The power generation and transmission sector has been slow in the uptake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), says global engineering company Aurecon Group energy unit manager Sibu Mvana.
She notes that this is mainly caused by the differing views on the impact of 4IR and the limited understanding of the value of available technologies. It has become even more critical that people understand exactly what 4IR is in the current technological climate and how it will impact their working environments.
The uptake of technological advances, such as battery storage, drones and virtual reality, has significantly improved the level of accuracy of project designs, reduced project costs and has led to a lot more collaboration and involvement from clients, says Mvana.
“From a 4IR perspective, as South Africa, we lack a proper plan and framework to prioritise key areas within 4IR. Doing so will help us properly scope the education and skills required for us to participate in this sector.”
She mentions that 4IR needs to be embedded as part of higher education curriculum, where all students integrate 4IR in their learnings. Sadly, this is not currently the case.
Further, Mvana notes that consulting engineers have a massive transformative role to play in society as this will ultimately influence trends and technology. She emphasised the importance of engineers voicing their opinions and standing by their judgement calls on projects, further pointing out that this is going to be more important as the currency of consulting engineers will move from time and cost to a currency of impact and significance.
Mvana adds that digital engineering enables companies to operate on a global platform where they can share ideas with their counterparts.
“It really opens up the industry to a lot more possibilities in understanding trends and being able to exchange ideas because we are a Skype call away from our counterparts on the other side of the world. We challenge each other to better solutions for our clients,” she concludes.