The digitalisation of industry promises a range of benefits ranging from improved data gathering and manipulation, to the deployment of processes that track an asset across its entire lifecycle.
But is digital transformation really providing new tools and ways of thinking, or has little changed?
The Engineer – in partnership with Babcock International – recently held a special roundtable debate exploring this issue in more detail, examining how advances in our ability to gather and analyse data are reshaping manufacturing business models and skills requirements. The results of this session will be published in the March 2020 edition of the magazine.
This prompted us to ask whether the so-called digital revolution is affecting your business and your role? For 41 per cent of respondents, digitalisation is having an impact on the companies they work for and their roles. This left 61 per cent agreeing that the fourth industrial revolution had passed them by.
In the comments that followed, Jack Broughton said: “As I’m sure is the case for most engineers, keeping up to date with digital developments is very difficult. Massive claims are made of potential benefits, but massive costs and operational problems have been incurred in many IT and digitalisation projects.”
“My employer is investigating the possibilities and is focusing on a couple of areas for pilot projects,” said Roger B. “There will certainly be some changes and improvements but ‘transforming’ is far too strong.”
“These things always seem to assume that any manufacturing facility is starting from scratch, with a blank slate,” added Jon. “We’ve 30-year old CNC machines still churning out good parts, and even a few cam-driven machines from the ’40s still in service. There’s no practical way of integrating them effectively into a ‘4.0’ style system. It’s only ever an evolving process, not a step-change.”
What do you think about the so-called digital transformation? Let us know in Comments below (guidelines here).