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Disruptive technologies in the Engineering industry and how to prepare for them

Posted May 30, 2019
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Disruptive technologies that you aren’t prepared for have the potential to see your engineering company go from a thriving operation to scrambling for new business and to keep existing clients.

By Matt Street, Information Systems Manager: Engineering and Manufacturing

Disruptive technologies that you aren’t prepared for have the potential to see your engineering company go from a thriving operation to scrambling for new business and to keep existing clients. 

Don’t let that be your future. Here’s how to keep up to date and remain on top in business.

What are disruptive technologies? 

Disruptive technologies are any tech advancements that pose a threat to your core business, whether it’s the service that you offer, your current competitive advantage, your workflows, or even the way that you interact with customers or potential customers. 

When disruptive technology comes along and you’re unprepared for it, then your business can be on the verge of obsoletion almost overnight.  

The often rolled out example is Uber’s technology platform that allowed (almost) anyone with a car to become a taxi driver, with easy connection to riders. The smooth platform was a breath of fresh air for car-riding customers used to clunky taxi apps, and suddenly the high-cost of state-issued taxi licenses dropped dramatically. 

Main disruptive technologies in Engineering 

Artificial intelligence 

How many of your current systems have AI or machine learning currently baked in? Maybe you have a chatbot for your website or Facebook account. Perhaps you already leverage Microsoft Power BI. While these are great starts when it comes to AI in your business systems, these are products that are available to just about any business. You’re unlikely to feel disruption with these sorts of products (unless you’re at least keeping up or ahead of the competition by implementing them). 

The disruptive factor comes into play when you don’t fully examine the capabilities of AI for use in your design and manufacture activities. When machine learning is capable of designing a wide range of engineering projects in a fraction of the time it takes a human, your billable hours over the competition (with these solutions in place) will seem staggering.  

Keep tabs on what’s available in commercial AI design tech, or chat with an AI service provider to analyse your current design systems and see where innovative solutions can be built in. As for the manufacturing side, automated robots to build your projects will be a key financial outlay to remain progressive. 

3D printing 

3D printing isn’t exactly a new technology. In fact, the tech has been around since the 1980s. However, it’s only in the past 10 or so years that 3D printing has become standard across the engineering industry. You probably have one or more machines around that are used to print smaller components on. 

However, as the range of materials available for printing, the size of printers, and the ease of CAD to printer interactions expands, and the cost of ownership decreases, the more we’ll see 3D printing used on massive-scale projects.  

To stay ahead of the curve, you need to keep a close eye on 3D printable materials and how they can be utilised in your projects (or substituted for current similar materials), the capabilities of newly released larger (and smaller) printers, and determining where they can fit into your design process, whether it be simply for to-scale models or proof-of-concept deliverables, through to actual production for the field. 

Alternative Energies 

Depending on your current field of engineering, alternative energies has the potential to be a huge disruptor to business. Many WA engineering companies are in the oil and gas or mining industries. However, with the slow move towards renewable energies, these types of operations and industries may also start to slow. 

Solar, wind, hydroelectric, ocean energy, etc. are all alternate sources of energy that don’t deplete the natural environment. While many companies may think they’re safe for the minute as there’s always an overseas buyer, this may not be the case in the future. 

The solution? It’s time to start moving towards a hybrid service offering with engineering for both traditional and renewables. This involves thorough investigation of trends, injection of new talent, and looking at the market available to you for business forecasting. Yes, it might be time to pivot your operations. 

Recognising and responding to digital disruption 

To save your company from being disrupted by emerging technology, the key is to stay informed and act on critical information. 

This means keeping tabs on emerging technologies not just within the engineering field, but as a whole. For instance, did you realise that AWS have released live-streaming video with automatic multi-language subtitling? This gives businesses the potential to work with partners they’d never be able to before. 

It’s a talent to sift through emerging technologies and determine which ones have the potential to disrupt your business operations. You can help automate the process by things like signing up to emer-tech newsletters, setting up Google Alerts, reading Google/Amazon/Microsoft news, and even digging into particular journals. However, all this takes time and an analytic eye. Having a dedicated or PT staff member on hand to brief your CTO about their findings is a clever move – as is actually implementing some of the solutions before you realise the effects of disruption. 

We understand the Engineering industry 

Emerging technologies keep changing and challenging the way businesses work and operate. At Bremmar, we relate well to the Engineering industry as we are also impacted by newer technologies constantly disrupting our industry, business and clients. We must continually learn and evolve  new technologies and test them so we can use them as our competitive advantage rather than fall behind. 

As a Perth-based technology service provider, we can help your business implement IT solutions to prepare and support these ever changing technologies ensuring you stay current in the industry. Contact us on 1300 991 351 today to learn how we can help your business or fill in the form below.

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By Matt Street, Information Systems Manager: Engineering and Manufacturing

As a Client Information Systems Manager, I’m the go-to person for Bremmar’s Engineering and Manufacturing customers.  I help partners of all sizes and types transform their digital capabilities and modernise their workplaces, using a targeted and industry-specific approach.

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