The Sovereign Manufacturing Automation for Composites CRC (SOMAC CRC) is proud to announce a collaboration with the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) and Omni Tanker to spearhead a digital transformation in composites manufacturing.

Omni Tanker is set to create a "digital twin" of its pilot production plant, a move that marks a significant leap towards optimising composites manufacturing. This digital twin, working alongside physical production facilities, is poised to enhance production processes, improve efficiency and accelerate innovation to meet the surging global demand.

Omni Tanker’s CEO Daniel Rodgers said: "Omni Tanker expects the outputs of this project to deliver exceptional returns as we build our production capacity to service multiple international markets. Our focus is on achieving high efficiency and profitability through automation in our operations, ensuring we remain at the forefront of the composites industry."

This project is a testament to Omni Tanker's commitment to innovation and excellence. "The use of the digital twins and associated scenario analysis through UNSW will inform choices on physical experiments within Omni Tanker, delivering rapid gains to the Omni Tanker production efficiency," says Omni Tanker’s Chief Technical Officer, Dr Luke Djukic.

Omni Tanker recognises the significance of this project. The global demand for their tanks outpaces their current production capacity and their expansion into aerospace and energy sectors, particularly in hydrogen transport applications, further underscores the company's commitment to meet evolving market demands.

UNSW is delighted to be part of this transformative project. Dr Shiva Abdoli, Chief Investigator at UNSW said: "UNSW is excited to start its first SOMAC CRC project with Omni Tanker. UNSW, as a founding research partner, is delighted to contribute to the SOMAC CRC vision to bring new paradigms to composites manufacturing, strengthening the Australian supply chain and opening up new export markets. With this Industry 4.0 technology, we can virtually assess alternative production strategies through simulation and validate their performance.

"A digital twin of their production facility offers Omni Tanker a test bed for performance analyses and improvement at both operational and strategic levels. The tool will allow them to optimise production through improved process design, layout planning and targeted investment in automation, and further spearhead Omni Tanker’s export activities."

This collaboration is not just about the present but also about preparing for the future. Dr Abdoli adds: "As Omni Tanker production grows, we can adapt the simulations to forecast and alleviate bottlenecks before they arise."

"Omni Tanker and UNSW have a long-standing research partnership, and we are excited to come together with SOMAC CRC to continue to deliver high-value and high-impact research translation projects," further adds Rodgers.

This project marks the beginning of a digital revolution in composites manufacturing in Australia with the potential to inspire progress across the composites industry.

Professor Nicholas Fisk, UNSW’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Research & Enterprise, who attended a tour at the Omni Tanker factory in Smeaton Grange, added: “This first of many collaborative R&D projects augments sovereign manufacturing by a progressive local SME scoring runs in the high-end composite export market, with state-of-the-art digital twin design. The ability to test and validate process improvements, both incremental and end-to-end, in seconds rather than years, provides a real springboard to Industry 4.0 advanced manufacturing here in Sydney.“

The Head of the School of Mechanical Engineering at UNSW, Professor Chun Wang, was also present at the tour and signing ceremony. He said: “Since 2014, our school has forged an enduring partnership with Omni Tanker. Together we have created advanced materials, innovative designs and computational capabilities that have resulted in new products.

"Building on these successes, this new project will undoubtedly further enhance Omni Tanker’s world-leading position and generate more societal benefits for Australia”.

Steve Gower, CEO of SOMAC CRC, said: "This collaboration between Omni Tanker and UNSW is a milestone project in the composites industry. Together, they are poised to elevate Australia's cross-sectoral manufacturing capabilities, especially in Transport and Energy, as Omni Tanker's international exports expand, notably in the US and Europe."

* Pictured in the SoMAC and Omni Tanker signing ceremony picture are (Back row from left to right): Iain Walker, SoMAC CRC, Manager, Business & Commercial; Garth Pearce, UNSW, Associate Professor/SoMAC Program Leader – Manufacturing Processes; Dr Shiva Abdoli, UNSW, Associate Professor; Adrian Kong, Omni Tanker, Principal Mechanical Engineer; Prof Chun Wang, UNSW, Head of the School of Mechanical Engineer; Dave Fleming, UNSW, Business Development & Commercialisation Manager - Engineering; Farzad Safavi, Omni Tanker, Composite Production Manager; Dr Luke Djukic, Omni Tanker, CTO.  (Front row seated, from left to right): Prof Nicholas Fisk, UNSW, Deputy Vice Chancellor Research & Enterprise; Daniel Rodgers, Omni Tanker, CEO; Prof Ganga Prusty, SoMAC CRC, Director of Research.