What else do we need to know about the 4th industrial revolution?

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Manufacturing is undergoing a transformation to the fourth industrial revolution. This transformation will see greater integration of physical production with digital technologies to boost levels of productivity.


What do we know already?

The fourth industrial revolution will rely on secure and reliable digital connections. Internet connectivity is an important enabler and will support a productive, skilled and investment and export intensive sector.


Internet connected capital equipment is going to become more prevalent and 62% of firms expect to be investing more in this area in the next five years.

Whilst manufacturers say their digital connections are broadly ok, the picture for the future raises a few more questions. Indeed, half of respondents to our survey say their current internet connection is not adequate for their expected needs over the next five years.


Investment in new technology must be matched by investment in cyber security

The risk of a cyber attack is an even bigger issue for manufacturers as we enter an age where more and more production technologies and processes will be internet connected and autonomous.

EEF’s survey of members shows that only a third of manufacturers have an incident response plan in place to deal with cyber breaches and almost a half don’t have board level discussions about cyber security management.


Additionally, nearly a half of manufacturers have failed to increase their investment in cyber security in the past 2 years.


We need to remain competitive

If we want to maintain and improve on our position as 7th in the world we have to get this digital transformation right, having the infrastructure to support changing strategies, backed up with security measures as well as anticipating and avoiding roadblocks in order to ensure success.


But we have unanswered questions

  • What will stand in the way of the digital transformation of the factory floor?
  • How will skill needs change with the fourth industrial revolution?
  • What do manufacturers see as opportunities?
  • What will be the tipping points?

We will be bringing industry together to look at how best to future proof manufacturing. We aim to answer all of the above questions, and more, in order to understand how the 4th industrial revolution will play out on the ground, and try to separate hype from reality.


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Senior Policy Researcher

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