A national test lab program, innovative mining product and a mixed reality technology deployment are the three finalists in the manufacturing category of the 2020 IoT Awards – the official awards program of IoT Alliance Australia (IoTAA), the peak Australian Internet of Things (IoT) industry body, and IoT Hub.

Each finalist has been involved in local development or education about IoT solutions to business problems.

Australian government mixed reality deployment

An Australian government department is using Microsoft HoloLens 2 “mixed reality” headsets at multiple sites and plans to use many more of the headsets, according to Ingram Micro, which is in involved in the project.

The department is using the headsets to help users quickly and accurately determine whether vehicles are authorised to be on sites. An AI application takes feedback from IoT sensors, and headset users see a holographic indication of whether vehicles are approved to be on a site.

The department is also using the HoloLens 2 headsets to streamline industrial workplace employee inductions. Instead of carrying paper manuals about safety procedures, the location of entrances and exits, fire extinguishers and other topics, new employees can wear a headset to identify safety procedures as they walk through an industrial environment. Users are also invited to complete safety quizzes as they move through the site.

This streamlines the process, including the logging of safety lessons, according to Ingram Micro.

After a proof of concept deployment was completed, 23 of the headsets were deployed at a single site. Since then, the project has expanded to more sites.


This Australian designed and manufactured Orica device (pictured above) can save miners millions of dollars and optimise mining and quarrying – and is being used at 16 sites in nine countries.

FRAGTrack™ uses edge-processing and an innovative imaging system to automatically measure rock fragmentation after blasting. This can save millions of dollars and optimise mining and quarrying.

Conventional methods and technologies for measuring fragmentation are unsafe, tedious and prone to operator bias, according to Orica. Equipment failures in harsh mining environments also cause problems.

To overcome these challenges, FRAGTrack™ uses binocular cameras and a proprietary hybrid 2D/3D image processing algorithm to measure fragmentation quickly, accurately and safely.

Results are processed on the device in real time, allowing users to interact with the data faster. Edge processing also improves data availability in locations where network connectivity is unreliable.

The software can be remotely configured, maintained and optimised. Several ‘contactless’ installations were completed throughout a COVID-19 lockdown period. The FRAGTrack™ device can operate in extreme ambient temperatures.

The product is delivered as part of Orica’s BlastIQ™ Digital Mine Optimisation Platform suite.

By using it to measure the success of blasts, users can redesign blasts to maximise downstream productivity. This could help to reduce over-blasting, decrease plant and crusher blockages, reduce energy costs, increase productivity and improve control on the waste/ore boundary, according to Orica.

FRAGTrack™ can also reduce the risk of safety incidents during sampling activities and can eliminate manual sampling.

Orica assembled a research and development team in New South Wales to develop the product, using an agile development process. Design Anthology provided for design support, Newie Ventures provided electronics design support, Your Engineer supplied mechanical engineering support, and Robotic Systems provided electronics and hardware assembly support.

Australian Industry 4.0 Testlabs program

One of the judges of this Award likes the mantra ‘learn by doing’, which the Australian Industry 4.0 Testlabs program aims to help industry with.

The program is enabling the research and education sector to work closely with industry, particularly small and medium-size businesses, to progress Industry 4.0 transformation in manufacturing.

There are seven Industry 4.0 Testlabs across Australia, which function as industry hubs. Each is based on a pilot-plant concept, integrated using Industrial IoT and focusing on a particular industrial application and sector.

The organisations involved are:

  • Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria – has an open demonstrator, teaching and industry outreach platform based on autonomous flexible manufacturing concepts
  • University of South Australia – focused on digital shipyards supporting surface engineering and manufacturing applications
  • University of Queensland – focused on intelligent energy distribution coupled with power generation and utilisation using solar energy
  • University of Technology Sydney – focused on industrial algae process for pharma production
  • University of Western Australia – focused on new generation LNG production plant
  • University of Tasmania – focused on food and beverage production and processing
  • RMIT University – focused on 3D Printing, aerospace, space and defence applications

The labs provide “supportive, non-competitive, cooperative environments that act as co-creation spaces for collective Industry 4.0 ‘learning-by-doing’.”

They aim to help industry “immerse” in Industry 4.0 concepts, and experiment with advanced manufacturing processes, digitally integrated systems, Industrial IoT and new Industry 4.0 embedded business models.

The program has engaged more than 100 companies and 3,000 students in education, training and research activities.

The hubs have also secured additional federal government support for the development of Industry 4.0 Diploma and Associate Degree programs. These involve industry placements with secured employment through creation of new jobs.

The testlab network has also piloted an advanced apprenticeship program in Industry 4.0 that is being rolled out with industry partners across all states.

Register here to watch the 2020 IoT Awards presentation.

See the full list of 2020 IoT Awards finalists.