Vice Chancellor of the University of Western Australia (UWA), Professor Amit Chakma was on hand to officially open the ERDi Perth City TestLab in front of an audience of industry, academic institutions, state and federal government and technology suppliers.
“One of the roles of the University is to serve the people of WA, and this partnership exemplifies what that might look like,” said Professor Chakma. He also encouraged industry to embrace the opportunity to work with academia: “We cannot play the role unless you allow us to, this should be a wonderful model for all of us to follow.”
One of six i4.0 Testlabs established at universities across Australia under the Department of Innovation, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) i4.0 TestLab network program, the ERDi TestLab specialises in the development and application of i4.0 interoperability standards in the Energy and Resources sectors.
The ERDi TestLabs important role has been further recognised through additional sponsorship from two of the Federal Government’s Industry Growth Centres: NERA (National Energy Resources Australia) METS Ignited.
“As a Foundation Partner and early supporter of the ERDi initiative, we believe the TestLabs can play a vital transformative role in the evolution of Australia’s critical energy and resources sectors by providing local supply chains with the support and skills required to capitalise on technological opportunities presented by Industry 4.0,” NERA CEO Miranda Taylor said.
According to industry research jointly commissioned by NERA and METS Ignited into the potential opportunities and impact of technologies such as data analytics, automation and robotics on Australia’s mining and oil and gas industries in the next decade, the accelerated adoption of automation technologies in Australia’s resources industries could, if coordinated and well managed, add $74 billion in value to the Australian economy, in both regions and cities, and create over 80,000 new jobs by 2030.
METS Ignited welcomes the launch of the ERDi TestLab as a collaboration vehicle that will enable the transformative technologies identified as critical to accelerating Australia’s future jobs and growth.
“As the Industry Growth Centre for the mining technology, equipment and services sector, METS Ignited is supporting initiatives driving interoperability, tapping into our existing technology capabilities and transforming them into real commercialisation opportunities – the ERDi TestLab is enabling the power of Industry 4.0”.
The TestLab is the first of its kind with respect to interoperability services and will enable energy and resources companies and technology suppliers to those industries to take advantage of the latest i4.0 interoperability approaches and realise the benefits as soon as possible.
“The significant benefits offered by i4.0 related technologies such as cloud computing, AI and Machine Learning and smart and connected sensors, can only be realised if all systems involved in a given operation are able to exchange information automatically, reliably and in real-time,” said John Kirkman, Managing Director of ETP. To achieve this, systems need to be able to exchange information using a common language – this is where i4.0 interoperability standards come in to play.
As many of these standards have only in recent years become mature enough to support mining and oil and gas requirements, our existing workforce does not yet have the experience with implementing interoperability.
Our workforce has been applying technical and business work arounds in an effort to extract value, but these approaches are very different to those enabled by interoperability.
Unfortunately, these work around solutions which are imperfect in outcome and costly to design, implement and maintain, is what our workforce have become familiar with and therefore can make the proposition of moving ahead with an i4.0 interoperability approach a daunting prospect at first.
This is where the ERDi TestLab is able to help.
In consultation with the ERDi TestLab team and industry, South Metro TAFE and UWA will be working to develop a new i4.0 associate degree, the first of its kind globally. “There’s significant value to be realised in the partnership between the vocational and higher education sectors – and this is a fantastic example of that”, said Terry Durant, managing director of South Metro TAFE.
This, together with industry research projects such as AMIRA P1208, which is sponsored by large mining companies Gold Fields, Fortescue Metals Group and South 32, as well as industry implementation projects such as that at Gold Fields Granny Smith Mine, will address skills gaps with respect to i4.0 interoperable architectures and as such, enable more rapid development and adoption of these technologies and associated benefits within both the mining and oil and gas industries.
ERDi TestLab director Professor Eric May of UWA is also CEO of the Future Energy Exports (FEnEx) CRC, which recently received a $40 million dollar Federal Government grant to support its mission of future-proofing Australia’s energy exports through industrial-scale innovation. “The ERDi TestLab was central to our successful bid last year and will help us to deliver low-cost, low-emissions LNG as well as grow our hydrogen export industry,” said Professor May.
Mr Kirkman welcomed industry, technology suppliers and systems integrators to take advantage of the Lab’s existence, by visiting the Lab and finding out how it can be of assistance in helping realise their industry 4.0 goals.
To organise your first engagement with the Testlab, please contact us via the website (www.erditestlab.com) or email Cameron Bowden at email@example.com or Dr Peter Falloon at firstname.lastname@example.org