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that Imoderated at the MTC recently, and reported on page 17 of this very issue, seems to indicate that there is a long way to go, particularly in our small- andmedium-sized enterprise community. Recently, I attended the annual National Instruments event NIDays at


the QEII Conference Centre in London and spoke to the company’s Technical and Marketing Director (Europe), Rahman Jamal. We were talking specifically about Ethernet time-sensitive networks (TSN), of which more in the February issue, but the discussion broadened out naturally. A car, Jamal pointed out, can be made identically in Germany and “over

the wall” in Mexico, using digitisation to share the technology and automation to manufacture it. But what if the US will not accept this approach any more, preferring instead to revert to an introverted manufacturing agenda? Seven promises on trade reform were high on the agenda in Donald Trump’s election campaign. Arguably the most important ones were the threats to withdraw the US from the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the introduction of tariffs on Chinese imports. An even bolder pledge was to revitalise industries in the Rustbelt. Can the US heavy industries really be kick-started back into life and compete on a domestic scale, never mind the international stage? Although trade experts believe that some of Trump’s reforms –

particularly the introduction of a 45 per cent tariff on Chinese goods – are empty threats, it is very difficult to know how Trump will give effect to his campaign pledges when his administration takes office. Conventional economic wisdom would suggest that an audacious trade agenda would reduce output and lower American economic welfare. Jamal concurs with this view that protectionismcan only lead to a loss of

competitiveness. But he alsomakes the interesting point that Germany’s strength is actually heavy industry – the Internet of BIG Things, as he called it. Conversely, linking it all together and devising the software that is needed to do that is a strength of the US. Perhaps it could be further argued that the strength of the UK is innovative design? If ever the case wasmade that we should be working together for the benefit of all, this is it. Could heaven be where the intellectual

some of Trump’s reforms are empty threats

Experts believe ’

property is British, the robots are German and the artificial intelligence is American? In which case, where are we now? There must be a joke in there somewhere…

ot for the first time, it has been noted that Germany leads Europe – and very probably the world – in its adoption of Internet of Things technology. The UK claims that things are changing, but the round table discussion on digitising industry

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