Creating a digitally skilled workforce for the future
Using comprehensive solutions to develop Australia’s first fully immersed Industry 4.0 facility
Swinburne University of Technology
Swinburne focuses on creating social and economic impact through science technology and innovation. With campuses in Melbourne, Australia and Malaysia, the university has a desire to innovate that motivates students and staff. Swinburne has demonstrated a depth of expertise in teaching and research to help it become one of the world’s leading universities.https://www.swinburne.edu.au/
- Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
- MindSphere, NX, Teamcenter, Tecnomatix
Developing programs and apprenticeships to promote innovation
Swinburne University of Technology (Swinburne) is a leading university that is continuously pushing the boundaries of teaching, learning and research. The university teaches courses with the goal to produce industry-ready graduates ranging from vocational education to the Ph.D. level. Swinburne collaborates with other universities and research organizations in Australia and internationally to promote innovation in the manufacturing sector, with an emphasis on Industry 4.0 and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Swinburne offers several programs for students to expand their skills in digital transformation.
Swinburne’s Factory of the Future (FoF) is a business-led engineering facility that provides experts with the opportunity to cocreate digital innovation journeys for students and professionals. Part of this collaboration comes from FoFs Advanced Manufacturing Industry 4.0 Hub. This hub provides students with hands-on solutions they can use to learn about digitalization and develop Industry 4.0 skills as they enter the digital workforce.
In 2017, Siemens Digital Industries Software awarded an industrial software grant for Swinburne to digitalize its FoF, creating Australia’s first fully immersed Industry 4.0 facility.
“Siemens automation technology and digitalization software and hardware are a game-changer for Australia’s manufacturing sector. We need to build our digital manufacturing expertise to be competitive worldwide and to sustain global demand for our future workforce,” says Professor Karen Hapgood, Swinburne’s deputy vice-chancellor – research.
Since the grant, Siemens has provided Swinburne with cutting-edge solutions to help them build a digitally skilled workforce through their Industry 4.0 higher apprenticeship program and the associate degree of applied technologies. Siemens began helping Swinburne develop this apprenticeship to bridge the gap between technical training and university education. The apprenticeship integrates trade skills into higher-level qualifications designed for those working with Industry 4.0 technologies, such as cyber systems, internet of things (IoT) technology, cloud computing and augmented reality (AR). The apprenticeship offers students firsthand work experience with Siemens and other industry partners to ensure they develop practical workplace skills.
In 2018, Siemens and Swinburne launched the MindSphere®, the industrial IoT as a service solution from Siemens, hub as an extension of the industrial software grant to prepare the future workforce and transform industries. The MindSphere hub is located in Swinburne’s Factory of the Future and enables students, academics and industry partners to use MindSphere to collaborate on local and global projects.
“This is the first-of-its-kind industry/university partnership for MindSphere in Australia and is an extension of Siemens’ PLM industrial software grant to Swinburne announced in 2017,” says Jeff Connolly, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Siemens Australia. Using MindSphere has been an essential tool for Swinburne’s FoF facility because it helps students and industry partners connect across all technology assets and processes.
Figure 2. Professionals and students using Teamcenter and Tecnomatix for remote learning during COVID-19.
Bridging the gap between training and education
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the need for remote learning technologies, specifically in fields with experiential and hands-on learning. “The future of work will require high level of digital literacy, with a range of pathways that are very broad,” says Professor Chris Pilgrim, senior deputy vice-chancellor and chief academic officer at Swinburne. Since March 2021, the university has used several Siemens’ solutions, including MindSphere, the Teamcenter® portfolio, the Tecnomatix® portfolio, NX™ software and the Mendix™ platform in a new curriculum for the master’s degree in engineering science with specialization in Industry 4.0 and systems engineering. All of these solutions are part of the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio, the comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software, hardware and services.
Creating a blended learning approach
Siemens also helped the university integrate their solutions into the bachelor of engineering degree (robotics and mechatronics, biomedical, electrical and electronics and software engineering), bachelor of computer science degree and bachelor of information and communication technology (ICT) programs. They accomplished this using a blended learning approach. They continued to diversify training offerings into new markets to provide effective remote learning. The university offered training using their Industry 4.0 demonstrator in the Factory of the Future. Siemens played a critical role in creating this demonstrator. The training focused on condition monitoring of energy using MindConnect® hardware to connect to MindSphere, as well as other third-party programmable log controllers (PLCs) and power monitoring devices. Siemens helped create this blended learning approach to educate students and industry professionals.
Swinburne also partnered with the Technical University Munich (TUM Asia) and other companies to deliver specialized courses to professionals in Singapore working in industrial manufacturing. The training was designed for sales managers, business development executives, supply chain managers, equipment facility maintenance managers and professionals in the areas of automation, electronics, mechatronics, information technology (IT) and research and development (R&D).
This collaborative training program enabled students and professionals to increase knowledge and awareness of cyber-physical systems and helped professionals develop Industry 4.0 skills. The training also helped them gain knowledge through their online module, the Cyber-Physical Systems Unit course. This course provided experiential learning outcomes using NX, Tecnomatix, Teamcenter and Mindsphere. “Siemens’ comprehensive digital twin is such an amazing, underrated piece of technology that makes commissioning a much easier and more optimized process. It ensures you’re getting the most bang for the money you’re spending not only for the commissioning process, but for everything after too,” says Syahmi Ma, a digital manufacturing process engineer for Avient Colorants Singapore.
Figure 3. Industry 4.0 Testbed at factory of the Future, Swinburne
Continuing to develop comprehensive resources
With the help of Siemens, Swinburne created courses for students to learn about face-to-face delivery of cyber-physical systems, the comprehensive digital twin and product lifecycle management while using Tecnomatix Process Simulate, Plant Simulation and Teamcenter.
Using these solutions helped the staff and students access, connect and control equipment for project work. So far, the university has engaged over 700 students using Siemens’ solutions through virtual tours and webinars that required significant internal resourcing and planning. They are currently exploring the use of Mendix across various education offerings and the university hopes that students can soon use it in the curriculum of the Swinburne School of Science, Computing and Engineering Technologies. “It has been an incredible journey starting from an associate degree apprenticeship course to a master’s course in Industry 4.0 in a span of five years. Siemens’ partnership and the Siemens software tools have been pivotal in achieving this outcome,” says Dr. Shanti Krishnan, deputy director – factory of the future for Swinburne. As a result, the university plans to deliver additional courses using Siemens solutions for international students and industry partners in 2022 and beyond.