Insight – Industry 4.0 transforms prospects for Australian manufacturing
Across the world, the pace of innovation is increasing and transforming the
way services are delivered and goods produced. Powering change is what is
commonly called the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, or Industry 4.0.
The concept of a fourth industrial revolution began in Germany over a
decade ago. The basic idea is that industrial transformation has occurred
in four distinct phases: the first in the late 1700s saw the application of
steam power to manufacturing; the second, from 1870 saw the application of
electricity to manufacturing, as well as new transport communication
technologies; and the third saw the introduction of digital technologies,
and information technology systems.
According to some
analysts, the fourth industrial revolution is a convergence of digital, biological
and physical innovations. Many of these innovations were developed during
the third – or digital - industrial revolution, as internet and digital
solutions embedded themselves into the manufacturing process.
But at the heart of this fourth industrial revolution (or industry 4.0) are
technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) sensors, robotics and
additive manufacturing. These technologies are transforming the scope of
modern manufacturing, for example, by enabling bespoke products to be
created efficiently at high speed. Critically, these are also technologies
in which Australian companies are carving out niche areas of global
Although adoption has not been universal, Austrade is seeing growing global
demand for exporters using advanced manufacturing technologies, and many
are embracing these opportunities.
Industry 4.0: What it means for Australia
In a recent
Insight article, global consultant, Deloitte, points out that the current pace of
technological advance is unprecedented in history and shows no signs of
stabilising as other historical technological innovations such as
electricity, eventually did.
So, technology is changing, but it is also changing more quickly. For
businesses, it is increasingly important to plan for how to adapt and
realise the opportunities of accelerating innovation. This includes
creating an ongoing strategy for incorporating new innovations, as they
What does all this mean for the modern manufacturer in Australia? The
Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap
defines Advanced Manufacturing aims to raise awareness of key enabling
science and technology areas for the future of manufacturing in Australia,
Sensors and data analytics
Smart robotics and automation
Augmented and virtual reality.
These are the technologies that will transform manufacturing and they are
precisely the areas in which Austrade targets support for Australian
businesses in overseas markets.
How Austrade is helping advanced manufacturing exporters
Currently, Australian companies export approximately A
$96.1 billion of manufactured goods, according to CSIRO. Only a few companies are involved, however The
Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre
has found that 5% of firms drive 99% of Australia’s manufacturing exports.
The potential is therefore huge for Australian businesses to respond to
overseas demand and expand their export base.
Austrade is supporting advanced manufacturers across multiple sectors,
including defence and space, to enter new markets through trade missions.
For example, Austrade is partnering with the Australian Manufacturing
to lead a delegation
of Australian companies to the 2020 Hannover Messe trade show – the world’s
leading industrial technology show.
Financial support is also available. Austrade’s Export Market Development
Grant (EMDG) Scheme has underpinned the growth of companies such as
Quickstep Holdings, which manufactures advanced composites for highly demanding projects such
as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Composites are an area of strong
advantage for Australia, with multiple Australian companies achieving
Austrade has also observed strong interest from overseas investors and
customers impressed by the quality and competitiveness of Australian
advanced manufacturing. For example, defence and aerospace giant Safran has
established a strategic partnership with Australian additive manufacturing
company Amaero, which created the world’s first 3D-printed jet engine.
So, the fourth industrial revolution is transforming the prospects for
Australian manufacturing. Inventiveness and agility are displacing scale
and logistics as the key determinants of global competitiveness. As a
nation of innovators, Australia’s global prospects in manufacturing have
rarely looked better.
Austrade invites companies to register for the 2020 Hannover Messe trade
For further information on the EMDG program, please refer