Research is now globally organised and increasingly connected with industry.
Deployment of highly skilled and qualified personnel to remote locations for industries such as resources, manufacturing and power generation is an expensive and difficult issue to manage for large organisations. As such there is an emerging trend toward equipment and testing being controlled from a central but remote site. It is ideal if these remote sites are established in a suburban area where the relevant personnel wish to locate themselves and their families.
Remote automation is increasingly software-intensive, however software can be risky and costly to maintain. This is due to complex and non-standardised plant and subsystem requirements, long-lived systems with changing needs and globally distributed software development, amongst others. The Australian economy in particular is heavily reliant on such industries, yet suffers from remoteness and skills shortages and thus will depend on and increasingly be driven by innovation in automation software.
Although there are already some examples of these technologies deployed in the field, such as for example driverless trains, they are simple in their scope and functionality. As communications technology advances, through the broadband network for example, there are increasing opportunities for more impactful industrial remote site-controlled technologies to be put in place in Australia. Eventually this will lead to technology ‘trickle down’ for the remote community at large. One of the key challenges that faces increased field deployment of more complex remote controlled technology is the integration of software and the overall structure of the software architecture.
The Centre is training a number of PhD and post-doctoral staff and these staff are rotated to both ABB Melbourne and India through internships with ABB. The Centre will contribute to the development of expert employees for ABB, their customers and other VITELab users. In addition, multiple links with Indian academic institutions are being established to enhance the teaching and research at RMIT.