At a special roundtable event convened by The Engineer and BAE Systems late in 2018 a panel of experts reflected on the challenges and opportunities presented by digital manufacturing technologies.
From cobots to AI, and additive manufacturing to AR, a host of emerging digital technologies promise to make manufacturers more nimble, productive and efficient. But in such a rapidly changing landscape, how can engineering firms ensure they are making the best possible use of the available technologies? And what lessons can be learned from companies that are already deploying these systems?
Until recently, it’s not been easy to answer these questions. While industry leaders and government-led panels have repeatedly made the high-level strategic case for the productivity-boosting benefits of “digital manufacturing”, it has been difficult for the rest of the manufacturing sector to grasp the benefits.
But this is beginning to change. Today, there are numerous tangible examples of technologies that were at the fringes less than a decade ago now playing a key role in manufacturing operations across the industry.
The Engineer, in partnership with BAE Systems, brought together a panel of experts to reflect on this changing landscape, to examine the benefits and challenges of adopting digital manufacturing technologies and to look at how UK industry might accelerate its digital transformation.
Over the following pages, we report on some of the key themes arising from this discussion. As you’ll learn, there are clearly some major challenges ahead – from the requirement to encourage greater cross-sector collaboration to an urgent requirement for entirely new skills. But encouragingly, there’s also a growing understanding of what industry is doing right and how it can rise to these challenges.