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article imageEngineering is digitizing essential functions

By Tim Sandle     Aug 6, 2018 in Business
Engineering and construction companies are investing more of their annual revenue in digital operations solutions, in a bid to remain competitive and to complete jobs more quickly.
Many engineering firms tend to focus on short-term challenges with pressures brought about by demanding clients and longer-term plans hampered by complex project delivery. However, the new technologies that form part of Industry 4.0 are providing easier opportunities for firms to invest in the longer-term. Four technologies disrupting engineering are examined below.
Read more: Digital technologies are reshaping the manufacturing landscape
3D printing
The types of technologies that are enabling engineering firms to consider longer-term digital transformation projects include advances in 3D printing. Additive manufacturing allows engineers to experiment in a less costly way, since 3D printing allows the engineer to try new prototypes. The process also enables engineers to addressing problems and to find solutions in only a matter of hours. Once designs have been agreed and digitally captured, 3D printing allows fro faster and more accurate production.
Building information modelling
A second area of technological advancement is with building information modelling together with the integration of design. Building information modeling is a process for the generation and management of a digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places. A key advantage is that information can be updated at key stages of a project.
Modular construction
A third area is with modular construction, geared around off-site component based assembly. Modular buildings and modular homes are often digitally designed. Each module is a sectional prefabricated part of a factory or house, to be assembled on-site. Since the entire process of modular construction places significance on the design stage, this has led to engineering firms investing in more advanced computer design software.
Autonomous vehicles and drones
A fourth, and final area, is with autonomous vehicles that allow for driverless transportation of materials between sites and on-site. This is supported by other vehicular technology like drones and robotics. Unmanned aerial vehicles provide assistance to engineers, as well as cost savings, in terms for providing images of inaccessible and difficult to navigate locations. These digitally captured images be made available to with personnel on site, to management headquarters and also with sub-contractors.
Vertical and horizontal developments
Investments in engineering take two forms, according to a recent PwC study. These are with the vertical value chain, internal to the firm, and with the horizontal value chain, by working with partners along the supply chain. In both areas technology presents the opportunity to monitor assets over the lifecycle rather than simply during the construction phase.
These are signs that digital process are connecting the different parts of the engineering company together, so that key decisions can be data-driven and made at a business level.
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