UniSA’s new $2 million Industry 4.0 Testlab will be ready in time to support industry innovation as Australia recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As key defence, space, mining, ag-tech, electronics and automotive sectors emerge from COVID isolation, businesses and researchers will be able to trial and showcase new technologies in UniSA’s purpose-built lab, developed as part of a national network of Testlabs in partnership with the Federal Government.

The UniSA Testlab features three key capabilities – 3D printing facilities, multiplayer virtual reality spaces, and an industrial-scale manufacturing demonstrator – that will help small to medium enterprises create and test new, advanced technologies.

According to UniSA deputy vice chancellor of research and enterprise, Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington, there’s never been a better time for this type of Testlab on campus.

“Over human history, there have been periods of really massive acceleration and disruption,” she says.

“This is one of those times, and the added interruption that COVID-19 has thrown into the mix makes the role of the new Testlab even more important in our road to national recovery.”

Industry 4.0 is intended to be a disruption of the sector, and Professor Hughes-Warrington says it has fundamentally changed the way things are manufactured.

“It’s also changed how those things relate to use, and how they help us relate to others.”

The Testlab, she says, will give local businesses access to this new age of digital technologies.

“It will allow them to work with some of the best international and local experts to create new ways of doing business.”

Director of UniSA’s Industry 4.0 Testlab Professor Nikki Stanford says the lab provides physical spaces for businesses and researchers to trial, explore and showcase Industry 4.0 technologies and processes.

“Post the COVID-19 lockdown, as we move back towards less restricted operations, our goal for the Testlab is to give small businesses insights into what they can potentially do in their industries, without them having to take out a loan to fund their innovations,” she says.

“The lab is one part of a series of transformations, including the introduction of new curricula and revamped facilities to support space and Industry 4.0 programs and research.”

Professor Stanford says that by promoting and enhancing the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies, the Testlabs will be crucial to the improvement of competition across Australian business.

“We will be looking forward to the opportunity to formally launch the new Industry 4.0 Testlab in the future,” she says.

“But as restrictions ease we hope to start to engage with local businesses quickly to ensure industry innovation is a core part of our recovery and growth.”

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