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Top 6 advanced technologies from 2021

2nd February 2022

As an industry, engineering is constantly evolving thanks to the technological growth faced year on year. Currently under Industry 4.0, thanks to the digitalisation of manufacturing, we at IES have seen recent technological advancements regarding automation and augmented / virtual reality.  Our position in being a leading provider of engineering services to manufacturers in the advanced technology sector means that we must stay up-to-date with new trends and technologies, in order to provide the best quality services to our customers.

With 2021 now behind us, it’s the perfect chance to reflect on and acknowledge six of the top technological advancements that the engineering sector can learn from and adopt over the last twelve months.

1. Space X Starship Rocket

Space X Starship Rocket

One of the highlights for the aerospace industry in 2021 was the battle of the billionaires. Elon Musk’s Space X, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, between them they brought high levels of press and technological advancements to the aerospace industry. One of the most noteworthy coming from Elon Musk’s Space X, the fully reusable Starship.

The Starship spaceship got off to a slow start, intended to take NASA astronauts for the moon for the first time since 1972. Test flights in early 2021 kept resulting in a number of fiery explosions, however on the 5th of May, Space X Starship prototype completed the first successful landing sequence.

The Starship landing procedure involved a highly complex ‘bellyflop’ manoeuvre, consisting of a horizontal free-fall from miles above sea level. Just before reaching back onto land the Starship corrects its position accomplished by the independent movement of two forward and two alt flaps controlled by on-board computers.

So, what does this mean for the wider aerospace industry? Space X’s development of their Starship Rocket has enabled the entire aerospace industry to get behind the largest revelation of space travel since the 1969 moon landing, putting humans on Mars. The aerospace industry demands long-term reliability and performance with any error posing dire consequences. Over years of delivering consistent results, IES is the trusted equipment relocation partner of numerous prestigious organisations within the aerospace sector.

2. The Galleri Test

The Galleri Test

Despite the heavy focus on Covid-19 within the medical world over the past 24-months, behind the spotlight, an early cancer detection test was being trialed, the Galleri Test.

The Galleri Test is completed through the straightforward drawing of blood from a blood test. The test monitors the DNA in the blood looking for any anomalies within the DNA, to pick up if any come from cancerous cells as they possess distinct differences to normal cells.

Aiming to detect cancer at an early stage, the Galleri Test has the potential to detect over 50 forms of cancer. In the unfortunate circumstance that cancerous cells are detected, the test can then identify with high levels of accuracy where those cancerous cells are located within the body.

Currently under trial by the NHS, the Galleri Test isn’t available to the public just yet. The NHS trial will assess whether the test can accurately and reliably detect cancer in individuals at an earlier stage than if it wasn’t used. A trial like this takes time and the NHS expect the results from the study to be released by the end of 2022. The study will then be expanded from the current 140,000 participants to approximately one million in 2024 and 2025.

According to Cancer Research UK, one in two people in the UK born after 1960 are likely to be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. This statistic highlights how important early cancer detection tests are and how it could have great effects on everyone.

3. Tiangong Space Station

Tiangong Space Station

Ventures into space aren’t only of interest to wealthy billionaires including Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. China space program has been moving from strength-to-strength over the last twenty years, from launching their first crew flight in 2003, to sending the first module of their Tiangong Space Station into orbit last year.

In 2021, the Chinese space program launched the core module of their Tiangong Space Station, which translates to ‘heavenly palace’. The core module has already been home to multiple astronauts since its launch and optimises the use of four ion drives – hyper efficient thrusters to expel charged particles via electricity.

In comparison to the International Space Station which has been continuously occupied since November 2000, the Tiangong Space Station features new machinery which provides occupants with increased home comforts. Including a custom microwave to cope with the demanding conditions of the mission and provide astronauts with hot food.

Although we haven’t mastered machinery movements in space just yet, we do offer machinery movement services back on earth. Most recently completing a critical machinery move for advanced technologies, consisting of over 15 complex machines as well as other ancillary items.

4. Google’s DeepMind AI predicts 3D protein structures

Google’s DeepMind

Prior to 2021, our knowledge of the 3D structure of proteins was limited. With scientists knowing only 17% of the exact 3D structures of proteins found in the human body.

Proteins play a vital role within the equilibrium of our bodies, through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) Google’s DeepMind has predicted over 98% of the human bodies’ proteins, over 20,000 proteins. With 36% of those predictions being accurate on an atomic level. However, this is only part of a wider database of findings.

DeepMind is releasing predictions for the 3D structures of approximately 350,000 proteins including the 20,000 from the human body. These 350,000 proteins span across 20 different organisms from animals to bacteria.

The data has been published on a public domain, meaning that it is easily accessible and can be downloaded by scientists at no cost.  This has been done in the hope that it allows for the development of new medication, to cure and fight diseases and even be used to develop new materials.

Such technology allows for the pharmaceutical industry to develop at an even greater pace than before. With development comes expansion, something that IES has experience in. IES has many years of experience in pharmaceutical equipment relocation and moving a wide variety of equipment within high technology industries.

5. Form Energy’s batteries to eradicate ‘dirty’ electricity

Form Energy’s batteries

The semiconductor industry requires technology which offers high performance and predictability. Maintaining that high level of performance with sustainable technology allows for no compromise required in the fight to reduce global emissions.

In 2021, Form Energy took a pre-existing technology and reinvented it. They have developed a highly efficient battery chemistry for iron-air batteries to be used for the electric grid. Form Energy are using one of the most abundant metals available on earth within the active components of the battery, Iron. By doing so, Form Energy provides a more sustainable alternative to the commonly used coal and gas.

To entice businesses to make the switch to their iron-air batteries, they must offer more than just being sustainable. The biggest barrier electricity faces over coal and gas is being available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The iron-air battery can store electricity for 100 hours, meaning that it can still operate at full capacity despite extreme weather conditions and grid outages.

The batteries operate through the process of ‘reversible rusting’.  When discharging, the battery discharges electron via reacting iron with ambient oxygen to create rust. When charging, the battery then uses inbound electrical currents to convert the rust back to iron and the battery releases oxygen.

6. MBrain by MTek

MBrain

Bringing new levels of efficiency to factory floors. MBrain, developed by MTek is a factory management software that can be implemented alongside a business’ existing software or be operated completely independently.

MBrain connects to all the production machines and processes throughout the manufacturing process and integrates it into one single system for analysis. The software then analyses the system to make the process more efficient by eliminating any time-consuming tasks which aren’t necessary to the manufacturing process.

By providing users with a fully digital map of their factory facilities, MBrain allows businesses the opportunity to find new ways to reduce waste and increase their sustainability. With its easy-to-use dashboard MBrain is available in three modules, each developed to act as a stepping stone to the next.

If you’re looking to increase efficiency within your factory, consolidation, restructuring and global factory relocations are amongst the latest manufacturing trends. IES were recently involved in a complex pan-European factory relocation, where SPX APV required a special relocation and logistics partner with proven understanding of manufacturing’s unique needs. 

Ever advancing technologies

Overall, 2021 has provided us with a vast range of advanced technologies making it very difficult to highlight just six of them. We chose our six based on technologies that we believe can act as a marker for the wider engineering industry to learn from and adopt. What do you think the top advanced technologies of 2022 will be?

If you’re a manufacturer within the advanced technology sector looking for a leading provider of engineering services, then get in touch with us today. We possess unmatched knowledge of high precision machines, tools, and components, making us the partner of choice for hi-tech manufacturers across the globe.