Among the prominent partners at ALUMINIUM 2022 is Quartz Business Media, the publishing company behind Aluminium International Today. Content Director Nadine Bloxsome talks in an interview about the importance of Industry 4.0 for the sector.
"The perfect place to showcase industry knowledge"
ALUMINIUM: Nadine, why is Aluminium International Today participating in the "Innovation Plaza Additive & Digital Manufacturing" at ALUMINIUM World Trade Fair?
Nadine Bloxsome: Aluminium International has a long-standing and excellent working relationship with RX Global, and this new initiative, which will be presented at this year‘s ALUMINIUM Show, provides the perfect platform for both portfolios to combine their industry knowledge and bring this to a wider audience. Aluminium International Today is a leading global publication for the whole value chain, but in recent years, the team have created content dedicated to highlighting the challenges behind implementing Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing solutions. This new Innovation Plaza, with a focus on Additive and Digital Manufacturing, is therefore the perfect place to present this industry knowledge, host diverse discussions and examine technological case studies.
Where do your competences lie in the field of digital manufacturing, and what exactly will your contribution look like? Can you already give a few details?
Nadine: In 2018, Aluminium International Today launched the Future Aluminium Forum, which is a dedicated networking event designed to look at how innovative technology can be brought together, with the sole intention of revolutionising the way Aluminium is made. This event has since evolved and through its online and print editions, Aluminium International Today produces regular, specific content with regards to digital manufacturing developments and implementation challenges. With regular contributors from across the industry and a large network of across-sector representatives, we continue to develop and share the latest information on applications, Artificial Intelligence, automation and robotics.
"Aluminium International has a long-standing and excellent working relationship with RX Global, and this new initiative, which will be presented at this year‘s ALUMINIUM Show, provides the perfect platform for both portfolios to combine their industry knowledge and bring this to a wider audience."
Digitalization in manufacturing has been talked about for many years – why do you think digital manufacturing is still such an important topic?
Nadine: Manufacturers today are already seeing the transformative benefits of Industry 4.0 and recent surveys have shown that the significant impacts are still to come, with up to 85% of American manufacturing companies set to be using smart factories by 2025. One of the important areas to consider is whether progress towards this Fourth Industrial Revolution is lagging behind the optimistic perception of its potential.
Is there a gap when it comes to realising the value of Industry 4.0 and implementation? Have companies adapted to a change in culture that sees them able to move beyond the proof of concept? Or are there still issues with plants struggling to integrate data and connect across all systems?
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt across a number of industries, but it seems that the aluminium sector was able to use this time to accelerate plans for robotic automation programs and ensure factory employees were kept at safe distances, while integrating more remote working and assisted technologies.
Smart factory tools like remote monitoring, predictive maintenance and analytics played a crucial role while plants ran on skeleton staff and supply chains were interrupted.
Something to consider is how the aluminium sector can ensure there isn't a gap between those industry leaders who are already embracing Industry 4.0 and those who are holding back from making changes? There is also a huge impetus on how digitalisation is paving the way for more sustainable solutions and which areas are already seeing the benefits when it comes to lowering emissions and streamlining activities.
"Something to consider is how the aluminium sector can ensure there isn't a gap between those industry leaders who are already embracing Industry 4.0 and those who are holding back from making changes?"
What do you expect from ALUMINIUM, and what are you particularly looking forward to?
Nadine: ALUMINIUM 2022 has been a very long-time coming and I think the industry is more than ready for it this September! It was great to be able to meet some friends and colleagues at the Aluminium Business Summit in 2021, but after such a long time, I am sure it will be beneficial to everyone to visit a live show again.
I am particularly looking forward to re-connecting with companies and seeing lots of new projects and products showcased. It will also be an honour to host sessions within the Innovation Plaza and hear from those in the industry who are at the forefront of these developments and where the change is really being applied.
Interview: Bernhard Fragner.