Petrol Head Dead ? #innovation

In today’s Guardian Newspaper there is an article which describes Jaguar Land Rovers plans to invest millions in Electric car & battery technology creating up to 10,000 extra jobs in the UK.  According to Greg Clark the Business Secretary this Technology will form a key component of the Governments Industrial strategy which is to be revealed in the coming weeks.  Part of this will no doubt involve the development of autonomous vehicles which will whisk us from A to B with hardly a conscious thought. In fact current concerns regarding mobile phone texting & driving will disappear as our motors transform into mobile offices & theporsche-911-vintage commute we used to gather our thoughts and prepare for the day ahead is lost forever to the ever encroaching working day – whatever happened to ‘working from home’ ?

Anyone who travels regularly on the UK’s roads realises that the ‘joys of motoring’ were probably last experienced in the 1960’s. Most roads are so congested it is virtually impossible to put your foot down & enjoy the thrills of the road unless you journey to remote parts of Scotland.

The increasing adoption of autonomous vehicles will kill off the ‘petrol head’ forever – as the act of driving becomes more  passive & our senses are cut off from the experience.

Fairly soon driving enthusiasts will join their steam train colleagues in the anorak brigades.

But hang on; maybe, just maybe, there are enough of us out there who hate the idea of autonomous vehicles & want to buy a car to drive. Perhaps we are many & some of the Automotive manufacturers will realise that a sizeable proportion of their customers actually enjoy driving when the conditions allow & want to buy a car to drive it, not the other way round.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

 

The Future is Electric……………….#innovation

The main constraints of electric car technology – range & charging time – have been surmounted by an exciting ‘new’ technology developed by research company Nanoflowcell.

quantinoUsing a liquid battery technology originally developed in the 1950’s & perfected by NASA their Quantino concept car combines positively & negatively charged fluids in fuel cell to generate electricity & harmless water vapour.

The car has achieved a range of over 600 miles on one ‘charge’

Major OEM’s have shown a lot of interest in the technology and the company is in talks with one ‘large manufacturer’ to put the technology into production.

Time will tell but there is little doubt – the automotive future is electric.

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

Start your own #consultancy #business from scratch..

So you really want to start your own Consultancy business from scratch !?

ppt1Here are some tips I hope will help:-

  • Identify your key skills – if you want to sell yourself as a Consultant the first thing you need to identify is the skills you possess which people will be willing to pay for. If you can’t do this don’t give up your day job.
  • Develop a Business Plan – don’t put it off because you can’t be bothered or don’t think it’s necessary. If you want people to take you seriously as a Business you need to start thinking like a Business.
  • Identify your target market – who are you going to sell your skills to ? – your current or former employer perhaps ? Former customers or suppliers, ex colleagues, business partners etc etc
  • Network – Develop your contacts, LinkedIn is great for this but don’t forget about your address book & business card collection.
  • Have a look at the Professional Contractors Group website www.pcg.org.uk – it has a fantastic free downloadable guide for freelancers/consultants.
  • If you still want to take the plunge this is perhaps the hardest step of all – You will need a MINIMUM of 6 months income in the bank before you start. Do not plan to earn anything from your Consultancy business for the first six months. If you really want to succeed with your own Consultancy business you will find this money. If you see this as too big a hurdle then sorry but Consultancy is not for you.

Look out for my new book “Start your own Consultancy – Now!”

chris@amberhill-associates.com

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Wielding Occams Razor

FullSizeRenderThis week was the anniversary of the tragic 9/11 atrocity & a documentary on T.V presented an explanation of why the towers collapsed based on fundamental scientific & engineering principles which demonstrated how a combination of super-heated aluminium (from the planes)  combined with water to create a powerful explosive mixture which was the most likely explanation for the towers collapse. It was so refreshing to see & hear scientists & engineers, working from first principles, expound a theory which stood up to reasoned argument. No CIA conspiracy, no bombs planted in the towers, no bullshit.

This reminded me of a principle which seems to be in short supply these days, that of Occams Razor. William of Occam became famous for espousing that, ‘where there are numerous solutions to a problem, the simplest explanation is often the answer.’

This is  a valuable piece of wisdom that is rarely employed in the era of big data, risk analysis, DFMEA’s, Statistical Analysis etc etc

Next time you have a problem to solve listen to your inner voice & apply the Razor

where there are numerous solutions to a problem, the simplest explanation is often the answer.

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10 things we can learn from the #chinacrisis

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHINA07

1) What goes up MUST come down – I know it’s obvious but some people really believed it was possible for an economy to grow at 7% per year indefinitely – just ask the punters on the Shanghai Index.

2) Gordon Brown didn’t abolish boom & bust – but then we all learned that 7 years ago. Capitalism, for all its pros & cons, is inherently cyclical.

3) Every Market is interconnected – more so now than ever before, any crisis in China will be replicated to one extent or another around the globe.

4) No Government controls the market – whether its the State Capitalist Chinese or the Western Democracies – intervention is limited in its affect.

5) Transparency is a concern – Is the Chinese economy still growing at 6%, 5% or much less – no one knows & there is a distinct lack of trust in the data supplied by the Chinese government.

6) It will impact us all :- The Chinese economy is the second biggest market in the world & although exports vastly exceed imports the purchasing power of the Chinese middle classes will be severely curbed.

7) Social upheaval will follow – The political tensions in China will erupt (to one degree or another); The Chinese Government will struggle to keep a lid on the educated middle classes who have got used to continuous growth & increased wealth.

8) Capitalism is in crisis – as boom follows bust & vice versa Capital flows to the point of highest growth – leaving chaos in its wake.

9) What comes next ? – no one knows – but maybe we should be looking to develop a sustainable society based on full-filling human needs rather than continuously expanding Gross Domestic product ?

10) The sun still rises in the East, sets in the West & the world keeps on turning.

chris@amberhill.biz

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#Innovation leads to Future Disruption……………..#technology

disruptiveIn 1947 Engineers at Bell Labs invented the Transistor. This was followed up by a team at Fairchild Semiconductor who developed the Semiconductor Integrated Circuit (I.C) in 1958. Both examples of ‘Disruptive Technology’ which changed the world forever. The phones & computers we take for granted today would not have been possible without these developments.

The invention of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 is another example of Disruptive Technology which brings about a seismic shift in society.

So what is the next Disruptive Technology ? In the next posts we will examine some of the emerging technologies which may change the fabric of society forever:-

Graphene – is an allotrope of Carbon which forms a 2D hexagonal lattice one atom thick. It is incredibly strong (100 x that of steel, by weight) & also very light & flexible. It is also incredibly conductive to both electricity & heat. The potential is enormous as a material to be used in the manufacture of aerospace & automotive components.

A number of U.K companies are involved in the development of Graphene including Applied Graphene Materials as are a number of Universities. In March George Osborne officially opened the National Graphene Institute in Manchester  with a government grant of over £38 million.

Once Graphene is produced in industrial quantities its use will transform society with lighter, stronger structures in Aerospace, buildings & Automotive. to name a few. It’s electrical properties will revolutionise electronics. More efficient battery technologies will make electrically powered vehicles commonplace on our roads & its use in solar cell technology will lead to cheaper greener energy.

Graphene will Disrupt Society in ways bounded by our imaginations.

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Solar Impulse to go green…………….#innovation

The Technology event which grabbed my attention this week wasn’t the Apple Watch, with its feeble battery life of 17 hrs & dubious applications, it was the most successful solar powered flight ever by the Solar Impulse.

Powered purely by solar energy this amazing craft is part way to completing the first round the world voyage, flying both day & night, powered solely by solar energy.

The implications of this technology are enormous. Every year we spend billions of pounds & consume millions of barrels of oil shipping products across the globe at enormous cost financially and environmentally. If we could harness  solar powered technology to transport a fraction of these goods we will be reducing consumption of fossil fuels & lowering their damaging effect on our fragile eco-system.

We must harness the power of innovation to combat Climate Change & the success of this amazing craft can point us in the right direction.

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Flexible circuits promise IOT rewards……….#innovation

flex circuitCambridge start up Pragmatic I.C has received over 5 million GBP in funding from Cambridge Innovation Capital, ARM plc & others to develop flexible micro-circuits which may be used to embed computing power in everyday objects and bring on the Internet Of Things revolution.

The firm, whose circuits are ‘thinner than a human hair’ is already making prototype devices in its Cambridge facility & reckons its processes are scalable for mass production.

The ability to embed complex circuits in everyday objects which are not flat like clothing, automotive trim, airplane bodies & household items offers tremendous potential for the development of intelligent ‘things’.

Flexible circuits, in themselves, are nothing new in the world of Microelectronics, I remember working on printed plastic circuits 30 years ago at General Hybrid Ltd in Jarrow before the company was unfortunately declared bankrupt.

Potential problems with flexible circuits tend to revolve around component stability & reliability; hopefully PragmaticIC have this covered & they will go on to have tremendous success, having the backing of ARM plc, the U.K’s most successful ‘modern’  electronics company  is a terrific bonus & their Innovation is to be admired.

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Who needs driverless cars ? #automotive

driverless__mercedeslMercedes Benz has joined the herd of Automotive companies who have followed Google’s lead in developing autonomous (driverless) vehicles for use on public roads.

But where is the demand coming from ? Who actually wants driverless cars ? It may surprise but, according to a recent Government survey, over 46% of us do!

Maybe its the thought of an extra hours sleep on the daily commute or the desire to squeeze another couple of hours work time in our already busy days; perhaps we imagine driving on our congested roads will be more pleasurable if the car takes the strain instead of us – whatever the reasons there is no doubt that some time soon autonomous vehicles will be a common sight on our roads and the investment decisions of the major motor manufacturers will begin to make sense.

Once again Google will be praised by some & cursed by others, but there will be no denying the Organisations prescience.

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2014 – Year of Discovery……..#automotive

This year has been an extremely exciting & challenging one for me personally. In January 2014 I signed a 12 month contract with Tata Technologies as Lead Engineer in Exterior Trim developing & bringing to production Jaguar Land Rovers’s Freelander replacement the new ‘Discovery Sport’.

In January I was based in TTL’s Coventry office but spent a lot of time at JLR’s Browns Lane plant in the West Midlands, historical home of Jaguar Cars & now utilised as a Pilot Plant for small scale production.

Walking into Browns Lane was a great experience personally as I met many old friends from JLR having worked on the Range Rover Sport Programme. Although it is a large organization employing many thousands its amazing how many people you get to know working on a project for 18 months.

The pilot build is known as VP build & this stage of the process is very much a learning process. Some trim parts are still not ‘off tool’ & its all about capturing issues via the Automated Issues Management system. This AIMs system is used to track issues & ensure the proper fix is put in place before closure. It provides visibility to Senior Management & its administration is one of the Lead Engineer’s key tasks along with developing engineering solutions & working with key suppliers to ensure timely delivery of quality parts. Most issues require a PACN (to support financial justification) & a Engineering Release to implement the change. As most Engineers are responsible for numerous parts time is rapidly eroded before its time for the next build – Hard Tool Functional Build (HTFB)

This build took place at JLR’s Halewood plant where the Discovery Sport is to be mass produced & which was to be my base for the next 8 months.

Halewood is a large plant which covers several square miles & employs over 8,000 people.  Most of the Product Coaches & Line Engineers were involved in the Browns Lane builds so there were many familiar faces at Halewood as well as plenty new ones. Halewood is one of JLR’s centres of excellence & the Engineering knowledge here is second to none.

Over the next 8 months we embarked on a number of builds increasing in numbers & complexity. This is a very stressful period for all & the nearer Volume Launch approaches the pressure piles on.

It was with a mixture of relief & a great sense of achievement  when Volume Launch in December was achieved and cars began rolling off the production line at a rate of one every 40 seconds !!

It is important to recognise the economic importance of this model; Tata have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in this venture which has created several thousand jobs at Halewood & employed hundreds of thousands in the wider supply chain. With JLR’s commitment to source 60% of parts within a 40 mile radius the importance to the Regional Economy cannot be underestimated.

To play a small part in this great venture & to help take the Discovery Sport from initial concept to volume production brings a great sense of pride & achievement.
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