Submission to the National Robotics Strategy Discussion Paper
In May 2023, the Australian Cobotics Centre made a submission to the National Robotics Strategy: discussion paper
People using and collaborating with robots (cobots) will help enable Australians to realise their potential and create new sovereign manufacturing capabilities whose products can be exported to the world. The Australian Cobotics Centre (ACC), or ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Collaborative Robotics in Advanced Manufacturing, addresses the hurdles linked with adopting cobots for advanced manufacturing, channelling this new capability to support industrial transformation priorities.
To stay competitive and complete large-scale infrastructure projects, Australian manufacturing must invest in robotics, automation, and digitization. Skilling the current workforce is also crucial for job adaptation and a sustainable career in advanced manufacturing. The future of advanced manufacturing relies on enhanced human-technology integration. Collaborative robotics is key to solving challenges faced by Australia’s SME manufacturing industry, benefiting small businesses with innovation and cost reduction, workers with job security and new skills, and the economy through job growth and exports.
This response offers recommendations based on ACC industry partner perspectives and research and provides a response and recommendations in relation to identified questions. Some recommendations respond to multiple questions.
Definitions (Q1); Australia’s robotics opportunity (Q2-4); National capability (Q5-8)
- Recommendation (a): Ensure SMEs have low-cost access to acquire and adapt collaborative robots and other advanced manufacturing technologies for the Australian context, particularly in regional areas.
- Recommendation (b): Encourage development of Australian suppliers for equipment and technology to support advanced manufacturing.
National capability (Q9-10)
- Recommendation (c): Incentivise and fund industry-university research and development partnerships to support robotics, automation, and digitisation of manufacturing in Australia.
- Recommendation (d): Invest in programs to support open innovation and collaboration between industry and researchers that are targeted towards increasing the adoption of collaborative robotics.
- Recommendation (e): Support research to ensure meaningful integration of collaborative robots within manufacturing businesses.
National capability (Q11); Trust, inclusion and responsible development and use (Q12-13)
- Recommendation (f): Support research-industry engagements that emphasise participation from manufacturing workers in the adoption of collaborative robotics within their business. Trust, inclusion and responsible development and use (Q14)
- Recommendation (g): Support manufacturers to understand cyber security risks, implement mitigation strategies and recover from cyber-attacks.
Trust, inclusion and responsible development and use (Q15); Skills and diversity (Q16-18)
- Recommendation (h): Address labour shortages through a sector-wide retention and attraction strategy supported by industry-led qualification and training partnerships in collaborative robotics for manufacturing.
- Recommendation (i): Develop a national strategy to increase the participation of women in manufacturing.
- Recommendation (j): Invest in and train manufacturing SMEs to increase workforce diversity by utilising technology such as collaborative robotics.
- Recommendation (k): Support research funding for projects that investigate the use of collaborative robots for inclusion and accessibility for otherwise excluded groups of people.
Skills and diversity (Q19)
- Recommendation (l): Invest in regular technology upgrades and staff capacity building in VET and higher education to skill the future advanced manufacturing workforce who will need to use collaborative robotics.
- Recommendation (m): Support research-industry-education engagements to identify and address advanced manufacturing skills gaps, particularly gaps that impede the adoption of collaborative robotics.
Increasing adoption (Q20-23)
- Recommendation (n): Broaden eligibility criteria for relevant grant schemes to enable established manufacturing companies (not just start-ups or new companies) to consider transition to manufacture robotics
or adopt robotics within their businesses.
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