RMIT University is aiming to become a first mover in training for Industry 4.0, which is widely regarded as the next industrial revolution. To achieve this goal, the university is adopting a suite of PTC products, including the ThingWorx IoT platform, Windchill product lifecycle management and ThingWorx Studio augmented reality solutions. It’s also expanding its relationship with PTC value-added partner LEAP Australia.

RMIT has identified a recent surge in demand for graduates with skills in Industry 4.0, including the industrial internet of things (IIoT) and augmented reality (AR) for the enterprise.

Pier Marzocca, professor and associate dean in the university’s School of Engineering, said RMIT believed insights from industrial IoT data, combined with AR for in-context display, would be critical to the business transformations that will arise from Industry 4.0.

“Our goal is to comprehensively expose all engineering students to state-of-the-art virtual prototyping and Industry 4.0 tools, and ensure that they acquire new employability skills and competencies that are increasingly in-demand in our extensive network of industry partners,” he said.

RMIT also plans to use its ThingWorx technologies to expand its collaboration with local industry partners, especially companies without sufficient resources to comprehensively harness the transformative nature of Industry 4.0 for their business, according to PTC.

“The university sees the potential for companies to use the real-time, real-world insights from industrial IoT data to anticipate and address performance and maintenance issues more efficiently, and in many cases before they even occur in the field,” the company said.

“Furthermore, it can help companies realise the business value of using industrial IoT data in combination with AR to provide their workforce with asset-specific digital information, in context, and to the right person at the right time.”

PTC’s executive vice president for the ThingWorx platform Michael Campbell said that with the move to industry 4.0, product development would shift from largely mechanical engineering to an interdisciplinary, systems engineering approach and PTC’s products would provide RMIT with “customisable Industry 4.0 solutions that are both easy to learn and designed to be easily deployed across complex organisations.”

“PTC solutions incorporating the ThingWorx IoT platform have been purpose-built to fundamentally change how we connect, analyse, manage, and experience the ‘things’ in a smart, connected world.”

Industry demands education for Industry 4.0

Earlier this year Boaz Kogon, innovation and engagement manager with RMIT Europe in Barcelona, was quoted on RMIT’s news pages as saying there was a growing dialogue across Industry 4.0's major players calling for educational institutions to change the way education and training is delivered.

Kogon had just taken part in the first Digitising European Industry Stakeholder Forum in Germany and said: “Across Europe we're seeing factories rapidly undergoing change as digital technologies continue to transform the workplace, and this is forecast to continue.

“The days when an employee could learn how to use a machine and then do the same work for the next 20 to 30 years are gone. With such significant shifts in technology and at such a rapid pace, we'll see workers needing to re-train every few years.”

Kogon said forecasts of industrial change and its impact on workforce training were of concern to both industry and unions. “They are calling for the development of new models of education, ranging from industry having mandatory contributions to workers' lifelong learning funds through to completely reconfiguring the way people are educated and trained,” he said.

“One scenario given would see some professions bypassing the conventional four-year degree for an option that would see employees gain practical experience earlier and then training in short bursts every few years.”

“One certainty is that Industry 4.0 will result in a shortage of technically, digitally-skilled people.”