The Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway, with the potential to change the way manufacturers operate and compete, but for many firms, adopting the latest technology can seem unreachable.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4) presents a number of opportunities for UK manufacturers. Digitalisation and the networking of humans and machines that characterise this revolution may be a natural progression from the automation that characterised the third, but what sets this revolution apart is the scale and pace of change.
Year-on-year, connectivity, capacity and capability are growing – British businesses cannot afford to be left behind. What also sets IR4 apart is that the opportunities it presents are available to firms regardless of their size.
In fact, in many ways, digitalisation is a great leveller – offering small firms the opportunity to compete and reach markets that were previously dominated by the manufacturing giants.
Driving business efficiencies
IR4 supports the very fundamentals of good, strong and sustainable business – efficiency and effectiveness. Manufacturers are already seeing the cost savings that automation and digitalisation can bring through lean processing, virtual production lines and 3D printing, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.
As more businesses adopt new technologies and ways of working, the opportunities to connect with customers and businesses globally and to interrogate data hold the promise of increased collaboration and problem-solving.
As costs decline and efficiencies increase, so does the ability to compete with businesses, not just domestically, but internationally too.
This article first appeared in the September issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here.
Digitalisation may also hold the solution to the UK’s persistent productivity puzzle. A BBC report revealed that UK productivity has remained stagnant and below pre-financial crisis levels for the past decade, but saw a 0.4% fall in Q1 2018.
In context, UK productivity remains consistently below those of other industrialised nations. According to the Made Smarter Review, which set out the government’s plans for industrial digitalisation, the implementation of automation and industrial digital technologies could improve productivity by more than 25%.
Supporting investment in future technology
The improvements and opportunities that IR4 offers provide significant potential for businesses and the economy as a whole. Securing these improvements and opportunities, however, through investment in new plant, machinery and technology, can present a challenge.
As part of our ongoing support of UK manufacturing, Lloyds Bank is committing £1.5bn of Asset Finance funding* to UK businesses, which can be used by manufacturers keen to purchase new machinery, plant or equipment.
Dave Atkinson, head of manufacturing at Lloyds Bank, explains why securing funding to unlock investment is so important to Britain’s manufacturing community.
“The government’s Industrial Strategy, and more recently the Made Smarter Review led by Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK, shows a commitment to making the UK’s manufacturing sector into a world leader through future technology and grasping the opportunities of IR4.
“It’s a real call to arms to manufacturing firms across sectors and of all sizes. Seizing the opportunities that come with the Fourth Industrial Revolution will help Britain’s manufacturers pursue an effective and sustainable growth strategy.
“Whether you’re looking at expanding into new markets at home or overseas, improving profitability or enhancing productivity, investing in the latest plant, machinery or equipment can provide the boost your business needs.”
A number of benefits
Asset Finance can provide flexibility over supplier choice and quick decisions, enabling businesses to purchase the equipment they need to grow or become more efficient, without the need to find the cash up-front.
Businesses can also maintain their cash reserves and manage their cash flow more effectively, with repayments structured over the useful life of the asset.
Over the past four years, Lloyds Banking Group has provided over £4bn of additional funding to the UK’s manufacturing businesses and undertaken a programme of enhanced support for a sector that’s so fundamental to the British economy.
This has included working closely with industry bodies, investing in future skills for the industry and training over 350 managers to understand the challenges and opportunities that being a manufacturer brings.
To find out how Lloyds Bank can help you access the latest equipment, plant and machinery and play your role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, call 0345 602 4796.
*£1.5bn relates to Asset Finance funding between January – December 2018.
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