In the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution, digital transformation, big data and artificial intelligence are at the cutting edge of developments, with numerous applications in practically all fields of science. While there is a widespread perception that the new digital age is “intangible,” the need for Raw Materials is growing. In this respect, the Raw Materials Sector which is a key pillar of the Greek economy and an important source of employment, has great prospects for further growth, as long as it does not remain just “up-to-date” but at the forefront of digital innovation.
This was the core conclusion of the 4th Greek Raw Materials Community Dialogue, a two-day conference successfully organized in Athens by the Regional Raw Materials Center of Greece – EIT Raw Materials Hub: Regional Center Greece (RCGREECE), with the participation of Greek and foreign experts, who had the opportunity to discuss all the latest trends and developments in the field of raw materials, in particular in relation to the transition to the digital age, as well as the skills of future professionals to respond to the challenges bis of the new era.
Mr. Antonis Politis, Business Developer at EIT RawMaterials, highlighted the industry’s growth opportunities through the activities of the European Raw Materials Innovation Community (EIT RawMaterials) of the European Institute of Technology and Innovation (EIT). In turn, Dr. Asimina Katsiapi, Mining Engineer – RCGREECE Metallurgist and Project Manager, highlighted the important activity of the EIT RawMaterials Greek partners since 2016, with more than 50 projects and 130 pan-European partners stressing out the role of RCGREECE in promoting cooperation and innovation in the sector and setting as priorities for 2020 the expansion of the network in Cyprus and other Balkan countries, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises.
Mr. Christos Kavalopoulos, Director of the Mining Enterprises Association, referred to the technological and social dimension of Industry 4.0 in the mining industry, and Dr. George Drosos, representing the Ministry of Development, referred to the prospect of boosting the raw materials industry through Artificial Intelligence.
Industry representatives presented the solutions they are developing and implementing to meet the challenges of the new digital age: Digital Smelter by Mr. G. Karnachoritis of MYTILINEOS SA, e-engineering in 6D by Μr. S. Lialios of Hellas Gold SA, e-leadership in the digitization of the cement industry by Mr. F. Tasoulas of TITAN SA.
Digital solutions offered by SMEs were introduced by ABAUT (Austria), Emphasis DigiWold and Planetek Hellas (Greece), which are already being implemented in large industries in Greece and internationally.
M. Kotsias from GSRT presented new funding opportunities within the framework of ERA-MIN 2019.
EIT RawMaterials Education Officer Imre Gombkötő presented the educational opportunities offered by the EIT RawMaterials Academy. Industry representatives (K. Fareas from Delphi Distomo, P. Davris from MYTILINEOS, A. Chasiotis from SUSTAINABLE / VIOHALCO, D. Ballas from HELLENIC GOLD, K. Filinis from Hellenic Federation of Enterprises and A. Kladis from Admiris ) have demonstrated the skills required for the individual life cycle stages of fossil raw materials.
Principal outcomes of training programs sponsored by EIT RawMaterials (MIREBooks, RM @ Schools, RawDTrip) were presented by M. Ortega of RIC Leoben, N. Kowalska of AGH University, and D. Skenderas and V. Loukadakis, NTUA students.
The example of underground mining used for educational purposes was presented by Mr. G. Barako from the Institute of Mining and Special Civil Engineering TU Bergakademie Freiberg.
All speakers emphasized on important skills that young professionals of the Sector need to acquire, namely Digital skills, project management and communication skills, adapting to change, teamwork, financial project evaluation, adapting to technological developments. All participants agreed that University and industry collaboration and participation in EIT RawMaterials activities are the tools for achieving these skills.