UK can help define Industry 4.0, says Siemens head

Juergen Maier, chief executive of Siemens, says the UK can play a major role in promoting the adoption of Industry 4.0 digital technology solutions – but also needs to develop an aptly skilled workforce to capitalise on the opportunities a digital future can deliver.

With some confusion surrounding what Industry 4.0 entails, Juergen Maier clarified that the term is being used as a descriptor for available digital technology solutions that are designed to optimise productivity in manufacturing to a level where a high wage economy can compete within a globalised manufacturing environment.

Juergen Maier, chief executive, Siemens.
Juergen Maier, UK chief executive, Siemens.

He noted: “Industry 4.0 is the technology behind the fourth industrial revolution vision and has been proactively adopted by the German Government to drive a manufacturing revolution in that country.

“The potential of digital technologies to utilise vast data volumes lies at the heart of solutions that have the potential, for example, to enable manufacturers to produce a batch size of one – but at mass market prices.

“In essence, it will allow for the customisation of all manner of consumer and industrial products to meet market demand, and will be made possible via flexible, highly connected and intelligence-led manufacturing processes. The German Government recognises the potential of digital technology within a manufacturing environment and is encouraging and supporting its manufacturing base to invest accordingly.”

Maier believes today’s Industry 4.0 cyber-physical systems can allow manufacturers to re-assess their processes and business models in order to improve productivity and customised market responsiveness – both key factors for success within an increasingly competitive and globalised marketplace.

TM Smart Factory Expo

Nov 2-3, The NEC (Birmingham)

The Manufacturer Smart Factory Expo is the UK’s only dedicated exhibition in response to Industry 4.0

Showcasing the best solution providers and technology offerings, this unique event is for manufacturing business leaders keen to adopt the relevant tools and knowledge to drive business growth.

  •  Learn about how Industry 4.0 can improve your business
  •  Discover new, more cost-effective solutions to existing processes
  •  Hear how other manufacturers are dealing with the fourth industrial revolution
  •  Network with new suppliers, customers and business partners
  • Compare solutions across every product sector
  • Keep up to date with emerging technology

He commented: “The ability to extract, hold and interrogate huge volumes of data will enable businesses to better manage their assets in all kinds of ways, offering, for example, the ability to vastly improve factory efficiencies and contribute to improving Britain’s productivity performance which currently lags behind many leading industrial nations.”

Industry 4.0 skills

Ensuring the UK builds a workforce with the right digital skills for future demands is also critical; Maier said it was essential that the next generation’s interest in STEM subjects is encouraged so that our future engineering resource requirements can be met.

Maier called upon the UK’s manufacturing sector to embrace the possibilities digital technology solutions offer and to get prepared for the seismic change the digitisation of industry will bring over the coming five years.

He concluded: “I would urge all stakeholders, including policy holders within government, to grasp the strategically important opportunity that lies before us.

“This is an exciting moment in time for the world of engineering and manufacturing.  The UK’s industrial sector must ensure we are at the forefront of the digitisation of industry, that we all promote its benefits and we up skill our workforce to make the most of a unique opportunity.

“By doing so we will help put in place the foundations to ensure that the fourth industrial revolution provides tangible economic success, drives growth and creates high value jobs for the UK – something we all want to see.”