The 4th Industrial Revolution is about connecting all elements of the value chain, with greater integration of digital technologies with the physical production process.
For UK manufacturing, this revolution holds great opportunities. But there are also risks of falling behind international competitors who are already embracing the revolution.
There are four main clusters of disruptive technologies that have enabled this revolution: The whole data computation and power connectivity issue, the issue of analytics and intelligence, clever advances in human and machine interaction, and clever technology advances in digital to physical conversion, or ‘additive manufacturing’.
A key aspect of the 4th Industrial Revolution is that it helps support continuous improvement initiatives and projects such as Lean and the improvement of processes and efficiencies. For example with quality tracking, advances in technology now give us access to real time error tracking. And in resource and asset utilisation, you can analyse yields instantly and take action quickly so as to manage demand better and keep work in progress down. So the 4th Industrial Revolution works well with existing improvement philosophies and gives opportunities to go even further.
A starting point for manufacturers is to begin looking at efficiencies in their supply chain, and developing the skills needed to enable them to adopt the digital revolution positively. This could include investigating strategies that will ensure a smooth transition into the digital era, ensuring they are in the best position to invest in their business and remain competitive
Our recent fact card has shown that overseas competitors are further down the track in investing in these technologies and the big risk is that we might fall further behind. UK Manufacturing has the capability to compete with the rest of its global competitors but businesses can’t afford to wait and must act now.
To stay up to date with the latest 4th Industrial Revolution news, tune into our monthly ‘Be Business Ready’ podcast with EEF Consultancy Director Martin Strutt.