Advance Queensland research funds promise big returns to the state

Published Thursday, 15 September, 2016 at 03:30 PM


Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

The Palaszczuk Government is throwing its weight behind two major research projects which have implications for advanced manufacturers and underground mining.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said the two projects, funded through the Palaszczuk Government's $15 million Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program, could revolutionise their respective industries.

The two projects are:

  • $1.224 million for a University of Queensland project, led by Associate Professor Paul Meehan, to expand on the opportunities coming out of incremental sheet forming.
  • $428,240 for QUT to develop technologies that would ultimately enable the automation of underground mining vehicles.

State Development Minister Anthony Lynham said the government was investing in industry sectors with global growth potential – advanced manufacturing and mining technology – because they offered jobs of the future.

“Our support for these projects are examples of targeted government investment designed to nurture industry,” Mr Lynham said.

“This research work aligns with the work we are doing to generate jobs and business opportunities by making Queensland a leader in advanced manufacturing and mining technology.”

Incremental sheet forming is an advanced manufacturing technique where a sheet is shaped into a product by a series of small incremental deformations. It has revolutionised sheet shaping since its inception in the 1990s, providing a cheap and effective alternative to sheet pressing and stamping, which can be cumbersome and expensive.

Incremental sheet forming can be applied to polymer and composite sheets as well as metal, meaning it has application for a range of industries, including marine, automotive, aircraft and biomedical.

"Associate Professor Meehan and his team will look to improve the technology. They have already caught the interest of Boeing Australia in regard to the manufacture of replacement parts for aircraft,” Ms Enoch said.

The project’s industry partner is Boeing Research and Technology.

The QUT project will be led by Associate Professor Michael Milford from the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision at QUT.

“One of the big issues they’ll have to face is how you deal with the harsh environment of underground mining as well as how you navigate vehicles through what can be a maze of tunnels,” Ms Enoch said.

“The researchers will look to solutions based on developing a cost-effective, reliable camera-based positioning system for locating and tracking underground mining vehicles within one metre of accuracy as well as a sophisticated, multi-sensor system that provides centimetre-accurate positioning.”

The project’s industry partner is international mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc.

Ms Enoch said 15 projects were being funded as part of this year’s Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.

The Innovation Partnerships program, part of the $405 million Advance Queensland initiative, aims to support collaborative research and development projects involving both research organisations and industry to address industry and society issues in priority areas such as agriculture, engineering, climate change, clean energy, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

Ms Enoch said the program sets out to address one of the big issues that consistently hampers the successful commercialisation of research in Australia: getting industry and the research sector to combine forces to develop solutions to industry and society needs.

“We’re investing $9.65 million in these 15 projects through the first round of Innovation Partnerships, with the successful recipients and their project partners contributing a further $15 million,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Innovation Partnerships program will boost productivity growth and the competitiveness of existing industries, accelerate the development of emerging industries, and increase the speed and scale of translation of our science and research into new products, services and business models that can help drive economic and jobs growth in Queensland.”

Media contact: Daniel Lato 0438 830 201