On February 24, Canon UK’s James Pittick joined some of the country’s senior business and political leaders for a day of celebrating British manufacturing at the EEF National Manufacturing Conference.
At the event, Canon alongside Vodafone and Infor, hosted a panel session on technology driving productivity in the sector, chaired by Dr Steve Chicken, EEF’s manufacturing growth director.
Here, Pittick discusses his three key take-aways from the event.
Industry 4.0 is more than just a catchphrase
We’ve come a long way since the first industrial revolution in the late 18th century. In 200 short years we’ve moved from the mechanisation of the textile industry to talking about a fully automated and intelligent supply chain.
Now, in 2016, the rate off acceleration is astounding with research from EEF showing that 80% of manufacturers believe that Industry 4.0 will be a business reality by 2025.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) represents the interconnectivity of everything – it will be everywhere – across all industries and subsectors.
We’re already producing more data than ever before, but technology is enabling the smart application of this information from analytics and business intelligence, to the processes powering the way we work.
Launched by Autodesk and The Manufacturer – and supported by key partners, the Future of British Manufacturing initiative takes a hands-on approach to enabling British design and manufacturing companies to respond to the challenges of trends the likes of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things.
Human-machine interactions and digital-to-physical transfers are fast becoming commonplace. Digital technologies have been a long time in the making and while some are not yet ready for application at scale, many are now at a point where their greater reliability and lower cost are starting to make sense for industrial applications.
3D innovation is bringing manufacturing to new levels
Manufacturers are under mounting pressure to produce higher quality goods faster and at lower cost.
The sector must capitalise on recent technology advancements and the benefits digital transformation can bring in order to meet customer demands while managing to grow both their businesses and productivity.
The investment in innovative technologies is key to driving these sector-wide efficiencies and improvements. So much so that it is the top priority for manufacturers according to EEF’s Executive Survey for 2016.
Nowhere is innovation more prevalent than in manufacturing’s use of 3D print technology. 3D printers are increasingly being using to introduce supply chain and production efficiencies to create customised, improved and sometimes even difficult to manufacture products right wherever they are needed.
They can offer rapid prototyping solutions for firms which can help manufacturers to work faster and more productively while helping protect their intellectual property at the same time.
Internet connectivity is key to the UK’s growth
For the digital revolution to take place, the UK’s infrastructure needs to be up to scratch. We know that high quality networks that are fast, reliable and secure will underpin nationwide innovation.
Decisions taken now on internet connectivity will have a critical bearing in the near future on whether or not Britain is a leading player in Industry 4.0.
It’s an exciting time to be in manufacturing. The speed of innovation is breath-taking and the technology processes powering the industry are setting the standard across all sectors.
But manufacturing is an ancient craft and revolutions don’t happen overnight. Digital won’t instantly replace legacy, but we’re facing an incredibly important period for the industry and the country as we implement change and truly embrace the potential of technology.