Digital's 2021 Year in Review: Foundational Technologies
This insight is part of the Lux Digital Team's Year in Review series examining the highlights and key developments in digital transformation in 2021. For an overview of the other storylines in Digital Transformation of Physical Industries, see our insights on Industry 4.0 and Digital Health and Futu...
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Calgary-based Arcus Power Corp. completed a CAD 11 million (USD 8.8 million) Series A investment round, led by Longbow Capital Inc. With about CAD 3 million (USD 2.4 million) in revenue, Arcus will use the funding for market expansion to enter the U.S. for its peak demand platform, which is built on deep learning. The software-as-a-service helps corporate and industrial users by providing data to enable them to adjust operations to minimize the impact of predicted peak prices. Clients should consider Arcus for long-range projects that complement energy management programs rather than for peak management until deep learning becomes more practical. Currently, the technology is limited due to the need for a high volume of training data and time of training.
Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have quickly grown into the go-to solution for automated material handling across multiple industries — chiefly finding success in supply chains where the rise in e-commerce has led to the need for optimized distribution center workflows. This business problem gave rise to the era of AMR startups. After a few years of hesitation and questions around ROI, customers are quickly jumping on the bandwagon, deploying AMR technology in their warehouses and even in public spaces like grocery stores and other retail establishments. However, clients should remain cognizant that AMRs in public spaces will experience slower adoption due to challenges around the education of the public and requirements for high safety standards. Moving forward, OEMs supporting AMRs will look for diversification to adjacent sectors given that the same technology can be used in outdoor settings for applications like last-mile delivery.
Digital twins serve as solid platforms for integrating data from assets and processes while grounding them in physical reality via physics-based models. Major incumbent industrial software companies have offered versions of this technology for a while; however, with the recent drives in digital initiatives, data integration has become an important component. This removes data silos within organizations and expands the use of the digital twin of an asset beyond one specific use-case across the value chain, including design, manufacturing, and operations. Because of this unique feature, the digital twin is becoming a keystone digital initiative for physical industries. Clients interested in working with external partners should note that digital twin development is not a one-off engagement but will last longer-term; it's critical to be mindful about data ownership and engage with companies that do not have a conflict of interest with your competition.