Interviewer: What is your name, position/role and your institution?
Brian Waterfield: So my name is Brian Waterfield i'm head of immersive production at Falmouth University i'm also visiting professor at Birmingham City University.
Interviewer: Could you provide an explanation of the impact that digital manufacturing is having on your sector?
Brian Waterfield: So in my previous role I was digital manufacturing for the automotive industry and digital manufacturing and digital industry was a massive factor in how product development was producing the next line of items to the customer. It impacts every single item from design to engineering to feasibility to manufacturing to service and then out to the markets.
So having a massive impact and navigating the impact and navigating those tools is really putting a lot of pressure on industry to to move from the industrial age more into a digital age.
Interviewer: Could you highlight some of the challenges that digital technologies pose to those working in manufacturing?
Brian Waterfield: So some of the challenges that we found with digital uh in the digital age regarding to manufacturing and also product development there are many. There's one that's the cultural element adoption of new tools into new processes there's always a resistance from us as people to change and also there's a fear factor that these sort of tools will start to replace jobs and things like that so getting that cultural development and that cultural change is quite a big task.
There's also legacy legacy not only from a cultural point of view but legacy from IT and infrastructure, getting them changed from a very industrial focused uh setup into a more digital flexible and rapid changing setup is not an easy task because you can't just pull the plug on legacy systems that are producing product.
You have to do it in steps have to replace them over time or at least have a plan how you're going to bridge that gap between the legacy and the new systems that are putting in and adopting technology from a singles uh single person perspective is also like working with robots, working with new technology, working with new headsets, working with new IT not only has a cultural impact it also has an impact on well-being and and any certain disabilities that may arise in using this sort of technology or having an impact on that technology.
So what i mean by that you can get fear and anxiety in these you can get motion section using different techniques. There's the ergonomics assessments that have to be looked at not only when you are say working on a track in manufacturing uh there's also using different tools that you may not be used to and it may not be intuitive to the body to use those different tools so there are so many different hurdles that need to be overcome to make this an everyday uh almost confident use of digital tools.
Interviewer: Could you explain the ways in which DigiTop and other digital manufacturing research can help companies?
Brian Waterfield: Uh the concept of digital is a very sound idea which is why i was involved with it at the start because i think the what industry does need is a set of tools rather than you need to do this you need to do that some tools that they can just adopt users sort of even apps users as extensions to what they already do it's almost like a support of that transition into a digital transformation from that industrial age.
So DigiTop's idea of creating a tool set and diving into the different aspects that may affect the manufacturing process is very valid. Um, but very difficult as well because there are so many different elements to the manufacturing process that tailoring tools into that that work uh process is very difficult to please everybody and please every different element so it was quite a difficult task that they went under but it was very valid in where their direction of where they want to go with it.
My, my feelings uh when i was supporting uh in my role from industrial point of view into DigiTop i found that the universities involved were very proactive in their response and also very understanding of the different aspects within manufacturing.
As i said i think it's a difficult task to answer those questions and i think that research and development has a difficult task anyway in working within the framework of the industrial education system so that there's a almost looking in on themselves and how they work within that digital world as an education research environment supporting the education and research related to digital development within industry.
So i think they they're navigating that really well together i thought the universities were really responsive for this and there are so many questions still to be answered uh so i think DigiTop has a way to go but all relevant in what it tries to presume.