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Artificial Intelligence, HPC and simulation: the future of industry

Altair, the US multinational company, dedicated a global online event, ‘Future.Industry 2023’, which took place on March 8th and 9th, to digital transformation, with a panel of experts and partners who tried to imagine how manufacturing (and not only) will change thanks to technological applications based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and simulation.

“In business as in art, what distinguishes those who lead from those who chase is the ability to uniquely imagine what could happen”: the industrial world of tomorrow was precisely the focus of the world-scale digital event “Future.Industry 2023”, organised by Altair and dedicated to the technological trends which are bringing about a revolution in various production sectors, from manufacturing to electronics, from aerospace to automotive.

On March 8th and 9th, during the global conference broadcast live in eight languages, there were speeches by managers of the group and some partner companies (including Google, Leonardo, Boeing, General Electric), as well as experts and academics, who reflected – also in panels – on how companies can face the challenges of digital transformation to remain competitive in the market, using the tools offered today by engineering simulation supported by data analytics and machine learning, artificial intelligence and high performance computing.
Leading the virtual audience through the interventions of the various speakers was BBC News journalist Samantha Simmons.

Global megatrends: metaverse, Web3, artificial intelligence

Being a player in a global market means being able to perceive the possible scenarios of tomorrow, that is studying the present in order to anticipate what might come. This was explained in her speech by the ‘futurologist’ Sheryl Connelly, a former Ford manager, according to whom production concerns are called upon to prepare themselves for uncertainties in order not to be swept away by disruptive phenomena, without neglecting global events – such as Covid-19 in recent years – as vehicles for change. Among the phenomena to be harnessed, there is certainly the metaverse, the focus of Sandy Carter’s speech.

The founder of Unstoppable Domains Inc. spoke about the mindset of this new face of the Internet: forward thinking, immersiveness and engagement, the centrality of the person, digital identity as a human right, and the use of artificial intelligence.
This is all part of Web3, the third generation of the Web, founded on blockchain, the technology on which cryptocurrencies are based.

Building solutions with computational intelligence

In this ever-changing scenario, Altair’s vision for the future is entrusted to the speech by its founder, chairman and CEO James R. Scapa, entitled ‘Disrupt to win: building solutions with computational intelligence’, and it is based on the privileged standpoint of a company which, with 13,000 customers and 74 offices in 27 countries, deals every day with partners in different sectors, from manufacturing to IT, from consumer electronics to energy.
The focus is on the use of computational intelligence – the result of the convergence of simulation, high-performance computing, data science and artificial intelligence – to come to intelligent decisions and as a driver of innovation for a more connected, secure and sustainable future.

Scapa then outlined the challenges for 2023, also linked to the difficult geopolitical situation, from the customers’ perspective: delivering sustainable products and processes to counter global warming; optimising the supply chain, given the problems in procurement; analysing the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence (particularly generative intelligence, on which the operation of the controversial ChatGPT is based), benefits and costs of the Cloud (considered by many companies to be a rather expensive tool); the value and management of data, risks and mitigation of cybersecurity; and recruiting and retaining talent (particularly for professionals related to software development).

To meet these challenges, Altair has decided to invest in what it sees as the technologies of tomorrow, which are already a reality today: artificial intelligence, simulations for manufacturing, electronic systems design, Data Analytics, Digital Twin, automation and code free and code friendly software development, MLOps, HPC and Cloud ecosystem optimisation (data security, performance and cost).

Besides, thinking ahead but with a longer-term perspective, over the past two years the company has examined many start-ups and next-generation technologies and has chosen to finance two projects.
The first concerns the field of photonics and is called Xscape Photonics: it is a platform which aims to accelerate the transfer of data from one computing element to another – an operation which currently represents a rather significant bottleneck, even more so than computing capacity – in a sustainable way from an environmental standpoint.

The advantages offered by Digital Twin in performance analysis

For Altair, the challenge will therefore not be to focus on individual trends, but to think about how new
technologies can create new possibilities
when used together. This is what has happened in the engineering sector since the economic recovery following the pandemic, as Sam Mahalingam, Altair’s Chief Technology Officer explained in his speech entitled “Digital transformation in the engineering world: the Altair advantage”. The Internet of Things, big data, Cloud computing and automation have been used together as enabling technologies to accelerate the digital transformation of the industry.

This has involved a real strategic repositioning of companies, with a transformation of the business model, processes (which must take into account automation and autonomy, that is, continuous intelligence, which in the future will be selflearning and self-optimisation), products/services and the entire organisation.

In a journey lasting many years, we moved from physical prototyping, an operation only after which it was possible to perform tests and make changes which turned out to be very costly, to virtual prototyping, in which predictions based on simulations can replace physical tests with computer-based tests, which are more agile and economical. Then came the era of connected products, equipped with sensors capable of providing real-time visualisation and monitoring, and that of smart connector products, with embedded artificial intelligence providing real-time predictions based on models developed using data collected by sensors.

Today, technological development has led to the introduction of the Digital Twin, a kind of ‘alive and well’ model of the elements and dynamics of a system through which the performance of real-world assets can be analysed, accelerating product development and reducing time-to-market. The benefits of the Digital Twin were also highlighted by a dedicated panel, which included Craig Brown (CIMdata), Antonio Del Prete (University of Salento, Advanced Engineering Solutions), Maurizio Tursini (Gruppo Cimbali), Thomas Tecco (XLDyn LLC) and Jan Dolinsky (Tangent Works): these included improving the overall efficiency of production systems, monitoring progress in real time, accurately predicting system performance and resolving problems in advance, speeding up decision-making, and reducing moments of low productivity.

HPCWorks, Rapidminer and Hyperworks platforms

As explained during the speeches by Scapa and Mahalingam, Altair offers several solutions to help enterprises in this delicate phase of technological transformation: Altair HPCWorks (the HPC and Cloud platform, used by most high-end customers), Altair Rapidminer (the end-to-end data analysis and artificial intelligence solution, covering all analytical activities, from data management to data processing through modeling) and Altair Hyperworks (the platform for design and simulation). All three operate within Altair One, the Cloud innovation gateway.
Finally, among the flagship products presented at the virtual event is Altair HyperMesh, a high-performance finite element pre- and post-processor enabling engineers to analyse product performance in a highly interactive visual environment.

Version 2023 will be released in August and will be integrated with the company’s most recently developed technologies, presenting a more modern User Experience, simplified workflows, and the ability to handle larger and more complex models.

Source: InMotion by Publitec

Read also: The automotive industry heads in robot density
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