Technological innovations in recent years have been nothing short of astounding and they have touched every industrial sector and their respective markets in turn. The multiconnected impact lines that follow every innovation in technology are hard to trace nowadays because they stretch on to touch numerous, seemingly unconnected sectors and subsectors as well.
In fact, some of the bigger innovations in tech have recently been big enough to have their butterfly effects felt across all sectors of modern business. However, if we focus on each major tech impact’s roots, it is possible to identify the most prominent technological innovations in recent years. Keeping only some of the more impactful commercial tech trends in mind, here’s a brief look at some of what is changing the industry even now.
Establishment of the Digital Workspace
Prior to 2020, it was theoretical knowledge for many sectors that a digital workspace could help them to cut down on unnecessary expenses. However, very few of them thought of a remote work as something that could become anything more than a supplementary process. With disillusionment comes clarity and the mass digital migration of the workplace will continue for years to come.
Preparation is also one of the most important reasons now, because Covid-19 taught the industry a lesson. It was a lesson about the importance of being truly prepared for emergencies, however unlikely it may seem at the time. The idea of working from home is not exactly novel because it was common practice in IT, long before the pandemic started forcing everyone into complete lockdowns. However, if we look at how quickly millions of businesses across the globe were able to adapt to the digital workspace, we get an inkling of the effort that went into supporting it.
To incorporate so many new sectors into the digital workspace and support their myriad range of different needs on such a grand scale was the biggest challenge that IT had ever faced. As we know now, the enormous effort was successful and countless sectors survived the worst of it. It is impossible to highlight every idea, innovation, and improvisation that allowed such a massive migration to the digital workspace to be successful, but the commercial PC’s emergence played one of the biggest roles.
The Commercial PC for Home
A computer running on Microsoft Windows is commonly referred to as a PC and that definition applies to all Windows computers in both the consumer and the commercial sectors. Therefore, it is easy to forget that PC stands for Personal Computer and the phrase commercial PC is an oxymoron. However, the phrase found new and more relevant meaning amidst the pandemic as a series of new workstation computers were now being released to serve as commercial computers at home.
For example, the ThinkStation P360 is a Lenovo home office desktop that serves as a powerful, commercial workstation. Despite being powered by commercial-grade internals such as an Intel Core-i9 12900 CPU, an RTX A4500 (20GB VRAM) GPU, and 128GB of DDR5 RAM, it runs only on a 750W PSU, while taking up the same space as the average home desktop computer. Workstations are generally designed and built to host the digital workspace and act as a local server for small to medium sized businesses. However, this new generation of commercial workstations are now energy-efficient and small enough to be used in the same capacity as a home-office desktop PC.
During the covid lockdowns, the availability of such workstations made it possible for companies to make that shift to an advanced digital workspace for remote working. Businesses could now be operated from one’s home, minimising the need for in-person interactions. Post pandemic, several establishments chose to keep a portion of their workforce connected from home because:
- Implementing social distancing policies in an office with fewer people is much more effective.
- The system was already well established and working fine by then.
- After the digitisation was complete, companies were able to cut down on their establishment costs considerably.
- The money saved in establishment costs proved substantial and it was being redirected to retain jobs and improve business.
Even though working from home is not considered to be essential anymore, the infrastructure being built is still growing at an astounding pace. Given how considerable the savings can be, it would have been a surprising development to see work-from-home setups not become as popular as they are in 2022.
Artificial Intelligence and Robotics: Boosted Productivity and Worker Safety
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is stigmatised and made almost synonymous with job cuts, but the role of intelligent software is not always as negative for industrial employees as social media and entertainment media often makes it out to be. In recent years, a series of innovations in AI and robotics technology have made work environments safer and healthier for workers across multiple sectors. For example, mining was always one of the world’s most dangerous jobs and it continues to be dangerous even today. However, if we check the official stats about mining accidents and fatalities as reported in the last two decades, a clear and sharp decline in both becomes evident.
Mining operations have only expanded in volume, while the companies are digging deeper than ever before with each passing year. Even the employment rate has increased to unprecedented volumes in the mining sector. All these facts should make mining a more dangerous industry than before and yet we see a sharp fall in fatalities and major accidents. This positive change is possible today because the mining sector was heavily revolutionised through the introduction of innovative and ground-breaking mining tech. A look through some of the most impactful events should help us get a better understanding of how they are boosting productivity and ensuring employee safety at the same time.
- AI-assisted robotic mining equipment has taken over most of the tasks that generally led to such high fatality rates among miners.
- A-GPS and underground drone mapping negates the need for miners to do so manually, thus reducing their chances of coming into contact with explosive and toxic elements.
- Flood mine exploration is now made possible without risking human lives, thanks to intelligent robots capable of functioning on their own.
- Autonomous and remote operated diggers and drillers create underground tunnels for mining, without risking human lives or compromising the surrounding structure’s integrity.
- AI-sensors allow robotic equipment to dig with minimal chances of a cave-in, while also enabling other autonomous equipment such as mining trains, haulers, and loaders to progress with minimal danger.
- AI-sensors warn miners against cave-ins, dangerous aerosols, explosive gases, and structural compromises well in advance, reducing the age-old risks of mining quite considerably.
- AI-assisted and geotagged medical sensors alert all personnel about the miner’s location if someone suffers a debilitating injury or a medical emergency underground.
Keep in mind that mining is just one of several other sectors that AI and robotics has managed to revolutionise in terms of both production capacity and worker safety. The introduction of smart robotics has impacted several other core industries as well, which includes manufacturing, packaging, and supply chain among others. In fact, the few points mentioned here about mining tech’s impact are only brief introductions and there is a lot more to explore if it interests you for commercial or personal reasons.