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EU REGULATION, SKILLS AND GOVERNANCE NOW CHALLENGE UK’S LEADERSHIP OF ‘FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION’

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EU REGULATION, SKILLS AND GOVERNANCE NOW CHALLENGE UK’S LEADERSHIP OF ‘FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION’

UK Data leaders praise UK Government for raising awareness on data issues and predict post-Brexit productivity boost by promoting upskilled staff

Big Data London (BDL), the UK’s largest exhibition and conference for data leaders, today revealed the first findings from the inaugural UK Fourth Industrial Revolution Report. The independent research, sponsored by Big Data LDN and Hortonworks, surveyed how 250 of the UK’s largest data-driven organisations are coping with pre-Brexit pressure to compete against data-savvy competitors globally.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), driven by data, follows on from others which Britain led, including steam power, computing and the World Wide Web. Today’s results paint a picture of an economy in flux, with leading technologies like Big Data used more for analysis of today’s consumer spending habits and less for designing tomorrow’s new products and services.

Complacency among the UK’s data experts was evidenced in their belief our expertise was world-class and the UK can easily cope in future, especially in the face of increased EU data protection laws by providing more opportunities to capitalise on the hidden value of both existing and new datasets. There was also cause for optimism with most UK large businesses working to an agreed data strategy and encouraging the upskilling of existing staff who already understand their business’ operational model rather than the outsourcing of vital data analysis activities, as found in previous technology waves.

Key Fourth Industrial Revolution Report findings include:

Short-termist ambitions for UK organisations – Four times as many UK organisations (58%) use data to analyse existing customer engagement and loyalty as to develop new products (13%).

Somewhat prepared – Almost all UK enterprises have a data strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, however the majority of organisations (48%) have only been recently delivering against it for the last 12 months.

Skills gap saved by self-sufficiency – When asked how they will obtain the skill sets needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 60% will identify and redeploy staff with transferable skills, and only 2% of UK businesses surveyed will outsource.

Strategic technology on the shopping list for UK businesses – Data Leaders indicated Enterprise Information Management (29%), Self-service data preparation (27%) and Cloud (25%) platforms are the technologies needed to deliver value and business growth in the new revolution.

Specifically, on Brexit’s impact on the UK’s role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the findings are mixed:

UK PLC will remain competitive globally – Just 10% see their organisation becoming less competitive globally. However, 38% say UK organisations will have less access to data from European partners.

Opportunity to boost revenue – 44% believe Brexit will boost innovation in their organisation’s data usage and nearly a third (32%) of UK data leaders believe this country has the ability to create its own world-class legislation.

Alan Mak MP, Chair of the All-Party group on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, said: “As Chair of Parliament’s all-party group on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), I welcome this research that looks at how Britain can use data to drive economic growth. This report draws much-needed attention to how British businesses can use data for product design and process innovation, adding value in new ways, lowering costs, and giving more choice to the consumer. Data will be as important to the British economy in this century as oil was in the previous one, so it is vital that as we prepare for Brexit we invest wisely in the skills and new technologies needed to harness the opportunities of the 4IR.”

Commenting on the findings, Big Data LDN founder, Bill Hammond, said: “These findings lay bare the challenge facing the UK, if we aspire to lead the charge in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as we have with every other industrial revolution. Britain’s data leaders are, perhaps overly, confident they can redeploy talent and build data-driven businesses which turn Brexit and GDPR into global sales advantages. If we can guard against complacency, stay at the forefront of technical advances and, critically, muster the human resources required, there seems genuine cause for optimism for the UK in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

“It’s interesting to see how despite having set clear business objectives, the majority of UK organisations are still unaware of how of big data-led solutions and can truly drive the business forward” stated Abhas Ricky, Director, Strategy and Innovation, Hortonworks. “There is a clear gap between data strategies and the investment needed to achieve those objectives. Big data is raising the bar for competitiveness on a global scale, therefore businesses can no longer afford to rely on legacy infrastructures to remain lean and innovative. As counteracting fraud, improving customer loyalty and the efficiency of supply chains becomes increasingly relevant, any data-driven organisation should invest in new technology that is able to tackle the most demanding challenges and future-proof the business.”

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Boeing, hit with $6.6 million FAA fine, faces much bigger 787 repair bill – sources

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Boeing, hit with $6.6 million FAA fine, faces much bigger 787 repair bill - sources 1

By Eric M. Johnson and David Shepardson

SEATTLE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing Co will pay a $6.6 million to U.S. regulators as part of a settlement over quality and safety-oversight lapses going back years, a setback that comes as Boeing wrestles with repairs to flawed 787 Dreamliner jets that could dwarf the cost of the federal penalty.

Boeing is beginning painstaking repairs and forensic inspections to fix structural integrity flaws embedded deep inside at least 88 parked 787s built over the last year or so, a third industry source said.

The inspections and retrofits could take weeks or even up to a month per plane and are likely to cost hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars, depending to a large degree on the number of planes and defects involved, the person said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Boeing had agreed to pay $6.6 million in penalties after the aviation regulator said it failed to comply with a 2015 safety agreement.

The penalties include $5.4 million for not complying with the agreement in which Boeing pledged to change its internal processes to improve and prioritize regulatory compliance and $1.21 million to settle two pending FAA enforcement cases.

“Boeing failed to meet all of its obligations under the settlement agreement, and the FAA is holding Boeing accountable by imposing additional penalties,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. Boeing, which paid $12 million in 2015 as part of the settlement, did not immediately comment.

Boeing engineers are working to determine the scope of inspections, including whether jets can be used as-is without a threat to safety, two people said. Boeing has not told airlines how many jets are impacted, another person said.

The FAA has been investigating instances of oversight lapses, debris left inside finished aircraft, and managers putting pressure on employees handling safety checks for the FAA, people familiar with the proceedings said.

For example, in August 2020, Boeing told to the FAA about the flaw involving structural wrinkling in the interior fuselage skin where carbon-composite barrels that form the plane’s lightweight body are melded together.

But the defect went unnoticed for months or longer because computerized safeguards that crunch data looking for quality flaws had not been programmed to look for the gaps, a third industry source said.

DELIVERY TARGET

The 787 production problems have halted deliveries of the jet since the end of October, locking up a source of desperately needed cash for Boeing.

The fuel-efficient 787 has been a huge success with airlines, which have ordered 1,882 of the advanced twin-aisle jet worth nearly $150 billion (74.7 billion pounds) at list prices.

But the advanced production process and sprawling global supply chain caused problems over the years.

As of February, Boeing had fixed the 787 production process causing the wrinkling defect, according to two people familiar with the matter.

However, planes rolled off the assembly line with the flaw for more than a year, at least, continuing even after the flaw was discovered in August 2020.

“It’s difficult to see a definitive fix that is agreeable by the aviation authorities and all going forward,” Boeing customer Air Lease Corp’s CEO John Plueger told analysts on an earnings call Feb 22. “I don’t think that we’re there yet.”

Boeing has been working on the fuselage problem, and two additional potentially hazardous defects that arose since 2019, as it charted plans to consolidate final assembly of the 787 in South Carolina starting next month, at a sharply reduced rate of 5 787s per month.

One senior supply chain source said they will have to cut rate again.

Boeing said last month it expects to resume handing over a small number of 787s to customers later this quarter.

It has an ambitious internal plan to deliver 100 of the jets this year, one person said. Analysts say deliveries are not expected to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024.

‘OPEN-HEART SURGERY’

But before any jet is delivered, it must go through invasive inspections and costly repairs.

First, technicians must pull out the passenger seats, open up the floor paneling and use specialty tools to measure whether defects invisible to the naked eye are present, according to three people with direct knowledge of the process.

The repair work – already underway at Boeing factories in Everett, Washington and North Charleston, South Carolina – is even harder.

In the bowels of the jet, technicians have to remove multiple specialty fasteners on both sides of the inner fuselage skin, then install newly produced “shims” that fill out gaps and remove the structural dimpling. Workers then replace all the fasteners, re-paint, and re-install the interior, they said.

“It’s like open heart surgery,” one of the people said. “They’ll be retrofitting the fleet for potentially several years.”

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris, David Shepardson in Washington, and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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On a retro style milk truck, London entrepreneur chases a ‘zero waste’ future

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On a retro style milk truck, London entrepreneur chases a 'zero waste' future 2

By Natalie Thomas

LONDON (Reuters) – Heralded by the whirr of its underpowered electric engine and the clink of bottles stacked in crates on the back, Ella Shone’s ‘Topup Truck’ started life ferrying morning milk to the doorsteps of bleary-eyed Londoners.

Twenty years on, and the light vehicle known as a ‘milk float’ – once a ubiquitous sight on British streets – is enjoying a second career selling a range of goods and serving the 32-year-old’s quest to rid the city of single-use plastic.

“The fact that I’m driving around in a milk float does a lot for raising awareness in the local area,” said Shone, wearing a black beanie during her rounds in the borough of Hackney last week. “So now I’m operating at almost full capacity.”

Furloughed from her sales job during the coronavirus pandemic last spring, Shone used savings to start her new business, aiming to meet growing demand for household goods free of the plastic packaging used in supermarkets.

Customers book a visit from the ‘Topup Truck’ online and then purchase goods such as lentils, pasta, olive oil, shampoo or washing up liquid using their own containers.

From a low base a decade ago, the market for such unpackaged bulk goods could hit at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) by 2030 in the European Union, according to a report https://zerowasteeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020_06_30_zwe_pfs_executive_study.pdf by Zero Waste Europe, an anti-waste network.

While handling the logistics can be a challenge, Shone calculates that her service has eliminated the need for at least 12,700 pieces of plastic since it launched in August.

Planning a crowdfunder to retrofit her milk float to enable her to serve a greater range of products to more communities, Shone hopes her novel approach will inspire others to find creative ways to tackle waste.

“If we want to have real change, it has to be a collective effort,” she said.

($1 = 0.8218 euros)

(Writing by Matthew Green, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

 

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Lufthansa adds more summer holiday destinations in bet on recovery

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Lufthansa adds more summer holiday destinations in bet on recovery 3

BERLIN (Reuters) – Lufthansa is adding more holiday destinations to its summer flight schedule from Germany in anticipation of a strong rebound in bookings, it said on Thursday, betting COVID-19 vaccines and testing will soon make vacation travel possible.

Germany’s largest airline said it was planning to add around 20 new destinations from Frankfurt and 13 from Munich to locations such as the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and Greece.

COVID-19 vaccines and testing, along with strict hygiene rules at airports and on planes, will be prerequisites for travel this summer, it said.

“We expect many countries to relax travel restrictions towards the summer as more and more people have been vaccinated,” Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister said in a statement.

Hohmeister said the airline, which secured a 9 billion euro ($11 billion) state bailout last year, expects a sharp increase in demand once restrictions are lifted.

Concerned about more transmissible coronavirus mutations, many European Union countries have reinstated border controls in what is normally a passport-free travel zone.

“There is a great yearning for travel and we believe that the summer months will reflect this,” Hohmeister added.

In Britain, holiday bookings soared this week after the government laid out plans to gradually relax coronavirus restrictions, giving battered airlines and tour operators hope that a bumper summer could come to their rescue.

Plans for relaxing coronavirus travel restrictions have not been announced yet in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to discuss lockdown options with the head of the regional governments next Wednesday.

Lufthansa, which said in January it was losing a million euros every two hours, is due to publish its fourth quarter results on March 4.

($1 = 0.8187 euros)

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Ilona Wissenbach. Editing by Mark Potter)

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