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BAE Systems-Flinders Factory of the Future to accelerate growth of advanced manufacturing

Hunter class frigate
The BAE Systems Maritime Australia-Flinders Line Zero will fast-track new construction technologies for the Hunter class frigates. Photo: BAE Systems Australia

BAE Systems Australia and Flinders University, with the South Australian government, have agreed a $10 million funding program for Stage One of the Line Zero – Factory of the Future at the former Mitsubishi factory at Tonsley, SA.

The SA government has contributed $5 million, matching $5 million contributed jointly by BAE Systems Australia and Flinders University to fast-track development and implementation some of the advanced manufacturing technologies and processes that will support major defence projects such as the Hunter Class Frigate Program. The investment will also boost South Australia’s advanced manufacturing sector more generally.

The Line Zero – Factory of the Future will be a world class manufacturing accelerator embedded within SA’s Tonsley Innovation District. Driven by Flinders University, it began with a temporary pilot ‘pop up’ factory developed in collaboration with BAE Systems Maritime Australia. The $10m co-funding enables a permanent Factory of the Future to now be built.

In thanking the state government for its visionary investment in a permanent facility Flinders University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Stirling said this initiative will position South Australia at the national vanguard of the Industry 4.0 agenda for advanced manufacturing technologies.

“The Line Zero – Factory of the Future is a crucial element in our research translation; taking research out of the lab and applying it in the real world,” said Professor Stirling. “Flinders University’s new Factory of the Future at Line Zero will help accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing necessary to support the Federal Government’s $90 billion naval shipbuilding program in SA.

“Our initial focus will be on collaborative research and training designed to maximise the engagement of South Australian companies and workers with the shipbuilding industry. However, future stages of the Factory of the Future will support a broad range of industries, enabling their trialling and adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies, thus contributing to durable jobs growth across the South Australian economy.”

BAE Systems Maritime Australia Managing Director, Craig Lockhart, said, “Digital shipbuilding is all about connectivity – not just within the physical and digital shipyard but with our supply chain and customer – and the partnership between BAE Systems Maritime Australia and Flinders University at Tonsley is creating a digital and advanced manufacturing test environment to improve productivity, quality and safety outcomes at Osborne.”

The Line Zero – Factory of the Future facility provides a controlled space where the company and university can collaborate with industry and researchers to trial new manufacturing techniques and processes that may be used by BAE Systems Maritime Australia to build the nine Hunter class frigates, he added.

“It is our ambition that the digital and technological advancements demonstrated by the supply chain will lead to improved productivity, safety and quality outcomes, equipping our highly-skilled workforce with Industry 4.0 technologies that support activities undertaken in a modern digital shipyard.

The Pilot Line Zero pop up factory was established in 2020 as a joint venture between Flinders University and BAE Systems Maritime Australia (formerly ASC Shipbuilding) as a proving ground for technologies that can be adapted to the Hunter program.

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