Engineers have been shaping technology since the dawn of time. These individuals require complex technology to create and maintain their current projects, but this technology doesn’t always exist at the time of manufacture. So, how do engineers know what is coming down the pipeline?
Fortunately, engineers can use their knack for future-proofing the world to predict how technology is going to change their design process. Things will only begin to change if everyone is on board with the same idea, and this conformity creates a trend. Engineers can follow these trends to easily pivot their designs to shape the future. With that said, what trends in engineering design are going to be used from this point onward? Let’s find out.
Since computers are the catalyst for all modern technologies, it makes sense that edge computing is becoming the norm. This type of computing technology is the latest in cloud server development and is essential for faster processing speeds and decision-making.
Edge computing technology stores your data at the very edge of the network, removing it from the cloud server as much as possible. This means that the data can only be used on local devices, such as smartphones or computers hooked up to the company’s local intranet. This removes any unnecessary delays in data transference, ensuring that your plans are shared with the correct individuals in record time. Therefore, edge computing can cut your planning time so that engineering teams across the world can continue at peak performance.
Generative design software may be the most useful piece of tech that engineers will ever need. By looking at how automatic processes work, the developers of this technology have made it possible for engineering teams to put design criteria into a matrix that will spit out every possible design that fits the initial parameters.
This one piece of software is saving design teams time and creating ideas that the human mind may not have thought possible. There is no understating how revolutionary generative design is, and you can head to nTopology to read their generative design guide for proof of this. What’s more, the designs released by this technology can inform engineers about new ideas. Therefore, generative design can also act as a teaching tool for future generations as well.
The field of robotics has already revolutionized the manufacturing process in a variety of ways. For example, there is no longer a need for a production line of people in most factories. Almost all the work is now completed by machines.
While engineering design work is a lot more complex than assembly tasks, there are ways that advanced robotics is assisting in this area. Firstly, this hardware can be programmed to replicate human behavior. This means that you can have machines that accurately build design prototypes to the specifications of the individual. Secondly, these machines can perform the dangerous procedures that are necessary for the experimental phase of engineering design. Using machines like this will prevent workplace injury while also yielding more conclusive test results as you do not have to take human error into account.
Tablets and other smart technology have given engineers the ability to work reliably within a three-dimensional design space. These engineers can now create accurate models and test them for errors or sustainability in a virtual environment. Unfortunately, this virtual environment isn’t always going to be true to real-world physics.
With 3D printing technology, though, engineers can create these initial designs and bring them into the real world to be tested. Not only is this technology changing prototype testing, but it is also revolutionizing the design phase as a whole. There are parts of 2D designs that need to remain entirely hypothetical until it hits the prototype stage. With 3D printing, you can tailor your designs exactly to your specifications and find out much earlier whether your design is successful.
The idea of sustainability refers to the practice of reducing the negative effects that some acts have on the environment. Sustainability has become a natural part of most industries in recent times, and the field of engineering is no different.
Companies are now being advised to work using renewable energy sources and natural materials, rather than opting for the best resource for the job. You may believe that these restrictions would only serve to stall engineering designs; however, it has had a positive effect on the industry. Everything that comes from an engineering factory will now have a much longer life span and is much safer to use. Therefore, sustainability promotes a more reliable design process.
Virtual Site Inspection
Site inspections are necessary to ensure that all engineering work is performed in a manner that reflects the current health and safety guidelines. This means that all design equipment must function at the highest standards and that staff minimizes risks wherever possible. These site inspections used to be conducted by a real person, and their results would be shared with the team leader or a similar individual who is in charge.
As technology improves, it is becoming more normal for virtual site inspections to occur. These inspections are carried out remotely, and the person undertaking the inspection will do so with a series of video cameras to identify and log any potential issues. This full report can then be shared and viewed by the entire design team, providing them with a more comprehensive evaluation so that the relevant improvements can be made immediately. With everyone on the same page, the design process can quickly be updated to reflect current health and safety mandates. With more people investing in remote technology like this, it seems that data sharing is going to be much easier for engineering teams in the future.
A digital twin is a virtual replicant of an object that can chart its entire lifespan. In short, it acts as a simulation of a theoretical object created by the design team. This allows the engineering design team to conduct virtual risk assessments that are much safer than doing so with a real prototype. What’s more, it is much cheaper to construct a digital version of a project rather than testing a fully built product that contains real materials.
In terms of future design, the sky is the limit. With little waste produced, engineers can construct and test theoretical designs without having to worry about the environment. Also, these digital twins can predict how a project will function in the future, which means that newer generations can learn from these designs to create new design trends before they have even become a reality.
Everything discussed so far has utilized modern technology to its full potential; however, there is one new technology that is going to continue to develop alongside the current need so the user. That technology is artificial intelligence.
AI entered the market a few years ago, and its applications are broad. However, this technology has been embraced by the engineering community more so than in other fields, especially the design team. There is nothing else that can manage large quantities of data like artificial intelligence. These systems can review, monitor, and send design data at a rapid pace, allowing teams to communicate more effectively. Furthermore, this system can also help process and share data between other departments, which means the link between the design team and the manufacturers has never been stronger. A designer can recognize an error and send new specs to the manufacturing department before they have even turned on their equipment. Soon, AI should be able to spot the design errors itself, improving the quality of designs as well as the speed at which engineering teams communicate.
With all the new technology on the market, there need to be people in the field trained to manage and implement it. That is the basic job of a blockchain engineer. These individuals are trained to develop automation frameworks within the building while also testing for bugs in the current system. These blockchain engineers are there to prevent disruption in the design process, ensuring that no technical issues hinder the engineering team.
All the technology mentioned above is a huge advancement, and the current engineers are not always able to keep up with the protocols necessary to maintain it with the training they have. Blockchain engineers are qualified individuals whose primary focus is engineering tech. This means that they can apply their knowledge of advancing computer systems specifically to the field of engineering. People trained in this subject are quickly being hired by engineering companies, and it won’t be long until every design team has a blockchain engineer on board.
Most of the technology trends are already being applied to modern life, so it only makes sense that engineering teams adopt these processes for their own use. However, tech is now at the point where it is able to advance itself, which means that the future of engineering design may involve people learning from technology, rather than the other way around.