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It’s time to turn digital transformation from buzzword into reality



The last year has affected our health, social interactions and businesses. From work calls to grocery shopping, every aspect of our lives has been forced online. While we have yet to move out of the pandemic, we are now at a point where we can look back at the dramatic speed of change in the last year and a half, and the impressive rate at which businesses adapted to the ‘new normal’. Indeed, many businesses are questioning how they could ever go back to their old ways of working.

The last year or so has highlighted the need to be agile and adaptable and those that have embraced these principles are well positioned to deal with the unexpected in the future. There are a number of factors that go into making fundamental change a success, from having a culture that is open to new ways of working, to looking at the technological building blocks of a truly connected enterprise.

Implementing change is not just about cutting costs on the balance sheet or making minor optimisations to your business processes. Only by approaching transformation at a fundamental level can businesses make improvements that will last for years to come.

2020 was the year that digital transformation, forever a buzzword, finally began to mean something. Delays to transformation initiatives have limited their impact in the past, but the pandemic required businesses in every industry to quickly put measures in place in response to changing circumstances.

The result has shocked digital transformation into action, with digital businesses proven to be more resilient, more agile and more efficient. Forrester estimates that prior to 2020, only around 15 per cent of companies were ‘digitally savvy’, but the new realities have pushed through technological change at unprecedented speeds – McKinsey suggests digital adoption leapt five years ahead in just eight weeks, while Microsoft estimated two years of transformation occurred in two months. These investments gave businesses the tools they needed to behave in new ways and, with 97 per cent of IT leaders likely to continue 2020’s initiatives into 2021, this transformation is likely here to stay.

Changing consumer behaviour has, unsurprisingly, been a key factor fuelling much of this change. The digital investments of 2020 raised the bar for excellent digitally enabled services, which are now seen as the norm rather than a nice-to-have. Banking is a prime example of an industry pushed into transformation as a result of our changing lifestyles – the pandemic is accelerating the move towards a cashless society, and ModularBank estimates 90 per cent of UK customers now see technology as important when selecting a bank. While the growth of app-led challengers won’t displace traditional banks any time soon, their digital capabilities will steal away some customers. Every business should take heed from competitors who are making strides in digital – once customers get a taste for great experiences, they will seek them out.

The key thing is for companies to channel and focus their digital investments and automate as much of the management and maintenance of new technologies as possible. This will allow the experts to focus on using technology to innovate, which is how real transformation will happen. 

With so much talk around transformation, you could be forgiven for thinking of 2021 as the year quantum computing makes waves. But as ‘big bang’ as quantum could be, it’s not the technological innovation most companies need right now. Not only does this kind of big innovation take time to trickle down, but after a year of unexpected challenges, most companies need stability and resilience, rather than wholesale change.

What’s more, the ever-changing landscape of health, social and geo-political uncertainty will likely bring more unpredictable challenges over the next couple of years. It will therefore be crucial for businesses to focus on building resilience. A key starting point will be reducing the number of dependencies a business is reliant on.

Dependencies can be found in many forms. For example, the pandemic exposed dependencies in supply chains, as companies which were overly reliant on a single supplier for essential components faced huge risks – here, Apple was one of many companies which ran into shortages as a result of disruption to deliveries. Looking into the future, exactly how the UK’s departure from the EU will impact existing agreements on data regulation, or how international policies from the USA and China will impact global trade and technology standards, remains to be seen. The point is that any business overly dependent on data or technology from one country is taking a risk, but the agility gained from solid digital investments will help to resolve these issues.

Limiting the number of dependencies is reliant on a business having the means to identify them, which is easier to do if the whole infrastructure is connected. That said, it is still possible to run risk assessments on fragmented infrastructures with process discovery and architecture management tools. Essentially, having an accurate view of the facts enables businesses to make changes to reduce dependencies, allowing core operations to be shifted elsewhere if any part of a business is compromised. While such changes would have previously taken a long time to implement, the driving forces for technology have changed. With businesses still facing a period of uncertainty, there are compelling factors for a new approach; one where the complexity is removed from the process and companies stay focused on building their own agility and resilience. 

The months ahead will undoubtedly throw more uncertainties and more crises at our businesses. What remains to be seen is whether firms will make the necessary investments in digital foundations now to weather this storm. Building resilience into your business may seem like a large cost when the skies are clear, but in the long run every business can benefit from being prepared.

Sanjay Brahmawar is CEO at Software AG.

Leer más



The last year has affected our health, social interactions and businesses. From work calls to grocery shopping, every aspect of our lives has been forced online. While we have yet to move out of the pandemic, we are now at a point where we can look back at the dramatic speed of change in the last year and a half, and the impressive rate at which businesses adapted to the ‘new normal’. Indeed, many businesses are questioning how they could ever go back to their old ways of working.

The last year or so has highlighted the need to be agile and adaptable and those that have embraced these principles are well positioned to deal with the unexpected in the future. There are a number of factors that go into making fundamental change a success, from having a culture that is open to new ways of working, to looking at the technological building blocks of a truly connected enterprise.

Implementing change is not just about cutting costs on the balance sheet or making minor optimisations to your business processes. Only by approaching transformation at a fundamental level can businesses make improvements that will last for years to come.

2020 was the year that digital transformation, forever a buzzword, finally began to mean something. Delays to transformation initiatives have limited their impact in the past, but the pandemic required businesses in every industry to quickly put measures in place in response to changing circumstances.

The result has shocked digital transformation into action, with digital businesses proven to be more resilient, more agile and more efficient. Forrester estimates that prior to 2020, only around 15 per cent of companies were ‘digitally savvy’, but the new realities have pushed through technological change at unprecedented speeds – McKinsey suggests digital adoption leapt five years ahead in just eight weeks, while Microsoft estimated two years of transformation occurred in two months. These investments gave businesses the tools they needed to behave in new ways and, with 97 per cent of IT leaders likely to continue 2020’s initiatives into 2021, this transformation is likely here to stay.

Changing consumer behaviour has, unsurprisingly, been a key factor fuelling much of this change. The digital investments of 2020 raised the bar for excellent digitally enabled services, which are now seen as the norm rather than a nice-to-have. Banking is a prime example of an industry pushed into transformation as a result of our changing lifestyles – the pandemic is accelerating the move towards a cashless society, and ModularBank estimates 90 per cent of UK customers now see technology as important when selecting a bank. While the growth of app-led challengers won’t displace traditional banks any time soon, their digital capabilities will steal away some customers. Every business should take heed from competitors who are making strides in digital – once customers get a taste for great experiences, they will seek them out.

The key thing is for companies to channel and focus their digital investments and automate as much of the management and maintenance of new technologies as possible. This will allow the experts to focus on using technology to innovate, which is how real transformation will happen. 

With so much talk around transformation, you could be forgiven for thinking of 2021 as the year quantum computing makes waves. But as ‘big bang’ as quantum could be, it’s not the technological innovation most companies need right now. Not only does this kind of big innovation take time to trickle down, but after a year of unexpected challenges, most companies need stability and resilience, rather than wholesale change.

What’s more, the ever-changing landscape of health, social and geo-political uncertainty will likely bring more unpredictable challenges over the next couple of years. It will therefore be crucial for businesses to focus on building resilience. A key starting point will be reducing the number of dependencies a business is reliant on.

Dependencies can be found in many forms. For example, the pandemic exposed dependencies in supply chains, as companies which were overly reliant on a single supplier for essential components faced huge risks – here, Apple was one of many companies which ran into shortages as a result of disruption to deliveries. Looking into the future, exactly how the UK’s departure from the EU will impact existing agreements on data regulation, or how international policies from the USA and China will impact global trade and technology standards, remains to be seen. The point is that any business overly dependent on data or technology from one country is taking a risk, but the agility gained from solid digital investments will help to resolve these issues.

Limiting the number of dependencies is reliant on a business having the means to identify them, which is easier to do if the whole infrastructure is connected. That said, it is still possible to run risk assessments on fragmented infrastructures with process discovery and architecture management tools. Essentially, having an accurate view of the facts enables businesses to make changes to reduce dependencies, allowing core operations to be shifted elsewhere if any part of a business is compromised. While such changes would have previously taken a long time to implement, the driving forces for technology have changed. With businesses still facing a period of uncertainty, there are compelling factors for a new approach; one where the complexity is removed from the process and companies stay focused on building their own agility and resilience. 

The months ahead will undoubtedly throw more uncertainties and more crises at our businesses. What remains to be seen is whether firms will make the necessary investments in digital foundations now to weather this storm. Building resilience into your business may seem like a large cost when the skies are clear, but in the long run every business can benefit from being prepared.

Sanjay Brahmawar is CEO at Software AG.


Leer más

Publicado el 02/07/2021 en comment, digitalization, digital manufacturing, industry 4.0, coronavirus

View from India: Hyper connectivity for better outcomes



When we look at the manufacturing scenario, the emphasis has always been on mass production. Though the focus remains pretty much the same, robots and automation are add-ons to the manufacturing ecosystem. They have brought precision and speed to the product development cycle. The latest is Industry 4.0, which will digitally transform shop floors.

Industry 4.0 will help in predictions through real-time data. Through Industry 4.0, machine-learning (ML) tools can be integrated into production and machines will become intelligent and take informed decisions. Manual processes will be replaced by automation.

“The entire value chain of manufacturing becomes smart and automated through Industry 4.0. Right from conceptualisation-design-execution, every stage of the shop floor is a value add in terms of output,” said Syam Sunder, vice president of Engineering Convergence, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence Division, India, speaking at the CII webinar 'People and Process Focused Digital Transformation of the Shop Floor', in collaboration with Hexagon.

The digital transformation of shop floors will help organisations work towards a return on investment. Early adopters of smart manufacturing have integrated automation, real-time monitoring and dashboard updates. What seems most obvious is that the output of machines is faster. But that’s not enough.

What is missing is the element of people and processes, which need to go hand in hand with the digital transformation. Improved efficiency, enhanced quality, reduced cost and improved safety and sustainability can be seen as the value coming from people- and processes-focused digital transformation.

A trained workforce is required to execute smart processes to make globally competent products: it’s essential to tap unused talent. Skilled professionals and faster adoption of technology are required to scale-up efficiencies and fine tune the product line. Digital training can happen through augmented-reality (AR) and virtual-reality (VR) streaming videos. AR-VR videos can also be used to connect to staff working in different units across the manufacturing facility, while manufacturers can improvise field operations by regularly monitoring AR.

Nevertheless, the journey is not smooth. Pain points come in the form of siloed operations, which need to break down into a seamless one for enabling large-scale automation. Enterprise integration, artificial intelligence and edge computing will determine the operations. These technologies will also replace paperwork and facilitate smart data governance. They will also connect people and processes digitally, besides customising solutions for clients. All this can be achieved by combining physical and digital operations to give insights through data analytics, which will be derived through the machine, suppliers and vendors. Data can also be used for managing the machines and identifying the bottlenecks; if the data is stored in the edge computing system, then it saves bandwidth. A database or multiple databases can be created and tapped intelligently to meet customer needs. This leads to hyper connectivity.

Hyper connectivity and Industry 4.0 will help in data optimisation and improve capabilities to meet new requirements. “We are getting into a new world, where data is being leveraged for several applications. Open protocols are becoming common, as data is being transmitted from one individual or a team to many colleagues through a common connection, which we identify as hyper connectivity,” explained Sunder.

Upon implementation, all these technologies lead to a more digital and connected scenario, where people and processes are integrated into the shop floor. This ensures ubiquitous visibility, robust traceability, compliance to processes and automated outputs. It also points to a situation where data can be captured in a simple way, apart from enabling collaboration between silos (if any).

The manufacturing world is moving from automation to a connected world. The journey began with mechanisation, which then evolved into industrialisation, mass production, automated processes, hyper connectivity and, finally, autonomy, perceived as the ultimate form of putting data to work.

Leer más



When we look at the manufacturing scenario, the emphasis has always been on mass production. Though the focus remains pretty much the same, robots and automation are add-ons to the manufacturing ecosystem. They have brought precision and speed to the product development cycle. The latest is Industry 4.0, which will digitally transform shop floors.

Industry 4.0 will help in predictions through real-time data. Through Industry 4.0, machine-learning (ML) tools can be integrated into production and machines will become intelligent and take informed decisions. Manual processes will be replaced by automation.

“The entire value chain of manufacturing becomes smart and automated through Industry 4.0. Right from conceptualisation-design-execution, every stage of the shop floor is a value add in terms of output,” said Syam Sunder, vice president of Engineering Convergence, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence Division, India, speaking at the CII webinar 'People and Process Focused Digital Transformation of the Shop Floor', in collaboration with Hexagon.

The digital transformation of shop floors will help organisations work towards a return on investment. Early adopters of smart manufacturing have integrated automation, real-time monitoring and dashboard updates. What seems most obvious is that the output of machines is faster. But that’s not enough.

What is missing is the element of people and processes, which need to go hand in hand with the digital transformation. Improved efficiency, enhanced quality, reduced cost and improved safety and sustainability can be seen as the value coming from people- and processes-focused digital transformation.

A trained workforce is required to execute smart processes to make globally competent products: it’s essential to tap unused talent. Skilled professionals and faster adoption of technology are required to scale-up efficiencies and fine tune the product line. Digital training can happen through augmented-reality (AR) and virtual-reality (VR) streaming videos. AR-VR videos can also be used to connect to staff working in different units across the manufacturing facility, while manufacturers can improvise field operations by regularly monitoring AR.

Nevertheless, the journey is not smooth. Pain points come in the form of siloed operations, which need to break down into a seamless one for enabling large-scale automation. Enterprise integration, artificial intelligence and edge computing will determine the operations. These technologies will also replace paperwork and facilitate smart data governance. They will also connect people and processes digitally, besides customising solutions for clients. All this can be achieved by combining physical and digital operations to give insights through data analytics, which will be derived through the machine, suppliers and vendors. Data can also be used for managing the machines and identifying the bottlenecks; if the data is stored in the edge computing system, then it saves bandwidth. A database or multiple databases can be created and tapped intelligently to meet customer needs. This leads to hyper connectivity.

Hyper connectivity and Industry 4.0 will help in data optimisation and improve capabilities to meet new requirements. “We are getting into a new world, where data is being leveraged for several applications. Open protocols are becoming common, as data is being transmitted from one individual or a team to many colleagues through a common connection, which we identify as hyper connectivity,” explained Sunder.

Upon implementation, all these technologies lead to a more digital and connected scenario, where people and processes are integrated into the shop floor. This ensures ubiquitous visibility, robust traceability, compliance to processes and automated outputs. It also points to a situation where data can be captured in a simple way, apart from enabling collaboration between silos (if any).

The manufacturing world is moving from automation to a connected world. The journey began with mechanisation, which then evolved into industrialisation, mass production, automated processes, hyper connectivity and, finally, autonomy, perceived as the ultimate form of putting data to work.


Leer más

Publicado el 01/07/2021 en india, view from india, manufacturing, digital manufacturing, automation, industry 4.0

A solution to the UK’s productivity woes is closer than we think



Snap lockdowns, Covid-induced factory shutdowns, fluctuating freight costs and tremors across supply chains. There’s no doubt about it – manufacturers have had more than their fair share of grievances lately.

What’s more, recent statistics from the UK Office for National Statistics show that UK manufacturers’ profitability has dropped to its lowest level for a decade – which could be seen as indicative of the impact of both Brexit and the pandemic on the sector.

We certainly hope this will change. Technology has long been touted as one of the answers to the UK’s industrial productivity woes, and will be more important than ever as we look at strengthening our economy following the pandemic. Yet, in industrial settings, the UK lags behind in implementing advanced digital technologies in comparison with some of its counterparts on the continent.

Could the solution to this puzzle be closer than the industry thinks?

From advanced product tracking to autonomous warehouse transportation, advanced digital technology can help industry drive down production costs – while boosting market productivity levels and competitiveness.

How does 5G fit into this picture? 5G infrastructure functions first and foremost as an enabler. By facilitating the implementation and integration of other advanced digital technologies, it can augment the wider digital fabric in factory environments. It is a secure infrastructure and provides some excellent mechanisms for closer integration of edge computing and communications to support better outcomes in the factory.

Offering improved bandwidth, superfast speeds and secure networks, 5G can supercharge the performance of other technologies – from artificial intelligence for predictive monitoring to the Internet of Things – meaning manufacturers get more bang for their buck. After all, these digital tools are only as good as the communication infrastructure powering them.

Establishing a web of complementary technologies in factory environments sounds complex, but a high-tech factory can actually help us simplify decision making – slashing costs, boosting efficiencies and reducing our carbon footprint along the way.

5G in this context is all about getting the most out of the ‘DNA’ of digital manufacturing, where the DNA stands for data, networks and artificial intelligence. Fundamentally, digital manufacturing is about better interfaces with data, and decision making powered by artificial intelligence. Right in the middle of this sits the networking system, which has very specific requirements to support a demanding, high-availability and cost-sensitive factory environment.

Powered by 5G, manufacturers can more easily collect invaluable data and streamline real-time feedback from their assets – for example, using Internet of Things sensors that collect information and communicate at high speeds.

Crucially, 5G connectivity could also help industry reap the benefits of digital twins – systems that aggregate and present data from a remote system. Through the digital coupling of physical assets or processes to a virtual representation, with a functional output, we can pinpoint waste, identify faults and increase the lifespan of our assets.

Unfortunately, many businesses still hold concerns around 5G installation costs, complexity and security – hindering its meaningful adoption in industrial settings.

But while businesses are right to be cautious, they should explore how new advanced digital infrastructure, underpinned by purposefully designed communication networks, can enable a faster and better digital transformation of their processes.

This is certainly not untrodden ground, and by working with experts, businesses can look at adopting 5G in the safest and most cost-effective way. The right partners can help to de-risk technology adoption and help manufacturers get 5G-ready in practical and tangible ways, to support Industry 4.0 ambitions.

An example of this is the UK’s industry-leading 5G Factory of the Future project, which will provide key learnings on how manufacturing operations and supply chains can be transformed in real settings.

At Digital Catapult, we are delivering the technical 5G integration work in typical operational processes, enabling real manufacturers to build the business case for 5G adoption. By demonstrating how well advanced digital technologies perform with a 5G connection, we – along with partners across the UK – are creating the route for 5G adoption at scale in factories for the very first time.

A full program of work in the UK has several large-scale test and trial projects, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, to explore the technical and business concerns of adopting 5G as a digital factory technology.

Projects of this kind can offer tangible evidence for manufacturers on the exact benefits they can reap from 5G, the challenges, and how they could be addressed. We’re currently working closely with logistics company Miralis, for example, on a use-case looking at how 5G-connected sensors can provide real-time condition monitoring, helping to prevent lost and late supply-chain production items – which can cause significant loss in productivity.

The route to bouncing back from this economic slump won’t be simple, and with tools like 5G at our fingertips – enabling better digital infrastructure – those ignoring the opportunity would be missing a trick.

And, whatever technology is prioritised as we set our sights on recovery from the pandemic, it’s imperative we adopt a ‘connected first’ approach.

If adopted meaningfully, 5G will be transformative for industries across the UK – allowing us to push boundaries, boost efficiencies and realise the huge economic and environmental benefits industry needs to recover, and thrive.

Dritan Kaleshi is director of technology – 5G at Digital Catapult, the UK agency promoting adoption of advanced digital technologies.

Leer más



Snap lockdowns, Covid-induced factory shutdowns, fluctuating freight costs and tremors across supply chains. There’s no doubt about it – manufacturers have had more than their fair share of grievances lately.

What’s more, recent statistics from the UK Office for National Statistics show that UK manufacturers’ profitability has dropped to its lowest level for a decade – which could be seen as indicative of the impact of both Brexit and the pandemic on the sector.

We certainly hope this will change. Technology has long been touted as one of the answers to the UK’s industrial productivity woes, and will be more important than ever as we look at strengthening our economy following the pandemic. Yet, in industrial settings, the UK lags behind in implementing advanced digital technologies in comparison with some of its counterparts on the continent.

Could the solution to this puzzle be closer than the industry thinks?

From advanced product tracking to autonomous warehouse transportation, advanced digital technology can help industry drive down production costs – while boosting market productivity levels and competitiveness.

How does 5G fit into this picture? 5G infrastructure functions first and foremost as an enabler. By facilitating the implementation and integration of other advanced digital technologies, it can augment the wider digital fabric in factory environments. It is a secure infrastructure and provides some excellent mechanisms for closer integration of edge computing and communications to support better outcomes in the factory.

Offering improved bandwidth, superfast speeds and secure networks, 5G can supercharge the performance of other technologies – from artificial intelligence for predictive monitoring to the Internet of Things – meaning manufacturers get more bang for their buck. After all, these digital tools are only as good as the communication infrastructure powering them.

Establishing a web of complementary technologies in factory environments sounds complex, but a high-tech factory can actually help us simplify decision making – slashing costs, boosting efficiencies and reducing our carbon footprint along the way.

5G in this context is all about getting the most out of the ‘DNA’ of digital manufacturing, where the DNA stands for data, networks and artificial intelligence. Fundamentally, digital manufacturing is about better interfaces with data, and decision making powered by artificial intelligence. Right in the middle of this sits the networking system, which has very specific requirements to support a demanding, high-availability and cost-sensitive factory environment.

Powered by 5G, manufacturers can more easily collect invaluable data and streamline real-time feedback from their assets – for example, using Internet of Things sensors that collect information and communicate at high speeds.

Crucially, 5G connectivity could also help industry reap the benefits of digital twins – systems that aggregate and present data from a remote system. Through the digital coupling of physical assets or processes to a virtual representation, with a functional output, we can pinpoint waste, identify faults and increase the lifespan of our assets.

Unfortunately, many businesses still hold concerns around 5G installation costs, complexity and security – hindering its meaningful adoption in industrial settings.

But while businesses are right to be cautious, they should explore how new advanced digital infrastructure, underpinned by purposefully designed communication networks, can enable a faster and better digital transformation of their processes.

This is certainly not untrodden ground, and by working with experts, businesses can look at adopting 5G in the safest and most cost-effective way. The right partners can help to de-risk technology adoption and help manufacturers get 5G-ready in practical and tangible ways, to support Industry 4.0 ambitions.

An example of this is the UK’s industry-leading 5G Factory of the Future project, which will provide key learnings on how manufacturing operations and supply chains can be transformed in real settings.

At Digital Catapult, we are delivering the technical 5G integration work in typical operational processes, enabling real manufacturers to build the business case for 5G adoption. By demonstrating how well advanced digital technologies perform with a 5G connection, we – along with partners across the UK – are creating the route for 5G adoption at scale in factories for the very first time.

A full program of work in the UK has several large-scale test and trial projects, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, to explore the technical and business concerns of adopting 5G as a digital factory technology.

Projects of this kind can offer tangible evidence for manufacturers on the exact benefits they can reap from 5G, the challenges, and how they could be addressed. We’re currently working closely with logistics company Miralis, for example, on a use-case looking at how 5G-connected sensors can provide real-time condition monitoring, helping to prevent lost and late supply-chain production items – which can cause significant loss in productivity.

The route to bouncing back from this economic slump won’t be simple, and with tools like 5G at our fingertips – enabling better digital infrastructure – those ignoring the opportunity would be missing a trick.

And, whatever technology is prioritised as we set our sights on recovery from the pandemic, it’s imperative we adopt a ‘connected first’ approach.

If adopted meaningfully, 5G will be transformative for industries across the UK – allowing us to push boundaries, boost efficiencies and realise the huge economic and environmental benefits industry needs to recover, and thrive.

Dritan Kaleshi is director of technology – 5G at Digital Catapult, the UK agency promoting adoption of advanced digital technologies.


Leer más

Publicado el 30/06/2021 en comment, 5g, manufacturing, industry 4.0, productivity

5G-enabled system could streamline maintenance at St Pancras



The project will allow for engineers to swiftly detect and repair faults within lifts, escalators and travelators in one of the UK’s busiest train stations – which is connected to the Channel Tunnel via HS1 – as well as with signalling equipment along the line.

Sensors throughout the station will pick up and relay faults back to maintenance teams via a private 5G network, displaying information via an AR headset. The team can then immediately dispatch a technician to repair the faults.

“The layering of AR, sensor data and a private 5G network to create a complete solution like this is extremely advanced. It will be the first example of a rail infrastructure with this level of technology,” said Professor Rab Scott, head of digital at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

“Simply having access to sensor data on an AR headset, in real time, will allow engineers at St Pancras to do their jobs much better. It will provide maintainers accurate information much faster and more reliably, thus making the process of trackside maintenance much more effective.”

The project is funded by Innovate UK and aims to support the government’s National Digital Twin programme.

Dyan Crowther, CEO of HS1 Ltd, said: “The system will not only create a more reliable rail network, but will allow our expert teams to maintain social distancing guidelines when responding to jobs. Thanks to Innovate UK and our partners we are able to lead the way in revolutionising London’s railway stations post-Covid.”

The project aims to enable the flow of data between on-site and remote maintenance teams, helping HS1 develop its understanding of new maintenance methods.

The new platform will help lessen the impact of disruption to the railway services caused by Covid-19 and – if widely adopted – could improve productivity and cut costs at more than 3,000 railway stations in the UK

Michael Lewis, digital theme lead at the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “What we have been able to do is apply the learning and expertise from manufacturing in a new environment, but then to take it even further indeed, there are a lot of manufacturing companies who would dream of this kind of capability. It’s exciting to think of other ways the rail sector could follow the lead of HS1 Ltd by embracing Industry 4.0 technologies and adopting best practice from the manufacturing sector.”

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The project will allow for engineers to swiftly detect and repair faults within lifts, escalators and travelators in one of the UK’s busiest train stations – which is connected to the Channel Tunnel via HS1 – as well as with signalling equipment along the line.

Sensors throughout the station will pick up and relay faults back to maintenance teams via a private 5G network, displaying information via an AR headset. The team can then immediately dispatch a technician to repair the faults.

“The layering of AR, sensor data and a private 5G network to create a complete solution like this is extremely advanced. It will be the first example of a rail infrastructure with this level of technology,” said Professor Rab Scott, head of digital at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

“Simply having access to sensor data on an AR headset, in real time, will allow engineers at St Pancras to do their jobs much better. It will provide maintainers accurate information much faster and more reliably, thus making the process of trackside maintenance much more effective.”

The project is funded by Innovate UK and aims to support the government’s National Digital Twin programme.

Dyan Crowther, CEO of HS1 Ltd, said: “The system will not only create a more reliable rail network, but will allow our expert teams to maintain social distancing guidelines when responding to jobs. Thanks to Innovate UK and our partners we are able to lead the way in revolutionising London’s railway stations post-Covid.”

The project aims to enable the flow of data between on-site and remote maintenance teams, helping HS1 develop its understanding of new maintenance methods.

The new platform will help lessen the impact of disruption to the railway services caused by Covid-19 and – if widely adopted – could improve productivity and cut costs at more than 3,000 railway stations in the UK

Michael Lewis, digital theme lead at the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “What we have been able to do is apply the learning and expertise from manufacturing in a new environment, but then to take it even further indeed, there are a lot of manufacturing companies who would dream of this kind of capability. It’s exciting to think of other ways the rail sector could follow the lead of HS1 Ltd by embracing Industry 4.0 technologies and adopting best practice from the manufacturing sector.”


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Publicado el 12/01/2021 en digital twin, railways, railway signalling, industry 4.0, sensors, augmented reality

Are you guarding against the physical threat of cyber attacks?



Industrial organisations across the world are increasingly adopting smart technology to innovate and modernise their operations as part of a shift towards Industry 4.0 and factory automation using the Internet of Things (IoT). As well as offering significant benefits like speeding up processes, reducing costs and helping meet customer demand, however, this trend can also increase exposure to cyber attacks.

One of the key issues with cyber attacks on industrial facilities is that their impact can be twofold. Take the infamous Stuxnet incident, where criminals used a malicious computer worm to halt Iran’s nuclear programme – the attack was carried out virtually, but its consequences were physical.

To help mitigate cyber-physical attacks like this, there has been growing pressure on industrial organisations to improve their security – not only to prevent attacks that affect operations, but also to block those that impact health and safety and could put the public at risk.

Cyber attacks can have a direct link to health and safety as they have the potential to put employees at risk. For instance, if malware was to infect an emergency shutdown system in a nuclear plant, the damage to staff and the public could be catastrophic.

In one of the most infamous attacks of 2014, cyber criminals manipulated and disrupted control systems at a German steel works to such a degree that a blast furnace could not shut down properly. While the attack was carried out through electronic spearphishing, it had a physical impact that undoubtedly impacted staff.

To help educate organisations on the risks that disruption like this can pose to health and safety, the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated OG86, its Operational Guidance for Industrial Automation and Control Systems in an effort to mitigate the risks. OG86 outlines the criteria HSE inspectors use when they audit organisations and takes into account that the increasing connection of operational machinery to the internet is making it easier for cyber criminals to carry out attacks that have implications for health and safety.

The countermeasures needed to address low levels of cyber-security risk are based on the National Cyber Security Centre’s basic Cyber Assessment Framework (CAF) profile. Closely aligned with the EU Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive, it explains how HSE inspectors will gain an understanding of the capabilities and maturity of an organisation’s cyber resilience and sets out requirements for organisations to provide effective policies, procedures and controls in their ability to protect against cyber incidents, detect potential incidents, and respond in an appropriate and timely manner

Bringing the NIS Directive into the scope of OG86 is one of the biggest changes to the updated document. By focusing on it, the HSE is encouraging organisations to think more strategically about cyber threats and how to implement a robust security posture. Complying with the guide will help them not only improve their cyber security and limit their exposure to attack, but also pass future HSE audits.

The guidance includes specific information on the workflow inspectors follow to gain an understanding of the capabilities an organisation has in place to protect its systems and networks. They are required to verify the adequacy of the cyber-security management system including competence management, together with the adequacy of countermeasures; for major accident workplaces and operators of essential services covered under the NIS Regulations.

An important first step for organisations preparing to meet the requirements of OG86 is to complete an assessment against the NIS CAF and determine the organisational structure they should have in place to develop an effective cyber-risk management process. This covers roles and responsibilities, board direction, procedural requirements, risk management process, asset management, vulnerability management, backup procedures and also the technical controls implemented to reduce the risk of cyber incidents and increase system resiliency and availability.

When the CAF is complete, organisational structures are in place and security gaps are understood, it’s important to understand what assets an organisation has on its network and use this information to identify both Major Accident and Loss of Essential Services assets. This helps to drive regulatory compliance and allows optimum exploitation of resources.

One of the key elements of OG86 is the importance it places on security network monitoring of critical assets and having countermeasures in place to detect and prevent common cyber attacks. Ensuring all assets are inventoried and not providing an unmonitored entry point for cyber criminals is essential.

Stefan Liversidge is a technical sales engineer with Nozomi Networks.

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Industrial organisations across the world are increasingly adopting smart technology to innovate and modernise their operations as part of a shift towards Industry 4.0 and factory automation using the Internet of Things (IoT). As well as offering significant benefits like speeding up processes, reducing costs and helping meet customer demand, however, this trend can also increase exposure to cyber attacks.

One of the key issues with cyber attacks on industrial facilities is that their impact can be twofold. Take the infamous Stuxnet incident, where criminals used a malicious computer worm to halt Iran’s nuclear programme – the attack was carried out virtually, but its consequences were physical.

To help mitigate cyber-physical attacks like this, there has been growing pressure on industrial organisations to improve their security – not only to prevent attacks that affect operations, but also to block those that impact health and safety and could put the public at risk.

Cyber attacks can have a direct link to health and safety as they have the potential to put employees at risk. For instance, if malware was to infect an emergency shutdown system in a nuclear plant, the damage to staff and the public could be catastrophic.

In one of the most infamous attacks of 2014, cyber criminals manipulated and disrupted control systems at a German steel works to such a degree that a blast furnace could not shut down properly. While the attack was carried out through electronic spearphishing, it had a physical impact that undoubtedly impacted staff.

To help educate organisations on the risks that disruption like this can pose to health and safety, the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated OG86, its Operational Guidance for Industrial Automation and Control Systems in an effort to mitigate the risks. OG86 outlines the criteria HSE inspectors use when they audit organisations and takes into account that the increasing connection of operational machinery to the internet is making it easier for cyber criminals to carry out attacks that have implications for health and safety.

The countermeasures needed to address low levels of cyber-security risk are based on the National Cyber Security Centre’s basic Cyber Assessment Framework (CAF) profile. Closely aligned with the EU Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive, it explains how HSE inspectors will gain an understanding of the capabilities and maturity of an organisation’s cyber resilience and sets out requirements for organisations to provide effective policies, procedures and controls in their ability to protect against cyber incidents, detect potential incidents, and respond in an appropriate and timely manner

Bringing the NIS Directive into the scope of OG86 is one of the biggest changes to the updated document. By focusing on it, the HSE is encouraging organisations to think more strategically about cyber threats and how to implement a robust security posture. Complying with the guide will help them not only improve their cyber security and limit their exposure to attack, but also pass future HSE audits.

The guidance includes specific information on the workflow inspectors follow to gain an understanding of the capabilities an organisation has in place to protect its systems and networks. They are required to verify the adequacy of the cyber-security management system including competence management, together with the adequacy of countermeasures; for major accident workplaces and operators of essential services covered under the NIS Regulations.

An important first step for organisations preparing to meet the requirements of OG86 is to complete an assessment against the NIS CAF and determine the organisational structure they should have in place to develop an effective cyber-risk management process. This covers roles and responsibilities, board direction, procedural requirements, risk management process, asset management, vulnerability management, backup procedures and also the technical controls implemented to reduce the risk of cyber incidents and increase system resiliency and availability.

When the CAF is complete, organisational structures are in place and security gaps are understood, it’s important to understand what assets an organisation has on its network and use this information to identify both Major Accident and Loss of Essential Services assets. This helps to drive regulatory compliance and allows optimum exploitation of resources.

One of the key elements of OG86 is the importance it places on security network monitoring of critical assets and having countermeasures in place to detect and prevent common cyber attacks. Ensuring all assets are inventoried and not providing an unmonitored entry point for cyber criminals is essential.

Stefan Liversidge is a technical sales engineer with Nozomi Networks.


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Publicado el 04/05/2020 en security, manufacturing, comment, cyber-security, manufacturing, industry 4.0, health and safety

Can you ‘lift and shift’ your business in response to challenges like Covid-19?



On March 16, less than a week after it declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced it was joining forces with the International Chamber of Commerce to mobilise the global business community.

“All businesses have a key role to play in minimising the likelihood of transmission and impact on society,” the two organisations said in a joint statement. “Early, bold and effective action will reduce short-term risks to employees and long-term costs to businesses and the economy.”

This collaboration will be welcome news to many business leaders, who are dedicated to protecting worker safety and ensuring business continuity, at a time of great uncertainty and against a constantly changing backdrop of new developments and emerging insights. To help them in their decision-making, the WHO and ICC will be issuing regular advisory updates to the ICC’s worldwide network of 45 million businesses and surveying its members in order to map the global business response to the pandemic.

In the manufacturing sector in particular, these measures tally closely with what executives say they need, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Manufacturers - trustworthy health information and reliable guidance on what other firms are doing. But more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of the survey’s 588 respondents still expect the uncertainty created by Covid-19 to have a negative financial impact on their business. More than half (53 per cent), meanwhile, anticipate a change in their operations in the coming months as a result.

To understand what those changes might – or should – look like, it’s worth reviewing the economic impact that manufacturing businesses have felt so far during this crisis.

Initially, the economic shocks were primarily supply-chain related. During January and February, factory closures and paralysed container ports in China caused exports to plummet, leaving manufacturers in other parts of the world facing long waits for vital parts and materials. While there are signs that productivity in China has started to rally, trade experts have warned that delays and shortages are likely to continue for some time.

According to an early March survey from the Institute for Supply Management, nearly 75 per cent of companies polled reported supply chain disruptions in some capacity due to the coronavirus outbreak. Almost six out of ten (57 per cent) noted longer lead times for tier-1 China-sourced components, with average lead times more than doubling compared to the end of 2019. Notably, 44 per cent said they do not have a plan in place to address supply chain disruption from China - perhaps making this a good place to start with operational changes, supported by new technologies.

In March, many manufacturers were forced to contend with their own shutdowns as the virus spread to other regions of the world. In Europe, several leading automotive OEMs have been forced to temporarily close their factories including Fiat Chrysler, Renault and Peugeot.

In part, that’s because vital components from China aren’t arriving on time, but it’s also because workers are being ordered to stay at home - in the hard-hit industrial hub of northern Italy, for example. This strongly suggests a need to make manufacturing a more ‘lift and shift’ affair, where possible, so that work can be diverted to teams working on sites in other regions. 

Finally, many manufacturers anticipate a profound demand shock further down the line, as consumers reign in their spending sharply, in response to the social distancing that involves extended periods at home and curtailed working hours. Economists are watching the situation in Europe and the United States with concern, for signs of a global recession. Either way, manufacturers may need to keep a close eye on demand patterns and tweak production schedules in the months ahead.

Despite these impacts, and a rather negative outlook, there is still much manufacturers can do to cope better in the current situation - as well as prepare for others that may arise in future.

After all, ‘expecting the unexpected’ is already a proven strategy for success in manufacturing, where carefully laid plans can quickly and easily be thrown off-course by an extreme weather event, a trade war, a labour dispute, a supplier bankruptcy or, indeed, a global pandemic.

Fortunately, modern technologies provide several ways for manufacturing companies to mount rapid, robust responses to the challenging situations that arise in a crisis.

With cloud technology, vital data is held in a centralised location, accessible to all authorised users, regardless of their individual location. In a time of crisis, that means that manufacturing-firm employees can work together to tackle issues that arise, such as supply-chain shocks when a supplier is unable to deliver. In this case, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) design and management platform can provide a secure solution for staff to collaborate on designs, and reallocate engineering resources to get projects completed and keep a record of what decisions were made, and why – all from a web browser. With a SaaS subscription model, new users can be added and be up and running in minutes, and the number of seats can be scaled up or down, according to requirements.

If manufacturing processes needed to be shifted from one site to another in response to a crisis, augmented and mixed reality (AR/MR) solutions are a valuable weapon in getting workers up to speed on unfamiliar tasks or processes. The latest applications allow experts to make a video of themselves performing a work task via an AR/MR headset, in which they explain what they are doing, step by step. Once the procedure has been captured in this way, it can be edited, enhanced and then shared with employees who need to learn that task. At Sysmex America, a manufacturer of clinical laboratory equipment, lab technicians are guided through daily set-up procedures for blood-sample analysis machines. This capability allowed the company to provide a remote service offering to approximately 66 per cent of its total customer base, resulting in maximised instrument uptime and service efficiency.

When business travel is discouraged or out of the question, and field staff might not be able to support products locally, technology increasingly provides a way to deliver trouble-shooting services remotely. Remote-assistance applications can allow two people in different locations - a remote expert and a factory-floor engineer, for example - to share a live, real-time view of the same environment, such as a malfunctioning machine. Each participant can mark up that view with simple annotations to highlight an issue or suggest the next check or adjustment that should be made. Japanese automotive giant Toyota, for example, uses Vuforia Chalk to ensure that regional staff and subcontractors install and maintain production lines correctly and safely.

In conclusion, while things may feel pretty volatile right now, it’s never too early for manufacturers to start thinking about what measures might be taken to alleviate immediate problems and be more prepared to prevent them in future.

As the authors of a recent article in the Harvard Business Review point out: “Covid-19 is not a one-off challenge. We should expect additional phases to the current epidemic and additional epidemics in the future.” They continue: “Preparing now for the next crisis (or the next phase of the current crisis) is likely to be much more effective than an ad hoc, reactive response when the crisis actually hits.”

Nick Leeder CEng MIET is vice-president, digital transformation solutions – field at PTC. During the current coronavirus crisis, PTC is offering its support to the manufacturing community worldwide by making its Vuforia Chalk remote-assistance platform freely available to any organisation that requires help in dealing with the challenge of closed-down offices and factories.

Leer más



On March 16, less than a week after it declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced it was joining forces with the International Chamber of Commerce to mobilise the global business community.

“All businesses have a key role to play in minimising the likelihood of transmission and impact on society,” the two organisations said in a joint statement. “Early, bold and effective action will reduce short-term risks to employees and long-term costs to businesses and the economy.”

This collaboration will be welcome news to many business leaders, who are dedicated to protecting worker safety and ensuring business continuity, at a time of great uncertainty and against a constantly changing backdrop of new developments and emerging insights. To help them in their decision-making, the WHO and ICC will be issuing regular advisory updates to the ICC’s worldwide network of 45 million businesses and surveying its members in order to map the global business response to the pandemic.

In the manufacturing sector in particular, these measures tally closely with what executives say they need, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Manufacturers - trustworthy health information and reliable guidance on what other firms are doing. But more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of the survey’s 588 respondents still expect the uncertainty created by Covid-19 to have a negative financial impact on their business. More than half (53 per cent), meanwhile, anticipate a change in their operations in the coming months as a result.

To understand what those changes might – or should – look like, it’s worth reviewing the economic impact that manufacturing businesses have felt so far during this crisis.

Initially, the economic shocks were primarily supply-chain related. During January and February, factory closures and paralysed container ports in China caused exports to plummet, leaving manufacturers in other parts of the world facing long waits for vital parts and materials. While there are signs that productivity in China has started to rally, trade experts have warned that delays and shortages are likely to continue for some time.

According to an early March survey from the Institute for Supply Management, nearly 75 per cent of companies polled reported supply chain disruptions in some capacity due to the coronavirus outbreak. Almost six out of ten (57 per cent) noted longer lead times for tier-1 China-sourced components, with average lead times more than doubling compared to the end of 2019. Notably, 44 per cent said they do not have a plan in place to address supply chain disruption from China - perhaps making this a good place to start with operational changes, supported by new technologies.

In March, many manufacturers were forced to contend with their own shutdowns as the virus spread to other regions of the world. In Europe, several leading automotive OEMs have been forced to temporarily close their factories including Fiat Chrysler, Renault and Peugeot.

In part, that’s because vital components from China aren’t arriving on time, but it’s also because workers are being ordered to stay at home - in the hard-hit industrial hub of northern Italy, for example. This strongly suggests a need to make manufacturing a more ‘lift and shift’ affair, where possible, so that work can be diverted to teams working on sites in other regions. 

Finally, many manufacturers anticipate a profound demand shock further down the line, as consumers reign in their spending sharply, in response to the social distancing that involves extended periods at home and curtailed working hours. Economists are watching the situation in Europe and the United States with concern, for signs of a global recession. Either way, manufacturers may need to keep a close eye on demand patterns and tweak production schedules in the months ahead.

Despite these impacts, and a rather negative outlook, there is still much manufacturers can do to cope better in the current situation - as well as prepare for others that may arise in future.

After all, ‘expecting the unexpected’ is already a proven strategy for success in manufacturing, where carefully laid plans can quickly and easily be thrown off-course by an extreme weather event, a trade war, a labour dispute, a supplier bankruptcy or, indeed, a global pandemic.

Fortunately, modern technologies provide several ways for manufacturing companies to mount rapid, robust responses to the challenging situations that arise in a crisis.

With cloud technology, vital data is held in a centralised location, accessible to all authorised users, regardless of their individual location. In a time of crisis, that means that manufacturing-firm employees can work together to tackle issues that arise, such as supply-chain shocks when a supplier is unable to deliver. In this case, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) design and management platform can provide a secure solution for staff to collaborate on designs, and reallocate engineering resources to get projects completed and keep a record of what decisions were made, and why – all from a web browser. With a SaaS subscription model, new users can be added and be up and running in minutes, and the number of seats can be scaled up or down, according to requirements.

If manufacturing processes needed to be shifted from one site to another in response to a crisis, augmented and mixed reality (AR/MR) solutions are a valuable weapon in getting workers up to speed on unfamiliar tasks or processes. The latest applications allow experts to make a video of themselves performing a work task via an AR/MR headset, in which they explain what they are doing, step by step. Once the procedure has been captured in this way, it can be edited, enhanced and then shared with employees who need to learn that task. At Sysmex America, a manufacturer of clinical laboratory equipment, lab technicians are guided through daily set-up procedures for blood-sample analysis machines. This capability allowed the company to provide a remote service offering to approximately 66 per cent of its total customer base, resulting in maximised instrument uptime and service efficiency.

When business travel is discouraged or out of the question, and field staff might not be able to support products locally, technology increasingly provides a way to deliver trouble-shooting services remotely. Remote-assistance applications can allow two people in different locations - a remote expert and a factory-floor engineer, for example - to share a live, real-time view of the same environment, such as a malfunctioning machine. Each participant can mark up that view with simple annotations to highlight an issue or suggest the next check or adjustment that should be made. Japanese automotive giant Toyota, for example, uses Vuforia Chalk to ensure that regional staff and subcontractors install and maintain production lines correctly and safely.

In conclusion, while things may feel pretty volatile right now, it’s never too early for manufacturers to start thinking about what measures might be taken to alleviate immediate problems and be more prepared to prevent them in future.

As the authors of a recent article in the Harvard Business Review point out: “Covid-19 is not a one-off challenge. We should expect additional phases to the current epidemic and additional epidemics in the future.” They continue: “Preparing now for the next crisis (or the next phase of the current crisis) is likely to be much more effective than an ad hoc, reactive response when the crisis actually hits.”

Nick Leeder CEng MIET is vice-president, digital transformation solutions – field at PTC. During the current coronavirus crisis, PTC is offering its support to the manufacturing community worldwide by making its Vuforia Chalk remote-assistance platform freely available to any organisation that requires help in dealing with the challenge of closed-down offices and factories.


Leer más

Publicado el 25/03/2020 en manufacturing, manufacturing industries, business continuity and recovery, coronavirus, manufacturing, industry 4.0, comment

How bringing a sense of play to work could benefit Industry 4.0



It may seem surprising, but many of the problems that users encounter when interacting with industrial equipment are the same as those players must tackle in games. What’s the most cost-effective way of managing resources through the different stages of production? It’s a strategy game! How can AGVs be faster and more efficient in moving items from point A to point B? It’s a racing game!

One area where the principles of gamification are being successfully applied is in the creation of highly interactive human-machine interfaces.

Traditionally, manufacturing processes centre on the machines and their requirements to optimise productivity, quality and profit. On the other hand, gamification processes centre on users and their interests. Games stimulate players’ attention with a combination of attractive design and highly interactive mechanisms and the user is constantly asked to input orders and react to environmental changes.

The principles of gamification are rooted in concepts from behavioural and motivational psychology and are proven to raise users’ attention spans and alleviate cognitive fatigue. When transferred to a factory setting, this may result in higher levels of job satisfaction, improved quality of work and increased safety. Also, according to the Industrial Psychiatry Journal, the more alert a user is, the less likely they are to make mistakes.

For these reasons, gamification can be useful when designing HMIs for the factory floor. As with games, HMIs can offer visual and audible feedback in response to the user’s input. The system can also reward the user with a series of points after a correct action, measure them against a set daily target, or suggest a following action after a task has been successfully completed.

Centigrade, a German design engineering company, is already offering tailored gamified software for HMIs that incorporates all of these techniques. At the Hannover Messe 2015 exhibition, Centrigrade unveiled its collaboration with SEW-EURODRIVE, a leader in industrial drive technology. The companies devised a gamified control system for autonomous guided vehicles responsible for transporting boxes in a factory. The user interface presented a bird’s eye view of the carrier boxes in the form of a real-time video stream. Augmented reality added status information for each box, inviting the user to line-up the boxes with drag-and-drop actions, not unlike in a video game.

This collaboration demonstrated that forward-thinking manufacturers already understand the potential of gamification in real-life applications.

Resource management is the basis of many strategy games, such as SimCity, where players must develop a city, planning roads and infrastructure, while sticking to a budget. A distinctive feature of these games is that one action from the user triggers a chain of events. For example, if the player starts building infrastructures but miscalculates the required funding, strikes will ensue.

The same principle can work on a production line where one action triggers a series of automatisms. If an operator orders the loading of a product into a carrier box, the input will translate this into a chain of commands: “Call a mobile vehicle”; “Load the item into the carrier box”; “Deliver the item to its target destination”; “Unload”; “Return the vehicle to the original position” and so on.

Gamification can be another way in which digitalised manufacturing uses data from the Internet of Things to optimise manufacturing processes. As with other Industry 4.0 technologies, by enlisting the support of a dedicated parts supplier it could be possible to revamp legacy equipment with smart sensors, add communication capabilities, or plug and play technologies and introduce new gamified interfaces to factories.

This applies whether they are is used to boost employee morale, reduce error rates and increase production efficiency, or ease the programming of autonomous vehicles in a factory.

Neil Ballinger is head of EMEA sales at automation parts supplier EU Automation.

Leer más



It may seem surprising, but many of the problems that users encounter when interacting with industrial equipment are the same as those players must tackle in games. What’s the most cost-effective way of managing resources through the different stages of production? It’s a strategy game! How can AGVs be faster and more efficient in moving items from point A to point B? It’s a racing game!

One area where the principles of gamification are being successfully applied is in the creation of highly interactive human-machine interfaces.

Traditionally, manufacturing processes centre on the machines and their requirements to optimise productivity, quality and profit. On the other hand, gamification processes centre on users and their interests. Games stimulate players’ attention with a combination of attractive design and highly interactive mechanisms and the user is constantly asked to input orders and react to environmental changes.

The principles of gamification are rooted in concepts from behavioural and motivational psychology and are proven to raise users’ attention spans and alleviate cognitive fatigue. When transferred to a factory setting, this may result in higher levels of job satisfaction, improved quality of work and increased safety. Also, according to the Industrial Psychiatry Journal, the more alert a user is, the less likely they are to make mistakes.

For these reasons, gamification can be useful when designing HMIs for the factory floor. As with games, HMIs can offer visual and audible feedback in response to the user’s input. The system can also reward the user with a series of points after a correct action, measure them against a set daily target, or suggest a following action after a task has been successfully completed.

Centigrade, a German design engineering company, is already offering tailored gamified software for HMIs that incorporates all of these techniques. At the Hannover Messe 2015 exhibition, Centrigrade unveiled its collaboration with SEW-EURODRIVE, a leader in industrial drive technology. The companies devised a gamified control system for autonomous guided vehicles responsible for transporting boxes in a factory. The user interface presented a bird’s eye view of the carrier boxes in the form of a real-time video stream. Augmented reality added status information for each box, inviting the user to line-up the boxes with drag-and-drop actions, not unlike in a video game.

This collaboration demonstrated that forward-thinking manufacturers already understand the potential of gamification in real-life applications.

Resource management is the basis of many strategy games, such as SimCity, where players must develop a city, planning roads and infrastructure, while sticking to a budget. A distinctive feature of these games is that one action from the user triggers a chain of events. For example, if the player starts building infrastructures but miscalculates the required funding, strikes will ensue.

The same principle can work on a production line where one action triggers a series of automatisms. If an operator orders the loading of a product into a carrier box, the input will translate this into a chain of commands: “Call a mobile vehicle”; “Load the item into the carrier box”; “Deliver the item to its target destination”; “Unload”; “Return the vehicle to the original position” and so on.

Gamification can be another way in which digitalised manufacturing uses data from the Internet of Things to optimise manufacturing processes. As with other Industry 4.0 technologies, by enlisting the support of a dedicated parts supplier it could be possible to revamp legacy equipment with smart sensors, add communication capabilities, or plug and play technologies and introduce new gamified interfaces to factories.

This applies whether they are is used to boost employee morale, reduce error rates and increase production efficiency, or ease the programming of autonomous vehicles in a factory.

Neil Ballinger is head of EMEA sales at automation parts supplier EU Automation.


Leer más

Publicado el 02/03/2020 en design and production, information and communications, comment, industry 4.0, gaming

Today’s factory and the road to the future



As the need for industrial robotic automation advances, sensing technology will continue to be the foundation for data collection that will help transform manufacturing floors into connected, cost effective, and reliable facilities.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is an ecosystem of devices, embedded with electronics, actuators, sensors, and connectivity. It brings “dumb” devices to a smart level where they can participate in the digital world. Sensors and associated interconnects are critical parts of any IIoT implementation.

As the IIoT smart factory experience evolves, it will run on data provided by sensors. This article explores some of the sensors, connectors, antennas and lighting solutions to meet those requirements.

Join this webinar to:

  • Learn which new types of connectivity are vital to IIoT
  • Understand why sensors are vital to the next generation of data-driven technology

Recorded on Thursday 5th March 2020 sign up to watch on demand - register your interest

This free webinar is available for IET members and non-members.

Should you have any specific query please email Alex Macleod at amacleod@theiet.org 

Preview Video

This short video 'The Future of How Things Are Made' gives you a feel for what this webinar will cover: 

 

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As the need for industrial robotic automation advances, sensing technology will continue to be the foundation for data collection that will help transform manufacturing floors into connected, cost effective, and reliable facilities.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is an ecosystem of devices, embedded with electronics, actuators, sensors, and connectivity. It brings “dumb” devices to a smart level where they can participate in the digital world. Sensors and associated interconnects are critical parts of any IIoT implementation.

As the IIoT smart factory experience evolves, it will run on data provided by sensors. This article explores some of the sensors, connectors, antennas and lighting solutions to meet those requirements.

Join this webinar to:

  • Learn which new types of connectivity are vital to IIoT
  • Understand why sensors are vital to the next generation of data-driven technology

Recorded on Thursday 5th March 2020 sign up to watch on demand - register your interest

This free webinar is available for IET members and non-members.

Should you have any specific query please email Alex Macleod at amacleod@theiet.org 

Preview Video

This short video 'The Future of How Things Are Made' gives you a feel for what this webinar will cover: 

 


Leer más

Publicado el 26/02/2020 en control and automation, manufacturing, manufacturing industries, robotics, iot, industry 4.0, webinar, sponsored

IET Promoted - Manufacturing and Automation at Smart Factory Expo 2019



The IET's exhibition stand, located in the heart of the Smart Factory Expo alongside Siemens, Mazak, RS Components and Dell Technologies, enjoyed a constant stream of delegates, visitors and exhibitors. There was no shortage of talking points and hot topics to discuss. Find out what people had to say by watching these video shorts covering the adoption & implementation of digital technology, the trends of change in manufacturing job roles, and improving productivity. Thanks to everyone who agreed to take part.

In Conversation with Marcus Burton MBE on Manufacturing

Adopting digital technologies has been key to advancing UK manufacturing. We spoke to Marcus Burton MBE, the recent winner of the Mensworth Gold Medal at the IET’s Achievement Awards, to get his perspective on both the challenges and opportunities the future of manufacturing holds.

Where to start when adopting digital technologies within your manufacturing business?

Manufacturers are increasingly turning to digital technologies to improve their productivity. We spoke to committee executives of IET's Design & Manufacturing sector Jeremy Hadall (chair) and John Patsavellas, plus other leading industry experts, to get their advice on where manufacturers, who are keen to explore the opportunities, should start their journey.

How will manufacturing engineering job roles change in the future?

How will manufacturing engineering job roles change in the future? Which skills will manufacturing engineers need to see their careers rise, shine and thrive? We spoke to Jeremy Hadall, Dr Graham Herries and other leading industry experts to get their take on what the future may hold.

Which technologies will benefit our manufacturing business the most?

The rise in adoption of a vast range of digital technologies within manufacturing industry is enabling owners, managers and engineers alike to improve productivity, products and profits. But which technologies are providing the biggest boost? We spoke to leading industry experts to get their take on the tech.

Passionate about manufacturing, the IET is delighted to champion the sector, and the many men & women working in it to engineer a better world. Find out what the IET has to offer manufacturing champions by visiting this page on our website.

Leer más



The IET's exhibition stand, located in the heart of the Smart Factory Expo alongside Siemens, Mazak, RS Components and Dell Technologies, enjoyed a constant stream of delegates, visitors and exhibitors. There was no shortage of talking points and hot topics to discuss. Find out what people had to say by watching these video shorts covering the adoption & implementation of digital technology, the trends of change in manufacturing job roles, and improving productivity. Thanks to everyone who agreed to take part.

In Conversation with Marcus Burton MBE on Manufacturing

Adopting digital technologies has been key to advancing UK manufacturing. We spoke to Marcus Burton MBE, the recent winner of the Mensworth Gold Medal at the IET’s Achievement Awards, to get his perspective on both the challenges and opportunities the future of manufacturing holds.

Where to start when adopting digital technologies within your manufacturing business?

Manufacturers are increasingly turning to digital technologies to improve their productivity. We spoke to committee executives of IET's Design & Manufacturing sector Jeremy Hadall (chair) and John Patsavellas, plus other leading industry experts, to get their advice on where manufacturers, who are keen to explore the opportunities, should start their journey.

How will manufacturing engineering job roles change in the future?

How will manufacturing engineering job roles change in the future? Which skills will manufacturing engineers need to see their careers rise, shine and thrive? We spoke to Jeremy Hadall, Dr Graham Herries and other leading industry experts to get their take on what the future may hold.

Which technologies will benefit our manufacturing business the most?

The rise in adoption of a vast range of digital technologies within manufacturing industry is enabling owners, managers and engineers alike to improve productivity, products and profits. But which technologies are providing the biggest boost? We spoke to leading industry experts to get their take on the tech.

Passionate about manufacturing, the IET is delighted to champion the sector, and the many men & women working in it to engineer a better world. Find out what the IET has to offer manufacturing champions by visiting this page on our website.


Leer más

Publicado el 17/02/2020 en manufacturing, robotics, control and automation, manufacturing industries, iiot, industry 4.0, digital manufacturing, sponsored

Whatever happened to the Fourth Industrial Revolution?



It’s nearly ten years since Industry 4.0, also known as I4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, was first hailed as the next significant transformation in manufacturing. The digital revolution would be all-consuming, we were told, covering robotics, advanced manufacturing processes such as 3D printing and the digitisation of the factory and the supply chain.

Where are we now, as we approach the year 2020, and what does the future hold for the revolution?

Since I4.0 arrived on the scene, companies have experimented and piloted digital technologies such as AI, machine-learning and Internet of Things devices. There are many examples of these new technologies being put to good use: digital twins and digital representations of the physical manufacturing processes are being used to refine and improve existing processes, as well as to design radically different manufacturing approaches. Work by my company PA Consulting at a leading pharmaceutical manufacturer has achieved efficiency improvements of between 10 and 20 per cent by using machine learning and AI through digital representations of the physical processes.

However, very few companies, especially in the UK, have translated these into practical solutions in their factories. A recent survey by PA of smart supply chains and manufacturing found that although 99 per cent of manufacturing companies have started the digitisation journey, some 70 per cent say their plans are only at a basic or developing stage. Why have so many tested the technologies but not adopted them more widely to revolutionise their industry?

The answer seems to be that although many companies have piloted and tested different I4.0 technologies, they have not built a clear vision of how they want to use them to transform manufacturing across their business. We see pockets of success and capability, but not a transformed business. What sets the more successful companies apart is that they are systematically looking at how they roll out the technologies across their operations. As an example, a life sciences company we worked with has recently agreed a clear I4.0 vision for its supply chain and manufacturing and this is being used to focus and accelerate delivery of initiatives across the business.

Legacy IT is also becoming a consistent challenge for manufacturers whose ageing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems cannot cope with the cloud-based digital technologies that are powering I4.0. A good example is an aerospace company which has identified that legacy ERP and manufacturing execution (MES) systems and restrictions on cloud computing are hindering rollout of I4.0 technologies. ERP vendors are waking up to this, but it has taken nearly five years for them to update their solutions and implementation is still too slow to support the agility and flexibility required. That means there is more to be done to ensure manufacturers can exploit data and systems and integrate new solutions with legacy systems so they can use their data to derive insights.

The other major challenge that organisations have faced is the availability of the people and talent needed to develop the new technologies and support the capability development of the existing workforce. The best performers have data scientists working alongside engineers and production operators to digitise the manufacturing process, but a fundamental shift in velocity will be required to train enough experts to seize the opportunities that are now opening up.

What do the next ten years hold for I4.0? We believe that many of the bedrock capabilities and technologies have been tested in organisations and that the next decade will be all about translating the promise into a fundamental transformation of manufacturing and its supply chains.

Addressing the barriers to adoption is within the grasp of manufacturing organisations, but a clear vision is needed of where they want to be in five years’ time. That means deciding whether the focus will be on driving existing performance, building connectivity across the supply chain or transforming to more agile and responsive manufacturing that is in total sync with customer needs. It will require IT departments to actively embrace cloud and digital technologies to support supply chain and manufacturing business to transform, as well as needing HR to establish effective partnerships with operations to address the talent gap.

While I4.0 progress has been slow over the last ten years, there is an argument that being late to the game may not be a bad thing. It means companies can piggyback off the testing and investment made by others, but they will need to act fast, bring the technology into the mainstream and make manufacturing an exciting and attractive career option.

Tim Lawrence is head of manufacturing at PA Consulting.

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It’s nearly ten years since Industry 4.0, also known as I4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, was first hailed as the next significant transformation in manufacturing. The digital revolution would be all-consuming, we were told, covering robotics, advanced manufacturing processes such as 3D printing and the digitisation of the factory and the supply chain.

Where are we now, as we approach the year 2020, and what does the future hold for the revolution?

Since I4.0 arrived on the scene, companies have experimented and piloted digital technologies such as AI, machine-learning and Internet of Things devices. There are many examples of these new technologies being put to good use: digital twins and digital representations of the physical manufacturing processes are being used to refine and improve existing processes, as well as to design radically different manufacturing approaches. Work by my company PA Consulting at a leading pharmaceutical manufacturer has achieved efficiency improvements of between 10 and 20 per cent by using machine learning and AI through digital representations of the physical processes.

However, very few companies, especially in the UK, have translated these into practical solutions in their factories. A recent survey by PA of smart supply chains and manufacturing found that although 99 per cent of manufacturing companies have started the digitisation journey, some 70 per cent say their plans are only at a basic or developing stage. Why have so many tested the technologies but not adopted them more widely to revolutionise their industry?

The answer seems to be that although many companies have piloted and tested different I4.0 technologies, they have not built a clear vision of how they want to use them to transform manufacturing across their business. We see pockets of success and capability, but not a transformed business. What sets the more successful companies apart is that they are systematically looking at how they roll out the technologies across their operations. As an example, a life sciences company we worked with has recently agreed a clear I4.0 vision for its supply chain and manufacturing and this is being used to focus and accelerate delivery of initiatives across the business.

Legacy IT is also becoming a consistent challenge for manufacturers whose ageing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems cannot cope with the cloud-based digital technologies that are powering I4.0. A good example is an aerospace company which has identified that legacy ERP and manufacturing execution (MES) systems and restrictions on cloud computing are hindering rollout of I4.0 technologies. ERP vendors are waking up to this, but it has taken nearly five years for them to update their solutions and implementation is still too slow to support the agility and flexibility required. That means there is more to be done to ensure manufacturers can exploit data and systems and integrate new solutions with legacy systems so they can use their data to derive insights.

The other major challenge that organisations have faced is the availability of the people and talent needed to develop the new technologies and support the capability development of the existing workforce. The best performers have data scientists working alongside engineers and production operators to digitise the manufacturing process, but a fundamental shift in velocity will be required to train enough experts to seize the opportunities that are now opening up.

What do the next ten years hold for I4.0? We believe that many of the bedrock capabilities and technologies have been tested in organisations and that the next decade will be all about translating the promise into a fundamental transformation of manufacturing and its supply chains.

Addressing the barriers to adoption is within the grasp of manufacturing organisations, but a clear vision is needed of where they want to be in five years’ time. That means deciding whether the focus will be on driving existing performance, building connectivity across the supply chain or transforming to more agile and responsive manufacturing that is in total sync with customer needs. It will require IT departments to actively embrace cloud and digital technologies to support supply chain and manufacturing business to transform, as well as needing HR to establish effective partnerships with operations to address the talent gap.

While I4.0 progress has been slow over the last ten years, there is an argument that being late to the game may not be a bad thing. It means companies can piggyback off the testing and investment made by others, but they will need to act fast, bring the technology into the mainstream and make manufacturing an exciting and attractive career option.

Tim Lawrence is head of manufacturing at PA Consulting.


Leer más

Publicado el 31/10/2019 en manufacturing, control and automation, manufacturing industries, industry 4.0, manufacturing, comment, volume 14 issue 11 12

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