The next industrial revolution: do more with less

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar*

Stylish robot assemble

Since the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, we keep producing more, while working less. The digital age speeded up productivity even more. The next industrial revolution is likely to focus not just on doing more faster but also with fewer resources.

We have the same potential for a 10- to 15-fold increase in productivity that we saw in the Industrial Revolution,” says Stefan Heck, consulting professor at Stanford University and co-author of the book, “Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century.” In the Industrial Revolution, “it was labor productivity that improved. Now we can do that with resources. We have been improving in the past, but modestly—less than 1% for water to 1.5% for gas.”

Global population grew fourfold during the 20th century, while the volume of material extracted or harvested rose eightfold, according to “Sustainable Materials Management: Making Better Use of Resources,” a book by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The approximately 2.5 billion people in emerging markets poised to join the middle class by 2030 are likely to increase consumption of everything from food to water to energy.

Doomsday predictions that we’ll run out of oil or other resources aren’t likely because technology keeps presenting new ways to access what we need. However, “we’ve already recovered the best resources,” Dr. Heck says. Those we haven’t yet tapped are “more expensive to recover—they’re deeper, farther offshore and lower quality.”

To meet global demand forecasts for 2030, we would need to boost gross domestic product per metric ton of materials by 1.3% a year, food yields per hectare by 1.5%, GDP per British thermal unit of energy 3.2% and GDP per cubic meter of water by 3.7%, he says.

Sir John Beddington, chief scientific adviser to the British government, made a similar forecast, saying that by 2030, the world will need 50% more food and energy and 30% more water to supply a population that’s growing by six million people per month.

Such substantial productivity increases can be achieved by “combining information technology, nanoscale materials science and biology with industrial technology,” Dr. Heck says. “The benefit is, if you have that level of productivity shift, there’s billions of wealth to be created.”

Dr. Heck lists five levers to produce the resource revolution:

  1. Reduce waste.
  2. Substitute with something more efficient. For example, auto makers are increasingly using lightweight composite materials or aluminum rather than steel to reduce fuel consumption. A switch from a gasoline-powered vehicle—only 30% efficient—to an electric vehicle—96% to 98% efficient—requires less energy. Plant-derived proteins can substitute for resource-intensive animal proteins, at least some of the time. “There are multiple wins—environmental benefits, cost benefits, consumer benefits, health benefits,” Dr. Heck says.
  3. Optimize, using sensors or controls to improve efficiency. Dr. Heck describes a steel plant that upgraded with sensors and robots. Workers who previously had to wear protective gear now manipulate the steel remotely from the safety of a control room. The plant cut energy use 20%-25% and increased output. Another example is using GPS and software to optimize delivery routes, saving time and fuel.
  4. Virtualize, turning physical goods into services or moving online. The number of miles driven, driver’s licenses issued and fuel used in the U.S. peaked in 2006, before the recession. That’s in part because people have shifted to online shopping and banking—“when you multiply fewer trips by the total population, you get significant savings,” Dr. Heck says. At the same time, banks, for example, save by not having to operate as many branches.
  5. Recycle, reuse and refurbish. A number of companies are taking old products, removing the parts that are still good to reprocess them and put into new products. “That changes the equation dramatically,” Dr. Heck says. “We had an economy where most products were used once and ended in a landfill.”

Mobile phones used to be used once and thrown away, but a number of services have sprung up to take back your old phone when you buy a new one, and to sell still-working phones in developing countries or to disassemble broken phones to recuperate materials. “There’s 100 times more gold per weight in phones than in a gold mine in Africa,” Dr. Heck says.

Lead-acid batteries are collected for reprocessing the lead, which constitutes the lion’s share of the cost of a new battery. By creating a closed loop for the lead, “there’s both an economic and a huge environmental benefit. If you look at what they’re doing, it’s a lead rental business,” he says.

Companies that profit from product sales need new business models to give them incentives to make their products more durable. “If cars are shared, then you’re making money on the use of the cars, not on the sales,” he says.

As waste is wrung from the industrial system, “things become cheaper, and we can have the same level of service or quality of life with fewer resources,” Dr. Heck says. “We would spend less, and from an environmental point of view have an economy that’s still delivering growing GDP but with far less energy.”

*For more from Catherine, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join The Future Realities discussion.

Robotics is MEGA-Trending

By Tony

Robotics Mega TrendingAll around the world there is a huge interest in robotics. Schools everywhere and at every level are involved in some type of robotics competition. Some compete in Lego challenges, some compete in government or corporate-sponsored competitions, while others create and host their own challenges. Before I entered college, my father was concerned that the education I chose needed to be sustainable. He studied electronics and had a very successful career in computers. He always said to me, “Computers are the future, you best be prepared for the wave of computers.” I did take his advice, although not in the traditional sense as I decided to study robotics. Fast forward to today when robotics is a hot topic across the globe, from the classroom to the boardroom. Companies and students everywhere are realizing the power of automation and the value that it brings at so many levels. And their timing could not be more impeccable; robotics is definitely mega-trending.

Robotics and Automation Make Economic Sense

The off-shoring of factories and suppler bases due to low-wage competition are on a heavy decline. In an effort to localize supply chains, manufacturers are turning to robotics and implementing automated robotic systems on-site to achieve flexible, smart systems that extend across their enterprise to meet the global demands of their customers and markets. The latest trends in manufacturing are forcing companies to focus on technology. This focus is necessary to remain competitive. This is a global trend, so getting left behind is not an option. Today’s technologies are making manufacturing more fast paced than ever, and this is evident in the staggering wave of robotics coming on-shore.

Robots sharply improve quality as well as productivity to the point where they offset regional differences in labor costs and availability. In today’s economic climate, they have a major impact on the competitiveness of companies and countries alike. This means countries with greater robotic infrastructure (robots and supporting professionals) could become more attractive to manufacturers than countries with cheap labor. These types of changes will drive the competitive dynamics of the global economy.

The Wave of Robotics Adoption

According to the Boston Consulting Group, “The size of this coming wave of robotics is staggering: spending on robots worldwide is expected to jump from just over $15 billion in 2010 to about $67 billion by 2025. Driving this growth is a convergence of falling prices and performance improvements. The cost of high-quality robots and components is dropping rapidly, while CPUs are getting faster, and application programming is getting easier. As robots become cheaper, smaller, and more energy efficient, they gain flexibility and finesse, increasing the breadth of potential applications.” Let’s put these figures in perspective. According to this report, the estimated growth of the robotics market is going to more than double in the next 10 years (From an estimated $26.9B in 2015 to $66.9B in 2025). This puts the adoption rate of robots in the stratosphere.

This wave of robotics adoption is due to several factors, one of which is the pricing. The costs associated with implementing robots and automation have been on the decline. The reduced cost, along with the gains in production, makes for a very attractive proposition to companies of all sizes and industries.

Another key factor of this explosion in robotics is the robots ability to affect different industries. Technology is a key differentiator in all industries and robots have made profound impacts throughout. This contributes to the overall adoption rate across an industry. Adoption of robots within an industry creates a shift in power between competitors, where the leaders pull away and the competition either adopts similar strategies or their growth will stagnate, so the greater the impact, the wider the adoption.

Reasons for This Mega-Trend

Perhaps the most compelling reason for this mega-trend in robotics is the wide variety of applications that robots are being used in. Robots are used in everything from industrial and military applications to handling nuclear fuels to removing dangerous land mines, and filling customer orders. The robots of today are exploring the ocean floor, cleaning your house, and even cutting the grass outside. Robots are irreplaceable when it comes to delicate surgeries and help with the rehabilitation of the patient afterwards. Robots deliver medication, and can be a comforting companion. They can drive cars, fly airplanes, and work a 24 hour shift building cars without a break. Robots can perform many tasks that humans do, at a fraction of the cost, often with more accuracy.

The possibilities for these mega-trends are endless. Emerging applications will further grow the robotics market.  Newer industries such as mining and warehousing will be key robotics markets, as well as the personal service domain, where robots will take the roles of housekeeper, security guard, and personal valet. Agriculture and food processing robots are being created to reduce the cost of farming and deliver the freshest product at the lowest cost. Even the automobile will play a major role in the robotics market. Cars that can drive themselves are currently being tested, but driving the car is only the start. Today the car has a key role in households across the globe, and driving people to their destination is only one single aspect of our lives that a robot car can assist us with.

To see how companies are keeping up with technology and trends in robotics, visit our community at:

https://swym.3ds.com/#community:179

To see the report The Rise of Robotics by the Boston Consulting Group, visit:

https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/business_unit_strategy_innovation_rise_of_robotics/

Why Products Are No Longer Enough: Consumers Today Buy Experiences

By Therese

Take a minute and think about the products you manufacture. Whether it’s in the area of High Tech, Consumer Goods, Transportation & Mobility, or any other industry, at the end of the day, it’s what motivates consumers to purchase that matters the most. And what motivates them more than the actual experience?

The consumers of today buy experiences—products are no longer enough. At the 3DEXPERIENCE FORUM North America, you can learn how to go beyond delivering great products and move to creating memorable experiences for your customers. Virtual Reality presents a significant impact on your customers and use of DELMIA solutions can take them there. Find out how we can help you manage and deliver the right product experience to your customers around the world.

Manufacturers like you can provide memorable experiences for customers using DELMIA solutions. We’ll help you navigate the future by enabling innovation and collaboration across the business ecosystem. DELMIA provides businesses like yours with 3DEXPERIENCE universes to improve the real world of Global Industrial Operations. Our DELMIA experts will be on hand to show your how you can meet your customers’ expectations for a unique, highly-personal experience tailored to their needs.

3DEXPERIENCE_Forum_Vegas_PMH_Bkft_Nov14

Join Us for the 3DS Brand Leader’s Breakfast with Patrick Michel

Hear more about the latest advancements in manufacturing at the 3DEXPERIENCE Forum North America from DELMIA’s VP of User Experience and Marketing, Patrick Michel. Patrick will reveal how to go beyond delivering great products and move toward creating memorable experiences for your customers. Meet with him on Wednesday November 12 at 7 A.M. to hear how. When registering here, be sure to check the “3DS Brand Leader’s Breakfast” option.

After the forum, continue the technical conversation on Manufacturing. Go where all the experts are. Join the conversation at a DELMIA Community now!



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