Widespread ignorance of Industry 4.0 threatens to derail the competitiveness of UK manufacturing and engineering, according to figures released today by The Engineer in association with Subcon, the defining event in the manufacturing supply chain calendar.
When asked if they understood what industry 4.0 is, more than one in three (37%) UK manufacturing and engineering professionals said no, with a further 19% unsure. Even among those that answered positively, only 23% were certain that they had a handle on the concept with a further 22% positive but not sure.
However, the survey did reveal that even without high levels of confidence in their understanding of Industry 4.0, UK manufacturers and engineering businesses were investing in the technologies associated with the fourth industrial revolution.
Looking at the past 12 months:
- Nearly half (46%) have invested in simulation and CAD modelling technologies
- 36% have invested in automation and robotics
- 28% have invested in 3D printing
- 23% have invested in cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things.
Looking ahead to the next year:
- Automation and robotics leads the charge with 34% of respondents planning investment
- 27% plan on investing in simulation and modelling in the next year
- 24% plan on investing in 3D printing.
“Looking at these figures, it is clear that UK engineering and manufacturing businesses understand the benefits of new technology, even if they don’t quite get the buzzwords,’ said Gordon Kirk, event director, Subcon. “This investment is being driven by the competitive issues of new product development and improving design and production processes.
“The question that follows is whether or not these investments are delivering everything they could do. The educational programme at Subcon will help these businesses put their investment in context. This year we have a 36-session conference programme based over two theatres and Industry 4.0 and the development of digital manufacturing technologies forms a key part of the subject matter. We anticipate a lot of conversations around these technologies as businesses need to find out how to put their investments to work in creating competitive advantage.”