The industrial machinery sector is changing rapidly. Digitalisation is providing a number of major opportunities to develop better, faster and cheaper manufacturing services. At the same time, however, the sector is feeling a number of different pressures:
- Complexity is the new normal in machine design. More and more machines contain software as well as moving parts. Integrating software and hardware is not a simple process. Commissioning these complex machines is difficult
- Customers are becoming more demanding. Businesses are demanding faster delivery times, higher quality and customized production, and at the same time becoming more price sensitive
Digitalisation is the answer to many of today’s industrial challenges. It can deliver flexibility and rapid design. It can enable better management of industrial processes. But most of all it can deliver increases in productivity and quality. But what does that mean in reality? Some of the big opportunities include:
- Virtual modelling of proposed new machinery
- Virtual modelling of changes to production lines, such as order sizes, changes to raw materials and even ambient temperature
- Digital twins and “virtual” commissioning – the ability to test a new system with a digital model rather than physical equipment
- Using data to deliver increased productivity through sensors connected to the Internet of Things which enable predictive maintenance
- The ability to manage the whole manufacturing process, from end-to-end by collecting and tracking data along the whole of the production line
- New materials and new techniques such as additive manufacturing and 3D printing
In September 2019 a dozen senior digitisation, innovation and IT professionals met at the Goring Hotel in central London to discuss this crucial issue. At this meeting, sponsored by industrial automation specialists Siemens, several major sectors of the UK industrial economy were represented, including packaging, printing, aerospace, industrial machinery and construction, ensuring a practical and wide-ranging discussion.
Download the report to read the outcome of the debate.