Callaghan Innovation is looking for a partner to help it deliver an Industry 4.0 "demonstration network" funded to the tune of $6.8 million in this year's Budget.
The government's lead innovation agency issued advance notice to the market that it would be releasing a request for proposals later this month for the effort, which it described as "high profile and well funded".
Industry 4.0 describes the trend towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes. These include cyber-physical systems, the internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence.
"To achieve this high value strategic objective, Callaghan Innovation will be tendering for a delivery partner to develop an Industry 4.0 demonstration network, which will consist of: a mobile Industry 4.0 showcase; a network of Industry 4.0 site visits; and smart factory tours, with up to two factories demonstrating deeper Industry 4.0 engagement."
The tender will be for a four year supply contract worth just over $5 million to deliver all three of those network elements. Respondents can provide proposals to complete all or just some of the elements.
"Industry 4.0 technologies are being increasingly used by international manufacturers and are providing significant competitive advantages," Callaghan said in its notice.
"New Zealand firms risk being left behind competitively if they fail to adapt, which would mean a loss of domestic manufacturing and interlinked service industries, reduced high-value employment, reduced exports, and increased imports."
In New Zealand, however, uptake has been slow due to the country's small, isolated domestic market and a lack of information.
Callaghan said manufacturers learn best from their peers and in real work settings.
"This opportunity is to present Industry 4.0 concepts to manufacturers in a way that is relatable and practical, so they can see a clear path to incorporating these technologies and realising the benefits they provide," the agency said
However, the demonstration network will require a significant level of industry cooperation nd participation, for which industry will not be directly reimbursed.
"You will therefore need to be able to encourage wide-scale buy-in into the demonstration network and convince industry partners both, of the benefits that the demonstration network will provide to the wider industry and to industry partners individually," the notice said.
"This means that you must have a very strong existing relationship with the manufacturing industry, in order to utilise those links to convince industry to participate."