Technology is making an impact on nearly every aspect of industry, and in engineering particularly. It’s altered the way industries and businesses operate, challenging norms while increasing efficiency and productivity. Engineers need familiarity with fast technologies to continually improve on products and create products of the future that address customer needs—all while balancing costs and quality.
The demand for more insightful engineers stems from the need for more, better, quicker. Customer demand for goods is growing, which means manufacturers need better, quicker ways of producing them. Whether it’s the equipment used to manufacture them or the products themselves, engineers are the drivers behind innovation—and they’re using fast technologies to do it.
What are fast technologies?
Fast technologies are leading-edge advancements, poised to make changes in a variety of industries. For example, the increase and capabilities of robots in factories; the development of 3D printing and CNC machining; and the Internet of Things (IoT) have been crucial for reducing costs and creating better products in many fields.
Products made by fast technologies are usually cheaper to make, better performing and provide customers with convenience. These technologies haven’t just disrupted a variety of industries from manufacturing to civil engineering, they’ve revitalized them throughout history. Fast technology isn’t only in the execution—it’s in the standards and practices that change alongside their adoption.
Consider an example like additive manufacturing. It’s a technology on the cusp of revolutionizing certain sectors. To bring it to fruition, engineers need to continually enhance and ideate the tools used in additive applications. Moreover, they’re also the pioneers for peripheral technologies—everything from programming system applications to creating human-machine interfaces (HMIs).
Fast technologies drive industries forward
Fast technologies can be unsettling—they challenge the status quo in research, design and manufacturing. They often encounter resistance from legacy companies because of this. As a result, many legacy producers put off upskilling and hiring for these innovations until they become ubiquitous.
For example, there was a time when civil, architectural and product engineers created designs using drawings, until computer-aided design (CAD) came along. This technology was met with some resistance at first, but now it’s part of everyday life in the engineering field.
One of the best examples of recent disruptive technology is the rise in 3D printing. While printing plastic layer by layer was a time-consuming and expensive process, 3D printing is reaching a point where it’s economically viable to mass produce plastic object, including prototypes, in mass quantities.
Many disruptive technologies have not been immediately embraced, but over time have transformed the industry for the better. These fast technologies are drivers of far-reaching change in the world of manufacturing. Engineers who understand them and work with them stand poised to be the arbiters of that change as they move into executive leadership roles.
IoT influence is only growing broader
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing more prevalent in engineering. In manufacturing, for example, it enables automatic and remote monitoring to streamline processes and identify pain points. In fact, applications for the IoT in factories are virtually unlimited—but to tap into them, manufacturers need skilled engineers leading the charge. Investment in the IoT goes further when it’s handled by a technocrat who understands its form, function and true costs.
Engineers of the future need to fully embrace the IoT experience and be able to gather insights from big data. It’s key in getting products to consumers faster than ever before. At the executive level, this means understanding not only how it works, but the degree to which it benefits both top- and bottom-line metrics for the company.
A strong skills gap demands technological support
In many specialty sectors, including manufacturing, construction and fabrication, there’s still a lack of skill and talent. These industries are continually looking for better technologies to bridge the skill gap.
Looking toward the future, many educational institutions are pushing STEM education to prepare workers to tackle more complex jobs in many sectors, including manufacturing. It’s a major effort to close the skill gap and prepare for massive technological advances in a wide variety of industries. This, inevitably leads to broader adoption of fast tech and demand for leadership that understands it. If your company can’t fully utilize the skills and expertise of new engineering grads, they’ll go somewhere that can.
Engineering leaders should be tech stewards
Nearly any type of technology can be bought for a price, but it takes forward-thinking engineers to embrace them and work to realize their full potential. If engineers of the past refused to embrace technologies like CAD, CNC and others, we wouldn’t have many of the products or advancements we enjoy today.
Engineers of the future need to be the ones who understand and evangelize technologies, pushing their companies forward and expanding the limits of what can be created, from precision metal components to bridges and buildings. Fast technologies are merely tools—the real value comes from executive engineers who understands them.