Autonomous and efficient data-collecting systems will continue to revolutionize engineering industries throughout 2020. The development of these cyber-physical systems is what is enabling the data and sensor-driven efficiency of the fourth industrial revolution forward.
The most cutting-edge of industrial setups in the world are combining cyber-physical systems with large amounts of data, paired with machine learning, in one big interconnected network. This means factories can run with almost no human interference.
Jon Excell, the Editor of The Engineer Magazine, ended his first Editor’s Note of the January 2020 edition by highlighting how engineering innovation and data generation is transforming a plethora of industries.
“Few areas of industrial endeavor are untouched by digitalization...engineering innovation - whether it’s destined for the high seas, the operating theatre or the farmer’s field - is increasingly reliant on the intelligent use of data,” he wrote.
“And, as we look further ahead, the degree to which this drives different sectors to collaborate and learn from each other will surely become one of the defining characteristics of modern engineering.”
To get ahead of the ever-expanding automation industry, the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) delivers industrial automation programs to students around the globe via a unique online methodology. It makes use of live and interactive tutorials, an international pool of expert lecturers, dedicated learning support officers, and state-of-the-art technologies such as hands-on workshops, remote laboratories, and simulation software.
The supportive blended learning model and small class sizes encourage students to advance their technical knowledge and remain engaged in their studies while forming global networks and balancing life and work commitments.
Students can also apply to study applicable degrees in Australia at their campuses in Perth and Melbourne.
A new cohort of industrial automation students are set to familiarize themselves with the Internet of Things and other technologies that are automatizing the workplaces of the future, thanks to EIT.
EIT also offers short-courses that provide working technologists and engineers with professional development opportunities. These courses all have a specific focus and are designed to help engineers upskill and cross-skill to keep their knowledge relevant as technologies continue to develop and change the nature of their work.
For instance, practitioners working in the industry can opt to do the three-month-long Professional Certificate of Competency in Industrial Data Communications to continue to grow their proficiencies with the kinds of technologies that are embodying the fourth industrial revolution. EIT hosts many other professional development courses, including: ‘Practical Machine Learning using Python for Engineers and Technicians’ and ‘Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) & SCADA Systems.’
A technology significantly propped up by the automated systems defining the fourth industrial revolution is industrial robotics.
Robots: From China to the rest of the world
China is a country that is seeing a significant uptake of industrial robotics. The International Federation of Robotics back in 2016 were predicting big things for the year we currently find ourselves in.
They wrote, “China has rapidly become a global leader in automation. From 2018 to 2020, a sales increase between 15 and 20 percent on average per year is possible for industrial robots... China intends to forge ahead and make it into the world’s top 10 most intensively automated nations by 2020. By then, it’s robot density is targeted to rise to 150 units - this being the number of industrial robots per 10,000 employees.”
A report by the Wuhan University of Quality Development Strategy predicts that if China’s goals are met, by 2025, automation will replace at least 5% of the Chinese workforce. The report purportedly surveyed 2,000 companies in China. This trend is expected to be observed at varying levels globally.
The onus is thus on students to grow their skill sets, and pepper their careers with creative and entrepreneurial endeavors within their industry. This will ensure that they stay ahead of the curve as automation replaces the repetitive tasks of the past. The advent of automation was also never intended for the mass-replacement of workers. It is being spearheaded to open up new avenues for workers to do much more meaningful work.
Nonetheless, the need for skills development still stands. Companies have a new responsibility to keep workers skilled, but workers too are expected to keep on developing themselves as the job markets change around automation. Will you rise to the automation challenge in 2020?
“BACK ISSUES |.” The Engineer, www.theengineer.co.uk/back-issues/.
Papadopoulos, Loukia. “By 2025 Nearly 5% of China's Workforce Will Be Replaced by Robots, Reveals New Survey.” Interesting Engineering, Interesting Engineering, 23 Dec. 2019, interestingengineering.com/by-2025-nearly-5-of-chinas-workforce-will-be-replaced-by-robots-reveals-new-survey.