Press Release (ePRNews.com) - LISBON, Portugal - Feb 18, 2016 - As it is also happening in many other sectors, manufacturing is being digitally disrupted, creating a plethora of challenges and opportunities that can profoundly change the landscape. This massive change can be traced to the way digital technologies and offspring such as 3D printing can impact the future of how, where and when thing s are designed, made and even assembled. That change is called Industry 4.0 and was a terminology coined by a German government think tank to describe a so-called fourth industrial revolution. The four phases can be better described as the Water/steam power revolution (Industry 1.0); electric power (Industry 2.0), Computing Power (Industry 3.0) and Internet of Things Power (Industry 4.0).
Building a new industrial paradigm around Internet of Things (IoT) is an enormous challenge, as it entails four major disruptions, as envisioned by Mckinsey(1): the massive rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity, especially new low-power wide-area networks; the emergence of analytics and business-intelligence capabilities; new forms of human-machine interaction such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems; and improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world, such as advanced robotics and 3-D printing, otherwise also referred to as Additive manufacturing, the ‘next industrial revolution’ in the manufacturing mix. Once deployed, AM will enable companies to more efficiently and cost-effectively manufacture complex components and equipment. Additionally, sustainability is increasingly seen as a priority of the utmost relevance in Europe and, given the environmental impact of most industrial activities and the stringent environmental and health safety regulations, creates additional challenges for European companies, facing more regulatory issues than many of their competitors elsewhere.
These fundamental paradigm shifts entail profound changes, from supply chains to professional requirements to serve these requirements. To respond to these challenges, companies need to reinvent themselves and, to be even more effective, are requiring new qualifications from their teams.
At the European Federation for Welding, Joining and Cutting, we are acutely aware of those changes and have been hard at work to ensure that, when needed, companies will have professional profiles ready to be applied on their operations, nationally or internationally, to respond to their business challenges. EWF has participated in numerous projects that address those challenges, either leading or being a member of the consortium according to the project’s requirements. As a result, and given the broad scope of the harmonized training and qualification system offering courses and qualifications that EWF operates, its training guidelines support the evolving requirements that additive manufacturing puts forth to the industry. One additional example is EMFWeld, a project led by EWF and which aims at providing a simple, fast and actionable method to assess exposure risks for electromagnetic fields during welding. The project team developed a web-based application software to assist and support SMEs, supplying easy-to-use, reliable and actionable information on the risks in operating machines. It specifies risk levels and whether exposure is expected to be below or above the limit imposed by the Directive, for welding and non-destructive testing (NDT) scenarios, minimizing impact on work cycles on highly-demanding and continuous production scenarios.
As a result of that early work developed by EWF, recent and required professional profiles in the area of manufacturing are continually being evaluated and added, such as the case of the soon-to-be-released Additive Manufacturing, which will have as basis the harmonized training and qualification system devised by EWF according to the most demanding industry requirements. The System comprises guidelines defining training syllabuses and examinations and rules for implementing the Quality Assurance system that ensures the control and monitoring of the system in all the 43 countries that presently use it. Furthermore, the experience gained by more than 20 years of providing the welding personnel, dully qualified, with competencies that addresses current and future industry needs is a sound basis to implement any international training and qualifications needed for Manufacturing. The recent developments to address additive manufacturing needs are one example of the initiatives underway to support Industry 4.0.
But the challenges are two-fold – respond to industry’s professional profile requirements on the one hand, and providing courses that match current technological trends and their impact on lifestyle and information acquisition patterns. To respond to the latter, EWF has been further improving modular training course structures, defining more flexible profiles and training, also using new methodologies. One such new area of growth are webinars, and EWF is looking into launch new ones focusing on technological innovation in specific areas to streamline knowledge acquisition, mainly related with Horizon 2020 objectives.
Looking forward, beyond 2016, EWF will follow the unfolding trends shaping the industry 4.0, as well as working side-by-side with the industry thought leaders that are working to define Europe’s industrial future.
Beyond participation on EFFRA – European Factories of the Future Research Association, EWF is also working closely with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (www.cedefop.europa.eu), as well as with the European Committee for Standardization (https://www.cen.eu/Pages/default.aspx, to ensure that welding and joining professionals are appropriately qualified for the upcoming technical challenges facing the industry, including the new challenges that technologies like Additive Manufacturing bring in terms of qualified personnel. And, as part of its role and commitment to the reindustrialization of Europe, EWF supports the Manufacturing a Stronger and Greener Europe Manifesto, which embodies a commitment by the European Manufacturing industry to play vital role in Europe’s economic recovery.
Also within the Manufuture Technology Platform, Joining has been singled out as a key enabling technology and, therefore, a specific sub-platform was created, with the purpose of developing a strategic approach in the field, a core element of innovative and sustainable manufacturing (http://www.joining-platform.com/). And EWF played an important role in creating this subplatform and being part of the Management Committee, globally touching all relevant areas within the industry.
Lastly, EWF will further develop its to partnerships with the relevant Federations/associations at the European level, as it relates to Manufacturing to jointly advance subjects of common interest.
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