Opportunities in Australia for CAD/CAM Professionals

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Many experts talk about the global market for products and services. Certainly, major companies, especially those in manufacturing, are already shifting production facilities overseas to take advantage of labor rates and resource availability. Many companies are multinational...part of conglomerates controlled by foreign investors. In addition, United States-based companies are entering into production agreements with factories in other countries. The import-export markets are volatile, but one thing is certain: high technology such as CAD/CAM or robotics is by no means limited to one or two countries.

Nations in which sophisticated manufacturing plays an important role have been studying the implications of design and factory automation. In many cases, government bureaus have been joining together in study commissions or task force activities. A good starting place, then, to learn about what CAD/CAM and robotics have to offer in future jobs is the government office or offices that deal with technology or manpower needs. Such offices can refer you to other public agencies, or even to private sector consortiums that are fore-casting future jobs and future investment.


Government officials in various Australian departments are studying closely the effect of CAD/CAM on future labor requirements.

For instance, the South Australian government has commissioned a series of reports from the Technology Transfer Council (GPO Box 1410, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, telephones (08) 212-4916, 212-3400, and 212-1994) Bob Munsberg, manager of the Council, is studying closely the work being done through the Department of State Development and Technology Park.

One of the most important organizations in Australia concerned with CAD/CAM is the Association of Computer/Aided Design (ACADS). In August, 1985, ACADS general manager Martin Jones estimated that CAD/CAM and computer aided drafting's penetration in the Australasian marketplace was increasing by 45 percent yearly.

ACADS regional groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth have established CAD management groups, and ACADS has sponsored an international symposium on CAD/CAM in Melbourne for March, 1987.

The 3rd edition of an ACADS publication, CAD/CAM/ CAD drafting Installations in Australia and New Zealand, (1985), is a reference guide to approximately 500 sites using CAD in engineering, architecture, planning, and mapping.

For more information on ACADS, write ACADS Headquarters, 576 Kilda Rd., Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia.

Although the majority of ads for computer personnel running in publications like The Australian are for persons in financial, data processing, or accounting-related operations, the newspaper carries a number of ads for CAD/CAM jobs.

Jobs in CAD/CAM and robotics were the focus of such meetings as the First Pan Pacific Computer Conference, held in September 1985, which attracted more than 50,000 visitors. Incorporating the 1985 Australian Computer Conference, and co-sponsored by the Australian Computer Society and the International Federation of Information Processing, the conference featured more than 126 papers on seven major topics: national development, database management, software engineering, communications networks, applications and tools of artificial intelligence, managerial aspects of computing, and the development and application of graphic systems.

Melbourne hosted a National Conference and Exhibition on Robotics in 1984, and a symposium and exposition on robots is scheduled for Sydney in 1988.


Courses related to CAD/CAM or robotics are being established at various Australian schools. In the department of mechanical engineering, University of Western Australia, an automated sheep shearing project, under the direction of James Trevalyan, is the country's first project to involve robots in the handling of live animals.

At Regency College of TAFE in Adelaide, the college's Cadds Man Bureau operates as a commercial service during the day, providing training for industry users and computer time on an hourly basis for them to complete their own work. During evening hours, the Bureau doubles as a computer course location for students. Computer vision Australia has supplied the college with three workstations, a considerable amount of software, and assistance with teaching.

In the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Queensland, postgraduate students take courses in robotics and integrated circuit design. Using the Department's Puma S60 industrial robot and the Hero 1 mobile robot, students study technical applications, programming, and the economics of robots.

Footscray College of TAFE has linked its computer-assisted manufacturing facilities with computer-aided design and drafting areas, and has made its technology available to small, medium, and large manufacturers. "A product can be entirely designed, drafted, and produced by a computer-controlled process within the college," says a college spokesman.


One major Australian user of CAD/CAM is the Ammunitions Factory Footscray, which employs more than 1300 people, has an annual turnover in excess of $30 million, and forms part of a group of government factories involved in the production of ammunition, ordinance, and explosives for Australia's defense forces. Controlled by the Office of Defense Production under the Department of Defense, the AFF specializes in the production of small arms and medium caliber ammunition, large caliber cartridge cases, and various mechanical and electronic fuses.

Since manufacturing operations require producing small quantities of a wide variety of products, AFF needs to respond quickly to varying customer demand. In 1982, the company used CAD/CAM to set up an engineering database of manufacturing information used by other engineering, planning, and production departments.

Plans call for the Computer vision Designer system to be linked into a network of electronic data processing that involves production planning, estimating, machine and plant control, production control, costing, finance, and personal management systems. New Computer-vision General Post software allows AFF to develop its own numerical control machine post processors in house.

The Computer vision system is used for tool and gauge drawings, fuse design, preparing NC tapes, drafting for plant maintenance, and calculating mass properties data for designing and predicting the performance of various types of ammunition.

An AFF spokesman says all draftsmen at the factory have been trained to use the system at the 2-D level, with those who became extremely proficient encouraged to use advanced 2-D techniques and 3-D modeling.
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