Forging the Future: Insights from the Digital Manufacturing Summit in London
On the bright autumn morning of November 23rd, I had the privilege of attending the Digital Manufacturing Summit in the bustling heart of the City of London. The summit, a melting pot of industry leaders, tech enthusiasts and innovators, explored the intricate dance between humanity and technology.
The pervasive theme of collaboration resonated strongly. In a world where individuals often toil in silos within their organisations, the importance of breaking down these barriers became evident. Industry professionals emphasised the need for clear aims and objectives to foster collaboration. Large corporations, laden with bureaucracy, were contrasted with agile startups that injected innovation into the industry's veins. The message from the industry professionals was clear (in my humble, biassed opinion), big organisations have to rely on their SME-laden supply chain to plug the innovation gap.
But the message to drive innovation and collaboration was contrasted against a prevailing concern around the uncertainty of further digital transformation investments. The big promises of Industry 4.0 around the use of IoT, data and cloud computing have been met with even bigger costs, a lack of standardisation, a widening skills gap and technological challenges in integrating legacy systems.
At Quaisr we are convinced that in a world of high energy and supply chain volatility, the consensus is that digital will play a key role. Like most events we have been involved in the last few months, the emphasis is always on low-hanging fruit. The recipe for successful digital project delivery is to always clearly define goals, choose the best purpose technology and then implement it. Sometimes an efficiency-delivering solution can be connecting a trusted first-principle simulation model with live plan data and a “boring” machine learning optimisation algorithm. Unfortunately, a lot of industry leaders are grappling with the fear of missing out and are scrambling to invest in technology first before clearly thinking about the problem. Which brings us to the next topic.
AI, a prominent player in the digital revolution, also took centre stage. Ethical concerns hovered in the air as the summit explored the intersection of technology and humanity. It became evident that as we cautiously advance towards Industry 5.0 where robots and machines work efficiently alongside one another, the current landscape is still rooted in Industry 2.0. The scepticism surrounding General AI (GenAI) was evident, but in the 6 years since the transformative paper “Attention is All You Need” (pun definitely intended), the power of AI has certainly shaken up the manufacturing landscape. While big pharma is using transformers to speed up drug discovery processes, the industry professionals I spoke to agree that choosing the right tools for each use case is essential. Seems like chatting our way out of this one will be hard.
As the summit concluded, I left with a heightened awareness of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the manufacturing industry. The call for collaboration, clarity in objectives, and investment in skills echoed in my mind. It became clear that Quaisr’s company mission, to facilitate the scaling of modelling and simulation efforts across enterprise silos, aligns seamlessly with the evolving landscape of digital manufacturing.
In a world where Industry 5.0 is on the horizon, our journey in the realm of digital transformation has only just begun.