Transformation seed projects

Transformation seed projects

Across the world, population growth and ageing infrastructure are driving strong demand for the creation of new infrastructure and for increased efficiency and productivity from existing infrastructure. Innovation is key to creating and upgrading infrastructure that is cost effective, environmentally sustainable, reliable, resilient and in-line with community and social needs.

Monash Infrastructure established the MI Seed Fund to support new interdisciplinary research projects that address infrastructure-related problems and generate new knowledge to help design, develop, operate and use infrastructure more efficiently, safely, sustainably and in-line with community and social needs.

Provided here is information about projects funded in 2017 and 2018.

2018 seed projects

In 2018, approximately $950,000 has been invested to support 18 Interdisciplinary Transformation Seed Projects.

Details of the projects are provided below. Monash Infrastructure (MI) is actively seeking partners from private and public sector organisations to maximise the impacts of these projects.

Algorithms and Software Systems for Green Cyberinfrastructures

Today's society and its organisations are becoming ever-increasingly dependent upon information and communication technology systems, mostly based in cloud datacentres. Powering these datacentres with energy generated from renewable energy resources is of critical interest. This project develops essential knowledge to help design and operate datacentres capable of efficiently using renewable energy. The innovative techniques and software systems developed within this project will lead to substantial reductions in operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions by datacentres and ensure that future cyberinfrastructures are sustainable.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnership

CI names

Building Capability for Successful Project Delivery

New infrastructure development is becoming increasingly complex in many respects that presents new challenges and risks for project managers/leaders. Identifying and dealing with these new challenges and risks effectively will require new skills and competencies with respect to ‘Planning and Management’ of the infrastructure development. This research project will explore, develop, and validate a new set of skills and competencies for project managers/leaders using data from industry.

Industry partner:
In-kind support from Master Builders Association of Victoria

CI names

Leverage Emerging Technologies to Drive Logistics and Warehousing Transformation

Emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, intelligent robotics, and blockchain have the capacity to transform industries offering substantial benefits to users.  However, the factors that affect the deployment of these technologies are not well understood.  The aim of this project is to explore the factors that facilitate or hinder the deployment of emerging technologies in establishing world class logistics infrastructure in Australia and develop a decision-making framework that can be utilised for designing and operating logistics and warehousing infrastructure that meets the needs of the future.

Industry partner:
Linfox Australia Pty Ltd

CI names

Digitalised and Data-Driven Healthcare Supply Chains

The healthcare sector is a major procurer of goods and services and through this activity a major contributor to economic growth. However, the efficiency of procurement and supply chain management is poor, relative to other sectors and is a major contributor to waste in healthcare systems.

As with other areas of healthcare delivery, the infrastructure underpinning procurement and supply chain management is too often paper-based or dependent on poorly linked computer-based systems and data, where it exists, is fragmented and constrained within organisational silos.

Digitalisation, therefore, promises major benefits to the way key resources such as pharmaceuticals and medical equipment is purchased and how these assets are managed. This cross-disciplinary project brings academic experts from business, information systems and medicine together to explore the potential of digital infrastructures to support such things as e-procurement and digital asset tracking.

The aim is to identify key elements of an accelerated innovation pathway which can overcome some of the commonly experienced barriers to digital innovation in healthcare.

Industry partner:
Working with health care providers and policy-makers actively seeking partnerships with MedTech and other technology developers

CI names

Developing hierarchical models for Infrastructure Information Management (IIM): A multi-disciplinary perspective

This project presents a tangible opportunity to demonstrate the value of updating the BIM documentation effectively and efficiently using automated processes and algorithms to confirm accuracy of the models. The first stage is to obtain existing BIM models from major infrastructure projects. Such models are not stand-alone entities and have inter-dependencies with surrounding environment and other projects/systems. One of the project objectives is to leverage these inter-dependencies for a more accurate prediction of infrastructure status in short-term and long-term futures. The infrastructure information models can be updated using Structured Prediction (SP). This paves the way to apply the rich models and algorithms developed in Machine Learning (ML) to predict problems arising in infrastructure projects.

Industry partner:
Memco Australia, Building Point

CI names

Industrial Revolution

Post-war industrial centres in Melbourne’s middle suburbs are at the epicentre of economic, social and planning changes as advanced technologies and emerging industries are ushered into contemporary productivity networks. A number of now-former industrial zones that once housed ‘old industries’ and were an integral ingredient of suburban living, growth and development have recently been declared ‘National Employment and Innovation Clusters’ which will be subject to intense redevelopment over the next several decades. This project will uncover the physical and immaterial values associated with former industrial assets as the backbone – the infrastructure – of suburban landscapes, societies, institutions and economies. It will build the evidence from which new value creation strategies and value capture models can be developed.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnerships

A security-aware and contractually supported framework for data management in Building Information Modelling (BIM) enabled infrastructure projects

The adoption of the Building Information Modelling (BIM) approach is growing rapidly in the infrastructure sector.  To facilitate co-ordination, BIM relies on a common data environment that provides a unified repository to collect, manage and exchange all relevant project information and models between multi-disciplinary project teams.  Uncertainty about agreed data management protocols increases the risk of manipulation, loss or disclosure of sensitive information about critical infrastructures, which in turn raises issues of legal liability and contractual risk allocation.  This project aims to develop and validate a security-aware and contractually supported framework for data handling in BIM-enabled infrastructure projects.

Industry partner:
Australia Road Research Board (ARRB)

CI names

VLP, QADA and QADA-PLUS: the Solution for Accurate Indoor Positioning

This project will develop a working demonstration of a visible light positioning (VLP) system using our new receiver: the QADA-PLUS. The market for an accurate indoor positioning system is estimated to be in the billions of dollars yet decades of worldwide research on radio frequency (RF) techniques has had limited success. In place of radio signals, VLP uses light signals transmitted from energy efficient lighting LEDs. The Monash team has invented a VLP system which has the potential to both dramatically out-perform other systems and be compact enough to fit in a smartphone. A patent application has been lodged.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnerships

CI names

Whisker-inspired tactile sensing for detecting surface defects

This project aims to explore a novel multi-disciplinary solution to detect sophisticated defects such as broken wires in wire ropes. Animals such as rats use whiskers (vibrissae) as accurate sensing apparatus. These tactile detectors are actively moved to contact the target surface and the information acquired is then interpreted by the brain. This project will employ the whisker concept to design a novel sensing approach to detect defects. Given the cost of failure and current labour requirement for maintenance e.g. bridges and safety barriers, the proposed new solution can have tremendous impact for both manufacturing and maintenance.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnerships

CI names

Regional Cities Of The Future: A “Deep Dive” Towards A Novel Integrated Approach To Future–Proofing Small Towns

In the future, regional centres will need to accommodate significant demographic changes, both physically and socially, while meeting the ecological needs of nearby waterways.  A sound understanding of the synergistic relationship between urban development, environment and communities is required.  However, data-driven planning is challenging in regional communities due to the lack of relevant data.  By harnessing rich, unconventional data sources such as historical archives, environmental records locked away below ground, social-cultural recollections and oral histories, engaging the local community and adopting rigorous scenario-based integrated modelling, this project will circumvent traditional data challenges and develop a unique platform to achieve much greater depth in planning a future-proof regional city.

Industry partner:
Rural City of Wangaratta
North-East Water
North-East Catchment Management Authority

CI names

Image based crack evaluation and database design using bridge information modelling and artificial intelligence

Crack identification for bridge structures is accomplished by manual inspection and/or non-destructive testing, which is complex, time-consuming and subjective. Image-based crack detection has therefore become a trend. However, the main challenges are irregular shape and size of cracks and various background noises. The management of mega quantities of images is another outstanding issue.

This project will innovatively apply artificial intelligence, particularly deep machine learning, and graph database management techniques to achieve automated crack identification and efficient data management. As an open platform, bridge information modelling will be used to host, visualise and analyse image data, streamlining the decision-making procedure.

Industry partner: Confidential

CI names

Machine learning for the design of next generation aluminium alloys

To date, the application of Artificial Intelligence in materials design remains largely unexplored, on one hand because diverse (multi-disciplinary) teams are needed to advance this area, and on the other hand because machine learning experts have not focused on materials design. This project seeks to address both such hurdles, combining a diverse team with the computational capabilities of MASSIVE (Monash eResearch). The team also seeks wider collaboration for applied and end-user inputs.

Industry partner:
The project is actively seeking partnerships.
The project has been provided some seed support by the Woodside FutureLAB to catalyse general research into future alloy design, with no exclusivity.

CI names

Augmented on-road driving simulator for AV using VR (VRAV)

On-road driving simulation (referred to as Wizard-of-Oz) involves a real vehicle driving on public roads with the driver hidden behind a partition inside the car but out of view.  This project aims to incorporate AR/VR technology into the Wizard-of-Oz on-road driving simulation approach to enable AV driving in a virtual reality environment.  The outcome will be a virtual on-road driving simulator that is augmented in actual on-road driving and capable of replicating the true AV driving experience and behaviour in a realistic environment.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnerships

CI names

Cyclists and Left Turn Lanes

Crashes involving cyclists and drivers occur more commonly at intersections. In particular, turning manoeuvres including left turn change or left turn side swipe, are more likely to lead to a crash event.

This project aims to determine better approaches to left turning manoeuvres on our roads through an innovative, combined, traffic engineering, legal and design approach.

The impact of this project will be two-fold. Firstly, impact will be realised by developing some of the possible field-ready solutions to this well-known traffic problem. Secondly, by testing a new, combined approach of traffic engineering, legal and design research.

Industry partner:
The Amy Gillett Foundation
Actively seeking partnerships

CI names

Smart Irrigation: Proximal Soil Moisture Sensing for Real-Time Water Delivery Control

Access to real-time data on the soil moisture content will allow growers to control their water application rates.  The proposed state-of-art irrigation scheduling system, with its unique sensing technology for optimal water use, will provide the capability to self-adapt irrigation rates to each user’s situation and business objectives.  This intelligent system has great potential to save water during agricultural activities and enhance the quality and quantity of crop yield.  The irrigators with a smart irrigation system will be more inclined to irrigate when the crops need water, so as to fulfil more viable farming as well as an improved lifestyle.

Industry partner:
Actively seeking partnerships

CI names

Low-cost, solar-driven desalination technology for clean water production in rural areas

The proposed project addresses the pressing problem of insufficient water infrastructure in rural areas, which influences billions of people globally.  The project aims to develop low-cost, solar-driven desalination modules which can be used off-grid in rural areas.  As an alternative to centralised water infrastructure, these desalination modules are able to provide clean and safe potable water to the people living in the areas which do not have access to electricity and chemicals which are required for conventional water treatment.

Industry partner:
Oxfam

CI names

Novel treatment technology to improve nutrient recovery from manure

This project addresses one of the wastewater challenges facing the dairy industry, one of the most important agricultural industries in Victoria.  Intensification is leading to greater nutrient accumulation on dairy farms and the potential for pollution of the environment from manure.  Improved treatment technologies are urgently needed, and in this project innovative methods to recover nutrients from dairy manure will be explored.  The approaches can be extended to other wastewater treatment systems from different animal and food processing industries with similarly high nutrient content that require multi-stage treatment before disposal. An economic analysis of the impacts of such endeavours on stakeholders will also be included.

Industry partner:
DEDJTR (Dr Sharon Aarons and Dr Cameron Gourley: Agriculture Victoria Research; Ellinbank Dairy Centre).
This project provides an opportunity to expand an existing research collaboration between Monash and the nominated DEDJTR scientists above.  A PhD student, who commenced in 2018, is currently working with the team as part of the Food and Dairy GRIP program.

CI names