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ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION


Data is the newoil: assessing the impact of digital


technologies in manufacturing Following the Digitising Manufacturing Conference at the Manufacturing Technology Centre


in Coventry last month, 16 digital manufacturing experts to sat round a table and discussed some of the key opportunities and threats of digitisation. Editor Andy Pye was the moderator and here are just a few of the highlights


skills were needed to take advantage of the step- change in technology, and (in a related issue) what effect is automation having on the current jobs market. The discussion was opened byDrDavid Bott of theWarwickManufacturing Group (WMG).


A


DIGITISATION What do we understand by digitisation? David Bott: “Manufacturing is a physical thing. However, over the past decade, as computers have becomemore common andmore powerful, we have created a parallel industry where people turn raw data into useful information. This has radically


s the evening progressed, it became clear that the key issues concerning the panel were: how to roll out digital manufacturing to the small- andmedium- sized enterprise (SME) community, what


 Great minds may not always think alike but those around the table offered unique insights into the difficulties and effects of digitisation on the engineering industry


changed the businessmodel. Often it is the new insurgent companies that have beenmore successful at navigating the change than the sitting tenants. “When I startedmy career in the chemical


industry, chemical plants involved a lot of pipes and lots of people changing valves. Since then, computers have doubled in processing power every 18months, andmodelling rapidly became a real- time process. Then it got faster still, so you could predict in advance all the things that could happen in a chemical plant. In reality, this is running a computer game – a simulation – whichmodels all the possible outcomes based on the control parameters. And so chemical plants are now managed by just two or three people sitting in a roomwith a coffeemachine and the occasional person who goes out tomaintain things. “Now, there is no part of themanufacturing


 December 2016 /// Environmental Engineering /// 17


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