Barry Kennedy, IMR
Barry introduced his presentation with a personal story of when he had cancer and linked it to how the Irish Manufacturing Research centre of which he is CEO approached its research. He then discussed what IMRs function was to ‘demystify, derisk and deliver emerging technologies for manufacturing industries. He discussed the thematic areas that they are currently prioritising such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Collaborative Robotics, Additive Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 covering data analytics, optimisation of manufacturing lines.
He explained why manufacturing was important citing the demise of the TV industry in the US and Europe before moving on to show how important manufacturing was to the island of Ireland. He quoted numbers of 36% GDP from the IDA versus an EU average around 15% GDP and showed that indigenous manufacturing accounted for over 60% of manufacturing in Ireland and that’s with a backdrop of MNC investment into Ireland which is the envy of most other countries in the World.
Barry spoke of the challenge and opportunities of emerging technologies for industries. He discussed the 4 industrial revolutions in the context of business models and who controlled the industries in the 4 stages. He showed how digital technology has disrupted traditional business models such as the hotel industry with Airbnb and the taxi industry with Uber. Barry then moved on to look at how industries such as the car manufacturers in Detroit were decimated during the automation revolution during Ind 3.0 and warned that industries in Ireland cannot be complacent and afford to be left behind.
His talk then moved onto some examples of emerging technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence). He discussed how AI for instance has the power to do good such as interpret better than a human things such a CT scans in medicine but equally talked of a case where an AI engine online became a racist. He warned that as we embrace these technologies we do so with our eyes wide open and discussed the need for, in certain circumstances, for potential legislation to be considered. He stated that Ireland needs to decide the kind of society it wants and to look at the ethics of these systems. Nonetheless he stressed these technologies are here and that we must embrace them for all the good they bring.
He then went on to talk about the advantages of digitising of manufacturing lines, collaborative robotics, additive manufacturing / 3D printing before answering questions from Matt Cooper and the audience.