNAUKUS submarines at Osborne is set to begin by the end of the decade.

$1 billion investment to make Brisbane a tech manufacturing powerhouse

The Australian and Queensland Governments will invest $1 billion into PsiQuantum to build the world’s first fault tolerant quantum computer in Brisbane.

Brisbane is set to become a tech manufacturing powerhouse by using quantum technologies to help deliver a future made in Australia.

The investment marks the start of a manufacturing and production partnership that will create up to 400 new highly skilled jobs.

Queensland premier Steven Miles said the announcement cements Queensland’s position as a global leader in the quantum technology industry.

“Quantum will bring billions in economic opportunity to Queensland, which will deliver thousands of high paying tech jobs and the chance

for Queenslanders to work in careers that will change the world,” said Miles.

PsiQuantum is a global leader in quantum computing and has attracted significant private investment to secure its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Brisbane.

As a result, the company will become a cornerstone customer of Australia’s digital, quantum and AI supply chains, adding further economic value to the nation.

PsiQuantum’s co-founders include Australian Professor Jeremy O’Brien and Professor Terry Rudolph.

The beginnings of PsiQUantum’s world leading computing approach were developed by Professor

O’Brien at the University of Queensland.

Quantum computers deliver tremendous data processing power that can help advance areas like new medicines, AI and the net zero transition.

Australia’s chief scientist Dr Cathy Foley said Quantum computing is a transformational technology.

“This investment shows that Australia is serious about its quantum industry development by ensuring we are at the front of the pack in the global race to build the first useful quantum computer,” said Foley.

The joint Commonwealth-Queensland investment includes approximately $470 million in equity and loans from each government.

Brisbane is set to become a tech manufacturing hub with a $1 billion investment from the Australian and Queensland Governments into PsiQuantum. Image: Bartek

Hysata raises $172m to boost highefficiency electrolyser technology

Australia-based company Hysata is developing new high-efficiency electrolysers that aim to produce green hydrogen that has higher energy efficiency and lower costs.

The company’s technology combines engineering and science in a unique capillary-fed alkaline electrolyser that uses less energy to convert water to hydrogen.

Bp Ventures and Templewater led the recent USD 111.3 million investment round in the company. This came with strong backing from existing major strategic and financial investors IP Group Australia, Kiko Ventures (IP Group plc’s cleantech platform), Virescent Ventures on behalf of Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Hostplus, Vestas Ventures and BlueScopeX.

The company also welcomed new major

strategic and financial investors POSCO Holdings, POSCO E&C, IMM Investment Hong Kong, Shinhan Financial Group, Twin Towers Ventures, Oman Investment Authority’s VC arm IDO and TelstraSuper.

Hysata will use the funding to expand production capacity at its manufacturing facility in Wollongong, New South Wales and further develop its technology towards reaching gigawatt-scale manufacturing.

Hysata CEO, Paul Barrett, said the company’s mission is to accelerate the “deep decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors such as steel, chemical manufacture, and heavy transport, by delivering the world’s most efficient, simple, and reliable electrolysers.”

“This funding round, backed by a world-class

syndicate of investors, demonstrates the gamechanging impact Hysata is having on the green hydrogen landscape,” said Barrett.

The International Energy Agency has said that to meet climate ambitions, there is an urgent need to switch hydrogen use in existing applications to low-carbon hydrogen and to expand its use to new applications in heavy industry or long-distance transport.

At scale, Hysata’s electrolysers could achieve energy efficiency well above the International Renewable Energy Agency’s 2050 efficiency target.

“Hysata’s technology could help save energy and reduce production costs, addressing two challenges of the green hydrogen market. We’re excited for Hysata’s next steps,” said vice president of bp Ventures, Gareth Burns.

Hysata secured $172m of funding to advance high-efficiency electrolyser technology for green hydrogen production.

Car 10,000 built at Premcar’s Epping new-vehicle factory

Premcar has celebrated the production of the 10,000th new car at its Epping assembly plant in Melbourne, Australia.

The vehicle that rolled down Premcar’s Epping assembly line was a 2024 Nissan Patrol Warrior.

The gun metallic 4×4 SUV was met with applause from the company’s large manufacturing and engineering teams and was broadcast live on television.

CEO and Engineering Director at Premcar, Bernie Quinn said this represents another great day for Australian manufacturing.

“Since 1996, Premcar has secondary manufactured more than 200,000 new vehicles in Australia – and this number keeps growing.

“Australia’s car-making know-how is highly sought-after by major car brands. Premcar’s ability to maximise the appeal of global and regional new-car model lines in different countries is longestablished.

“Australia is the perfect example of how reengineering and secondary manufacturing popular makes and models for local tastes can quickly grow a car brand’s new-vehicle sales,” said Quinn.

Premcar is approaching its 30th year of new-car engineering and manufacturing operations.

Following a management buyout by the company’s current two Australian owners 12 years

ago, Premcar’s sales are 15 times in size today. The business’s local team has grown from 25 to around 200, comprising a mix of decades-long industry leaders to skilled university graduates.

Queensland Government unveils $45m for recycling projects

The Miles Government has announced a $45 million investment to support resource recovery and recycling businesses in developing large-scale, high-volume projects.

Launched on the Gold Coast during a Community Cabinet meeting, the funding aims to enhance Queensland’s recycling capacity and meet ambitious waste-diversion targets.

It is a significant step in the Queensland Government’s plan to bolster the recycling industry, create jobs, and support a clean energy future. Under this initiative, individual projects can receive up to $10 million each, focusing on commercial and industrial waste, as well as recycling solutions for renewable energy technologies, electrical and electronic products, and batteries.

The initiative is a part of the Queensland Government’s $2.1 billion waste and resource recovery package.

This also includes $1 billion in household waste

levy rebates for Queensland councils and the $1.1 billion Recycling and Jobs Fund.

State Development Minister Grace Grace highlighted the impact of this initiative during a visit to BMI Group’s Stapylton Resource Recovery Centre, a facility that diverts over 185,530 tonnes of waste from landfill annually.

“This government envisions Queensland as a zero-waste community where waste is avoided, reused, recycled, and remanufactured to the greatest extent possible,” said Grace.

The centre, which received a $2 million grant from the Resource Recovery Industry Development Program (RRIDP), commissioned a $5.92 million Construction and Demolition plant.

This has created over 16 full-time jobs and produces valuable materials such as road bases and chipped timber for landscaping.

Businesses are able to apply for up to $10 million to support projects that provide recycling solutions for renewable energy components, recover end-

of-life e-waste, or target mixed commercial and industrial waste streams.

The Queensland Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy sets ambitious targets to divert more waste from landfill and increase recycling, supported by the Queensland Resource Recovery Industries 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan.

Premcar marks a significant milestone with their 10,000th car produced at it’s new-vehicle factory in Epping, Melbourne.
Minister Grace Grace (right) with Nick Badyk (left), Chief Operating Officer, BMI Group.
Image: Queensland Government

New DroneShield global headquarters

DroneShield has opened its new headquarters which is set to riple its R&D and manufacturing capacity to more than $400 million in hardware and software per year.

The new site is in Pyrmont, NSW, where the company’s 120 local staff are now based.

The facility includes a dedicated floor for hightech R&D, engineering and manufacturing to fulfil orders from government, defence and commercial customers in 70 countries.

The headquarters is funded by DroneShield’s recent $115 million capital raise, which positions DroneShield with around $700 million current market capitalisation, as the second largest publicly-listed defence company in Australia.

The new headquarters will enable the company to build up its inventory to support strong demand from high-quality customer opportunities.

This includes a pipeline of over $500 million with more than 90 qualified projects at different stages and $27 million in orders currently being fulfilled.

Oleg Vornik, CEO at DroneShield said this development represents that the threats that drones pose are finally being acknowledged.

“Whether it’s due to the turmoil they can cause

Funded by a $115 million capital raise, DroneShield is now Australia’s second-largest

on the battlefield, or the countless ways they can disrupt everyday life – at airports, prisons and public events, for example – drone deterrence is now a priority for government agencies and authorities, in Australia and abroad,” said Vornik.

The 2,000 square metre facility is also equipped

for further growth amid soaring demand across military and commercial applications, including airports, stadiums and events.

This includes the scaling of DroneShield’s hightech engineering and operations teams, with 40 employees to be added in the short term.

Image: DroneShield
publicly listed defense company with a $700 million market cap.

The journey in becoming a wet wipe expert

Conceived in response to a global crisis, Hygiene Co. emerged to address critical gaps in domestic manufacturing and sustainability by offering plant-based wet wipes. Manufacturers’ Monthly spoke with co-founder, Phil Scardigno, who shared insights into the company’s mission and innovative approach.

The Hygiene Co., based in Woodville North, South Australia, was founded with a mission to create sustainable, plastic-free wet wipes.

The company produces biodegradable and compostable wipes to reduce plastic waste and lower carbon emissions associated with importing wet wipes.

In 2022, they started mass production of Australia’s first plastic-free wet wipes at their Adelaide facility.

The Hygiene Co. emerged during the COVID pandemic as a response to critical shortages of medical supplies, particularly wipes.

Scardigno, with a background in wet-wipe

manufacturing, was servicing the local Victorian Government but encountered difficulties due to reliance on imported products.

Realising the environmental impact of single-use wipes and the need for domestic production, they decided to create Australia’s first plant-based wet wipe manufacturer.

“When we began producing wipes for aged care during COVID, we soon realised the staggering amount of single-use waste generated,” said Scardigno.

“It was alarming to see these wipes, initially intended for essential hygiene, turning into disposable plastic waste.

“Also, discovering that the majority of wipes were imported from overseas while we were manufacturing them locally was a stark realisation.”

The Hygiene Co. mission

Motivated by a passion for sustainability and domestic manufacturing, Scardigno, along with co-founder Corey White, developed their own products, established labs, and implemented automated equipment.

Their initiative underscored a commitment to both addressing the necessity for domestic manufacturing during crises and sustainable practices in manufacturing.

The Hygiene Co. co-founders Corey White (left) and Phil Scardigno (right).


“I looked into how we could make a plant-based material that would break down because they can’t be cleaned with infection control,” said Scardigno.

“And secondly, I looked into making it here because I’ve always been passionate about manufacturing in Australia, and I’ve been in manufacturing for 30 years.”

Scardigno said explained that he has always been involved in the business of non-hazardous materials, maintaining a strong passion for avoiding flammable items and toxic carcinogens.

Upon discovering that 80 per cent of the weight in a pack of wet wipes is water, he realised that not only is Australia importing plastic, but also shipping containers full of water.

“It’s like importing a swimming pool full of water into Australia. We’re talking about billions of wet wipes annually, and the numbers are staggering,” he said.

“The amount of plastic landfill created by wet wipes is enormous. Most people don’t realise they’re made of polyester and polypropylene.”

In collaboration with waste authorities, the Hygiene Co. journey has been long fought.

“When we discovered the plastic content, we looked at the numbers. For example, plastic straws, which got a lot of bad press, account for about 800 tonnes a year according to government statistics,” said Scardigno.

“When we spoke to one of Australia’s major retailers about wet wipes, they laughed at our estimate of 25,000 tonnes and said the actual number is much higher.”

“Wet wipes are more than 30 times worse than straws in terms of plastic waste. Due to their soft texture, people mistakenly believe wet wipes are made of cotton, not plastic.”

Scardigno explained that, as a result, people are unknowingly contributing to plastic landfill and microplastics, which pose significant health issues.

As a manufacturer, innovation is key for him.

The Hygiene Co. has since developed flushable technology and are now the first Australian company to produce a certified flushable wet wipe.

While they don’t have the capacity to service the entire market, Scardigno urges the government to address the issue of wet wipes waste.

“There’s some low hanging fruit here that instead of worrying about bread tags on loaves of bread, wipes would be just a major win,” he said.

“The UK has now banned plastic wipes. A bill was passed in Parliament a few months ago, and plastic wipes are now on the banned list. As a country surrounded by ocean, we should be taking similar action.

“Instead, we are focusing on minor issues while

The Hygiene Co. possesses the capability to produce millions of packs of wipes annually, catering to various markets with soft packs, canister wipes, and bulk rolls.

ignoring the larger, more pressing problems right in front of us.”

Scardigno said that if industry is to change, education and creating awareness will also become crucial.

“Unfortunately, when it comes to implementing sustainable practices, progress often lags. People like the idea of green technology and doing the right thing, but key decision-makers in both the public and private sectors only act when they’re embarrassed into doing so. This is frustrating,” he said.

“There’s a growing movement, both globally and in Australia, driven by people demanding to know what’s in their products. The issue of microplastics, which is not only an environmental concern but also a health issue, is gaining attention.”

Their materials

Sardigno explained that the textile industry in Australia suffered significant losses in the 90s, which also catalysed Hygiene Co.’s mission to prioritise sustainability and local sourcing.

While the company’s fabrics come from global partners in Europe, Asia, and North America, all its ingredients reflect a commitment to local producers.

“We prioritise native elements like aloe vera, eucalyptus oil from Kangaroo Island, and Lemon Myrtle sourced locally from native extracts,” said Sardigno.

“Our partnerships with local suppliers ensure support for Australian farmers and communities.”

While some essential disinfecting properties require chemicals from global suppliers, Hygiene Co. ensures their minimal use for maximum effectiveness.

Sardigno expressed regret that not all their materials are sourced in Australia but explained that doing so would prove too difficult.

“It’d be nice to have the full cycle here and we’d love government to sort of instigate the textile industry back into Australia again,” he said.

“Because we’ve had lots of demands people asking, can you make nappies, can you make sanitary pads but that’s not what we’re about.”

Sardigno explained that once the Government establishes a no tolerance stance on single-use plastics, diversifying could be possible.

“Governments have a crucial role to play in fostering a sustainable manufacturing ecosystem,” he said.

“Just as we witnessed rapid changes during the COVID-19 crisis, governmental action can drive significant shifts towards sustainability.

“Microplastic pollution is a looming threat, akin to asbestos or tobacco, and addressing it requires proactive measures.”

Despite some global fabric sourcing, Hygiene Co. prioritises local ingredients like aloe vera, eucalyptus oil, and Lemon Myrtle to support Australian farmers and communities.


Manufacturing capability

Hygiene Co. has invested significantly in its facilities in Adelaide, South Australia.

The site includes an advanced laboratory for testing and a fully automated facility for producing soft packs, with equipment sourced from Europe to ensure competitive manufacturing in Australia.

The company also operates canister lines for

canister wipes and produces bulk rolls for use in shopping trolleys and gyms, catering to a broad market.

“Currently, our soft pack line has the capability to produce 10 to 15 million packs per year,” said Sardigno.

“Our canister line can handle around 5 to 6 million canisters, and we also produce bulk rolls.”

A key aspect of Hygiene Co.’s operations is the development of unique solutions and ingredients.

The company has its own lab and mixing area where it creates solutions, incorporating ingredients such as Lemon Myrtle, Davidson Plum, and hybrid aloe vera.

Leveraging the founder’s background in industrial mixing, Hygiene Co. is taking this expertise to new heights, eyeing opportunities for exporting these specialised concentrates.

The company’s long-term vision includes exporting high-quality concentrates from Australia.

“So yeah, we’re taking that to another level now. We see this as an opportunity for export as well,” said Sardigno.

“We plan to export the concentrates out of Australia because we believe Australia has some really special ingredients that we can offer to the world.”

This approach could maximise Australia’s unique ingredient offerings without the inefficiencies of exporting water-heavy products.

“And that’s the direction we’d like to go, rather than manufacturing everything here and exporting it worldwide,” said Sardigno.

“Instead, we should leverage the capabilities of other countries, especially considering the significant amount of water we export from Australia.”

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, Hygiene Co. learned the value of being able to produce essential items domestically, aligning with the notion of Australia as a smart country with advanced technology.

The company aims to inspire the development of the next generation of sustainable products, fostering innovation and sustainability in the manufacturing sector.

“We can’t ignore the need to produce and supply everyday items here in Australia. We also want to inspire the next range of sustainable products in this space and see where it can go,” said Sardigno

Future developments

The Hygiene Co. plans to increase capacity by changing the types of products they make, which will reduce changeover times.

They have built a facility designed for expansion, allowing for the addition of second or third production lines, which will enhance efficiency.

“We can bring in a second or third line, essentially mirroring the existing one. This amplifies efficiencies even further,” said Sardigno.

Once they reach 60-70 per cent capacity, they will consider investing in additional lines.

The company is committed to increasing output and views Australia as an excellent place for manufacturing, despite it being often overlooked. Sardigno said that the Hygiene Co. is eager to

The company is committed to inspiring the development of the next generation of sustainable products in the industry.

increase their output and explained that South Australia is prime location for manufacturing.

“We’re eager to increase our output here, no doubt about it,” he said.

“Adelaide is often overlooked as a manufacturing hub, but it has a rich history in the industry. It has consistently been one of the leaders in Australia, spanning from automotive to other equipment manufacturing.”

The company currently has a team of 28-29 full-time members, including one interstate staff member, and is continuing to grow.

The team is passionate about their values as an Australian-made manufacturer, which motivates them to compete against industry giants.

“We’ve always found motivation in competing against industry giants, leveraging our strengths to overcome challenges,” said Sardigno.

The Hygiene Co. is considering expanding its operations by potentially establishing another plant on the eastern seaboard of Australia.

This decision is driven by business growth opportunities, logistical considerations, and sustainability goals.

But, as Sardigno explained, there are a collection of challenges that come with expanding operations.

Their current focus remains on refining their

automated production processes and developing expertise within their existing team, the prospect of expanding interstate remains on the table as part of their long-term growth strategy.

“Experts who’ve been in business before have suggested that we should explore the possibility of establishing another plant on the eastern seaboard,” said Sardigno.

“As a business, we’re assessing all available options for growth. Currently, we have a soft pack line that produces these products, which has been operational for 18 months.”

“It took time to refine because we’ve implemented automated equipment, which requires training and expertise within our team.”

Sardigno recognised the potential benefits of having an additional plant to reduce freight costs and carbon emissions associated with transporting products across the country.

Setting up an interstate facility would also help optimise their supply chain and enhance service efficiency.

“We’re considering the interstate opportunity for growth, logistics optimisation, and sustainability,” he said.

“If relocating some of our operations to the east could result in cost-effective and environmentally friendly measures, particularly if it reduces freight

and carbon emissions, it’s definitely a path we’re interested in pursuing.”

Apart from the potential for expansion, Hygiene Co. also hopes to become the trusted wet wipe specialist in Australia.

Sardigno explained that the company has an opportunity to fulfill that role in the future.

“We’ve identified a unique gap in the market: there are no dedicated wet wipe specialist brands globally,” he said.

“While competitors typically offer wipes as complementary products to their main offerings, such as nappy manufacturers including wipes with their diapers or feminine hygiene brands offering wipes alongside sanitary pads, none focus solely on wet wipes expertise.”

Recognising this opportunity, the company is currently focusing on R&D and has undergone significant development to commercialise these ideas.

“We aim to provide a brand that instils trust within the market,” said Sardigno.

“Whether it’s a wet wipe for cleaning or personal care, customers should feel confident in our products.

“We’re experts in fabrics and ingredients, and we’re dedicated to delivering quality solutions that meet our customers’ needs.”

The Hygiene Co. has heavily invested in its manufacturing capabilities, establishing advanced facilities in Adelaide, South Australia.

Post-budget outlook from RSM Australia

Manufacturers’ Monthly spoke to Devika Shivadekar, economist from RSM Australia, who provided her insights into Australia’s current economic outlook and the current implications of the recent 2024/25 federal budget announcement.

Devika Shivadekar serves as an economist for RSM Australia, a leading provider of audit, tax, and consulting services.

Shivadekar provided her latest insights into Australia’s current economic outlook and the currect implications of the recent 2024/25 federal budget announcement.

“We’re still navigating an economic cycle aligned with the pandemic. It will take time for conditions to fully normalise to pre-pandemic levels,” said Shivadekar.

“Having said that, the Australian economy has fared remarkably well. We’ve essentially achieved what economists typically term a ‘soft landing,’ which means beating a recession, although we are in one on a per capita basis, but that’s largely influenced by population growth rather than inherent weakness.”

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is expected to maintain interest rates amidst cautious consumer spending and ambitious budget measures to rejuvenate the manufacturing sector.

Australia’s macroeconomic outlook

The Australian economy has navigated the pandemic with relative resilience, experiencing a soft landing and a significant reduction in inflation since December 2022.

Despite ongoing challenges, including cautious

consumer spending and stagnant retail expenditure, the RBA is expected to maintain interest rates at 4.35 per cent for the next six months.

“The second-quarter CPI number is expected at the end of July, followed by the third-quarter CPI number in late October.

“Governor Michele Bullock has previously stated the RBA’s preference for a long-term view on incoming data rather than reacting to each print. Therefore, even if there’s some stickiness in the firstquarter CPI print, the RBA appears willing to exercise patience.”

The central bank faces the challenge of balancing consumer weakness with the need to bring down inflation, especially as the federal budget introduces stimulatory measures.

“Looking ahead, the central bank’s biggest challenge seems to come from consumers” said Shivadekar.

“Balancing consumer weakness with price stability is crucial, as consumers are tightening their budgets due to cost-of-living pressures and interest rates. Cautious consumer sentiment has prevailed since the beginning of the year.”

Until the effects of these measures take hold, Shivadekar said that the RBA is likely to remain on a cautious hold until November, with consumer confidence and spending being crucial indicators moving forward.

She continued to explain that the next six months are critical. Starting in July, various fiscal subsidies will take effect, including the energy relief measure where everyone receives $300.

This measure is neither targeted nor temporary, raising concerns about its impact.

“If individuals receive $300 at no cost, manage their bills, and maintain decent salaries, they might start spending more quickly, which we want to avoid,” said Shivadekar.

“Despite the uncertainties, we’ve held up well so

RSM Australia offers audit, tax, and consulting services to businesses, focusing on strategic solutions and compliance.
RSM Australia economist, Devika Shivadekar.

far and will continue to do so, provided we remain disciplined with money.

“The RBA faces a tough job ahead, particularly as the final stretch of inflation coming down to target levels is rather bumpy. The RBA needs to maintain a sufficiently restrictive policy rate to keep a lid on price pressures.”

Budget’s impact on manufacturing sector in Australia

The budget has shifted focus back to Australia’s manufacturing sector, recognising its importance for national self-sufficiency, especially in the wake of pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions.

“The budget has brought significant attention back to the manufacturing sector, which has not been a primary focus for Australia in recent years,” said Shivadekar.

“While the country has shifted towards a more commodities-driven economy, the pandemic highlighted the importance of self-sufficiency.”

With a significant allocation of $22.7 billion over the next 8-10 years, the government aims to boost manufacturing and address challenges in the industry.

However, while the budget outlines ambitious initiatives like the Future Made in Australia Act and support for renewable energy and advanced manufacturing, Shivadekar explained that there is a lack of clarity regarding implementation timelines and pathways.

The success of these initiatives depends on quick and efficient implementation, broader support to address issues like government red tape and labour costs, particularly for SMEs in the sector.

“We need clarity because if the initiatives remain merely vocal, interest will wane over time, returning us to square one,” said Shivadekar.

“Swift implementation is necessary, along with broader support to cut through excessive red tape and address price pressures and labour costs, especially for SMEs in manufacturing.

“These smaller businesses suffer more in highcost environments due to their reliance on external funding compared to larger corporations that can reinvest profits for growth and technological advancement.”

Therefore, there’s rising pressure for expedited policy implementation to support SMEs and middle-market businesses.

Shivadekar expressed confidence in the government’s focus on the manufacturing sector, emphasising the need for substantive action beyond mere rhetoric.

She continued to acknowledge short-term challenges but asserted that long-term benefits will outweigh them.

“It’s inevitable. We shouldn’t underestimate the budget’s impact by dismissing it as mere smoke

and mirrors,” said Shivadekar.

“Refocusing on the manufacturing sector will spark crucial dialogue. While short-to-mediumterm challenges persist, they’ll subside as we stay the course.

“It’s a case of short-term pain for long-term gain. However, meaningful progress requires engaging with industry stakeholders to pinpoint specific issues rather than adopting a generalised approach.”

Shivadekar explained that one glaring issue Australia currently faces is tepid productivity.

Particularly in the manufacturing sector, this leads to higher production costs, reduced competitiveness, and lower profit margins, making it difficult for manufacturers to compete and invest in growth. This results in stagnant wages, slower innovation, and broader economic challenges.

Global economic impacts

The global manufacturing sector faces a mix of challenges and opportunities, including geopolitical tensions, trade disputes, and supply chain disruptions exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Over the past four years, the manufacturing sector, both globally and nationally, has faced a mix of challenges and opportunities,’ said Shivadekar.

“On one hand, we’ve seen heightened uncertainty due to geopolitical tensions, including the current situation in the Middle East, trade disputes, and on the other, lingering effects of the pandemic.

“Supply chain disruptions, raw material shortages, and fluctuating demand have impacted the manufacturing sector worldwide, much like in Australia.”

However, there are opportunities in areas like advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and technology, with many countries investing heavily in initiatives to enhance capabilities and strengthen supply chain resilience.

“Many of our developed market peers are heavily investing in initiatives to enhance manufacturing capabilities,” said Shivadekar.

“There’s a strong push to promote innovation,

particularly in AI and machine learning, and to strengthen supply chain resilience.

“This also emphasises the importance of strong bilateral relationships among trade partners to ensure supply chain integrity.”

There’s a growing focus on sustainability, environmental tech, and innovation, with Australia somewhat lagging, but is poised to catch up through before-mentioned budget initiatives like the Future Made in Australia act.

“The increasing focus on sustainability and environmental tech innovation has been consistent globally and in Australia,” explained Shivadekar.

“As long as we accelerate our efforts and deliver on budget initiatives, we can catch up quickly.

“There’s immense scope for us to excel, and I believe we will succeed if we fulfill these promises, even if we’re late to the party, compared to our peers.”

Overall, the outlook for manufacturing is somewhat mixed but the sector remains important to position Australia well in the global landscape and to make it self-sufficient.

RSM Australia provides manufacturers with a comprehensive suite of services, including audit and assurance, tax optimisation, business strategy, operational efficiency consulting, technology and, but not limited to, digital transformation advice.

These services are designed to enhance business performance, ensure regulatory compliance, optimise tax positions, and support strategic growth and operational improvements in the manufacturing sector.

As the Australian economy navigates postpandemic challenges and opportunities, RSM Australia’s expertise and insights, as highlighted by Devika Shivadekar, provide critical support for manufacturers aiming to adapt, innovate, and thrive amidst evolving economic conditions and budgetary measures.

If you represent a manufacturer who would benefit from these services, get in contact with RSM Australia today.

RSM Australia’s Devika Shivadekar discusses Australia’s economic outlook post-budget, emphasising manufacturing sector importance and challenges.

Enabling Trakka Systems GEAR MANUFACTURING

R&I Instrument & Gear Co is a key supplier to Trakka Systems for their advanced searchlight technology, supplying precision gear manufacturing that ensures the reliability needed for military, law enforcement, and rescue operations. Manufacturers’ Monthly reports.

Situated in Victoria, R&I has evolved into a powerhouse of manufacturing, known for its commitment to innovation and excellence.

The collaboration between R&I and its parent company, Hardman Bros, has resulted in a diverse range of capabilities.

Their facilities boast advanced machinery and technologies, including CNC services, gear cutting, 5-axis machining, precision honing, and metrology tools.

This extensive infrastructure allows them to cater to various industries such as aerospace, defence, medtech, foodtech, mining, rail, and energy sectors.

One of their notable partners is Trakka Corp, part of the Trakka Systems Group, which has been utilising R&I services for decades.

Trakka Systems is an international group

of companies that specialises in providing advanced vision technology solutions for various industries.

Their Australian operation, Trakka Corp, focuses on designing and manufacturing highperformance searchlight systems for use in military, law enforcement, search and rescue, and commercial applications.

These searchlight systems are often used for surveillance, reconnaissance, and situational awareness purposes.

Trakka Corp offers cutting-edge searchlight technology to enhance safety and security across different sectors.

“By providing cutting-edge searchlight technology, Trakka Corp enhances situational awareness, operational effectiveness, and safety across these critical industries,” said Ian Winkworth of Trakka Systems.

The partnership

Winkworth said that Trakka Systems had been referred to Hardman Bros and R&I due to their quality and service.

“We were fortunate that they were located nearby. We were specifically seeking a partner with the capability to manufacture in Australia and a strong reputation in the industry,” he said.

Winkworth explained that the quality and reliability of Trakka Corp’s searchlights is significantly impacted by the performance and durability of their systems.

Hence why it is so important for them to find reliable partners.

“We operate to very high standards, including AS9100 and MIL-SPEC standards,” he said.

“For the systems to meet these rigorous testing regimes and deliver such capabilities, they must be highly precise and exacting.

Images: Hardman
Parts machined on Hermle C42U 5-axis simultaneous machining centre.

“We tried to keep everything within Australia. R & I have been very flexible regarding AS9100 certification, and we assisted them in obtaining AS9100 to support Trakka’s needs.”

Winkworth explained that despite the many challenges Hardman Bros and R&I’s service has always met Trakka Corp’s exacting standards,

“We receive gearboxes from them almost daily for our production, and as our business grows, they have supported us and grown with us,” he said.

“They have provided substantial input and support into the design and our bespoke searchlight gearboxes.”

The products

R&I assists Trakka Corp in producing a range of searchlight products including the TrakkaBeam A800 and TLX searchlights. These searchlights offer potent tactical illumination and feature an integrated multispectral filter wheel readily accessible from the cockpit, enhancing visual clarity.

With a slewing capability of 0-60° per second in both elevation and azimuth, the TrakkaBeams can be seamlessly installed on new or pre-existing searchlight mounts. Their robust design makes them well-suited for a diverse range of missions.

These advanced searchlights with their sleek aerodynamic design set a new standard in the industry, boasting industry leading beam brightness and clarity.

CMM Measuring machine with Renishaw PH20 probe and table 900 x 1500 x 800 mm.

Manufacturing Industry Skills Alliance building solutions to workforce challenges

The Manufacturing Industry Skills Alliance actively addresses manufacturing skill shortages. Collaborating with both industry and government, the Manufacturing Alliance engages with industry through initiatives including the National Manufacturing Workforce Forum, working to identify and build solutions to deliver to the industry’s skills needs. Manufacturers’ Monthly reports.

The Manufacturing Industry Skills Alliance (Manufacturing Alliance) is the Jobs and Skills Council supporting the manufacturing sector to assist them to meet their workforce challenges. It is an industry owned and led organisation committed to developing an empowered manufacturing workforce that drives the Australian economy.

The organisation is engaged in workforce planning, developing training products to meet industry needs, promoting modern manufacturing, and industry advocacy. With their sights set on implementing solutions for Australia’s manufacturing workforce challenges the organisation is dedicated to their mandate.

“As the Jobs and Skills Council for the manufacturing sector, we want to ensure that the manufacturing industry can access workers with the skills needed to shape an innovative future made right here in Australia. We bring industry together to identify skills and workforce needs for their sectors. We listen to their concerns and challenges, their priorities and use that information to identify and develop solutions that will take manufacturing forward.” said Manufacturing Industry Skills Alliance CEO, Sharon Robertson.

“We promote close cooperation among government bodies, unions, employers and training providers to find solutions to the skills and workforce challenges industry faces. Our

goal is to ensure employers have access to the skilled workforce needed to enable modern manufacturing to succeed.”

Providing industry solutions

Earlier this year, the Manufacturing Alliance hosted the National Manufacturing Workforce Forum. This event, aimed at having the right people in the room to develop solutions to address workforce challenges, was very timely given the Prime Minister’s Future Made in Australia announcement prior to the event, and the budget measures to support it announced after.

Key speakers included Skills and Training Minister the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Victorian

Manufacturing Alliance CEO, Sharon Robertson, with the apprenticeship panel at the National Manufacturing Workforce Forum.


“ ”
As an industry owned and led organisation, all voices need to be heard. Whether you are an employer, industry body, learner or parent we want to make sure that our recommendations reflect a diverse cross-section of perspectives

“The Forum was a crucial gathering for industry leaders to map out collaborative efforts towards augmenting the pool of skilled workers for the manufacturing sector, an important component in achieving the government’s objectives for a robust, independent manufacturing sector,” said Robertson.

“It was also the perfect platform for a conversation that will propel us to the next stage of our work.”

With a line-up of industry leaders, the Forum was a milestone on the path towards invigorating a proud manufacturing industry and building a future made right here in Australia.

Attendees participated in discussions on actionable strategies to address future needs for a skilled labour force, paving the way for substantial progress in manufacturing self-sufficiency and innovation.

Adding a valuable perspective during the Forum, a panel session featuring apprentices emphasised hands-on learning and mentorship. They highlighted the importance of equipping apprentices with practical skills and certifications and discussed strategies for attracting and

retaining apprentices.

A panel session of employers, all facing the issue of attracting and retaining apprentices, discussed improving apprenticeship programs. There was consensus that employers need to adapt to workforce demographic changes and incorporate training on emotional intelligence and diversity inclusion into their workplace.

There was also agreement that to attract and retain the next generation of apprentices, the focus must not only be on the completion of the apprenticeship, but on investing in the apprentice themselves.

A time of engagement

Following the announcement of the new budget funding for the Future Made in Australia Act, the Manufacturing Alliance is well positioned to work with industry to implement workforce solutions.

The budget included around $600 million in measures to bolster skills growth and development in the clean energy, construction, and manufacturing sectors, as well as support apprentices and break down barriers for women in male-dominated industries.

In coming months, the Manufacturing Alliance will release its 2024 Workforce Plan, incorporating the feedback received at the Forum. The 2024 Workforce Plan will build on the

Skills and TAFE Minister Gayle Tierney MP, Australian Council of Trade Unions assistant secretary Liam O’Brien, and Ai Group CEO Innes Willox AM.
Manufacturing Alliance Board chair, Graeme Russell, addresses attendees at the National Manufacturing Workforce Forum.

previous plan, which identified emerging workforce challenges and outlined strategies for addressing these issues.

The Manufacturing Alliance are asking you to take the next step by working with them.

“As an industry owned and led organisation, all voices need to be heard. Whether you are an employer, industry body, learner or parent we want to make sure that our recommendations reflect a diverse cross-section of perspectives, said CEO Sharon Robertson.

“We want to engage with the whole of industry at all levels. This includes apprentices, employers, unions, training bodies, government, and industry associations.”

Getting involved

Contact the Manufacturing Alliance to explore opportunities to be involved with workforce projects and solutions to address skills shortages.

You can contact the Manufacturing Alliance by emailing hello@ to set up a face-to-face discussion, signing up to their newsletter on their website or following them on their social channels.

Executive manager stakeholder engagement, David Barron, presenting at Australian Manufacturing Week 2024 in Sydney.


RMIT’s new low-carbon concrete to halve cement emissions

A team of researchers from RMIT have developed low-carbon concrete which recycles double the coal ash, and halves cement use. This development could be used to address coal waste and high cement production emissions in industry. Manufacturers’ Monthly reports.

Researchers at RMIT University have developed a low-carbon concrete that has demonstrated the potential to significantly enhance recycling and sustainability in construction.

This new concrete can recycle double the amount of coal ash compared to current standards, halve the cement needed, and maintain exceptional longterm performance.

With over 1.2 billion tonnes of coal ash produced annually, this innovation addresses the substantial environmental impact of coal waste and the high carbon emissions from cement production, which constitutes 8 per cent of global emissions.

“Our research aims to make a vital contribution to Australia’s net-zero emission targets and pave the way for a new generation of infrastructure construction, both in Australia and internationally,” said RMIT project lead Dr Chamila Gunasekara, from RMIT’s School of Engineering.

The research team

The project commenced in 2016 when – after completing his PhD – Gunasekara began developing methods to produce low-carbon concrete alongside a team of researchers.

The team recognised the necessity to address sustainability concerns in construction, and thus, aimed to address it with low-carbon concrete.

“The challenge lies in clinker production, a crucial step in cement manufacturing, where CO2 reduction has already been optimised,” said Gunasekara.

“While further reductions are difficult to achieve, there’s a promising aspect in the emergence of alternative sustainable materials.

“However, for these materials to be viable, they must be readily available with a robust supply chain.”

Gunasekara explained that with the increasing adoption of renewable energy sources, traditional power stations are expected to persist for the next decade, resulting in an accumulation of underutilised resources such as fly ash for years to come.

“Fortunately, there are ample such materials in Australia and many other countries. Take fly ash, for

instance, which is abundantly available,” he said.

“Despite the shift towards renewables, traditional power stations are unlikely to disappear in the next decade, leaving us with decades’ worth of underutilised materials like fly ash.”

With key contributions from Dr. Yuguo Yu, the team developed a predictive model for the concrete’s long-term performance.

Yu highlights a persistent challenge in the field: predicting the long-term durability of newly developed materials.

“We’ve now created a physics-based model to predict how the low-carbon concrete will perform over time, which offers us opportunities to reverse engineer and optimise mixes from numerical insights,” he said.

Professor Sujeeva Setunge coordinated the research through the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Transformation of Reclaimed Waste Resources to Engineered Materials and Solutions for a Circular Economy (TREMS).

Dr. Dilan Robert and Dr. David Law were also

key members of the team, partnering with AGL’s Loy Yang Power Station and the Ash Development Association of Australia.

Additionally, Hokkaido University’s Dr. Yogarajah Elakneswaran contributed to developing a computer modelling program to optimise the concrete mix.

This enabled the team to forecast the new concrete’s long-term performance – their goal; to reduce cement usage and address environmental waste challenges, whilst also promoting sustainable construction practices.

Materials science and concrete

Throughout history, coal fly ash has been utilised in cement manufacturing as a valuable supplementary cementitious material.

Dating back several decades, its usage in the construction industry has been prevalent.

Fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion, gained prominence due to its pozzolanic properties, which enhance the durability and strength of concrete

Image: Michael Quin/RMIT
(from left to right) Dr Yuguo Yu, Professor Sujeeva Setunge, Dr Dilan Robert, Dr Chamila Gunasekara, Dr David Law.

when used as a partial replacement for cement.

Since its initial discovery as a beneficial material, fly ash has been integrated into cement formulations worldwide.

Over time, research and innovation have led to a deeper understanding of its properties and potential applications, driving its widespread adoption in the construction sector.

As environmental concerns grew and the demand for sustainable building practices intensified, the use of fly ash as a cement alternative gained even more prominence.

Cement production is a major source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, primarily due to the calcination process, where limestone (calcium carbonate) is heated to produce lime (calcium oxide), releasing CO2 in the process.

Additionally, fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas are often used as energy sources in cement kilns, further contributing to carbon emissions.

Cement manufacturing is energy-intensive,

requiring large amounts of energy for the hightemperature calcination process and for grinding raw materials into cement clinker.
This reliance on fossil fuels and electricity from non-renewable sources contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbates climate change.
Dr Chamila Gunasekara holds a sample of the low-carbon concrete.
The low carbon concrete being tested at RMIT’s Concrete materials laboratory.
Image: Michael Quin/RMIT
Image: Michael Quin/RMIT


The RMIT team has since demonstrated methods to substitute up-to 80 per cent of the cement in concrete with coal fly ash, surpassing the typical 40 per cent replacement in existing low-carbon concretes.

“Our addition of nano additives to modify the concrete’s chemistry allows more fly ash to be added without compromising engineering performance,” said Gunasekara.

“We doubled the current cement reduction in concrete, which necessitated modifications to the cement chemistry, especially with the introduction of nano additives for optimal performance.

“Our research entailed considerable time and effort in refining the cement chemistry to accommodate this doubled waste inclusion in concrete.”

The team has demonstrated that lower-grade pond ash from coal slurry storage ponds can also be repurposed effectively.

Prototypes using both fly ash and pond ash meet Australian engineering and environmental standards, potentially repurposing a vast, underutilised resource.

“It’s exciting that preliminary results show similar performance with lower-grade pond ash, potentially opening a whole new hugely underutilised resource for cement replacement,” Gunasekara said.

“Compared to fly ash, pond ash is underexploited in construction due to its different characteristics. There are hundreds of megatons of ash wastes sitting in dams around Australia, and much more globally.

“These ash ponds risk becoming an environmental hazard, and the ability to repurpose this ash in construction materials at scale would be a massive win.”

This physics-based model enables the optimisation of concrete mixes by understanding ingredient interactions over time, enhancing

material density and compactness with nano additives.

“We are currently conducting a full lifecycle assessment to understand the environmental impact of this concrete, from raw material production to end of life,” said Gunasekara.

“The structural capacity and durability of this new concrete are comparable to conventional concrete. This innovation can reduce CO2 emissions by 10 to 20 per cent, which is a significant achievement.”

“After developing these mix proportions, matching the chemistry and other factors, the next step was to test the short-term and long-term performance.

“We need to meet all specifications and standards, including Australian Standards, to satisfy engineering and environmental requirements.”

The road to commercialisation

Gunasekra said that another priority moving forward, is to achieve commercialisation of their

Eraring Power Station and ash dam from above, with Lake Macquarie in the background.

low-carbon concrete.

“We have spent a considerable amount of time balancing the chemistry and developing our mixed proportion technology, supported by extensive simulation and physics-based modelling,” he said.

“The technology we’ve developed is not limited to this research and is now ready for commercial trials and commercialisation.

“The concepts and technologies from our experiments and numerical modelling can be extended to other materials.”

Gunasekara continued to explain that their concrete is a significant achievement, and that it’s commercialisation ultimately depends on its reception from end-users and testing.

“As scientists and researchers, we rely on end users to help us commercialise this technology, as universities alone do not have that capacity,” he said.

“The next phase involves conducting short-term

and long-term performance testing on our concrete mix proportions.

“We aim to ensure compliance with Australian Standards and other relevant specifications, meeting both engineering performance and environmental requirements.

“Presently, we’re collaborating with ready-mix concrete companies, such as Malai Borel Hall.”

The RMIT team are also working with local councils across Australia that are actively enabling the development of the project.

“We’ve garnered partnerships with nearly 10 councils who align with our research hub,” said Gunasekara.

“With abundant resources at our disposal, we’re actively collaborating with local councils to deploy our concrete innovations.

Gunasekara expressed that RMIT’s new concrete will eventually be utilised in various industries.

“These advancements can be integrated into a

range of construction projects,” he said.

“This includes footpaths, structural elements in residential buildings, and extending to critical infrastructure like rural bridges and roads.”

Gunasekara said that their concrete can be equally scaled compared to conventional concrete.

“This can be scaled up from small-scale to a larger scale,” he said.

“We can produce it in a normal batching plant without needing any additional sophisticated production lines.

Gunasekara said that just one silo is needed to store the materials, and then RMIT can use a normal mixing process, like any generic manufacturing process.

“We can take advantage of existing batching plants,” he said.

“Performance-wise, it is comparable to conventional concrete, and the materials are readily available in Australia.”

The low carbon concrete being tested at RMIT’s Concrete materials laboratory.
Image:Ash Development Association of Australia.
Image: Michael Quin/RMIT

Metakosmos wins big at AusSpace24

Metakosmos, a company specialising in the design and manufacturing of space suits, has been recognised at AusSpace24: Australian Space Summit & Exhibition after winning the Engineering Business of the Year Award. Manufacturers’ Monthly reports.

Metakosmos, a Sydney-based startup, is set to revolutionise space exploration by slashing the costs of spacesuit manufacturing and customising suits for various body shapes using digital optimisation technology. They prioritise innovation and foster collaboration with universities to commercialise research technologies, enhancing space industry capabilities.

Partnering with the Australian Postgraduate Research Intern Network, they leverage the expertise of Australian PhD students to develop spacesuit components and technologies.

Recently, Metakosmos won the “Engineering Business of the Year” award at AusSpace24, the Australian Space Summit & Exhibition.

Speaking on the achievement, Metakosmos CEO, Kiriti Rambhatla, said: “Attending the AusSpace24, the largest gathering in the space industry, from academia to major corporations like Boeing, has significantly boosted our credibility and trust in the product we’re building.”

“Winning the “Engineering Business of the Year” award, especially against such formidable competition, validates our direction and showcases the value we bring.”

“It’s a testament to our progress and gives us the confidence to scale up and continue our work. We’re excited to build on this momentum and aim for more success next year.”

The award is ultimately testament to the work Metakosmos has been doing, which has been a dual-pronged strategy: firstly, streamlining internal product design processes through digital optimisation, promising future cost efficiencies and streamlined production.

Secondly, the launch of their telemetry application, Kernel360, which aims to extract intelligence from synthetic materials, integrating it into software systems.

This innovative approach is poised to disrupt conventional practices within the space industry, marking a significant advancement.

“That combination will certainly see as disrupting the way things are done in the space industry,” said Rambhatla.

“So, the aim is to obviously be able to access data in real time, but there will be conditions like deep sea operations, where you may not have reliable internet connection.”

So, we’re designing the system in a way that

there would be an onboard some computer, which acts as a black box.”

So that would be the one taking care of anytime you have stable connections that will pass through information real time. If not, you’d have a bit of an offline transfer as well.”

Termed a “digital twin,” this concept represents uncharted territory in the public domain.

Metakosmos is committed to democratising this technology as an open platform, inviting collaboration and innovation from a broader ecosystem of contributors.

The company has also been kindling several potential business partnerships.

Metakosmos has established international collaborations, including one with a Middle Eastern company specialising in environmental AI applications for industries like oil and gas.

The partnership aims to integrate an API into Metakosmos’s system, enabling the extraction of intelligence from various environments, such as nuclear plants during cleanup operations.

Additionally, Metakosmos has been selected as one of the 15 finalists for Tech Connect World in Washington DC, where they will pitch their

suits for chemical, biological, and radioactive scenarios.

This recognition presents an opportunity to explore the US market. Early-stage discussions are also underway in New Zealand.

“Two years ago, Metakosmos® participated in the Australia New Zealand Biobridge program, facilitating connections between medical researchers from both nations,” said Rambhatla.

Given their focus on biomarker work, they engaged with universities in New Zealand, aligning with areas of interest for product development.

This initial connection has since paved the way for ongoing discussions within the New Zealand ecosystem.

“We’re collaborating with the 3D printing team at Victoria University of Wellington, renowned for their expertise in printing unique shapes,” said Rambhatla.

“Our goal is to develop an entire exosuit utilising their capabilities. Initial design files have been tested on scale models measuring 15 inches, which will be showcased at our office.

measuring 190 centimetres, entirely 3D printed. This partnership represents an exciting opportunity to leverage cutting-edge technology in our product development journey.”

After prototyping, the next critical phase for Metakosmos is testing and certification, and which they take seriously.

“We’re committed to adhering to seven to ten stringent standards throughout this process,” said Rambhatla.

“Our aim is to align our prototypes with these standards. This is where our proprietary internal engineering & testing tools system plays a crucial role, as it encompasses numerous testing standards worldwide.

“It allows us to tailor the testing based on user expectations.”

Over the next six to twelve months, the plan for Metakosmos is to conduct operational pilots.

“We’ll design experiments, establish credentials, and metrics, tying them back to business outcomes, all outlined on our roadmap,”

“Additionally, we aspire to host a large-scale event showcasing the full suite of suits we plan

Pictured, Metakosmos’ “Engineering Business of the Year” award.
Panel discussion at AusSpace Summit Day 2; Paul Hepplewhite (left), Kiriti Rambhatla (middle), Adam Thorn (right).

Risk prevention in the digital age

Globally, manufacturing has become a prime target for Cyberattacks. In Australia, the sector ranked in the top ten for cybersecurity incidents and top three for ransomware attacks in 2020-21. We spoke with an industry expert to find out how manufacturers can manage the risk of cyberattacks and equip themselves with the skills necessary to safeguard their businesses. Phillip Hazell reports.

In the late 20th century, the emergence of computer viruses and worms, such as the Morris Worm in 1988 and the Melissa virus in 1999, highlighted the vulnerability of interconnected systems and the potential for widespread disruption amongst businesses.

As personal computers became more widespread in the 1990s, so did the proliferation of cyber threats, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, exemplified by incidents like the 1996 attack on the Panix ISP.

By the turn of the millennium, there was a rise of increasingly sophisticated attacks, such as the ILOVEYOU worm in 2000, which impacted up-to ten million Windows personal computers.

Other sophisticated attacks include statesponsored cyber activities, like the 2007 attack on Estonia.

The 2010s witnessed a shift towards cyber warfare with the emergence of Stuxnet in 2010, a worm designed to target Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the escalation of ransomware attacks, highlighted by incidents like WannaCry in 2017.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) designed to block access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid.

Between the 2020–21 financial year, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) responded to around 1,630 cyber security incidents, averaging 31 incidents per week.

The ACSC classifies each incident it addresses on a scale ranging from Category 1, denoting the most severe, to Category 6, indicating the least severe.

Compared to the previous year, there was a 28 per cent decrease in total incidents, with no Category 1 or 2 incidents recorded.

Category 4 incidents increased, indicating a more significant impact on victim organisations, often involving data theft, extortion, or service disruption. Category 4 incidents made up 49 per cent of reported incidents, a notable increase from the previous year.

Low-level malicious activities like reconnaissance, phishing, and non-sensitive data loss were the most common incidents, comprising over half of all cases.

Around a quarter of reported incidents affected critical infrastructure, including essential services like education, health, and communications.

Government sectors, followed by professional, scientific, and technical services, and healthcare and social assistance, reported the highest number of incidents.

Ransomware reports to the ACSC via ReportCyber increased by nearly 15 per cent, with around 500 reports received.

Additionally, the ACSC responded to close to 160 ransomware-related incidents. The professional, scientific, and technical services sector, along with

the health sector, reported the most ransomware incidents.

Australian businesses faced significant financial losses due to Business Email Compromise (BEC) cybercrime.

While BEC reports saw a slight decrease compared to the previous year, self-reported financial losses surged, totalling approximately $81.45 million, marking a nearly 15 per cent increase.

Cyber-attacks in manufacturing have become increasingly prevalent as industrial systems become more interconnected and digitised.

We spoke with Lesley Carhart to explore how manufacturers can develop the necessary skills to defend against cyberattacks.

Carhart, also known as hacks4pancakes, is the director of Incident Response at Dragos, an industrial cybersecurity company.

Carhart is actively engaged in various cybersecurity topics, including industrial control systems, the SolarWinds hack, ransomware attacks, smart device insecurity, remote working, multi-factor authentication, and the 2021 Microsoft Exchange Server data breach.

“There’s a lot of legacy devices and networks in play that are doing very, very critical things in manufacturing processes,” said Carhart.

“Most large manufacturing organisations have global operations, and some of their most critical facilities are sometimes in less resource nations around the world.

“If there’s a compromise in one factory in one place in the world, it’s very likely to spread into other parts of the business network and financial network, in other manufacturing facilities.”

These attacks often pose significant threats to operational efficiency, product quality, and even physical safety.

Ransomware-related cybersecurity incidents were most reported by the professional, scientific,

and technical services sector to ReportCyber in 2022–23, with the retail trade sector following closely behind, and then the manufacturing sector.

Together, these three sectors comprised over 40 percent of the reported ransomware-related cybersecurity incidents.

As reported by the ABC, the ransomware attack on JBS in 2021, allegedly carried out by Russia’s REvil hacker group, disrupted meatpacking operations at multiple plants for up to five days across Australia, the U.S, and Canada.

JBS had to shut down its 47 sites across Australia due to the attack.

The producer, which supplies a fifth of the world’s meat, experienced significant production and distribution interruptions, resulting in non-union employees losing several days’ wages.

The meat-producer ultimately paid $14.2 million to the group.

Cyberattacks on supply chains can also pose significant challenges for manufacturers by disrupting operations, decreasing production output, and increasing costs associated with remediation and cybersecurity enhancements.

If businesses involved in supplying, manufacturing, distributing, or retailing products or services utilised by an organisation constitute a cyber supply chain, there will be inherent cyber supply chain risks stemming from these businesses.

Similarly, an organisation can pass on any cyber supply chain risks it carries to its customers.

As reported by CPO magazine, a supply chain attack on a business partner of Applied Materials, a major semiconductor manufacturing company, resulted in a $375 million loss due to disrupted shipments.

Although Applied Materials did not identify the affected partner, Bloomberg reported that MKS Instruments, which announced a ransomware attack on February 3, was the source.

Carhart explained that in most of their response cases, they encounter two groups of cyberattackers. One group is financially motivated, while the other group consists of insider attackers.

“Most of those are not intentional insiders,” said Carhart.

“There’s always this small percentile of people who don’t get a promotion, don’t get hired on their malicious contractors, and for some reason, they want to do something bad.

“But the vast majority of insider cases are people just trying to do their job.”

Carhart explained that insider attackers will often either try to accomplish something and encounter a security or process control that prevents them from proceeding as expected, or they’re simply bored and want to watch TV late at night.

“We see people hook up cellular modem, they

Carhart, from Motorola Solutions to Dragos, leads industrial network investigations, honoured hacker, and retired Air Force reservist.
Image: Dragos


hook up TV antennas, they connect USB drives other devices to the computer to do what they want to do, whether it’s some maintenance thing they’ve been told to do, or for personal entertainment,” Carhart said.

Carhart said that the sources of these insider attacks can be particularly difficult to locate.

“It takes time for those things to be detected,” said Carhart.

“Sometimes people find an antenna months and months later, even years later.

“Sometimes they find a connection plugged in that shouldn’t be there and at that point, it’s a matter of figuring out what was compromised. Can we trust the integrity of the network anymore?”

What can be done?

Carhart explained that to effectively manage cybersecurity, manufacturers must start with understanding their environment, including topology and asset inventories.

“I know a lot of groups make assumptions that they do have those types of information available to them, but they’re out of date, they’ve vastly changed over time,” Carhart said.

“I would start with very basic security hygiene

things like, where are your network boundaries? what systems do you have in play? How old are they? Who manages them? And where do they live?

“After you figure that out, then you can start doing more architectural analysis, such as passive assessment of how you’re architected, whether you can segment things better.”

Secondly, Carhart said that businesses should form an intrusion plan in case of any potential ransomware attacks. Hindsight is key.

“That should certainly take the form of playbooks and documentation,” said Carhart.

“You don’t have to have a perfect asset inventory, a perfect network map, or a perfect incident response plan. But the more you have done in advance, the less miserable you’re going to be if you do have an incident.”

Lastly, manufacturers can benefit from updating their systems. However, as Carhart explained, this can be a difficult task.

“You’re at the mercy of your budget and your original equipment manufacturer (OEM),” said Carhart.

“When you buy process equipment, it’s warranted by the OEM to operate in a specific configuration and changing that can impact your process,

production, and system integrity.

“It can also void the warranty, leading to loss of vendor support. Therefore, changes must be carefully planned during maintenance outages.”

If manufacturers are looking to bolster their business against cybercriminals, they can opt to do that internally, or they can consult a third-party.

But, if done internally, it can take time, said Carhart.

“You can do it internally—it takes time and human resources. It’s like using an open-source product; nothing is free. It requires human hours to do it,” they said.

“Alternatively, you can outsource this to organisations that specialise in consulting for OT systems, architecture, and monitoring and assessment.

“I would encourage you to use contractors or consultants that specialise in OT systems for your manufacturing facilities because dealing with those environments requires a lot more sensitivity.

“Either option is fine, but if it’s not done, and you have a crisis, you’ll have to do it at the beginning of the response.”

Carhart explained that in the event of a cyberattack architectural segmentation can slow

down attackers, which can allow for more response time.

In cybersecurity, architectural segmentation refers to the practice of dividing a network or system into separate segments or zones, often referred to as security zones, based on the sensitivity of the data and the need for access control.

This segmentation helps to contain security breaches and limit the impact of potential attacks by restricting lateral movement within the network.

“I do see that architectural segmentation is vastly impactful, which can be everything from controlling remote access, putting multifactor on to just breaking the network up into segments,” said Carhart.

“this makes it a little bit more difficult for an adversary to move from facility to facility.”

Ultimately, by taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity resilience, manufacturers can safeguard their operations, protect sensitive data, and maintain trust with customers and partners.

In an increasingly digitised and interconnected world, cybersecurity readiness is essential for the long-term success and sustainability of manufacturing businesses.

As manufacturing processes become increasingly interconnected, businesses face greater risks of cyberattacks.
Phishing attacks are prevalent in the manufacturing sector due to the value of intellectual property, supply chain disruption potential, and financial gain.
Image: tippapatt/

Australian industry needs to more actively take up AI – what’s stopping them?

Ai Group last year celebrated its 150th anniversary. Central to our purpose is assisting Australian businesses to cope with change. In our history we have guided members through two world wars, a depression, several recessions, two global pandemics and countless industry plans.

Today, we are focussed on guiding policy makers and industry through the big three challenges as we settle into the 21st Century economy. Those challenges include Digitalisation, Decarbonisation and Diversification.

We believe that the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) is central to meeting those challenges. While some of our members create AI solutions, most are consumers of it, just like the rest of Australian businesses and the Australian community as whole.

The most responsible thing that Australian businesses can do for their customers, suppliers, staff – and indeed the Australian economy – is to embrace the potential of AI to transform their businesses.

If harnessed properly, AI will improve productivity, unlock human capital and lift our international competitiveness. It will bolster resilience in our supply chains, providing cushioning in the face of potential geostrategic shocks. And more than we have for decades, we face repeated and prolonged geopolitical shocks.

Where traditional supply chains ‘plan and react’ to disruptions, digitalised supply chains ‘predict and prescribe’ actions to take. And, perhaps most importantly, AI will better enable companies to measure and manage their carbon footprint, ensuring we can meet our net zero ambitions.

But I’m going to let you in on a secret: Businesses don’t actually “buy AI”. Instead, they buy a solution to their problem, that simply happens to have some

AI in it alongside other digital technologies.

We’ve heard that it can take approaches to up to seven different vendors to find a complete AI-based solution to a business problem. As we have seen with Australian adoption of Industry 4.0 practices, a sudden and smooth uptake is not assured.

Australia is well behind similarly sized countries when it comes to the take-up of robotics, assistive tech and IoT in industry. Might we also fall behind our peers in bringing AI into the industrial ecosystem?

The following are some reasons we’ve heard about why it is so difficult to just “buy that robot” or “implement that AI”: Changing organisational mindsets and getting

AI can improve productivity, unlock human capital, increase international competitiveness, bolster supply chain resilience, and help manage carbon footprints.

the organisation to appreciate the impact of digitalisation and automation. This inevitably leads to addressing fears regarding “job loss” and focussing on “job quality improvement”. A challenging conversation at the best of times.

However, in the current environment of economic uncertainty, it can risk alarming staff and triggering departures of key personnel.

Another is exposing gaps in leadership. Technology helps leaders focus on leading, yet also highlights where they do not. This elevates the need for people managers and critical thinkers, not traditional process leaders. Don’t assume that workers have a monopoly on job loss fears.

Data use: AI is only as good as the data it is fed. While lots of data is being collected already, many businesses aren’t sure what to do with it all. Finding the right people to turn the collected data into insights or monetary returns is proving to be a challenge.

People might have the technical ability, but not the creative and communication skills to maximise the use of data to support strategic goals. There is also widespread uncertainty as to who controls or owns the data.

Another concern is Interoperability issues: System integration has been a challenge but grows in size as new systems like AI get added to the mix. Cyber security is also a concern. We are hearing that some companies are actually disabling their IOT-enabled machines to reduce cyber vulnerabilities.

Finally, the ever-present challenge of justifying the expenditure. Some businesses with digitalisation

strategies have had difficulties defending expenditure on particular Industry 4.0 initiatives. We have to ask: is this a lack of vision, or an unclear answer on the return on investment?

So what works?

Celebrating incremental success can be a good start. Some businesses have started small – rather than changing everything at once – to demonstrate success, and have then sought approval for bigger more transformative investment afterwards.

Building a technology adaptive culture. Getting traditional workers to trust data as much or, even better, more than their experience and intuition is step one of many to getting people comfortable –whether it is with robots, AI, or both.

Finding use cases outside of production and core business, and encouraging companies to develop an overall AI strategy, is key to lifting take-up across the economy.

Notice that I haven’t called for subsidies or tax breaks or any of the other usual suspects in industry policy? That’s because this is, at its core, a cultural and skills problem, not a money problem.

Skill needs in advanced manufacturing and critical infrastructure are broad and deep. The sectors need a mix of technical, generic and leadership skills. However, robotics and AI will increase the importance of digital within the skills mix.

Beyond business and leadership skills, the successful implementation of Industry 4.0 also requires two distinct but inter-related skills

bases: the technical skills involved in the design, implementation and integration of digital industry technologies; and operational skills, required in workforces that make use of the tech, enabling its safe and efficient utilisation.

While both are equally important, the builders are often prioritised in policy while the users receive less attention.

And let’s not forget about all that underutilised data. We will need to upskill all kinds of workers to understand what the data is telling them and how to use it to predict and prepare for the future.

But fundamental to maximising take up of AI will be lifting the capability of leaders and managers to develop and execute new business strategies that ensures Australian businesses are equal to if not exceeding their international peers.

AI is not new. It has been with us since the 1950s. Every time you get in a plane and the pilot switches on autopilot – that’s AI. Every time you put your car in cruise control that’s AI. But what has happened since the introduction of ChatGPT has been a massive step change in terms of the potential, knowledge, excitement and fear about the role of AI in our lives.

When it comes to technology, it is sometimes said that America creates, Europe regulates. My ambition for Australia as we square up to this new world is that we do more than sit on the sidelines of both.

My hope is that we courageously create and use AI to emerge as new businesses in a digitalised, decarbonised – and sometimes disrupted –world.

Through the microscope: how understanding the very small enables us to think big

What method are you currently adopting to design your new or improved product? Trial and error? Are you producing dozens or hundreds of prototypes? How do you know what to do? Should you use science to guide you?

Structure determines function. The overall design of a product will determine how it functions. But go a little deeper, and the microscopic structure of the material used to build the product is even more important in determining how well it functions.

Let’s assume you have a 3D-printed prototype of your new device. It looks good on the outside, it’s the right shape and should do the job nicely. But how do you know it will be strong enough? This is where materials characterisation and materials modelling come into their own.

Put simply, materials characterisation is the study of matter up close, from the micro- and nano- to the macroscopic levels. By looking at a material’s properties up close, scientists can determine what it can do. Materials characterisation is fundamental to

success in the manufacturing industry, contributing to quality assurance, process optimisation, innovation, failure investigation, regulatory compliance, cost efficiency, and sustainability. It provides the necessary insights and data to ensure that materials and products meet the desired standards and perform reliably in their intended applications. Materials characterisation is used when you have a physical product in your hand. Materials modelling helps get you to this point. Modelling, or more specifically computational modelling, is a method used to simulate and study the behavior of complex systems using mathematical models, computer algorithms, and data analysis. It involves the creation of computational representations (twins) of physical or biological systems to predict their behavior

under different conditions.

Instead of building protoypes, we build computer models to test variables such as material selection, or how design parameters such as size, shape and thickness contribute to performance. We can predict what load will make the product fail, or whether one shape is better for heat dissipation than another. All without building a physical object. Without modelling, manufacturers run the risk of high wastage, increased costs, inneficiencies, low quality control, limited innovation and reduced competitiveness in the market place.

It doesn’t matter whether your product is made of titanium, polyethylene, or collagen, materials modelling and characterisation can tell you more about it. At Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, we have the analytical and characterisation expertise and materials and process modelling capability all in one place. We have highly specialised equipment necessary to investigate, study and interrogate soft and hard matter at the nano-, micro-, and macroscopic scales.

With all of this knowledge and equipment at our finger tips, our team will work closely with you to provide detailed data analysis and methodological approaches to understanding a specific material. We excel in collaborating with clients throughout a project’s lifecycle, from conception to delivery. From prediction to observation, we provide integrated expertise in chemical, physical and biological materials interrogation.

We were recently approached by an industry business to design a bespoke replacement component for a load-bearing structure, where a like-for-like replacement was not possible.

Using our in-house expertise, we could use the scans of the defective component and design a 3D-printable metal replacement. Shape, obviously, was the first thing which needed to be taken into account, and because this is visible, this was the simple part.

What made the difference between success and failure is what happened at the microscopic level. Vitally important to the work was optimising strength and density to provide the required load-

Three dimensional structures can be visualised using computed tomography (CT).

bearing capacity without being too heavy, while remaining self-supporting. Modelling allowed us to test many variations of structural elements to determine which one would hit the sweet spot of strength and weight, whilst remaining compatible

with the rest of the structure. Without having to physically make multiple prototypes for testing we saved not only time but many thousands of dollars in prototyping for the client.

The designed replacement component was made

up of a repeating arrangement of small lattice unit cells which could be 3D-printed in titanium alloy to make a single, porous piece. The stress under load was predicted through modelling using techniques such as finite element analysis (FEA). Components produced through additive manufacturing techniques do not have the ‘perfect’ uniformity of a computer model, so printed unit cells were scanned and the stress was modelled in the asbuilt structure to verify the design modelling before progressing to the full build.

Using this approach we were able to rapidly create a unique component with all of the right performance parameters without the need to construct multiple prototypes for physical testing. The uses for this CSIRO technology are endless, from designing replacement parts for machinery in remote locations, to perhaps even individualised replacement bones for accident victims.

Working with CSIRO’s Materials Characterisation and Modelling team provides industry and businesses access to the complete suite of specialised skills and techniques available.

Should your business or organisation require the services of materials characterisation and modelling, our team would love to hear from you. Contact us via: or call 1300 363 400.

Whatever your product, CSIRO can help to design and characterise it.
CSIRO’s Materials Characterisation and Modelling team have specialist staff and over $50m in infrastructure.

Backplane Systems Technology Presents APLEX’s SiER-G4201M

Industrial 4-Port RS-232/422/485 Modbus Gateway


Backplane Systems Technology is pleased to present APLEX’s SiER-G4201M. The APLEX SiER-G4201M is a robust industrial 4-port RS-232/422/485 Modbus Gateway designed to meet diverse industrial needs, integrating seamlessly into smart manufacturing environments. This device serves as an industrial panel PC, HMI controller, gateway, and industrial display monitor, all in one.

A key method to introduce AIoT into factories is creating a digital information environment. By facilitating data exchange between devices and the edge through networks, Modbus gateways and Ethernet switches become crucial in smart manufacturing. The APLEX SiER series, which includes the SiER-G1101M, SiER-G2201M, and SiER-G4201M, provides comprehensive Modbus gateway solutions, while the SiER-S0802N caters to Ethernet switch needs.

The SiER-G4201M stands out with its four COM ports and two LAN ports, functioning as a conversion bridge between Modbus TCP/IP Protocol and Modbus RTU/ASCII Protocol via RS232/422/485 serial and 10/100BASE-TX RJ45 Ethernet ports. It also features an alarm function to alert administrators of any device abnormalities, and includes digital I/O for customized applications, allowing for real-time device status detection and logging.

Complementing this is the SiER-S0802N, an 8-Port 10/100BASE-TX industrial fast Ethernet switch.

Key features:

• Industrial standard 12~48V DC power backup, or 9~48V DC and 24V AC power backup Supports 10/100BASE-TX RJ45 transmission distance up to 100 meters

• Support Modbus RTU. ASCII Master/Slave

• Integrated Ethernet and RS-232/RS-422/RS-485 serial interface

• Supports 32 Modbus TCP master and slave mode devices

Company: Backplane Systems Technology Phone: (02) 9457 6400 Website:

ICP Electronics Australia Presents ICP DAS GW7553-CPM-M PROFIBUS to CANopen Gateway

ICP Electronics Australia is proud to introduce ICP DAS GW-7553-CPM-M. The ICP DAS GW7553-CPM-M is a PROFIBUS to CANopen Gateway designed to integrate CANopen slave devices into a PROFIBUS DP network seamlessly. This gateway is engineered to support the DP-V0 Slave protocol, with automatic detection of transmission rates, ensuring easy setup and efficient operation.

Key features include a maximum input and output data length of 240 bytes, and a PROFIBUS address setting range of 0 to 126, configured via a DIP switch. It fully supports the CiA CANopen Standard DS-301 v4.02, along with the CANopen Consumer protocols, including Node Guarding and Heartbeat Consumer protocol. The device can handle up to 110 CANopen SDO/PDO commands, providing robust communication capabilities.

For enhanced reliability and protection, the GW-7553-CPM-M features 2500 Vrms high-speed iCoupler network isolation and 3000VDC isolation protection on the PROFIBUS side. It also complies with CE, UKCA, RoHS, and WEEE standards, ensuring safety and environmental responsibility.

The GW-7553-CPM-M gateway simplifies the

integration of CANopen devices into a PROFIBUS network, making it an ideal solution for industrial, factory, and process automation applications. Utility software is provided to help users configure the gateway effortlessly, enhancing its usability and functionality in complex automation environments. By deploying the GW-7553-CPM-M, users can achieve efficient and reliable communication between PROFIBUS and CANopen networks, ensuring smooth operations and improved automation performance.

Key features:

• Protocol & Hierarchy : DP-V0 Slave

• Transmission Rate Setting : detected automatically

• Max Input Data Length : 240 Bytes

• Max Output Data Length : 240 Bytes

• PROFIBUS Address Setting : 0~126 set by DIP switch

• Supports CANopen Standard : CiA CANopen Standard DS-301 v4.02

• Supports CANopen Consumer protocol : Node Guarding and Heartbeat Consumer protocol

• Number of CANopen Commands : Support 110 CANopen SDO/PDO commands

• Network Isolation Protection : 2500 Vrms High Speed iCoupler

• D C Isolation Protection : 3000VDC on PROFIBUS side

Company: ICP Electronics Australia Phone: (02) 9457 6011


VIC taxes and Albo’s ‘Future Made in Australia’ plan are affecting SMEs, says SEMMA

The Victorian Government’s latest round of taxes delivered in this year’s State Budget are, according to the Treasurer Tim Pallas, designed to “(The Commercial and Industrial Property Tax) be set at a single flat rate of one per cent of a property’s unimproved land value – there are no complicated graduated rates – and exemptions that apply to land tax will also apply. Administration will also be similar to arrangements for land tax, to streamline compliance”.

This means the Valuer General Victoria will manage the process. The same process for Land Tax, the VGV also calculates the value of land, which leads to increased land tax fees.

This means they (VGV) will have carte blanche to increase the (assumed) value of the unimproved land (year on year). Don’t be fooled by the “set a single flat rate of one per cent of a property’s unimproved value,” line that will be used to calculate the Commercial and Industrial Property Tax.

The rate will be set at a single flat rate of one per cent of a property’s unimproved value, which will be indexed and may increase year-on-year based on factors such as inflation, CPI, and general land value trends in Victoria.

Even though the government is offering a loan of that value – a loan that will be payable in ten years or can be paid in instalments, there are concerns about the clarity and stability of these measures.

SEMMA members believe that the latest Budget

does not sufficiently support SME’s. The increase in Land Taxes, WorkCover Premiums, and Payroll Tax has had a significant effect on SME’s, potentially leading to:

• Reduction in capital investment by businesses –reducing growth and employment

• Create challenges for smaller manufacturers who may struggle with the increase in land tax

• Increase production costs – and therefore costs will rise on consumer goods

The Victorian Government introduced a flat one percent tax on commercial and industrial property based on unimproved land value, managed by Valuer General Victoria.


There is a perception that the Victorian Government’s measures may impact small businesses, despite SME’s employing 90 per cent of Victorians.

And the Albanese Government’s Budget has limited provisions for manufacturers, with no significant tax breaks, rebates, or exemptions. Even though manufacturing underwrote Australia’s economy during the pandemic, so much so that the Federal Government has developed the Sovereign Industry Capability Policy (Local Jobs Content) but fails to adequately oversee it.

Albo’s Future Made in Australia Plan is an umbrella term as it pulls together a range of policies into one place, like the National Reconstruction Fund.

This only applies to large innovation opportunities and is based on investment dollar for dollar and is set against seven priority areas of the Australian

economy – great it you want to automate your factory or bring in Ai.

“The Australian Government established the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation (NRFC) to support 7 priority areas of the Australian economy. The NRFC can provide finance in the form of debt, equity and guarantees to support Australian projects that drive high-value industry transformation”.

About the only thing that the Federal Government seem to be making any sense on is the Gas Industry Supply Policy – when they decide what that is exactly. The Federal Government is working on the Gas Industry Supply Policy to ensure gas remains available for manufacturing, recognising its importance for maintaining a stable energy supply for industry, alongside renewables. Coordination between state and federal levels on energy policy continues to evolve.

While there is a year to run for Albanese and another 2+ years for the Allan Government, one can’t help but think that the parties are beginning their “pre-election policy tryouts” on us now. We have to remember that manufacturing has underwritten Australia’s wealth and growth for decades and it was during COVID that manufacturing continued to maintain the status quo for Australian industry and did not receive any financial handouts – unlike so many non-performing industries.

With State debt at an all-time high, it seems unlikely any tax relief will be coming our way anytime soon, SEMMA will continue to advocate to both Federal and State Government’s on matters of importance to our members. If you’re not a SEMMA member – join us, let your voice be heard and gain valuable industry connections, networks and access to business development opportunities.

Specialists in gear manufacturing and Precision Machining since 1948

Who we are

R & I Instrument & Gear Co, with a history of 75 years, operates as a division within the Hardman Group of Companies, an Australian-owned enterprise of distinction. The group is renowned as a premier provider of precision machining and gear-cutting services throughout Australasia with a legacy dating back over 70 years.

Hardman Group expanded through two additional acquisitions. Presently, it comprises three distinct business units - Hardman Bros, R & I Instrument & Gear Co, and Marks 4WD.

Our quality endorsements

• Certification AS9100D (Re-issue : 14/9/23) (R&I Instrument & Gear Co)

• ISO9001:2015

What we do

• We operate a Quality Management System that is able to support the manufacture of high precision machined components and gear cutting to leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).

• Gear cutting and precision machining, shaping, milling and grinding, CNC machining, honing, broaching and wire cutting.

• Assembly and sub-assembly and production onsite with over 7,500m2 of floor space.

• Manufacture to print, maintenance, repair and overhaul capability.

• Work with customers from prototype, reverse engineering, to make to print production.

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