Fri, 23 Aug 2019

Many of the key emerging technologies shaping manufacturing today aren't as new as we might think, with some dating back as far as the 1970s.

However, they have recently become cheap enough to use on a large scale, allowing for game-changing technologies to mature - and for manufacturing to undergo a radical transformation.

This is according to Petra Sundström, Head of Digital Business Development, Crushing & Screening at Sandvik, the Stockholm-based engineering group specialising in tooling, materials technology, mining and construction. The group employs some 42 000 people in 160 countries.

Sundström was speaking at the Digital Difference in Manufacturing convention in Sandviken, Sweden, earlier in May. The event was co-hosted by Microsoft and Sandvik.

Here's how she and her co-panelists see manufacturing changing:

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Blockchain has been predicted as a disruptive technology in several industries, from finance to healthcare and security. Sundström believes it also has the potential to be disruptive in mining, where it can be used to improve transparency in tracing the origins of minerals.

Drones can improve efficiency and capacity across large plants, believes Sundström. They can be used several stages of the manufacturing process - from inspections and quality monitoring to deliveries of spare parts.

Much like a digital model, a so-called digital twin is a dynamic digital representation of a product, service or process.

Using analysis of applicable data, the digital twin allows for the product or system to be monitored and ready for problems before they occur. Design improvements can also be developed continually using various simulations.

Asked how close a digital twin typically was to its "real" counterpart, Siemens Director Utilities Nordic and Baltic Åsa Svedenheim said the virtual model was usually continually evolving and "as good as the data you put in".

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