How will cloud technology shape the engineering sector?
2016 was a year of firsts, as well as a year of innovation; virtual reality became one of the most popular products, self driving cars came one step closer to being the norm on the road, and the cloud becomes one of the most used computing systems across the globe.
The cloud allows people from all around the world to share files, programs, and other useful resources to computers and other devices around the world. Companies such as Google and Apple implement it in the services that they deliver, but how will the cloud and its capabilities shape the engineering sector in the years to come?
Engineering in the present day
In the UK, the engineering sector is one of the largest and most productive. In 2016 alone, the entire sector generated more than 27 percent of GDP in the UK, which was equivalent to £445.6 billion. Obviously, there was a lot of scepticism in the middle of last year due to the result that the UK voted to leave the EU in the referendum, but there have been some upturns.
In the last quarter, Nissan stated that they were building the newest car models – the Qashqai and the X-Trail – in their factory in Sunderland, which put aside any questions regarding whether or not Nissan would remove operations altogether in the UK.
There are a lot of sceptics surrounding the engineering sector in the UK, from factory workers to industry leaders, but only time will tell. The future is also bright in the engineering sector with the advancements of robotics, which could lead to a massive surge in manufacturing, quality control, as well as being able to manage each step of the production line with ease.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is a series of programs, data, and software that enables users to access it and share resources, information, and important programs with other users. It has been very popular with Apple, with their iCloud service, which enables Apple users to sign up and back up all their data on their iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Mac, as well as being able to access the data from these devices.
As well as this, cloud computing provides a steady platform where you can support applications that can be used by multiple users. This means that, if you have a piece of software that needs to be used my multiple users, you can install the software onto the users’ phones, link to the cloud, and then the users will be able to provide information simultaneously; in a retail setting, this type of cloud-based application would be ideal.
Is cloud computing paving its way into engineering?
The short answer of this is yes; as new technologies are being introduced to the manufacturing line, the cloud is gradually becoming more involved. It’s even been said that by the year 2020, over 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet. Some people may be thinking how the cloud will make its mark in the engineering sector, but we feel it makes a fair few.
Cloud computing involves the use of supercomputers that have thousands of times the processing power of standard computers, meaning that any form of CAD/CAM can be completed more efficiently than ever before. As well as this, transferring the data across the assembly line will be instantaneous, as everyone will be able to have access to it all at once, as opposed to email trails and file transfers.
In addition to this, implementing cloud based technology will mean that businesses and companies around the world will be able to focus on their own growing and can easily and efficiently implement new strategies quicker. If it is an international company – for example, Nissan – communication between the UK factories and others around the world will be quicker, meaning that collaboration will be greatly supported on an industrial scale.
It’s difficult to say precisely how cloud computing will change the landscape of the engineering sector. As computers become faster and with smartphones becoming increasingly more popular than computers themselves, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing cloud-based technologies evolving across engineering firms and being implemented across the industry.
By Simon Taylor, European Springs
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IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.