A running theme in Charlie Brooker’s dystopian anthology series Black Mirror is the stretching of the limits of human perception and its consequences. Some of the best episodes in the series (The Entire History of You, White Christmas) are centered on this theme. Similarly, in the fourth and latest season of Black Mirror, four out of six episodes are about people paying the price of augmenting their five senses through science. The results are surprisingly unique most of the time, and sometimes, repetitive.
The fourth season will be released on Netflix on December 29. Brooker has written all six episodes. (William Bridges is a co-writer on USS Callister).
An impressive list of directors have lent their talents to the series – John Hillcoat (The Proposition) has directed Crocodile, Jodie Foster (Money Monster) has directed Arkangel, TV regulars Tim Van Patten, Toby Haynes and Colm McCarthy have directed one each, and David Slade (30 Days of Night) has directed Metalhead, the only black-and-white episode of the series so far.
USS Callister is one of the finest Black Mirror episodes till date. At 95 minutes, it is the longest episode this season and is a mishmash of Star Trek, The Matrix and Escape from Alcatraz. Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad, the Fargo TV series) gives an excellent performance, oscillating between miserable and evil. In scope and scale, USS Callister breaks new ground for Black Mirror. The overriding sense of adventure also makes the episode stand apart from the usual techno-horror Black Mirror deals in.
Crocodile is an anti-whodunit in which the suspense lies in witnessing what a murderer can get away with, and for how long. The technology is almost a prototype of the one featured in season one’s The Entire History of You – a machine can record raw impressions of one’s memories of an event. Shot in Iceland, Crocodile is an immersive experience courtesy Hillcoat’s atmospheric direction. Andrea Riseborough gives the performance of the season here.
Metalhead is a horror tale about brute survival. Its sparse plot is complemented with loads of thrills. It works because of its pulpy B-movie pleasures rather than the charm of high-concept technology. Metalhead’s high-contrast, black-and-white cinematography makes it look like an inescapable nightmare.
Arkangel is about helicopter parenting gone badly wrong. Set in near-future America, a sophisticated surveillance tool becomes a barrier between a mother and a daughter over the course of many years. Rosemarie Dewitt brilliantly communicates the obsessiveness of an over-concerned mother.
Hang the DJ is an attempt to recreate the fuzzy, bittersweet San Junipero feeling. It revolves around an advanced dating system that maps out a person’s romantic relationships in advance. The episode may find its fans upon release but it also looks like the makers are trying to follow the season three formula of inserting a light-hearted story in the middle of a few serious ones. Nonetheless, Hang the DJ is a decent breather.
Black Museum, like White Christmas, combines three short stories held together by a larger story. Set in a ramshackle roadside museum of high-tech misdeeds, Black Museum features some dastardly gadgets put to use by wicked men. Though there is a plethora of ideas in Black Museum, it does not work well as the others, which are character-driven.
Once again, Black Mirror, turns out to be a triumph in anthology story-telling. However, after three seasons, a persistent feeling of conceptual and tonal sameness lingers over the series. The science fiction also appears to be far removed from present-day concerns, which takes out some of the urgency associated with Black Mirror’s best stories.
That said, Black Mirror is still one of the best-running series right now, and the only one of its kind that has filled the space left blank by The Twilight Zone.
The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes
Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.
The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.
This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.
Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.
The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.
Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.
Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry
The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.
There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.
The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.
The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.
The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.
The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.
Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.
Case studies for technology-led changes
An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.
Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.
In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.
In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.
The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.
Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.
The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.
This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.