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Breaking down the barriers to Industry 4.0 in the north

By Gill Savage

Innovation in northern Australia is thriving. It’s not clear why there’s a culture of innovation in the north, and perhaps that represents a focus for social research. However, there’s no doubt that innovators in northern Australia are seizing the opportunity to pursue solutions that generate economic benefits, contribute to national resilience, and respond to defence needs.

This special report highlights how innovators in the north are at the leading edge of the fourth industrial revolution and draws attention to the challenges they face.

Industry 4.0 represents opportunities to transform, but it’s not just about developing and adopting smart technology. And it’s not about evolutionary or transformative change; it’s a different way of thinking that will allow us to leap into a different future. To reap the transformative benefits from Industry 4.0 we need to adopt leading-edge technology in the best way to deliver better outcomes from the perspective of a wider range of interests.

But there are barriers. Australia has regulatory and standards frameworks and mechanisms that have evolved from traditional Industry 2.0 process thinking and Industry 3.0 manufacturing. There are inherent conflicts within and between sectors that safeguard the status quo of outdated and broken supply chains and wasteful manufacturing paradigms.

Through the lens of real experiences and success stories, this special report shines a light on the opportunities and challenges, and highlights what’s needed to better harness those opportunities. In particular, we need to:
•    Drive national capability through a philosophical positioning that’s supported by practical examples of innovation.
•    Acknowledge that economic theory underpinned by a need to have large-scale manufacturing and production lines for viability is thinking not aligned with the opportunity that Industry 4.0 presents.
•    Align government thinking and practice with the growing environmental, social and governance mindset of business and the growing expectations of investors, consumers and the community.
Northern innovators have a commitment to Australia, its future and the kind of world that they want to create for future generations. Thus, they conceptualise, create and deliver by leveraging Industry 4.0 thinking and technology.

Technology doesn’t drive change, but how they use it does. This is sovereign capability in action.