Manufacturing Innovation: Family-owned business leads the way for Industry 4.0


Mojtaba ‘MJ’ Izadi, former PhD Intern now Technology Improvement Engineer at Varley Group. Source: Varley-Group

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is pushing industry to explore uncharted technology. With a firm grasp of this phenomenon – also known as Industry 4.0 – a Deakin University PhD student helped 134-year-old engineering company, Varley Group, begin its Industry 4.0 journey and future-proof operations.

In a research placement facilitated by APR.Intern and supported by IMCRC, Varley Group welcomed PhD student, Mojtaba ‘MJ’ Izadi to guide the implementation of new 4.0 Industry technologies and materials, product development for the manufacturing, and a restructure of the organisation.

“MJ’s research opened our eyes to future direction by exploring processes underpinned by the adoption of technology. The research has enormous potential for advanced manufacturing processes, new materials and significant cost savings,” said Pierre Sidorow, Varley Group’s Business Improvement Manager and MJ’s Industry Supervisor.

For the duration of the internship, MJ relocated from Geelong to Varley Group’s Tomago, Newcastle headquarters, applying his knowledge of mechanical engineering and additive manufacturing to reshape the company’s approach to future advancement.

“The internship helped me understand industrial demands such as quick decision making, implementation and the importance of R&D,” said MJ.

“More businesses should utilise programs like APR.Intern and IMCRC to foster industry-university collaboration and bring the latest technology to Australia,” MJ added.

Varley Group CEO, Jeff Phillips, commented that MJ’s research has the potential to shape the next 20 years of Varley Group’s development.  “Varley now has a positive stepping-stone to move towards an improved future – one that embraces Industry 4.0,” said Jeff.

The internship’s outcome was so significant that MJ presented one aspect of his research to Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a visit to Varley Group’s headquarters in September 2020. MJ’s project investigated virtual reality’s impact on manufacturing, reinforcing Varley Group’s reputation as pioneers in Australian manufacturing.

Following the internship’s success, Varley Group offered MJ full-time employment in a newly created role of Technology Improvement Engineer and his PhD has also been conferred by Deakin University. Dr “MJ” Izadi’s employment during COVID-19 proves the pandemic has not slowed down Varley’s Group’s march in the latest industrial revolution.