Engineers discuss manufacturing

RESEARCH: Deakin professors at the Australian Turntable Company.

RESEARCH: Deakin professors at the Australian Turntable Company.

DEAKIN University engineering researchers visited Bendigo yesterday with the aim of bolstering local manufacturing.

The delegation was led by Deakin Engineering Dean Professor Guy Littlefair and the academics visited the Australian Turntable Company, Keech Australia and Thales Australia.

Professor Littlefair said the university was committed to encouraging local innovation.

"Manufacturing is the largest sector in the Bendigo economy by output and the local manufacturing agenda is sophisticated and something the region should celebrate," he said.

"Deakin looks forward to extending our already deep partnership with Bendigo manufacturers in helping advance manufacturing in the region.”

Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre associate director Bronwyn Fox said the researchers wanted to gain an insight into the needs of central Victorian manufacturing companies.

"We want to understand how we can help (manufacturers) through our new Carbon Nexus Centre," she said.

"It's about identifying research opportunities that will improve products."

The Carbon Nexus Centre was opened two weeks ago in Geelong and is a carbon fibre and composite research facility.

Composite materials are usually used for bridges, bathtubs and buildings.

Professor Fox said the development and design of turntables - circular revolving platforms for turning trains and other heavy vehicles - provided an example of ways the university's research could assist the industry. 

She said turntables were often made of steel but if designed with composite materials, they would be 80 per cent lighter in weight.

Institute for Frontier Materials Aiden Beer said the university would develop research projects based on industry needs.

Dr Beer said research was sometimes commissioned by companies and other times developed independently by the university and sold to companies when complete.

He said he was optimistic about the future of engineering in Australia, despite the recent closures of car manufacturing companies, including the closure of the Ford factory in Geelong.

"There's a lot of talk about how things are in Geelong," Dr Beer said.

"But some companies are doing really great work - they're globally connected.

"Some (companies) are embracing the challenge and going well.

"It's down to the business model and how they compete globally."

He said it was hard to predict which manufacturing industries would excel in the future, but products made with composite materials were the focus of the new centre.

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