Jon Hirschtick, the general manager of Onshape at PTC, spoke recently at the Robotics Summit in Boston, and he had a lot to say about the technology that is shaping our future. Hirschtick, who is well known as the fellow who developed Solidworks, was also a member of the famed MIT Blackjack Team, which was the basis for the 2008 feature film, 21. Here are four things he sees greatly affecting our future — in manufacturing and at work.
- Robots aren’t quite what we thought they would be — they’re not just humanoid helpers from sci-fi movies. Instead, they’re everywhere, and our definition of them needs to evolve. Our cars have adaptive cruise control and lane keeping, our kids are playing with drones. Aren’t those technically robots? Hirschtick said that when he talks to robotics companies, everything’s about speed; everything must happen faster than it used to. All the external influences on manufacturing are changing, and the marketplace demand is changing even faster than that. And that all means we need newer and better robots to help us make those changes.
- Hirschtick sees manufacturing as becoming more agile, augmented, and additive. New design techniques and generative design for engineers, such as additive manufacturing, are game changing. From the ability to do rapid prototyping to making standard parts, 3D printing can greatly speed up the development process — and real-world machines are being built this way today, it’s no longer just parts in the lab or theoretical research projects. What’s more, computing technology can turbocharge what engineers can do, be it for generative design, for simulation, or exploring parametric design spaces.
- There will be increased computing power, thanks to the cloud. Hirschtick explained that engineers in the near future will have more computing power than what’s currently in a desktop computer. He sees the world evolving to where an engineer opens his or her laptop computer and the simulation will simply stream to it. Additionally, he predicts that the digital twin concept will mean more IoT usage — and that we’ll be able to connect the physical to the digital twins.
- The workplace will continue to evolve, and we must be ready for that and accepting of it. Remember that it’s not just employees who may be working remotely or in different places on different days. Where contractors, vendors, and customers are working is different, and it changes all the time. The idea of the fixed location is changing and will continue to change.
Filed Under: Fluid Power World Magazine Articles, IoT