WHITELEY Corporation's $10 million-plus investment in a human therapeutics plant to be built near its Tomago base has been bolstered with a research collaboration with the University of Newcastle.
A $100,000 federal government research grant will see UoN assist Whiteley to develop an "Industry 4.0 solution" - using the Internet of Things, digitisation and automation - to boost advanced manufacturing processes at the plant, set to open in 2022.
"This project will research cutting edge advanced manufacturing technology to increase our production capability," Whiteley managing director Darran Leyden said. "It will lead to increased sales domestically and internationally for our range of infection prevention products and allow us to launch new life saving health care products that we are researching."
The project will be led by Mr Leyden and Associate Professor James Welsh, from UoN's School of Electrical Engineering and Computing, assisted by UoN post doctoral researcher Dr Adrian Medioli and honours student Mitchell Marotta.
Whiteley's Tomago base, which manufactures medical and industrial cleaning products, has manual processes using paper-based systems, however the new plant will use state-of-the-art technology and automation.
"This collaboration is looking at the umbrella of connectivity, using software and electrical engineering to ensure connectivity over all of our manufacturing processes," Mr Leyden said.
The plant is forecast to create 60 jobs when operational, with a pilot phase slated to start in the new year.
The plant will develop treatments for patients with "biofilm-mediated infections" picked up during hospital stays. Bacteria forms biofilms which are resistant to modern day antibiotics and disinfectants, and new technologies can kill and remove the bacteria from wounds and hospital surfaces.
Whiteley and Australian researchers are renowned for biofilm research and Whiteley is working with local universities for novel treatments for biofilm-related conditions including urinary tract infections, cystic fibrosis and chronic diabetic wounds.
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