They say, “We’ve Always Done It That Way” are the six most destructive words in the business world. That’s truer than ever in an era of disruptive technology.

So what are the assumptions that define the heavy equipment manufacturing industry, and how could they be disrupted?

On this episode, AEM Futures Council chair Guru Bandekar from JLG Industries outlines some of those potential turning points. And, fresh off his latest TED talk, Singularity University’s Digital Manufacturing Chair Andre Wegner explains why our industry shouldn’t fear technological disruption.

Learn more about how to stay ahead of tech disruption, or subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor for regular updates in your email about industry news and insights. 

(INSERT PODCAST EMBED)

 

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

 

Guru Bandekar:

Each one of these trends has different implications to our products, to the way we operate today, and to the way we have defined our business models.

Dusty Weis:

Hello and welcome to another edition of the AEM Thinking Forward Podcast, advancing the equipment manufacturing industry. I’m Dusty Weis, AEM’s professional nerd, swarm technology enthusiast and podcast host.

They say, “We’ve always done it that way,” are these six most destructive words in the business world. That’s truer than ever in an era of disruptive technology. So what are the assumptions that define the heavy equipment manufacturing industry and how could they be disrupted?

On this episode, AEM Futures Council Chair, Guru Bandekar from JLG Industries is going to outline some of those potential turning points. And, fresh off his latest TED Talk, Singularity University’s Digital Manufacturing Chair, Andre Wegner, on why our industry should not fear technological disruption.

It’s these sorts of expert insights that we work to bring you here on the AEM Thinking Forward podcast. Each month we explore a new subject area to help keep your business on the cutting edge of the industry. So if you haven’t yet, make sure you subscribe to our podcast feed so you get an update every time we put out a new edition. Just click on the show name in your podcast app and hit that subscribe button.

Want to do me a huge favor and help other listeners find our show too? Rate and review us in iTunes or whatever your favorite podcasting app is. Your comments help other industry pros find our podcast, they also help me keep it relevant, ergo, I’d appreciate it if you can give us a rating or a review.

I had my mind blown at one of our Thinking Forward events a couple of years ago now. But in the heavy equipment industry, agriculture in particular, the trend for years has been towards bigger, heavier equipment. The reason if you stop to think about it is labor, right? You need someone to drive the combine. You have to pay that person, ergo, it makes more sense that the more rows you can harvest at a time, the better off you are as an operator. For decades, this assumption has driven farm equipment to be bigger and heavier, which causes its own problems with soil compaction and the like.

What kind of blew my mind was when someone pointed out that autonomous equipment could reverse that trend in the course of a couple of years. Think about it, if one operator can control multiple pieces of equipment at a time, just set it and forget it, all the sudden bigger isn’t necessarily better. Depending on your operation, maybe you’re better off buying four small harvesters at a fifth of the price of one of the big ones? There’s less compaction, you’re more versatile, and a machine breakdown only reduces productivity by 25% instead of 100.

It was sort of an ah-ha moment for me and all that is to say that there are assumptions that drive industry best practices and sometimes it’s worth examining what would happen if those assumptions changed.

So here at AEM, we gathered up some of our most innovative brains, the AEM Futures Council, and we put them in a room with the team from Singularity University. The folks at Singularity specialize in this kind of disruptive innovation and they challenged the council to play a game of “What if?” with these industry assumptions.

Joining us now to take us through that process is the incoming 2019 Chair of the Futures Council and the Vice President of Global Engineering and Program Management at JLG Industries Guru Bandekar. Guru, thanks for joining us on the AEM Thinking Forward podcast.

Guru Bandekar:

Thank you, Dusty.

Dusty Weis:

First, a little about what you do. How long have you been at JGL, and what’s your role in helping this longtime industry leader stay ahead of the technology curve?

Guru Bandekar:

I have been at JLG since 2012, so coming up on about seven years now. I’ve been with the parent company of JLG, Oshkosh Corporation, since 2008. My role really at JLG, I lead the global product development and product management organization. Our charter really is to ensure that JLG continues to remain at the top of our industry when it comes to technology innovation and providing solutions for our customers and end users.

JLG essentially started the aerial work platform industry in 1969 and since that time we have been number one in our space. Mine and my team’s responsibilities ensure that JLG remains there for the next 50 years.

Dusty Weis:

So when it comes to advancing along the technology curve then, what sorts of technologies are you looking at, at JLG?

Guru Bandekar:

We are looking at a whole host of technologies. Obviously, right now, electrification is the key focus of our industry, but also various other industries. Electrification really allows us to go into different things like robotics, like autonomy and so forth.

The other technology that we’re closely looking at and monitoring is the connected products and telematics. For the last two years the focus really has been connecting the machines, but it’s now shifting to not just the ability to connect the machines, but the quality of the data flowing through that connection and that’s another area we’re looking at very closely.

Dusty Weis:

So when we had our meeting in September, the AEM Futures Council was tasked with identifying assumptions that define our industry and then exploring what it would mean if those assumptions changed. Especially as AEM is marketing its 125th anniversary this year. Why would you say that that’s an important process to undertake?

Guru Bandekar:

The reason why it’s important for and organization like AEM who is celebrating 125 years and an organization like JLG who we are celebrating our 50 year this year, is because with the advent of technology and other things, the basis of competition is changing. So as an example, for the longest time our industry was based on driving machines through engine power and electrification is changing that. Our industry was based on driving machines by people and with robotics and other autonomous capabilities, those assumptions are changing. So it’s very important for organizations like ours to continue to monitor the basic assumptions of competition so we can define the space going forward.

Dusty Weis: Because, ultimately, a lot of those assumptions, they kind of define the end product that you’re creating and so as those assumptions start to shift, we’re seeing the expectations for the end product that our members make shift as well.

Digging into the session that we had with Singularity, what were some of the takeaways that you found most valuable or maybe most surprising?

Guru Bandekar:

Some of the takeaways during the session at Singularity was the rate of technology gets adopted. We tend to think that technology adoption just happens overnight and if you look at other industries and how they have adopted different technologies, it’s not quite the case. There is a whole period of time and the technology’s just maturing and really nobody is adopting it just yet, but there is a inflection point in the curve where a whole host of factors come together and allow for a rapid acceleration in which the technology gets adopted. Whether we look at iPhones or even our products, whether it’s farming or agricultural or construction machinery, if you look back at the history, we’ll find the same exponential rise in adoption.

Dusty Weis:

And a lot of people are saying that we’re coming up perhaps on that inflection point right now in our very own industry. So it makes this message of sort of examining these assumptions even more salient at this point. One notion that we’ve heard a lot about and one that seems kind of pressing is this notion of equipment as a service. It’s this business model that challenges the assumption that AEM members just sell equipment, but perhaps there’s a point in the future where you sell hours of operation, tons of earth moved, or bushels of corn harvested, and so what’s the appeal of this business model and what factors might push the industry in that direction do you think?

Guru Bandekar:

So one of the things that has defined the way we design machines, it’s always being operated by people. That has required us, our machines that are known for safety and productivity for our operators for our end users. When we designed it such that the humans are going to operate it, that required us to look at the machine very differently in a whole host of factors of safety are involved.

When we look at future trends, technology trends, and look at machine that can be semi-remotely operated or semi-autonomously operated, that opens us up to the host of possibilities in terms of machine design. But when you extrapolate that and understand now how the machines will be sold or distributed, and because the machines that are connected and our machines are remotely operated, that allows you to distribute these machines, not just products but services that can be remotely controlled or remotely operated and opens us up to a whole host of things in terms of business models that we just have not been used to today.

Obviously the classic example is Tesla who has taken the automobile industry from owning a car to electro-mobility and that’s something that we need to think about in our industry.

Dusty Weis:

From the OEM perspective, what’s attractive about that equipment as a service model?

Guru Bandekar:

What’s attractive about equipment as a service is not just having a initial sale of a product, but providing services to our customers throughout the life cycle of that product. Both in terms of enhancing that product over time through software updates and product updates, but also monitoring the way they use those machines to provide them with solutions and services that allow them to use that machine more safely and more productively.

Dusty Weis:

And, accordingly, taking it from a one time transaction to a transaction that involves recurring revenue for OEMs, I imagine is another enticing detail there as well? That much said, you also mentioned, the potential for equipment to be remotely operated. Now in the past, that assumption that there’s going to be somebody sitting in the cab or up on the platform in JLG’s case, operating a piece of equipment has led equipment to be built that’s much bigger, generally, that way a piece of equipment can get more work done with one person operating it. But if you take the operator out of the equation, what sort of doors does that open up for the equipment to go in a different direction from bigger is better?

Guru Bandekar:

Especially as it relates to earth moving or agriculture products the bigger has always been better because it covers more space, more ground, so to speak. Also when it comes to developing products and the development regulations are based on factor of safety that require us to ensure the machine operator is always going to be safe.

Now, if you remove that piece of it and have somebody on the safety of the ground or safety of their office operating that machine, that allows us to develop products that is one, smaller, but also more nimble and more agile. That opens up a whole host of options from a product developer standpoint, but also from a product owner standpoint so that they can deploy things like swarm technologies to operate their machines.

Dusty Weis:

I don’t know about you, but the thought of deploying swarm technology on a construction site to excavate a site just sounds insanely cool to me.

Guru Bandekar:

Yes, it is insanely cool.

Now, we have to recognize all of these are technologies that are, at least at this point, several horizons away from where we sit. If you look at any construction site today, it’s still largely manual and largely diesel powered. So all the things we are talking about are going to change dramatically our industry, but there’s a lot of road for us to cover before we get there.

Dusty Weis:

Well, I sure hope I live to see it anyway.

A lot of our members have competed with each other for years and it’s created some pretty classic rivalries, but as technology plays a greater role in the products we build, the Futures Council thinks that it’s also going to challenge the notion of whom exactly we compete with why and how so?

Guru Bandekar:

Today we compete with other equipment manufacturers. That’s our competition. Where we are trying to make products better, faster, cheaper than the rest in our space. But when we think about in the agricultural space as an example, things that a big combine or a small tractor used to do, is doing today, could in the future be done by a drone.

Monitoring of construction sites or inspection of different things under the construction sites today is done using aerial work, flat farm. Tomorrow it could be done by drone or even better, couldn’t be done by various sensors that are omnipresent in all aspects of our life.

So suddenly now you find yourself not just competing with other equipment manufacturers in your space, but people who are in completely different spaces like drone manufacturing or sensor manufacturing and that is a game changing degree and the nature of the competition in our industry.

Dusty Weis:

Accordingly, there are also going to be some new workforce challenges for the OEMs who build this equipment as they sort of shift their paradigm to be able to compete with these more nimble tech disruptors. As the industry strives to connect with the talent that it needs to compete, there’s also this assumption about how members access the expertise that they need. How does that shift?

Guru Bandekar:

Yeah. Historically, equipment manufacturers, for the most part, have been more mechanical engineering oriented companies, so a lot of manufacturing engineering, a lot of mechanical engineering, big iron so to speak. While that is still true, you will still need iron to do things that hide, the way these machines are operated is changing from a hydraulic driven to more electrical driven, to more software driven. That means that our industry, not only in designing machines but also building, and servicing, and maintaining the machines is going to have to migrate to a having talent that is capable of operating in that software digital space. That’s why you see a lot of a lot of companies in our space starting to hire more and more software engineers to be able to compete with some of these industries on the west coast, like you said.

Dusty Weis:

Is there enough of that software talent to go around right now? If so, what other avenues are being explored as a means of accessing that talent?

Guru Bandekar:

In the short term, the answer is no. Historically, our industry has not attracted the software expertise that we really need to take our industry to the next level. That’s why you see a lot of Millennials not necessarily wanting to come into the heavy equipment space and I’m making a very generalized statement here. But organizations like AEM along with all its member companies are trying to change the way we recruit talent and also attract talent, retain talent.

The reality is the problems that we are trying to solve, are much more meaningful, much more impactful to the society than say developing an app for social media. Once we are able to communicate that effectively to the Millennial workforce, we find that we are able to attract talent well. But this is going to be a challenge that we’ll have to continue to overcome in the future as we try to attract more software electronics and controls engineers.

Dusty Weis:

Getting back to our assumptions. The dealership model has defined repair and maintenance solutions in this industry for generations. But what sorts of technologies are coming along that could potentially challenged that and how?

Guru Bandekar:

So the dealership model is very attractive today because if you’re a local farmer or a local construction operator, you know that you have the safety and the security of going to your local dealer to fix the machine if there is any issues with it. So the proximity and the relationship with that dealer is important and while that will still remain the place in the future. As the machines get more connected, perhaps the way with which you communicate with your local dealer or your national service center will change because the machine effectively will automatically communicate with some of these systems in the future at the dealers and the national service center level and allow others to monitor the health of the machine remotely. That will require the dealership to change from a more relationship transaction based model to more data analytics and remote monitoring model.

Dusty Weis:

Really kind of redefines the notion of let’s pop it open and take a look under the hood, doesn’t it? Where all the sudden you’re plugging in an ethernet cable instead of a dipstick.

Guru Bandekar:

Absolutely.

Dusty Weis:

In the course of these discussions with the Futures Council, which insights do you think could impact your company, JLG, the most? How can JLG adapt to thrive in this digital environment?

Guru Bandekar:

At the Futures Council, we talk about various trends, technologically, that are impacting our industry. Each one of these trends have different implications to our products, to the way we operate today, to the way we have defined our business models. So I really enjoy being part of the Futures Council because it allows us a good view of how other industries are adopting and looking at technology, not just in our space but also in spaces outside of equipment manufacturing.

Dusty Weis:

Looking ahead to your term as Chair of the Futures Council, is there anything out there that you really want to see the Futures Council tackle? Are there any pet passions right now that you’d like to pursue?

Guru Bandekar:

Obviously, the technology is extremely important to monitor the technology trends that are happening outside of our industry and then within our industry. So continue to lead our industry to be on the forefront of technology advancement is important as a Futures Council. But the one thing that is also extremely important is how do we tackle this issue of talent management and attracting the right types of people in our industry for the future because really where this industry goes is going to be defined by the people in the industry. If we need to continue to be at the forefront of technology, then we’ll have to change the way we are attracting, retaining and promoting talent in our industry. So that’s another area that is directly and indirectly important to us as, as we look at the future.

Dusty Weis:

Guru Bandekar, VP of Global Engineering and Program Management that JLG industries, thank you so much for taking the time to join us on the AEM Thinking Forward podcast.

Guru Bandekar:

Thank you for having me, Dusty.

Dusty Weis:

As I mentioned, that report on the Futures Council findings drops early this spring. Go to AEM.org/subscribe to make sure you catch it in our Industry Advisor when it does.

The Futures Council was guided in this thought experiment by the disruption experts from Singularity University. Joining us now is Singularity’s Chair of Digital Manufacturing and the CEO of 3D printing solutions provider, Authentise. You may also recognize him from his frequent Ted Talks on these subject matters, Andre Wegner. Thanks for joining us on the AEM Thinking Forward podcast.

Singularity is a Silicon Valley think tank with a technological drive and a mission. What is that mission and what does it mean for industries like construction, agriculture, equipment manufacturing?

Andre Wegner:

Well the mission is, and I’m probably going to mess this up, help people and leaders in particular to understand what evolving technology is going to do to that business and to society as a whole and help use that technology for common good.

We’re excited by progress and DNA or drones, AI or, many, many other industries and then technological verticals. For us the question and for many other people, the question is, how does does it impact you?

Now for each industry, the key actors and in most other industries, all those participating in it, so we can’t answer those questions for them. We answered them with them, so we organize workshops and so forth to delve into the questions surrounding each industry, vertical.

In equipment, those questions will be around how can we use AI to identify where to work and how to work more efficiently? How can we use drones and other sensors? And, ultimately, how do we create a society that’s just and more equitable and is able to provide all the goods and services that people need?

Dusty Weis:

And of course those technologies that you outlined there, those are the bread and butter that AEM’s Thinking Forward initiative works with and the Futures Council is charged with exploring. These emerging trends and technologies like IOT, artificial intelligence, big data, Singularity likes to call these exponential technologies. Where does that term come from?

Andre Wegner:

Well, the exponential aspects to go back to the idea of Moore’s Law that relationships are getting twice as fast and half as expensive every 18 months. Now, every industry that’s digitizing is building on some of these same exact trends. We see a rapid evolution in every industry that so.

Dusty Weis:

It’s sort of summarized, and I think somebody used this quote in the AEM Futures Council workshop with Singularity, that, “The world has never changed this quickly and it’ll never change this slowly again.” And that’s really sort of what the exponential technology term drives home?

Andre Wegner:

It’s an exciting proposition, it’s also scary and I think Singularity is tasked with addressing both of those sides of the coin.

Dusty Weis:

Well, focusing on the exciting aspect for a second, not the scary one, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, they’ve pegged the potential value add half a trillion dollars in construction and another half trillion dollars in agriculture. That’s new value in productivity that it’d be created if these industries adopted exponential technologies. In the Singularity in AEM report, Singularity’s Ray Kurzweil says, “Pretty much all of the exponential information technologies feed into manufacturing.” That’s a quote. How is it that there’s so much untapped potential in these industries?

Andre Wegner:

I think that there are two trends here. The first is that for very good reasons, manufacturing is an industry that hasn’t been the fastest adopter of new technologies because the focus has been on safety and productivity for a very long time. And the second is that it’s really only recently that these technologies are all converging on an area like manufacturing because it’s easier to get some of these into the consumer market for example. So that’s where some of the faster innovations are going to happen. But it’s also because all the elements of the technology stack that are necessarily to drive a really big change in manufacturing are coming together at this point in time.

Dusty Weis:

The fact that there’s been that sort of hesitation to adopt these new technologies, to this point, and the fact that there’s that much untapped potential there, does that mean that the construction and agriculture equipment manufacturing industry is going to transform more quickly than other industries?

Andre Wegner:

It’s possible, I think they may not do so until they understand the fundamental needs. Moving the needs from productivity centric viewpoint towards one centered around agility, and I think that’s at the crux.

Dusty Weis:

What’s the danger in dawdling too much about adopting these new technologies? What’s the danger of not rushing toward them fast enough?

Andre Wegner:

Well, the danger is always that your competitors are going to do it much, much faster. The overarching danger is that you miss the transition towards the next business model, right?

My own position is that you will only identify those new business models through directly engaging with the technologies. Often that direct engagement doesn’t start with the big view of what the 10 year future might hold. It starts with trying to address the problems of today through a new set of eyes and a new set of technology. Everybody has those problems. Every product is delayed getting to the customer. Every purchasing partner has a problem with single source supplier. We have huge part recall and failure rates.

In each of those problems, there are solutions at hand that might be based on new technologies, and in engaging with those new technologies to address this pragmatic problems, we learn about them. We learn with their problems are, we learn what the opportunities are and we get people on the ground that has experiences.

With that experience that we can then really identify with a new business models of tomorrow going to be like. There’s an intermediary step too between solving your low hanging fruit all your pragmatic problems and identifying your kind of blue sky business model, there’s a strategic step in between that I think everybody goes to or where the company goes through in their adoption of technology.

There’s no doubt in my mind that each one of the lessons has problems that the kinds of technologies we’re talking about today, can solve within an authority base. In fact, your members are the most likely to identify the problems because they’ve been dealing with them the longest. So that’s a real opportunity and one that distinguishes them very clearly from the new entrants and the competitors in the market today. They own the problem and they can find ways to solve that.

Dusty Weis:

I think there’s certainly wisdom in that approach as well. Looking at the big picture here, this technological transformation that’s going on has been likened to the early 19th century when the rise of the automobile profoundly transformed the human experience. Where we live, workshop, how we spend our time. But today’s transformation journey seems more complex and larger in scope, and has the potential to move much faster too. What does that mean in terms of the broader impact on a global scale? What societal shifts are driving technology change? What societal shifts are being caused by technology change?

Andre Wegner:

I’m really glad you asked that question because it goes back to the heart of my productivity versus agility kind of distinction that I made earlier. I think the agility one is maybe best encompassed if you think about how how people interact with digital products of today. New, or film, or music, we can get all of that at drop of a hat, right?

With physical products and if you’re buying a physical part of Kickstarter, 83% of those physical or hardware centered Kickstarter projects are delayed because it’s still hard to get an idea into a part, but the customer is not accepting that anymore. It used to because it would take just as long to get them information, but now the dichotomy between the physical products, digital products that that dichotomy is growing.

So we need to find a solution to that dichotomy and I believe that have more agile manufacturing infrastructure is going to deliver that. There are other drivers towards agility too, such as the increased use of digital tools is what drives more efficient market. Those more efficient markets make it even more important for us to be able to react, especially for heavy equipment manufacturers.

When the price of a mineral goes up or down very rapidly, then we need to be able to react and provide new kinds of tools to be able to take advantage of those shifts. And, of course, the big mega trend of today is politics and how the societal shift of protectionism is requiring us to distribute manufacturing like never before. Instead of making trains in one place, [inaudible 00:28:29] said we’re now making them in dozens of places because we have to serve each political arena individually.

So those three societal shifts, the growing dichotomy between digital and physical products, the fickle market, so to say, then the fickle politics and the protectionism, those three are really driving a push towards this agility.

Now you asked me what results there might be from the increased adoption of exponential technologies? I think obviously one that we think about at Singularity is the future of work and how that’s shifting. You just have to think about the fact that I think in over half the states in America driving cars or driving trucks is still the primary form of employment. So obviously self driving cars has a story to tell there and will lead to changes in the way way our workforces are employed.

Dusty Weis:

Continuing down that avenue about the changing nature of work and what it might mean to be a worker in the future, certainly it takes a different kind of workforce to compete in this new technological landscape and we hear regularly from our ATM members about the challenge that this already poses to them. How should manufacturers approach the upcoming, I guess you could call it talent wars, the competition to develop or recruit these skilled workers of the future?

Andre Wegner:

Well that is a conversation I might not be the best person to answer. The start up they we’re dealing with, that I launched, we build software to manage additive manufacturing factories for large companies. That software is built by people who are experts and like many others, we have offices and where engineers work. We are also able to access talent that might not be in our reach as a drop of a hat, thanks to technology and we’re making the talent working for us stronger by giving them automation tools, based in AI, that eliminates at lot of the drudgery in their work.

We’re putting the operator, the person who’s executing the task, at the center of deploying that automation. What I mean with that is that there’s been a trend for the last 50 years as we worried about productivity, to focus exclusively how the factory might look, we would simulate it down to the T and then we would go and implement it. We wouldn’t ask anybody on the ground floor how that should look? What changes should be made?

Now there’s a set of tools out there that the operator that untrained operator at the center of automation opportunities. So you can create your own machine learning algorithm by dragging and dropping elements. You can create your ow automation workflows so by dragging and dropping apps. So, why not use those tools to give the operator power to automate their own work flow? Rather than telling them from the top down how that workflow should be automated.

Now that thinking is based on several reports emphasized that automation and the opportunities that arise from it aren’t done job-by-job, they’re doing task-by-task. We have to trust operators. Tell us what the most boring, the most tedious tasks are and give them the tools to automate those workflows themselves rather than trying to simulate and impose rules from the top. So that, I think at the core of a more employee friendly relationship, so I think that’s one of the core messages I would put out to your members.

Dusty Weis:

It puts them in a position where you’re not necessarily going to be recruiting for a certain skill set, you’re not going to want data inputters, you’re not going to want welders, but more than anything, you’re going to be looking for creative problem solvers?

Andre Wegner:

That’s right, and my hope is that’s who are you going to be identifying and getting from the education system of tomorrow. People that are coming out of that education system to think that they have have a career for life is going to be as false promise as a company hoping that they can hire for a specific job title and never change that job title. So that has to be an ongoing conversation.

Reid Hoffman talks about this in a book he wrote a few years ago called, The Apprentice. It really is about a tour of duty, you’re hiring somebody to accomplish a specific personal aim that coincides with your business aim and in a few months, a few years, it takes that number at around 18 months, that’s going to shift again. That’s an awful lot of change, but that matches the change you’re going to have to go through as a company. So I think it’s completely in line with the way a modern technology works. It’s to is to hire people that are able to adapt quickly and to encourage them to do so.

Dusty Weis:

I think that’s a really salient point to make and I’m glad that we got that there. We also often talk in this business about uncommon partnerships or you might call them unholy alliances, but what industry verticals do you see the heavy equipment manufacturing sector converging with or competing against in the future?

Andre Wegner:

That’s a good question. What’s astounding for me, if you think about the manufacturing process of tomorrow, take it from the design all the way to the physical part being delivered. Right now we have a CAD engineer drawing something up, it’s going for testing. Then it goes through tooling and then through manufacturing and eventually many years after the product was first conceived, we may then end up shipping it out.

Our expectation of that value chain of the future is that the engineer doesn’t even enter a specific geometry anymore. The engineer’s core responsibility is to enter constraints. Those constraints he gets from basis. So those constraints might say, hey, I want a tool that can dig this far down and has this lifespan and is able to work in these environments. He’s getting data from sensors from those environments to help it help instruct the system and what those constraints would be.

The computer, the AI, uses a set of tools we are calling generative design to design the final geometry, only moments before that part actually gets built based on the manufacturing capabilities that exist locally. So it might be based on the fact that there’s a 3D printer with titanium powder available and operated as certified to X, Y, Z standards. All of that information is another set of constraints that goes into the final design.

So you know what I’m saying is that that whole design and product development cycle, that is a core capability of the company that are your members today, that may be shifted entirely into a kind of generative design cycle were identifying the problem statement, identifying the constraints is at the heart.

Dusty Weis:

I love that example, because we actually had the opportunity through one of our AEM Thinking Forward events last year to tour Autodesk in San Francisco and see their generative design process in action. It was just such a fascinating thought experiment to explore that potential paradigm shift that I think a lot of the members that came out to that left with more questions than they had going in, but they were all really, really intrigued by it.

Andre Wegner:

Even at the immature stage that generative design is currently at, it can help solve problems of today and what we need is new eyes and the willingness to try those ideas out at a smaller scale instead of trying to fit big plans of how these tools might be able to be used in the future? How can it be used today? How come we learn from them today?

Generative design, for example, is a key implement and how 3D printed parts of today are supported and oriented in the build chamber. That’s the first step. We may not be able to design entire new working objects using generative design of today or new pieces of earth removal equipment, but we’re certainly able to use them at a different scale where they may be able to address problems that your members have today.

Dusty Weis:

You often talk in your Ted Talks and the like about the need to build the community or ecosystem to help support innovation initiatives in the digital transformation. Any tips on how AEM members should build or find those sorts of communities?

Andre Wegner: 

You spoke about uncommon partners. I know for a fact that people that come to Singularity sometimes leave with the idea that that that kind of conducive environment is the only possible in a geographic area like the Bay Area and I don’t think that’s true. It’s about creating a small group of people no matter where you are, that encourages you to think big.

Dusty Weis:

If our listeners only remember a single important takeaway from this podcast, what should it be?

Andre Wegner:

My key focus in all of the talk stuff that I do is really centered about what’s driving this? As soon as people realize that agility of your operations is that the central of everything that you do, not necessarily productivity or the other light bulbs piece you’ve had in the past, then they are going have a much more rapid adoption of the right technologies that are right for them at the right time. So focus on agility today in manufacturing and construction is going to be very, very key.

Dusty Weis:

Well, Andre Wegner, the Chair of Digital Manufacturing at Singularity University, also the CEO of Authentise. We are really looking forward to and excited about sharing the insights from the Futures Council Singularity University workshop with our members.

That report, of course, is going up on our website and it’s been absolutely fascinating to talk to you today. Thank you so much, Andre, for joining us on the AEM Thinking Forward podcast.

Andre Wegner:

Thanks for having me.

Dusty Weis:

Watch for that final report from Singularity and the Futures Council at AEM.org/think. I’ll also put a link in the show description when it goes live.

For more great insights, live and in person, make sure to check out our Thinking Forward event lineup for the year. We’re getting into the heart of that schedule now. March 12th we’ll be in Houston learning about how space age technology is driving innovation and inspiring the engineers of the future. And on April 2nd in Chicago, we’ll be talking about digital industry best practices at the UI Labs Innovation Center. More events in May, September, October, and November. All the details at AEM.org/think where you can reserve your space now. I will see you there.

So that is going to wrap up this edition of the AEM Thinking Forward podcast. If you need to get in touch with me direct, shoot me an email podcast@AEM.org.

The AEM Thinking Forward podcast is brought to you by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Little Glass Men does the music for AEM. Thanks for listening. I’m Dusty Weis.

 

(Excerpt) Read more Here | 2019-02-13 21:30:16
Image credit: source

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.