Look to the future – now!

Here we are at the beginning of 2019 with a growing number of companies announcing their affiliations to forward-thinking suppliers of disruptive technologies designed to lower the cost of manufacture, increase productivity and improve the use of lightweight materials for the future.

The industry is undergoing a creative period where today doesn’t move to tomorrow, but instead tomorrow is reaching back and pulling today towards it. A disruptive innovation-shaped gap in the manufacturing universe is waiting for a disruptive innovation to step forward and fill it.

Will I still be writing about metallics-based subtractive production processes in 10 years’ time? Additive manufacturing only serves to underline a rapid migration away from traditional metallics-based manufacturing techniques. It’s just a matter of time before the production rates of these new processes are improved to match and eventually surpass them.

The current digital landscape is vast and a minefield to navigate. Automation in combination with Industry 4.0 could be viewed as de-skilling the industry, but the most concerning issue is that they may well reduce job opportunities. The hype is almost as unhelpful as the scaremongering. They will certainly impact the labour market, but previous industrial revolutions have increased productivity and employment, so why should the fourth industrial revolution be any different?

Perhaps the future will be more about co-botics with people and robots working together as a ‘system’. Machines can focus on repetitive processes that exploit their capacity for repeatability; humans can focus on design and interpreting information, making use of our creativity and ingenuity.

Should we relish the unfamiliar and embrace the notion of hazard? It’s like being on the fast ride at the funfair - the kind you want to get off because it’s scary, but as soon as you're off you want get straight back on again. Whatever happens, here’s wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year!

Mike Richardson, editor


Aerospace Media

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