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Report Back: Future of Manufacturing Executive Short Course 2021

by | May, 2021

The month of May saw TWIMS host its Future of Manufacturing Executive Short Course. Professor Justin Barnes (TWIMS’ Executive Director) and Dr Kruschen Govender (TWIMS’ TFG Head of Future Manufacturing) led the course which consisted of executives from: Illovo Sugar, RCL Foods, First National Battery, Rapid 3D, Toyota South Africa, Feltex Automotive, Smiths Manufacturing, Ninian & Lester, The Foschini Group, and IT Dynamics. The course focused on key disruptive technologies and global trends that are likely to rearrange value chains and reshape manufacturing. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Additive Manufacturing, Advanced Materials, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and Virtual Reality are changing the world of work, how we make products and how we provide services. The participants were blown away by a field visit to Rapid 3D – South Africa’s leading technology partner for 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing products and services. They witnessed several Additive Manufacturing technologies in progress and were exposed to a multitude of business processes for which 3D printing can be used. On top of this they were also immersed into the world of Virtual Reality using TWIMS’ new Oculus Quest 2s.
The course concluded with syndicate projects in which four teams each had to develop and present a case for incorporating any of the above disruptive technologies in a specific business case. Group 1 looked at the use of Advanced Materials in sugar packaging and for developing new seed cane variants. Group 2 looked at employing IoT and AI to complement the production of plant-based proteins from farm to table. This would require drones for real time monitoring of crops, soil condition sensors, and vehicle fleet management and tracking to optimize logistics. This would be coupled with a cellular application, other smart appliances, and AI to monitor dietary requirements and suggest healthy plant-based meals to suit an individual’s personal preferences. Group 3 looked at revolutionising the manufacture of parts and accessories within the automotive industry through Additive Manufacturing. Parts and accessories incur large inventory costs and result in costly factory down time when machines need to be refitted to produce an old part. By creating a digital library of old parts, the group presented a business case for reducing inventory size and cost by 3D printing on demand. Finally, group 4 discussed the use of RFID tags throughout a clothing value chain to ensure greater quality control measures that also reduce time and labour costs associated with conventional quality control data capture. Through combining this with IoT the group would be better able to track and manage product and waste flows. It was truly encouraging to see each of the participants engage with these disruptive technologies.  They showed a clear intent to take key lessons back to their own firms so that they can better prepare for the future of manufacturing.

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