Dear Renzo, we know that you are an expert in materials science and that you drafted the Report on the state of the art of advanced manufacturing in the transport sector. We would like to make you some questions on the current state of the European transport sector and the main results obteined by Skillman untill now.
We know for instance that the economic crisis challenges the European industry. In this what are the main challenges to the growth of the transport sector in Europe?
R.S.: The transport sector is very important in Europe, as well in any other industry intensive area, because it lays at the crossing of several relevant priorities of our society:
- it is a main industry production, with top cars producers, top airplane producers, top trains producers;
- it is relevant in terms of mobility of persons and of goods, which is the basis for self-development of people, and upscaling of commercial exchanges;
- it is a basis for society transformation because of globalization, migration trends, cultural interconnections;
- it is a main market for energy and fuels use.
The economy crisis has cut production and jobs also in the transport sector, asking for innovative technologies that may answer the needs to reduce production costs and operational costs while improving the expectations of the customer.
In recent years cars production has introduced many crucial innovations such as totally automated robotic line production, electric engine combined with combustion engine, GPS guidance instead of viewing printed maps, active safety countermeasure against the vehicle control loss, lightweight metals and materials to reduce total weight.
The introduction of lightweight materials in airplane production has provided crucial advantages for long distance routes (more fuel/more passengers), paving the way for low-cost companies.
The substitution of slow trains with fast trains on the most popular routes has totally renewed the business perspective of railways, becoming competitive with airlines on the middle distance.
The main challenges in Europe for the growth of the transport sector are addressed to the vehicle producers, to the travels providers, to the society. The task is to exploit the technology excellence that Europe is able to produce and reply to the challenge with an innovative solution, made in Europe, that leads the breakthrough.
What is the impact of the innovative technologies on jobs and skills of the transport sector?
R.S.: The transport sector is living a time on the edge of radical changes of the way we think how to travel. This situation is a result of the crisis combined with other negative or positive factors as well important as security threats, an extended mobility across Europe (Erasmus effect) and beyond (globalization effects).
So, the technology change will affect the way of travelling for a huge amount of customers of the transport sector. The impact on the jobs will necessarily be huge, changing the mass productions and its organization. More automation, more robotic manufacturing, more additive machining will reduce manual work utilization, increasing high-tech working time.
Machinery operational skills will change; metallurgy operational skills will change; synthetic materials will change. Consequently also the basic background for specialists and engineers will vary, including topics not considered a few years ago.
Some opinion leaders think that A.I. (basis of highly innovative techs) will induce a net reduction of jobs both in production and services. While this statement is an old view, today A.I. is going to surpass human intelligence, and also the design of new concepts will be pretty soon attributed to machines for their superior means.
In conclusion, the transport sector is a crossing between production and services that will be one the first carrier for approaching the benefits of A.I. techs and for making evident their social consequences.
What does Skillman do to support the competitiveness of the European transport sector?
R.S.: Skillman has the aim to provide innovative joint European curricula addressing current competencies and skills requirements for a set of critical technologies indicated by the Partners, such as Robotics, Advanced materials and Wireless connection. Skillman also aims to also establish a structured approach in detecting and sharing information on emerging new needs via the Observatory on Advanced Manufacturing for the Transport Sector.
The Observatory ensures the continuity of the labour market intelligence activities as well as the relevance of the joint European curricula in connection with emerging technologies.
Furthermore, Skillman aims at creating a wide and complementary network of organizations external to the Consortia, active and interested in the field of Advanced Manufacturing with the purpose of promoting direct involvement, during the contractual period and beyond, in order to secure exploitation and adoption of project deliverables and outcomes within different regional and national contexts.
The set of Skillman activities will provide a basic ground to enhance the competitiveness of the European transport sector.
What research priorities will drive the transformation of the European manufacturing sectors?
R.S.: The requirements for radical innovations in the manufacturing sectors has promoted so far intensive research for new lightweight materials, artificial intelligence applied all the segments, high-quality production by processing real-time controls, reducing overall energy consumption, considering sustainable recycling. The Manufacturing Vision 2030 lists the following R&D domains:
- advanced manufacturing processes
- adaptive and smart manufacturing systems
- digital, virtual and resourceefficient factories
- collaborative and mobile enterprises
- humancentred manufacturing
- customerfocused manufacturing.
By no doubt the manufacturing in the future will employ novel machining (casting, additive, polishing), novel materials (synthetic, composite, light, functional), novel production organization (collaborative, human centred, customer oriented).
What are the main results obtained until now by Skillman and what will be the next goals?
R.S.: The middle term report reached the results expected.
A WP1.1 deliverable is ”Report on the state of the art of advanced manufacturing in the transport sector”, published by IFAC-CNR, ISBN n. 9788890685972 (2016).
The “Yearly Outlook on competences and skills needs in Robotics” has been published under coordination by Jaguar Land Rover in 2016.
A WP1.2 deliverable “Report on VET Providers and Educational Challenges in Europe in the field of Advanced Manufacturing in the Transport Sector” has been published in 2016.
A Workshops on Advanced Manufacturing for the Transport Sector has been organized by CRF in February 2015.
A Workshops on Advanced Manufacturing for the Transport Sector has been organized by TEC in May 2016.
Skillman partners after a thorough activity in 2015 and 2016 are on schedule to design the Joint Curricula to cover the needs of certified professional training in the main innovative technologies entering the transport sector.