In the wake of MACH 2018, where Industry 4.0 was a prominent theme, we asked our readers for their thoughts on the ‘new industrial revolution’. The results were fairly damning.
The poll attracted just 250 votes, compared to over 1,000 for the previous week’s poll on fracking. This disparity in interest seems to reflect a general antipathy towards the term ‘Industry 4.0’, backed up by the responses of those who did take part. Almost two-thirds (60 per cent) of readers feel the buzzword is unhelpful, a product of hype that doesn’t necessarily reflect the realities of industry. New technologies will always take time to filter down the supply chain, and having an umbrella term that nods towards a new industrial ‘revolution’ across manufacturing clearly doesn’t sit well with many.
In contrast, just 17 per cent of respondents said Industry 4.0 technology is delivering benefits to their business right now. Considering the term has been knocking around for the best part of a decade, the impact of digital technology does not appear to be living up to its promise. At the MACH seminar programme, Siemens UK chief Jürgen Maier claimed just 8 per cent of British SMEs felt ready for Industry 4.0, saying more must be done to encourage the adoption of new technologies right across industry. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of our poll respondents agreed, believing much of the technology to be beyond the reach of smaller firms. While this year’s MACH sought to counter that argument, highlighting the accessibility of various Industry 4.0 solutions, it seems there is plenty of work to do before The Engineer’s readers are convinced.
The comments section below will remain open for debate. Given the results, we’re particularly keen to hear where people feel Industry 4.0 is falling down. Does the whole concept put undue pressure on industry to adopt new practices too soon? Is the technology not mature enough? Is the value proposition not clear enough for SMEs? Let us know what you think.