Former president of Mitsubishi Motors Australia Robert McEniry had just one wish for the company’s vacated plant at Tonsley. He wanted this manufacturing legacy to once again benefit Adelaide.
In 2015, this vision became a reality when Flinders University moved into its new, $120 million Tonsley campus, alongside a number of other teaching, government, industry, startup, and entrepreneurial bodies.
Operations at the former Mitsubishi site now empower businesses to adopt the next generation of manufacturing – known as Industry 4.0 – for future economic and employment gains.
And, as the business of making stuff continues to rapidly evolve, “no industry will be left untouched,” says Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research Impact Professor John Spoehr a leading economic and industry analyst.
The Flinders at Tonsley campus is home to the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute (AITI) and the Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation (TMI) Hub, which are helping South Australia gain a competitive edge over other regions. Global companies such as Siemens, Tesla and Zeiss, also have operations within the precinct.
“Manufacturing is still fundamentally the most important of the economic sectors,” says Dr Mark Dean, a research associate at AITI. “We take it for granted, but everything in the built environment is manufactured.”
This means that in order to remain competitive, all manufacturing is under intense pressure to transform using advanced technologies says Professor Spoehr, who led the establishment of the TMI Hub in his other role as the Director of AITI.
The technologies being developed and tested at AITI include robotics, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), nanotechnology, photonics and sensing. The Internet of Things, which creates a network between devices that can ‘talk’ to one another, is also a focus.