On the sofa with… Jose Luis Casal, Digital Transformation Expert

Jose Luis Casal, Experto en Transformación Digital
Advanced Manufacturing Barcelona – What are the main ideas of your Keynote at Advanced Manufacturing Barcelona? Jose Luis Casal – The idea is to shed some light in the face of all the information clutter around artificial intelligence, chatgpt, robotics and employment: will it take it away from us? what will become of our lives? AMB – What can attendees expect from your Keynote? J.L. Casal – I don’t want to make a spoiler. But everything is never as fatalistic as we are sold. AMB – What are the main challenges that companies will face in the future with these new technologies? J.L. Casal – The need to adapt and train our teams is, for me, the most important. People have to be at the centre and they have to see this as an opportunity and a fantastic tool to do more and better. On a technical level we could talk about the integration and compatibility of the systems, the security of the data and, obviously, the costs and return on investment.

AMB – What do you think will be the impact of AI in the industrial sector and what will its application mean?

J.L. Casal – AI is not something new, in fact it is one of the enabling technologies of Industry 4.0. It has been with us for decades, but everything has accelerated. In the industrial sector its applications are diverse, such as process optimisation, predictive maintenance, advanced robotics, quality control, supply chain optimisation or product customisation; which will lead to improved efficiency, productivity and innovation.

This will obviously involve changes in staff training and skills, increased automation and the need to restructure teams, as well as providing companies with new tools and capabilities.

AMB – Given the great momentum that AI has been experiencing in recent months, what are the advances that the industry can expect to see as a result of its implementation?

J.L. Casal – We could cite, for example, an improvement in industrial processes and automation, which will be taken to a higher level thanks to AI being able to perform complex tasks and adapt to changing situations more efficiently. Reducing downtime and improving productivity.

So will supply chain optimisation. By being able to analyse large amounts of data in real time, we can predict demand, manage inventories, optimise delivery routes…

AI can also help improve safety in industrial environments by monitoring 24/7 processes and conditions, detecting anomalies, taking preventive measures…

And let’s not forget something I particularly like, predictive maintenance: using data generated by sensors and systems to predict failures and problems before they occur, with all that that entails.

AMB – As an advisor on digital transformation, what advice would you give to managers who want to start or are already starting this process in their companies?

J.L. Casal – Implementing new technology in our organisation requires a strategic vision, a planned approach and a mindset open to change.

To cut a long story short, I would summarise it in seven points: Prioritise people, security and ethics; understand the real needs and objectives; conduct a thorough assessment; create a cross-functional internal team; foster collaboration between departments; train and empower the whole team.

AMB – What about the new generations who are concerned about a future where AI will occupy their jobs? To what extent can this be a real threat in the industry?

J.L. Casal – I read not long ago that ‘AI will replace the people who think it will’ and so far I couldn’t agree more. And clearly the winner will not be AI, but someone who knows how to make the most of this tool.

AI will transform employment, but it will not totally replace it. And, in parallel, it will create new opportunities and jobs that do not yet exist.

Let us learn to use it, to make the most of it. The key is human-machine collaboration.

Of course there will be compromised positions, but we should not dwell on the bad. Let’s see what opportunities present themselves and seize them. Let’s not stop training ourselves.

AMB – On a more personal note, what do you like most about your work as a consultant in Innovation and Digital Transformation?

J.L. Casal – That I learn a lot! It forces me to read, to share knowledge, to be close to those who know the most… and to enjoy the process of helping to make things happen, so that people feel fulfilled and organisations move firmly into the future.

AMB – And finally, what value do you think events like Advanced Manufacturing Barcelona have?

J.L. Casal – In a word: OPPORTUNITIES. Opportunities to keep up to date and learn about the latest technologies available. Opportunities to connect with people ‘like you’. Opportunities to have access to leading companies in the sector. Commercial opportunities. Talent opportunities…

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