From the editor's desk: What’s in, what’s out

February 2023 News

Kim Roberts, Deputy Editor.

Welcome to this bumper issue of SA Instrumentation & Control. It has been a privilege to be able to put together this issue and I’ve really enjoyed being involved with such a respected magazine while we wait for our new editor.

It’s still early in the year so my attention was attracted by a report from ABI Research entitled ‘74 technology trends that will − and will not − shape 2023’. It has a wealth of information, here are few of the highlights.

ABI expects that there will be a revival in VR in manufacturing, with innovative new applications in the workplace.

In the consumer area the wealth of new gadgets and gizmos we can enjoy is growing. Foldable devices, wearable technology for health and fitness, and smart homes are the order of the day. If you don’t already have a foldable phone you probably will soon. This is made possible by more sophisticated sensors to measure health data, with better algorithms that instantly interpret huge amounts of data.

AI is with us. From healthcare to self-driven cars and from manufacturing to entertainment and smartphones, it is being touted as the single most game-changing invention in the history of mankind. I am wary of hype but I couldn’t help noticing ChatGBT. In a mind-blowingly short time, like since December 2022, ChatGPT has taken the world by storm. I asked ChatGPT what it does and this was the answer:

ChatGPT is a language generation model developed by OpenAI. It is based on the Generative Pretrained Transformer architecture and was trained on a large corpus of text data to generate human-like responses to natural language text inputs. ChatGPT is designed to be used in applications such as chatbots, customer service, and question-answering systems to generate text-based responses to user queries.

I thought this was a bit bland, but it told me the basics. I also thought I would see how it handles an editor’s letter. The result is too long for this column, but it didn’t do a bad job, although it was a bit generic. But it left me wondering what it would produce next month. As an editor you can’t write the same thing every time. One area where it is causing huge disruption is in the academic world, where it can generate abstracts of scholarly articles or write a student’s term paper, while scoring 100% on a plagiarism detector.

Aerospace is always inspiring. Who hasn’t gazed in awe at the incredible images that emerged from the Webb-Ellis telescope last year; and low earth orbit satellites quietly make our internet world possible. Starlink has 3500 satellites in orbit, including those making a difference in the airspace over the Ukraine. `The number of LEO satellites approved for deployment will reach more than 30 000 by the end of the decade.

There are other trends generating huge hype such as the industrial. This time last year the world was excited about NFTs, crypto and the metaverse. By last September, NFT markets were down 90% and crypto was in freefall. In 2023 the metaverse is still more dream than reality.

Despite last year’s hype, companies won’t be investing vast sums in the metaverse in 2023. Your staff won’t be creating avatars and solving challenges in the virtual world. The current economic climate demands investments with a clear road to value. They will be investing in digital twins that mirror machines and facilities to optimise their operations. The metaverse is for another year.

When it comes to lights out manufacturing, it looks like the lights will still be on for a while. Most manufacturers are at level 2 or 3 out of 5 in their digital transformation. Typically they have started to connect some wireless assets and integrate data sources. Most still need to retrofit sensors and manage the machines they have relied on for years. Apart from ‘factories of the future’ like the Mercedes Factory 56 and the Tesla Gigafactory in Germany, level 5 lights out manufacturing is still coming.

In 2023 the challenge will be creating new possibilities when these technologies are used together − what Harvard Business Review calls combinatorial trends. Leaders will have to do more with less and strategically invest in technologies that are hitting a tipping point.


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Empowering education and learning through innovation
Festo South Africa News
Education stands as the cornerstone of progress in a world propelled by innovation and driven by the passion for learning. Recognising the pivotal role of learning institutions in shaping tomorrow’s leaders, Festo Didactic has launched the groundbreaking Fluid Power Blue Moon Special to revolutionise learning experiences in higher educational institutions, training centres, and Technical Vocational Education and Training colleges.

Women engineers contribute to a culture of safety and innovation
ABB South Africa News
International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) recently marked its 11th anniversary, with the theme of #EnhancedByEngineering. This annual event celebrates the contributions of women engineers worldwide, highlighting their role in enhancing lives and livelihoods through their work. Among these remarkable individuals, two talented engineers from ABB are building a brighter future for all of us.

RS South Africa celebrates women in engineering
RS South Africa News
International Women in Engineering Day, an annual event that celebrates the incredible contributions of women engineers worldwide, is marking its 11th anniversary under the theme of #EnhancedByEngineering.

SEW-EURODRIVE to showcase drive innovation at Electra Mining
SEW-Eurodrive News
SEW-EURODRIVE has expanded its presence at Electra Mining Africa this year with added exhibition space that showcases its innovations in automation and electronics. This complements the company’s large landmark stand, which has always been a favourite for visitors.

Driving sustainable development through education and innovation
RS South Africa News
RS South Africa is committed to nurturing the next generation of engineers, innovators and technologists, recognising them as the driving force behind sustainable development.

The just energy transition starts at the Solar Youth Academy
Life Choices and GREEN Solar Academy are breaking ground with tangible results from their Solar Youth Academy. Their aim is to produce work-ready interns for the solar industry.

Zutari coordinates MeerKAT radio telescope array
Leading consulting engineering and infrastructure advisory practice, Zutari is continuing its involvement with the world-leading MeerKAT radio telescope array, where it has played a leading role since the project first broke ground.

Schneider Electric named the world’s most sustainable company
Schneider Electric South Africa News
Schneider Electric has topped the list of the World’s Most Sustainable Companies for 2024 by Time magazine and Statista.

WEG Africa Ghana marks 15 years of service
WEG Africa News
WEG Africa’s Ghana operation has transformed into a fully-fledged branch. Through an expanded network of Value Added Resellers (VARs), the branch has boosted its capacity to deliver tailored and responsive solutions to a diverse customer base in West Africa.

Connecting with stakeholders at Electra Mining Africa
Trafo Power Solutions is set to make a significant impact at this year’s Electra Mining Africa, and will use the platform to connect with stakeholders and reinforce its position as a leader in electrical power solutions.