Industry 4.0 has a become a widely-recognised trend among British manufacturers. However, only 25% of them feel they have an adequate understanding of the opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
This is somewhat surprising since the opportunities of Industry 4.0 have been widely heralded by industrial experts, academics and policymakers.
The Annual Manufacturing Report 2017 shows an overwhelmingly positive response to Industry 4.0 with 62% of manufacturers, who feel they have a good understanding of Industry 4.0, planning to build towards it – and another 12% already making the move.
An additional 15% had evaluated current trends, including automation and data exchange, and decided that it was suitable for their business but had not yet started planning for it.
That left just 11% of manufacturers who said they had a good understanding of Industry 4.0, but who needed more time to evaluate the opportunity.
Shaping the future of manufacturing
Industry 4.0 technologies like automation, 3D printing and big data to name but a few, are already shaping the agenda of British manufacturing, although the report did identify some anxieties over the changes taking place.
By far the greatest area of concern among manufacturers was that initial development costs were too high (64%) and that their own business lacked appropriate expertise to exploit the opportunities of Industry 4.0 (52%).
These are not insurmountable barriers, and the large number of manufacturers planning to move towards a smarter and more connected manufacturing suggests the significant earning opportunities of this transformational shift outweighs any negative perceptions.
How well is the government supporting manufacturers? Well, opinion is split, with 48% of those surveyed saying they’d received poor support and 30% saying the government has been supporting the UK’s manufacturing sector well. Only 4% felt the government were doing “very well” at bolstering the sector.
Just the beginning
The Annual Manufacturing Report 2017 clearly shows that Industry 4.0 technologies are already positively shaping the agenda of the UK manufacturing industry. At HSO, we’re confident that this is just the beginning.