A new EEF report predicts that the UK could play a leading role in the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) if manufacturers invest in the right technologies and operational strategies, and receive governmental support.
According to The 4th Industrial Revolution – a primer for manufacturers report, 61% of UK manufacturers expect digital technologies to boost productivity, while 74% predict industry 4.0 will fundamentally change customers’ expectations.
EEF found that more than 40% of UK manufacturers understand what Industry 4.0 will entail and the majority are at the first stage of a three-part Industry 4.0 transformation. However, almost 70% of respondents expect Industry 4.0 to happen faster than previous changes in manufacturing and just 11% think the UK is geared up for the new industrial age. Almost four in ten respondents admitted that they were concerned about their firms’ ability to keep up, while a further third are worried about new competition.
Already, manufacturers are focused on developing investment strategies, connecting up supply chains and end customers, and enabling smarter production processes. Around 66% are exploring cloud solutions, 55% are looking into multi-purpose production lines, and 54% are considering investments in capital equipment with embedded sensors and analytics.
EEF’s report recommends that manufacturers also prepare for Industry 4.0 by changing their company culture to allow for greater innovation, adopting a visionary approach to leadership and giving their IT teams a more strategic business planning role.
“Industry 4.0 is happening and the UK’s success in this global industrial transformation will hinge on manufacturers’ strategies and ambitions,” said Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF. “Industry 4.0 goes far beyond simply investing in new technologies and techniques – this new era requires cultural shifts, new business models and the ability to adapt and innovate. Above all, it requires strong leadership.”
UK Government will also play a key role in helping the country to take a leading role in Industry 4.0.
“Manufacturers are ready to do the heavy lifting, but their efforts must be supported across the sector and supply chains and backed up by government through its new industrial strategy,” said Hopley. “If we get this approach right then the UK can expect to be at the forefront of this global industrial wave – get it wrong, however, and the UK will be left trailing in its wake.”
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