TV shows

The TV series that inspired Tom Cruise’s ‘Mission: Impossible’ films is ultimate geek heaven

The show, created and produced by Bruce Geller, ran for seven seasons from 1966 to 1973 and returned for two in 1988 before wrapping up.

The Mission: Impossible film series, whose next installment Fallout will be released on July 27, is a consummately modern product in the same league as the James Bond or the Jason Bourne series. Helmed by Tom Cruise, the films combine high technology with improbable storylines to fashion a slick visual treat that is equal parts thrilling and bewildering.

The films are inspired by the television show of the same name. Created, directed and produced by Bruce Geller, the show ran for seven seasons from 1966 to 1973 and returned for two in 1988 before wrapping. Unlike Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, the leader of the pack here is James “Jim” Phelps, played by the suave Peter Graves, who was the only one from the original cast to return for the two-season reboot.

Thirty years separate the television show from the first M:I film, and the differences show. Apart from the technological milestones that are natural for such a time span, the show’s politics too belong to a bygone era. From tinpot dictators armed with Soviet missiles to threats of an imminent Communist invasion, American fears of the 1960s are adequately reflected on the show.

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Mission: Impossible.

Yet, the show was never really political, and the plot was merely a showcase for a stylised representation of the undercover life. With its sharp suits and shaper haircuts, the show represented the keenest fashion sense of its time.

What is more, the most memorable bits have stood the test of time. Notable among these is the instantly recognisable theme tune by Lalo Schifrin, since upgraded with computer-assisted finesse. Then, in the very first scene of the first episode, Phelps (not Graves, who joined from Season 2) is in a record shop where he is handed a disc that, naturally, self-destructs after delivering its message about his next mission.

Phelps builds a crack team of experts for the Impossible Mission Force. Rollin Hand, played by the Oscar-winning Martin Landau, is the master of disguise and tricks. Willy Armitage (Peter Lupus) is a towering physical presence, as comfortable jumping buildings as socking enemies of the state. Barney Collier (Greg Morris) is the brains of the operation, parroting nerd-inflected jargon about gadgets that is almost quaint in retrospect.

Finally, there is Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain), the only woman on the team. She is the soft foil to the harder tasks carried out by the others. The films have done a much better job of treating the women, with Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) from Rogue Nation, say, doing much more than flirting with villains to help the men nab the bad guys. The series matured over time and the reboot had more substantial storylines for its women but, failing to recapture the glory of the original, it did not leave a mark.

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The original Mission: Impossible signature tune.

To be sure, the films have also updated the men’s roles, with Cruise’s Hunt as the strategic player who also possesses the courage to undertake death-defying stunts, including repeatedly entering flying machines while they are in flight. Even so, as in the TV series, his team, comprising Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), is a well-adjusted mix of differing personality types and skill sets.

The films are also similar to the show in that there is little focus on anything beyond solving the case to hand. Landau and Bain were on the show for three seasons and while the pair smouldered, they were too busy saving America to take their relationship to its logical conclusion. This is different from, for example, the Bond films where the protagonist finds time to indulge his romantic side even as the clock ticks ominously.

It may not appear so in our tech-infused world but the M:I television series, along with its contemporary cousin Star Trek, was ground-breaking for visualising the technological advances that were to transform the twentieth century. Latex masks from the show have given way to 3D-printed silicones in the films, hefty portable devices have disappeared in favour of handheld gadgetry, and remote-control cars have been replaced by dashboard-compliant vehicles. It is this finally, more than the bid to save the world, which makes the show the ultimate geek haven.

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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.

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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.