Get ready for Industry 4.0

The future of manufacturing

Industry 4.0 is not just about embracing new digital technologies. Firms also need the right processes, policies and people to drive change.

A century ago the Industrial Revolution transformed the UK from an agrarian society to a nation powered by cogs, engines and steam. Now manufacturers are in the middle of an even greater revolution – one that’s fuelled by digital technology.

Innovations have emerged at a dizzying pace. Few outside Silicon Valley could have predicted their arrival. Big Data, Cloud Computing, The Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence were not widely understood or adopted a decade ago. Now they are a critical part of a CEO’s vocabulary.

These digital developments have the potential to transform UK manufacturing, helping firms become more efficient and productive. Yet few will realise these opportunities as outdated systems and working practices become roadblocks to change.

If firms are to move forward, they must first transform their existing operational processes.

Are you ready for Industry 4.0?

To discover the key actions you can take to successfully embed digital change, please click on the links below or download our free guide.

Tech-enabled growth

Technology offers the chance for manufacturers to transform production processes and back-office functions. Most are only just beginning to realise these opportunities.

Cloud computing

IT software and services run over the internet instead of through computer hardware. Firms become more efficient and nimble.

Cloud computing - IT office

IT office
IT systems are scalable, supporting fast business growth.

Cloud computing - CEO/board

CEO/board
It becomes quicker and easier to enter new overseas markets. 

Cloud computing - customers/logistics

Customers/logistics
Teams collaborate more effectively with customers and suppliers.  

Big Data

Digitally enabled processes create torrents of data, offering transformational insights for those that can manage and analyse it.

Cloud computing - CEO/board

CEO/board
Management makes better and more confident decisions. 

Finance office

Finance office
Finance teams accurately track business performance. 

Cloud computing - customers/logistics

Customers/logistics
Predictive analysis leads to better forecasting. 

Robotics

Machines are becoming smarter. Firms can automate repetitive tasks in the back-office and on the factory floor.

Production line

Production line
Robotic assembly creates productivity gains.

Finance office

Finance office
Back-office automation allows teams to focus on value-adding tasks. 

Factory floor

Factory floor
Driverless cars efficiently move goods throughout the factory. 

The Internet of Things

Sensors on devices collect and share real-time data. These insights help firms kick-start productivity and reduce downtime.

Supply chain

Supply chain
Inventory is tracked in real-time, optimising the supply chain. 

Production line

Production line
Machines provide data on their performance and maintenance needs. 

Cloud computing - CEO/board

CEO
Utilities are closely watched, reducing energy and water consumption. 

Adoption obstacles

Legacy systems and out-dated thinking will become barriers to technology innovation.

  A poor change culture

Investment paralysis  A skills deficit

Clumsy digital architecture  Poor risk management

Critical actions in the next 12 months

Develop an IT strategy Elevate technology
This should set out your vision for digital change. Once in place, management will be equipped to focus on digital projects that add business value.
If your business is to move forward, it must invest in new technology. The right tone at the top is critical. Board endorsement will ensure digital investment is not overlooked.
  • Does management set aside enough time to develop your digital vision?
  • Do you have the resources to make change happen?
  • Does your IT strategy support your wider business goals?
  • Does at least one board member have digital know-how?
  • Are IT issues on your board agenda?
  • Does the board promote a culture of experimentation?
Evaluate your IT operating model Empower employees
It’s important you know how your digital landscape is working. An evaluation helps you understand whether your IT operating model will support the business now and in the future. An empowered workforce is more likely to engage with digital transformation projects. Understand how employees use your existing systems and where frustrations exist.
  • Are your IT systems integratedor disparate? 
  • Do employees use manual interventions or workarounds?
  • Do you drive competitive edge and efficiency through your systems?
  • Is there a forum to obtain views and feedback from IT users?
  • Do employees try to avoid using new systems?
  • Could training help plug IT adoption gaps?
Embed digital know-how Understand and mitigate threats
The right digital hires will help you reach confident decisions around technology. Look for candidates that can lead business discussions and quickly deliver change.
A technology risk assessment will help you understand existing and emerging threats. Develop an action plan for when things go wrong. 
  • Are there digital experts already within your organisation? 
  • Do digital candidates have the skills to spearhead change? 
  • Will your recruitment processes help you find top digital talent? 
  • Have you assessed your technology risk profile, including cybersecurity risks?
  • Do you have a strong IT control framework in place? 
  • Have you recently tested your incident management procedures and IT disaster recovery plans?