Mechatronics bring mega opportunities

What do Istanbul, Turkey, Vicenza, Italy and Nagoya, Japan have in common with Churchill, Victoria?

They’re all previous host cities for the International Conference on Mechatronics that’s being held at Federation University this week.

The conference will focus on ‘Advanced Mechatronics in the Service of Regional Industry’ includinPg industrial automation and robotics and motion control.

It is expected to attract about 90 international travellers to the Latrobe Valley.

General chair of the International Conference on Mechatronics Professor Yousef Ibrahim said the event, held every two years, would demonstrate the importance of automation technology and how it could help local industry in the Latrobe Valley.

“We can be the smart Valley and look at ways to develop automation technology to assist regional industry to increase business production and profitability and export our know-how to overseas industries,” Prof Ibrahim said.

“If we develop a new technology to service and streamline the dairy or forestry industries, for instance, then this automated technology can be manufactured in the Latrobe Valley to increase economic sustainability.”

Prof Ibrahim said an example of this was technology developed to help with the sorting of fish to export to Japan, ultimately creating an opportunity to increase business productivity and boosting profitability.

“Fisheries in East Gippsland send thousands of tonnes of school whiting overseas, but had to sort it into four different size categories, which people had to do manually – it was a timely exercise,” he said.

“We managed to develop new technology utilising digital imaging for the identification of fish sizes and subsequently created an automation system to sort them automatically which meant businesses could re-train their workforce and educate their employees to service and operate the digital imaging machinery taking the focus off manual labour.”

Prof Ibrahim said “automation” was pivotal for a business to be profitable in this day and age.

“Industries are competing on a very diminishing profit margin; businesses need to automate or liquidate, there’s no other option,” he said.

Several keynote speakers will present during the three-day conference including former president of the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan Dr Kouhei Ohnishi who will speak on “soft robotics”, a key concept of Mechatronics.

Bosch project manager Carl Liersch will present on automated vehicles and how they can support the state-wide initiative ‘Towards Zero’ to minimize road trauma.

Prof Ibrahim said the Latrobe Valley had been captive to the coal and power industry for too long and said the Valley must start investing in other industries for economic sustainability.

The International Conference will run Monday to Wednesday this week at FedUni.

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