I am a professional copywriter, digital marketer, web developer, SEO manager, and content marketer. I have experience as an SEO manager in an agency setting, having written keyword-optimized content for over 40 different clients in a wide range of industries including automotive, technology, lifestyle, health, construction, roofing, medical, dental, law, fine arts, SAAS, and many more. I also spent 3 and 1/2 years as the sole Marketing Communications writer for 1-800-PetMeds, where I was a trusted eCommerce team member who wrote all new product descriptions, blog posts, press releases, video scripts, print marketing materials, email content, and everything else that came my way. I pride myself on being easy to work with, meeting deadlines, doing great research, and seeing all jobs through to completion as quickly and reliably as possible.
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The complex relationship between politics, the energy sector, and the global automotive and transportation industries is difficult for the average person to follow. While most citizens and their leaders agree that an eventual move away from dependence on finite fossil fuel resources is necessary to sustain modern civilization as we’ve come to know it, politics and bureaucracy can significantly influence (or hinder) progress. This was especially true in 2019, when political policies shook the automotive industry and prompted bold new initiatives to reshape the future of transportation around the globe.
How are New Policies & Trade Agreements Impacting Auto Manufacturers?
Impactful political movements like Brexit and America’s renegotiation of international trade agreements led to some consumer uncertainty in 2019. Likewise, movements including the push for a “Green New Deal” in the US and European policies to lower carbon emissions are influencing current and future trends in all areas of energy, transportation, and the auto industry.
Globally, new auto sales dropped by about 4% in 2019, which is the greatest decline in sales since the financial crisis of 2008. Softening of the Chinese auto market was a significant factor in this slump. As the world’s largest market for automobiles, China saw about an 11% drop in new car sales in part due to new emissions standards as well as a rise in used car sales. The slowing in China’s economic growth due to the so-called US-China Trade War is also considered a critical factor in the decrease in new car sales in the country.
In comparison, the U.S. 2019 auto sales figures were not nearly as bleak. Over 17 million vehicles were sold in America in 2019, only a 1.6% decline from the previous year. The US-China trade deal negotiations were not as impactful as many experts had predicted. Some economists made note that those American counties hit hardest by the Chinese tariffs targeting agricultural goods showed the biggest decline in new vehicle sales, so tariff repercussions were, indeed, felt in parts of the country.
The European new car market saw a welcomed increase in sales of 1.2% in 2019. New car sales were off to a slow start at the beginning of the year in Europe, but skyrocketed at year’s end when car registrations jumped by 21%. Emissions-based tax incentives taking effect in 2020 as implemented by some European countries, such as France and Sweden, are believed to be the catalyst for this boom in European auto sales.
Green New Auto Deals
Sustainability is the buzzword of the automotive industry, with essentially every major automaker jumping onboard the green train. In part, this is being forced upon the industry by pressures from progressive “social justice” movements, i.e. AOC and Greta Thunberg, as well as governments that are writing new laws and policies to help fight pollution and climate change.
The message is hitting home with prospective car buyers, according to a recent study by Deloitte. The report stated that there is significant growth in the number of people who would like their next vehicle to be either a hybrid or electric. Predictably, interest in electric vehicle ownership grew with the proposition of increased gas prices.
Automakers who lead the way in adapting to a green automotive future are sure to be rewarded for their efforts. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) awarded the Hyundai Ioniq Electric vehicle with their highest “Green Score”, with 67 out of 100 points based on the environmental damage index. This index, or EDX, rates the overall impact that resulting pollution from a particular vehicle has on human health. The ACEEE Green Score doesn’t rate a vehicle only on emissions. It measures the comprehensive cradle-to-the-grave impact from auto manufacturing pollutants through eventual recyclability at end of life of the car.
Carmaker Nissan, makers of the popular Nissan LEAF electric vehicle, is taking the green commitment even further by incorporating solar, wind, water, and biogas energy to power their manufacturing plants, helping to reduce CO2 emissions. The company expanded their green initiatives beyond the factory walls by providing a school in South Africa with a sustainable energy system comprised of recycled Nissan LEAF batteries. The program is an effort to work in concert with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The Filadelfia School now enjoys a reliable source of electricity through the use of renewable energy, thanks to Nissan Motor Corporation.
With an estimated 1.4 billion passenger cars on the road throughout the world, the push toward sustainability in the automotive sector is perhaps a little overdue, but certainly it is a case of better late than never.
The advent of 3D printing technology back in the early 1980s turned traditional manufacturing on its head. Chuck Hull, creator of the first 3D printer1 surely knew his invention would be influential in many manufacturing processes. Especially in the auto industry. Over the past 3 decades, the use of 3D printers in car manufacturing has transformed the way cars are made, from prototype to production.
The combination of advancements in computerized machine controls, innovative materials, and paradigm-shattering design and manufacturing approaches have all contributed to the successful adoption of this exciting technology.
How Does the Automotive Industry Benefit from 3D Printing Technologies?
Also known as additive manufacturing (AM)2, 3D printing is a cost-effective means of production that cuts down on waste and speeds production time for vital elements of the vehicle production process, including:
Because the 3D printing process builds a part or structure layer by layer, there is far less waste in comparison to so-called “subtractive manufacturing” methods that use a cutting-away of material to create the final product.3 For this reason, there are obvious environmental benefits to 3D printing, lowering the amount of industrial waste created with each part produced.
Other benefits the auto manufacturing industry enjoys from the utilization of 3D printing are speedy delivery of prototypes, facilitating on-the-fly design changes, as well as logistical benefits when collaborating with partners at a distance.4 Design changes can be made in New York and the part printed in Germany within hours. These timesaving perks make 3D printers a must-have in modern auto manufacturing.
With the development of the thermally stable, durable materials now used in 3D printing, light-weight, high-performance parts are now being printed on-demand. This is especially beneficial in the manufacturing of electric cars, to help offset their considerably weighty battery packs that power them.
When it comes to advanced customization and the production of parts for restoration of older vehicles, 3D printing is a dream come true. It is very costly to tool up for parts that won’t necessarily advance to mass production, yet advanced customization features help sell the sizzle and provide an upsell, so to create those at a lower cost is beneficial.
Types of 3D Printing Used in Car Manufacturing
Although based on the same concept of additive manufacturing, there are actually seven methods of 3D printing currently used in manufacturing.5 These include:
Also called SLA 3D printing, stereolithography is the oldest method is of 3D printing and is still used today. Stereolithography uses a process of solidifying photosensitive liquid resin with a high-powered laser, resulting in the solid 3D product.6
Selective laser sintering (SLS) is another popular 3D printing method, where high-powered lasers are used to fuse small particles of a substrate such as nylon, glass, ceramic or even some metals.7
In the auto industry, small car parts such as vent covers and other elements that don’t require exteme stability and strength may be manufactured using stereolithography, while parts requiring advanced functionality as nylon will allow would use the method of selective laser sintering.
While the other 3D printing technologies are used and new methods are being developed, these tried and true technologies have proven to be reliable enough for the demanding auto industry applications currently being utilized.
Will 3D Printing be the Driving Force in Future Automotive Manufacturing?
The current obstacles of 3D printing for mass production of major components of car manufacturing like slow production times, inadequate base materials, and reliance on human design input are being worked on. Early adopters of 3D printing like the Fiat Chrysler Group, Volkswagen Group, and the Ford Motor Company are all optimistic about where additive manufacturing will go from here.
Exciting new 3D printers like HP’s Metal Jet with the ability to manufacture complex metal parts never before possible are opening new doors to mass production for automotive applications.
As artificial intelligence (AI) progresses, we may soon see these obstacles removed from the 3D printing equation. Innovative new designs will be developed to eliminate antiquated mechanical designs and create new designs that work better within the constraints of 3D printing abilities for a superior end product.
Of course, as 3D technology is more widely adopted, costs will likely come down. More highly-trained individuals will enter the field, making talent easier to acquire. With a wider user base, innovations will skyrocket.
Whether you’re doing your research before buying your first electric vehicle, are a new owner of an EV, or even if you’ve had an electric car for a while, you may have questions about charging your EV. That’s why we’ve put together this Ultimate Guide to Charging Your EV. We’re answering the most common questions about EV batteries, charging times, charging stations, and the future of electric vehicle development in the UK, so let’s get it started!
What Makes an EV Battery Different from Batteries in Gas-Powered Cars?
Traditional gas-powered cars depend on 12V lead-acid batteries to initially start the internal combustion gas-powered engine. Electric cars that are completely battery-powered depend on lithium-ion batteries, similar to those used in cellphones and laptop computers. These lightweight, high-capacity batteries are ideal for electric vehicles because they are rechargeable and hold a charge for a long time. Hybrid-electric vehicles that run on a combination of gas and battery power primarily use nickel-metal hydride batteries, which rely on fuel to recharge the battery.1
How long does it take to charge an electric car in the UK?
Charging times for electric vehicles vary depending upon the make and model of the vehicle, as well as the specifics of the charging station. For example, charging an “empty” electric car battery on a 3.7kW charging station could take from 4-21 hrs depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Using a 50kW charging station could take 1-2 hours for a full charge. While there are advanced rapid 150kW charging boxes newly being released, some electric cars are not able to use them so keep that in mind when you’re shopping for your next EV.2
How many miles do you get to a charge on an EV battery and how much does it cost?
Mileage varies greatly between different makes and models of electric vehicles. For example, the 2018 Nissan LEAF claims a range of 150 miles per charge, while the Tesla Model S 100D boasts of a 320-mile range. Charging from home costs approximately £8.40 for a full charge, while using around £6.50 for a 30-minute charging session.3
How do I charge my electric car at home?
If you’re just tossing around the idea of buying an electric car, you’re probably wondering, “Can you plug an electric car into a regular outlet in the UK?” Even though most EVs come with a specialized charging cable that can fit the average three-pin domestic plug socket, using a professionally installed dedicated EV charging wall box will significantly reduce charging time.4 These home charging stations could cost upwards of £1,000, but the cost can be offset with a government grant. The UK’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) could fund up to 75% of the cost of investing in a domestic EV charge point.5
The good news is that the UK government is making solid plans to support the transition over to electric vehicles throughout the country with a push to see to it that all newly-built homes in coming years will have electric car charge points.6
Where can I charge my EV when I’m away from home?
One of the biggest concerns EV owners have is the inability to find a charging station while out and about. While it is, of course, easy to find a petrol station anywhere and everywhere you may go, one may be concerned that electric vehicle charging stations are fewer and further between. However, the website and app ZapMap.com provides an interactive map that shows over 10,000 the charging points across the UK, along with a wealth of associated information and tools for EV users.7
Many employers are also now installing EV charging stations as a convenience for employees who are making the switch to electric cars.
What is the future of EV batteries and charging?
With so much riding on the need for green technology, the UK government has also announced a £23 million funding plan to help promote the development of innovations in EV technology.8 Just a few of the latest breakthroughs in battery technology include a silicon-enhanced lithium-ion battery shown to improve performance 3-fold, which car companies Daimler and BMW have made solid investments in. Toyota is said to be developing a solid-state lithium-ion battery said to charge or discharge completely in only seven minutes. Yet another exciting technological advancement is an aluminium-air battery that allows EVs to drive over 1,100 miles on a single charge.9
It’s safe to say that EV development is in its infancy, but the financial and environmental benefits are already strong enough to justify becoming an early-adopter. Charging your EV is becoming easier, cleaner, and more convenient every day.
The concept of fuel cells is not new. The first fuel cell was invented by William Grove way back in 1839. Originally dubbed the “gas battery,” the initial design has been improved upon over the decades since to become our modern fuel cell. These innovative powerhouses have been used in various applications over the years since, from NASA spacecraft to FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles).1
What is new about modern fuel cells is the utilization of nanotechnology in the development of vastly superior fuel cells designed to drive us into the future of automotive fuel cells and beyond. With the goal of zero-emissions vehicles and elimination of our reliance on fossil fuels, nanotechnology is improving the design and durability of fuel cells and may eventually even lower the cost of production.
What is Nanotechnology and how is it Used in Fuel Cell Production?
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of materials on an atomic and molecular level. As a unit of measure, a nanometer is one -billionth of a meter. To put it into perspective, 100,000 nanometers is equivalent to the thickness of a sheet of newspaper.2 Nanotechnology is now being implemented to optimize the materials, fuels, and processes involved in fuel cell production, for advanced performance, durability, and hydrogen storage.
Like a combustion engine, fuel cells require fuel and air to power a vehicle. For example, in hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen flows to one side of the cell as air is pumped through a membrane to the other side. Hydrogen is then oxidized at the anode and converted into protons, which flow to the cathode, forming water. The catalyst (most often platinum) in the anode and cathode facilitates the spontaneous reaction that produces electricity with 40-60 percent efficiency and no dangerous waste products.3 This electrochemical reaction emits only water and heat.5
Platinum Nanotechnology – The Same but Better
The ability to break down particles of platinum, a very expensive raw material, into nanoparticles can make catalysis much more efficient while reducing the overall amount of platinum required. The Technical University of Munich research team led by Professor Roland Fischer has recently reduced the size of platinum particles to the point of actually doubling catalytic performance when compared to those currently used in commercial fuel cell applications. Using computer-generated models, the team discovered that a cluster of just 40 platinum atoms is enough to result in high mass activity.6
Nano-reactor Biofuel – Harnessing the Power of Nature
Removing costly platinum from the hydrogen fuel cell equation, scientists at Indiana University developed a modified enzyme protected by a “capsid” protein shell of a bacterial virus that catalyzes hydrogen formation. The team claims their new material produces hydrogen gas without the need for platinum in the reaction. Using fermentation, this nano-reactor is both biodegradable and sustainable. Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, the next step in the project is incorporating the bio-based technology into a solar-powered energy production system.7
Cobalt-graphene catalyst – Slower to Start but Faster to Finish
Newly developed graphene, a honeycomb-like sheet of carbon just one atom thick, has been combined with cobalt as a possible platinum replacement. Developed by chemist Shouheng Sun at Brown University, this new nanomaterial could offer the best reduction performance of any platinum replacement in fuel cell technology. While its properties are similar to platinum, the cost is far less. One drawback is a slower start to the catalytic reaction for oxygen reduction in comparison to that of platinum. However, the cobalt-graphene catalyst has shown itself to degrade slower than platinum, offering more stability over time. In fact, the cobalt-graphene catalyst outperformed its platinum counterpart by 10% over a 17-hour testing period.
PEMFCs – Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells
Nanotechnology has allowed for the development of significant improvements in the fuel cell membrane, including a proton exchange membrane developed by researchers at the University of Illinois. Their proton exchange membrane consists of a layer of porous silica over a 5-nanometer in diameter thick silicon layer. Water stays in the nanopores of the silica layer to combine with acid molecules. The acidic solution thus formed facilitates the passes of hydrogen ions through the membrane. This results in a membrane that performs 100 times better in low humidity conditions than conventional fuel cell membranes.9
Nanotech-Assisted Hydrogen Storage
Nanotech material graphene is also used by fuel cell researcher scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in their development of hydrogen storage. Using annealing and plasma treatment, they boosted the already high-bonding energy of hydrogen to the carbon in the graphene sheets. The very high surface area exposure of graphene allows for greatly increased storage of hydrogen in fuel cells.
These are just a few of the most exciting ways nanotechnology is opening new frontiers of advancement in the development of hydrogen fuel cells. With each new discovery, society comes closer to a fossil fuel-free future.
Modern digital technologies have transformed how products and services are created, marketed, sold, delivered, and used. Almost every industry has benefited from advancements in digitalized data, analytics, artificial intelligence, and networking, among other digital innovations. These advancements even hold promise for speeding up the process of de-carbonization to protect our environment from the ravages of fossil fuel usage.1
The energy sector has been applying various digital technologies since the 1970’s in the areas of exploration, planning and building of pipelines, development of transport systems, customer account management, and other vital areas of energy creation and distribution. But what does the future hold for digitalization in the energy sector and how will it affect the future of transportation?
What is Digitalization All About?
When we speak of Digitalization in the energy sector, we’re really speaking of converting old, outdated manual ways of doing things to computer-assisted means of doing the same tasks, only with greater accuracy, speed, and results.
For example, there are now billions of internet-connected devices being used around the world, from smartphones to smart refrigerators, even smart cars. This surge of electronic device usage has had an major impact on the energy sector in terms of the amount of energy being consumed. Yet, because of the enormous amount of data being collected from this “Internet of Things,” engineers and scientists are better able to develop highly efficient means of creating and distributing the energy needed to run these smart devices.2
Which Energy Systems are Benefiting from Digitalization?
The simple answer is all of them. Petroleum, coal, solar/wind/renewables, and even nuclear energy systems are all being made safer, more productive, and more efficient through digital innovations and data manipulation. It is estimated that the increased use of advanced sensors and analytics could ultimately lower costs of energy production and distribution by over $80 Billion USD per year within the next 30 years.2
By employing digital drones and industrial robots, exploration of once uncharted territories too dangerous for humans are now being explored and exploited to the betterment of society. Utilization of 3D digital printing in manufacturing also promises to reduce energy usage, waste, and even cut CO2 emissions.
How Digitalization is Laying the Groundwork for Smart Infrastructure for Intelligent Cars
As societies advance into the realm of autonomous, or self-driving vehicles, this digitization will provide the data and networking capabilities to greatly streamline our current transportation systems. Consider the fairly recent adoption of the GPS (global positioning system).
This digital technology provides us with the shortest routes to almost any destination, at any time, even accounting for immediate obstacles like accidents, road construction, and other incidents that would otherwise keep us idling in traffic jams and thus wasting energy.3
The expansion of global connectivity means that new paradigms like ride sharing, autonomous cars, electric vehicles, and smart roads are being quickly adopted, furthering the impact on our energy grid. These digital technologies will not only make transportation safer, but also more energy efficient.
Consider the case of “smart highways” that will glow from the light of the sun, reducing the need for electric street lights, or solar-powered electric vehicle lanes that will recharge cars while they are driving. Advanced digital sensors will display traffic signals only when vehicles are present, saving energy by shutting off when no one is around. These technologies are currently being developed and will surely have a positive impact on energy efficiency in this new digital era.
And of course, the computerization of vehicles has made them far more fuel efficient than cars and trucks of the past.
The Future of Digitalization and Caveats for Wise Adoption
A dependence upon digital systems does come with both limitless potential as well as increased vulnerability. As cyberterrorism threats grow worldwide, diligence in cybersecurity will be of utmost importance to protect our energy grid and transportation systems. There is no going back at this point, however, so ethical and wise governance will be paramount for a safe, prosperous digital future.
Brexit, the looming departure of the UK from the European Union will certainly have serious consequences on various industries. Not the least of the industries that hang in the balance is the UK automotive industry. As parliament continues to bang out the details and deals, the impact Brexit will have on the future of the automotive industry in particular in Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as in the UK is questionable.
As it stands, the trade of goods and services between the UK and EU is relatively free of restrictions. Because the Republic of Ireland intends to remain in the European Union after the UK’s departure from the EU, Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK) became somewhat of a gray area. A solution needed to be arrived at that would facilitate newly negotiated trade deals that would include Northern Ireland without the creation of a hard border through which the transport of taxable goods would pass.
The original plan would have created an “Irish backstop” allowing Northern Ireland to remain operating under EU rules regarding tariff exemptions and regulations. However, this plan was scrapped when Boris Johnson took over as UK Prime Minister. The new plan creates a workaround where tariffs on goods exported from all other areas of the UK to Northern Ireland will be paid initially prior to crossing the Irish Sea. Goods that remain in Northern Ireland will be subject to a refund of the previously paid tariffs, while those that are moved into the Irish Republic will not have tariffs refunded. These tariffs focus mainly on goods considered to be at risk of being transported into the Irish Republic once they’ve passed into Northern Ireland.
How Will Brexit Impact the Auto Industry in UK, Northern Ireland & the Irish Republic?
So, where does this plan leave UK auto manufacturers and sellers, who’ve benefited greatly from the free trade between EU countries? Some experts in the UK automobile industry are projecting veritable extinction of certain sectors of UK auto manufacturing.
Should a “No-Deal” Brexit happen, obliteration of the UK’s representation in the customs union could result. Because most UK car companies operate on a “just in time” production schedule where raw materials and automobile components are shipped in on an as-needed basis, time delays caused by customs processing and added tariffs would significantly impact production times and require a carrying of additional inventory which would cut into profits. Without a customs union to negotiate external tariffs, the auto industry seemingly stands to suffer.
Auto manufacturing and sales aside, other automotive areas that stand to be impacted by the changes Brexit will bring include transportation, logistics, and travel.
Brexit Impact on Logistics
As mentioned regarding the auto manufacturing industry, logistics for other industries that operate on a “just-in-time” basis for raw materials and production components may be wise to employ the usage of UK depots for temporary storage. Delays that may result from customs processing could impact transport times due to tachograph regulations, so here an investment in holding depots could again be beneficial.
It is also anticipated that delays at the ports, as well as at the British land bridge will impact Irish exporters who send their goods both to mainland GB as well as to the rest of the EU.
Driving in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland Post-Brexit
Residents of Northern Ireland will still be able to drive in the Irish Republic using their NI driving licenses post-Brexit. However, those residing in the Irish Republic and using an NI driving license will be required to exchange their licenses for Irish ones prior to Brexit. Those who wait may be subject to applying for a learner’s permit and taking the Irish driving test anew.
Conversely, residents of the Irish Republic will be able to drive legally throughout Northern Ireland on their Irish driving licenses as long as they have proof of auto insurance with a motor insurance green card or other valid insurance documentation.
The Future of Brexit for Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic
While many of the details of the Brexit agreement are still evolving, the transition period ending in December 2020 will surely help guide future decisions regarding trade and regulations throughout Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the rest of the UK. Four years following the end of the transition period, Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to vote on pertinent terms of the agreement to better support it’s standing in the new post-Brexit trade landscape. In the meantime, keeping abreast of changes in policies and procedures will help drive a positive outcome for the automotive industry in the region.
The global adoption of cloud computing has helped businesses large and small advance at speeds unimaginable in previous decades. Cloud computing has transformed how businesses interact with their customers, suppliers, employees while improving product delivery. To understand how this technology will influence our lives in the future, we must dive deeper into how cloud computing has taken hold and which industries have wisely harnessed this immense power to improve the products and services they offer.
What are the types of Cloud Computing?
What is “the cloud” and how do we get there? Essentially, the cloud is merely a metaphor for the Internet itself, a wide-branching network of connected servers that host and deliver information worldwide. By hosting data and software “in the cloud,” companies have untethered their computing capabilities from the physical and financial restraints of local servers and hardware.
IaaS - Utilization of cloud-based IaaS (infrastructure as a service) allows companies of all sizes to rent the use of IT essentials like servers, data storage, and operating systems on a monthly or yearly basis with easy upscaling or downsizing as needed.
PaaS - Similarly, platform as a service (PaaS) allows tech companies and developers to quickly develop, test, deliver, and manage new apps in the cloud, freeing them up from the necessity of physically setting up and managing needed servers, networks, and databases prior to development.
SaaS - The adoption of SaaS (software as a service) has allowed businesses and industries of all sizes to free up local computing resources by accessing vital software like the Adobe Suite of creative production programs online rather than on local servers. Giants like Google G Suite and Microsoft have changed the way we access shared documents, manage intra- and interoffice communications, and more. SaaS Salesforce and Shopify have greatly impacted a wide variety of businesses in sales and customer management.
All of these types of cloud computing helps businesses reduce costs and improve cybersecurity while providing vast scalability once nearly impossible, especially for smaller businesses and up-and-coming industries.1
Which Industries use Cloud Computing?
A survey performed in 2018 revealed that 73% of companies and organizations were currently utilizing at least one cloud-based application. It also revealed that an additional 17% of organizations were planning to adopt cloud computing technologies within the upcoming 12 months.2
Differences in Usage of Cloud Computing Technologies Between Global Industries
The impact of cloud computing across industries that are technology-dependent, such as manufacturing, automotive, and the financial sector is immeasurable. However, each sector and business is discovering ways to use cloud computing to best solve problems unique to its own needs.3
Telecom and Computer Manufacturers: the Earliest Adopters of Cloud Computing
Naturally, those companies that create the equipment that cloud computing relies on were among the earliest adopters of cloud applications. The manufacturers of the computers, telecom system components and electronics that cloud computing itself uses have benefitted by being able to quickly and relatively effortlessly scale up or down in their computational abilities, all while saving time and money in bringing new products to market. As well, access to cutting edge technology through the cloud such as CAD/CAE/CAM software essential to modern manufacturing has helped these industries make massive strides in a short period of time.4
Cloud Computing in the Automotive Industry
By 2025, it is projected that the automotive industry’s global market size in regards to cloud computing should reach upwards of 9.62 billion USD.5 The cost-efficiency of accessing data generation, customer-centric applications and the rapid access and integration with futuristic technologies like IoT, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are opening doors that otherwise may have taken decades for individual automotive companies to enter. IaaS giants such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) lead the way for the automotive industry adoption of cloud computing. Automotive companies are lowering the costs of inventory planning, forecasting, and replenishment with the use of cloud computing platforms, as well as speeding up transport scheduling and optimization necessary for product delivery. Cloud computing also allows for high-levels of encryption and security to protect priceless designs and technology. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of automotive cloud computing is the development of “connected vehicles” that assist in navigation, keeping drivers engaged, and alerting drivers regarding road hazards.6
How the Financial Sector Benefits from Cloud Computing
A recent survey of financial institutions revealed that 64% of those firms interviewed said that cloud computing will transform the financial sector over the coming decade. Regulated industries such as the insurance and banking industries have, in the past, been hesitant to utilize cloud computing due to security concerns.8 However, with the advent of blockchain technology, more financial institutions are welcoming and even helping to develop failsafe cloud computing options for their sector. Blockchain is not only safer than other means of data transfer, but it is also more cost-effective for financial institutions as it cuts out the “middle man” with broker-free transactions.9 Of course, financial institutions also use cloud computing for customer relationship management, interoffice electronic communications, and the like.
The old objections to cloud computing, including security concerns, are quickly falling away as the technology expands and develops to become a safer, more trustworthy option than local servers. The future of AI and Blockchain promise to collectively open a vast horizon of possibilities for industries old and new.
Why did celebrated poet, author, playwright, and Irish politician William Butler Yeats end his famed poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” with the line, “I hear it in the deep heart’s core”? Because that’s where the breathtaking County Sligo region becomes embedded once you’ve explored this legendary land on our exclusive signature tour to the Heart of Ireland’s Wild West. The memories of this rustic, mystical place will resonate in your heartstrings for years, decades…perhaps a lifetime.
For those wishing to experience first-hand what inspired cultural icons like Yeats to write such literary classics, the Wild West of Ireland surpasses the tourist-trodden east. Affectionately known as the “Land of Heart’s Desire,” you’ll easily see and feel why Lady Gregory nurtured the Irish Literary Renaissance at the turn of the 20th Century.1 Greatness is borne of places like this.
Travel Back to Days of Yore in the Wild West
The childhood summers spent in Sligo stayed with Yeats throughout his creative years. Even the success of being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and moving among the urban socialites of London could not quell his heartsick yearning to return to the Wild Atlantic Coastline. Listen closely and you’ll hear the faeries whisper of epic battles, Gaelic queens, and soul-soothing waterfalls all at once.
Few road trips around Ireland can compete with the area’s natural beauty blended with a rich history dating back to the Bronze Age.2 Rolling jade green hills laced with low stone walls surround the quaint, quiet town of Sligo, where the scenic Ox Mountains sing a siren song to hikers and those with an adventurous foot.
Under Ben Bulben and Beyond
The fascinating Ben Bulben rock formation attracts climbers and poets alike. Yeats wrote of this mossy monolith in his classic poem, “Under Ben Bulben,” summoning his artistic peers to celebrate all things Irish. The caverns and caves of Ben Bulben hold the echoes of eras gone by, while the fingers of shale that caress the mountainside make it seem more like a sculpture than a mountain.
Sligo pays homage to its favorite literary tourist with the Yeats Building, which houses the Yeats Society. This literary hub celebrates the man, his life, and his works both literary and cultural. Located in Abbeyquarter North of Sligo, the Yeats Society holds events, lectures, and classes year-round.3
While in Sligo, any Yeats fan must stop to see the whimsical statue that graces the front of the Ulster Bank building at the corner of Stephen Street and Markievicz Road. Cloaked in excerpts of his prose and poetry, the marvelous likeness emanates the charm, wit, and sophistication that made the man a legend. Even the placement of the statue is tongue-in-cheek, as it is in reference to Yeats’ quip he made when receiving the Nobel Prize, that the Royal Palace of Stockholm reminded him of the Ulster Bank in Sligo.
Of course, it’s not possible to follow in the footsteps of Yeats in County Sligo without a leisurely boat trip to the famed Lake Isle of Innisfree. This small, uninhabited island in Lough Gill, remains a peaceful retreat sure to bring out your own inner poet.
Though times have changed since the days of Yeats, the beauty, spirituality, and history remain. From country roads, wild rivers, and enchanting shores of lakes and sea, our Heart of Ireland’s Wild West Tour will give you a glimpse into the passion for this enchanting land that propelled Yeats to create the literary classics that are still treasured to this day.
Most people who dream of touring Ireland think about one thing…the pubs! Sure, the Irish are known for raucous socializing over pints of Guinness, but the true glory of Ireland lies in its many spectacular castles scattered across the country. So, I’ve together a list of my favorite castles of Ireland that can’t be missed. Some are spectacular in their size and beauty, some are downright scary, and others are just straight-up ruined yet fascinating to encounter.
Spectacular Irish Castles You Can Sleep in
If your travel budget allows, there are some luxurious castles in Ireland that are fitted with the finest of modern comforts for tourists and locals alike.
Dromoland Castle – Built by one of Ireland’s last High Kings, Dromoland Castle was home to the Dromoland O’Brien family for 900 years. Leaders of the IRA in Dublin plotted the destruction of Dromoland Castle in the 1920s, but the estate was saved in a last-minute plea since the O’Briens had been generous in their dealings with tenant farmers. The castle changed hands several times over the years and is now a 5-star resort. This 450-acre estate boasts of a world-class golf course, intimate spa, and cuisine that is par excellence.
Ashford Castle – Founded in 1228 by the powerful de Burgos family in Cong, County Mayo, Ashford Castle is most famously a former home of the famed Guinness family. Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness bought the castle and expanded the grounds, planting thousands of trees and extending the living quarters with Victorian flair. It was purchased by Noel Huggard in 1939 and subsequently transformed into a luxury hotel, where actors and crew of the classic film “The Quiet Man” would later stay during filming. Over the years, the castle hotel has become a retreat of the rich and famous, complete with spas, a falconry school, equestrian center, and golf course.
Kikea Castle – The Earl of Ulster, Hugh de Lacy, built this expansive castle in Kilkea, County Kildare in 1180. This intimate, 11-bedroom luxury castle hotel overlooks the River Greese and is the perfect setting for a dream wedding or unforgettable family reunion. The 180-acre estate includes an 18-hole golf course and a variety of sporting activities such as archery, horse riding, and fishing. There is also a lovely restaurant, Hermione’s, which seats up to 100 guests.
A’Haunting We Will Go – Top Haunted Castles in Ireland
Ghost stories are plenty in the land of faeries and leprechauns. Here are our favorite haunted castles you need to know about!
Kinnitty Castle – This castle is a cross-over from our previous category since it’s a widely-believed haunted castle that you can also sleep in! Of course, don’t plan on getting much shuteye, because you’ll probably be sleeping with one eye open. The site of the current castle has a bloody past, with warring factions destroying and rebuilding both the castle and abbey beginning way back in 340 AD when it was built by the O’Carrolls. It was burned down by the IRA in 1922, restored by the government, changed hands a few times, and then turned into a hotel in 1994. Druidic relics and a pag