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InfraBuild-QUT-UTS collaboration takes centre stage at Australian Cobotics Centre launch

8 December 2022

An innovative cobotic solution designed to improve safety on steel production lines and enhance customer experience was the star attraction at the launch of the Australian Cobotics Centre (ACC) in Brisbane on December 6. 

A collaboration between InfraBuild and researchers from the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Technology, Sydney, the ‘Shorts Project’ sees a cobot – a robot which works in tandem with humans – positioned on the steel production line to automatically detect and remove short bars from bundles of steel. 

InfraBuild’s Industry 4.0 Project Lead Andrew Thomas said the vertically integrated steel manufacturer was proud to be working with some of the nation’s brightest minds on initiatives which benefit workers and customers. 

“The primary benefit of this project is safety. The current process involves several workers sharing a 12-hour rotating shift to pick the shorts and remove them off the conveyor, which is physically intensive and repetitive,” Mr Thomas said. 

“Now, the cobot will work in conjunction with our manufacturing team to cover the physical and repetitive part of that process. 

“The other obvious benefit is to our customers; receiving one product in a bundle which doesn’t match the intended specification is obviously an inconvenience. Using this technology, we are reducing the risk of that happening.” 

InfraBuild’s Executive General Manager of Manufacturing Shane Murphy said the “Shorts Project” was a great example of how industry could work with tertiary institutions to develop innovative solutions that will ultimately benefit the industry long-term. 

“Here, we are working with some of the brightest minds in this field on projects which will have a positive impact on our business and customers, but also provide opportunities for the broader industry to explore new processes,” Mr Murphy said. 

“The past few years have reinforced the importance of Australia maintaining its sovereign manufacturing capability and research and development remain crucial to our ability to integrate the latest technology into our processes. 

“Bodies like the ACC and the Australian Research Council (ARC) Hub for Australian Steel Innovation, which we are also a founding partner of, are great vehicles to drive innovation and promote collaboration in Australian manufacturing.” 

ACC Director, Professor Jonathan Roberts said: 

“Helping Infrabuild solve their unique challenges with cobots is an exciting prospect for the researchers of our Centre. 

“In our first year of operation, we have already discovered the huge benefit of our university researchers working hand-in-hand with the Infrabuild team in their rolling mill.” 

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