Industry leaders from BHP, Woodside, CSIRO's Data61, METS Ignited and the Queensland Government have recognised the proliferation of robotics and automation capabilities in Queensland, and provided an opportunity for METS companies to lead a national push to assert Australia's global competitiveness in these fields.
METS Ignited and the Queensland Government have kick-started discussions around the formation of a Robotics and Automation cluster in Queensland with a series of industry presentations, a panel discussion and interactive workshop to start mapping the size of the opportunity.
The workshop was facilitated by Andrew Scott from Global Mining Guidelines Group, and providing valuable context to the discussion were presentations and an interactive Q and A session with industry leaders:
- Sharna Glover – Program Director Mine Autonomy – BHP
- Russell Potapinski – Head of Intelligent and Autonomous Systems Technology – Woodside Energy
- Dr Sue Keay – Cyber Physical Systems Research Director – Data61
- Dr Ian Dover – Acting CEO – METS Ignited
Each of the presentations echoed themes with significant implications for Australia's METS sector including interoperability, cross-sector collaboration, local expertise support and retention, and global linkages.
The panel discussion highlighted the strong international competition in the robotics and automation space, and that the window to be leaders in this field is fleeting, so Australian industry needs to be agile, faster and smarter than ever.
Australian companies were applauded for their problem solving capabilities, and encouraged to look at how they move towards "elegant systems integration", and discouraged from providing bespoke solutions that inhibit collaboration.
Multiple cases were provided describing exciting solutions coming out of other industry sectors with potential application in the mining sector and vice versa, citing the suitability of mine sites as testing grounds for space technology innovation among others.
The workforce of the future was another touch point in terms of industry attraction through "sexy tech", and retention of talent to support knowledge diffusion. All speakers agreed there will be more jobs created than lost if automation and robotics is embraced by industry.
The workshop confirmed clustering as an approach to enhancing Australia's business capabilities, and ensuring Australia remains a leader on the world stage for robotics and automation.