Tag Archives: Urban mobility

Industry 4.0: New solutions for old problems

In the era of telecommunications and the hyperconnected world, a new concept has arisen that is already opening up new paths in the history of science and technology: industry 4.0.



Smart factories and production centres, in which all of the systems are interconnected and can send, receive and analyse data are no longer a novelty.

The internet of things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing are transforming production processes, and communication between systems is becoming vital to industrial activities. Concepts such as predictive maintenance are becoming a key factor in any factory.

The benefits of this new production system are clear: cost and time savings, improved efficiency and energy consumption, fewer incidents and greater capacity to concentrate resources on new added-value activities.

Certainly, we could consider that this technological change will decrease people’s employability. This situation appears to be very new. However, if we look back, we can see how society has experienced transformations just as significant as this before. We could consider the first industrial revolution, when the rapid mechanization of the textile sector made it possible to increase output at the cost of initial job cuts.

What was the reaction to this process? There were those who blamed technology for taking jobs, and a movement (luddites) emerged to destroy and boycott the new machines and production systems; but the process was unstoppable. Most workers had to increase their knowledge and transform their skills to keep ahead of technology.

The question of jobs is the issue that causes most concerns in relation to industry 4.0. According to the Davos Forum, in the initial phase, a total of five million jobs would be lost worldwide. A high percentage of the most repetitive activities that contribute the least added value would disappear. However, as occurred in the nineteenth century, other possibilities and job profiles will emerge. Companies need workers with specific training in certain areas associated with each department or task, but they will also require knowledge of communication and programming. This will lead to new training pathways, and strengthen the concept of lifelong learning.

Furthermore, the use of machines and smart systems in mechanical activities will contribute to reducing accidents and incidents, so that employees can undertake less hazardous tasks that contribute more value to the entire production activity.

From the perspective of business innovation, we are still not capable of assessing the opportunities that are opening up in the field of advanced manufacturing, energy management, urban mobility or cybersecurity, for example.

There is a business demand to improve production processes that, in many cases, could be achieved by improving communication systems. A development by MCIA UPC that has been implemented in a metal company is a good example of this.

However, the real revolution is in taking advantage of full interconnection between all processes, to foster the creation of new products and services that meet some of the challenges that we face in the short-term in applications: the synchronized enterprise, improved production efficiency and energy distribution, waste optimisation, urban mobility and the use of robots in non-industrial activities (collaborative robots), to give just some examples.

shutterstock_411428653In this endless race to contribute to improvements in industrial and business activity, through applied innovation, the challenges are as exciting as those faced by the companies and employees themselves: the advantages of technology must be take advantage of to continue to progress. We are faced by a new model that required more and better training, as well as increased collaboration with the production sector.

It is a difficult challenge, but exciting. The history of technology is jumping forward a step, and we are there with it.

Technology made real

CARNET: Mobility at the service of cities and citizens

Eighty per cent of the world population will live in and around large cities in the next few decades. It has been both estimated and shown that twenty-first century societies worldwide will be mainly urban.

The impact of this situation can be felt in all areas, including the environment, resource management, culture and work. Mobility of people and goods is one of the pillars of development of any community. As communities grow, there is an increasing need to organise and optimise public and private transport, as well as associated aspects such as energy and safety. In short, it is essential to increase sustainability.

All of these factors are the responsibility of government departments, but not exclusively. Companies and non-profit organisations are also involved in managing urban mobility.

SEAT, UPC and Volkswagen Group Research choose Barcelona for creating the mobility for the future with CARNET

CARNET has arisen precisely through this new model of collaboration between public and private entities to develop innovative global projects, designed to implement initiatives associated with better quality of life for all citizens.

CARNET is a pioneering project in which the public sector (the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya) and the private sector (SEAT and Volkswagen) collaborate in activities that contribute to the design of future urban mobility. Other companies and organisations such as Altran, Applus Idiada, Ficosa, RACC and Rücker Lypsa have become members of CARNET.

CARNET’s activities are focused on three main areas:

  • Identifying and fostering talent through a variety of training courses.
  • Carrying out corporate research to develop innovation projects.
  • Networking in national and International networks in the sector.

To be successful, mobility must be analysed comprehensively, using an approach that includes the perspectives of academic and research institutions, companies in the sector, regulators, suppliers and users. This is the only way to guarantee results that are reliable and beneficial for everyone.

In the era of smart cities, open innovation, and mobility as a key factor in relations at local and global level, companies understand that they need to be associated with other organisations that provide the knowledge, information and analysis required to tackle objectives as ambitious as those proposed in CARNET. For this reason, Volkswagen Group Research has put its trust in the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya to launch this initiative, which arose as a result of close collaboration between the UPC and SEAT over many years in the SEAT-UPC Chair. The UPC Technology Center (CIT UPC), which is responsible for the technical coordination of the SEAT Chair, is also responsible for coordinating CARNET, to give continuity and a global dimension to this collaboration. Barcelona, which is ranked in the Top Ten smart cities in Europe and has a network for analysing and monitoring traffic, parking and pollution levels, is the perfect location for the project.

Aspects such as vehicle design, energy consumption, materials, emissions and connectivity will be analysed from a global perspective on the basis of the expert, specialised work of researchers and technologists such as those who work at the UPC, with coordination and management provided by the CIT UPC. Heads of companies, those responsible for public spaces, and government bodies are also invited to participate in CARNET.

To achieve this, CARNET is based on a new paradigm that goes beyond the concept of a smart city. This is called WISE city (Wellness and Walkable [W], Intelligence and ICT [I], Sustainable and Safety [S], Ecology, Energy and Economy [E]) and focuses on citizens and on different ways to improve their quality of life with the help of technology. In a future article we will stop at this inspiring concept of the urban mobility of the future.

As mobility affects us all, find out more about the project and participate through our website.