Editor's comment: Staying one step ahead

With the festive frivolities now a distant memory, we’re stepping into a new year of new normality. Recent events around the world have me shaking my head in disbelief, so without setting any personal resolutions, I’m continuing my mantra of fitness, diet, healthy food and being nicer.

Changes - enforced or otherwise - have been made in the way we now do business with the rest of the world. They are steps that could see UK PLC manufacturing more of the kind of products this once great industrial superpower used to make – something us engineers will take some comfort from in what has been a long and divisive period in our economic history.

Keeping pace will require greater productivity and flexibility - and this is where automation can help. But what does it really mean for aerospace and how are robots and collaborative robots (or cobots) involved?

There are already a wide range of applications where they are suitable - from material handling through to surface treatment and composite materials production. Most manufacturers and suppliers have areas of their processes that can be vastly improved by automation - it’s just a matter of spotting it.

Clearly, we’re now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – and it’s already transforming the way we operate, opening new possibilities for faster production and more informed decision-making. It’s bringing together automated machinery, including robots with artificial intelligence and connectivity to allow smart production decisions to be made in reaction to changing requirements.

I wish you all a successful and prosperous 2023. Just like the old adage ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, taking the first step towards automation can unlock new opportunities for improved performance and productivity (see p.28 of this issue for more on automation).

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