Detect, analyse, decide, act – you’re sure to be familiar with the game Tetris, the inspiration for our cover. Rapid decision-making. This is more crucial than ever as we face the challenges of the modern age. There are times in our industry when demands seem to rain down on us like Tetris blocks, and fast responses are essential. Our IN FOCUS topic “Block Concepts” also lends itself to this comparison. Here too, all the components must fit together perfectly. And it’s little surprise: with every step forward, the bar is set higher and the challenges are more complex. Or – to keep our analogy in play – with every level up, things get faster and more intense. And in the real world of technology and industry, it’s not just a case of where to direct or rotate the Tetris block. Here, things happen in multiple dimensions.
We will soon be levelling up our capacity and our decision making with the help of algorithm-driven suggestions. Help is on its way, thanks in part to ALEXA and Co. And for ALEXA to know who she’s communicating with at the plant – machine operators, production managers or upper management – face recognition is naturally key to this development. Not just anyone should be able to tell her: “Alexa, take over the blow moulding process”. Perhaps in the future we’ll see scenarios like this: ALEXA to the production manager before a shift begins: “Hi John, yesterday one of the workers wanted to change the parameters. I said I did it – but I didn’t – I wanted to let you know first.”
Digitisation frenzy aside, it’s imperative that we in the plastics industry commit to the critical cause of sustainability. In my opinion, much more seriously than we have done to date. Plastic scrap, microplastics in the sea and soil, even in salt; calls for standardisation in the interests of recyclability are becoming louder. How much plastic has been produced worldwide since Hermann Staudinger founded the field of polymer chemistry? How much of it has been recycled, reused or burnt? And where is the rest? The new generation is asking these questions today: school pupils at small research camps. They are becoming acutely aware that they will be the generation who has to act. The solutions to these pressing issues won’t fall from the sky like Tetris blocks. Let’s get to work.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Otto Appel