There is a gaping hole in UK manufacturers’ understanding of Industry 4.0 as only 8% are confident about the concept, according to a new report by business advisory firm BDO and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
That is despite 59% of the companies surveyed being aware that Industry 4.0 will have a major impact on the sector. This will happen in areas such as data exchange and via the increased use of automation technology, the report finds.
It is surprising to see such low awareness of Industry 4.0 amongst UK manufacturers and clearly more needs to be done to educate, support and assist the sector
Tom Lawton, head of manufacturing at BDO
Tom Lawton, head of manufacturing at BDO, said: “It is surprising to see such low awareness of Industry 4.0 amongst UK manufacturers and clearly more needs to be done to educate, support and assist the sector as we make strides into what is likely to become the fourth industrial revolution.
Lawton added that UK manufacturers need to push ahead or they will be left behind.
"Especially when it is evident other countries are already moving ahead of the game with education and investment programmes being much more clearly supported by government than in the UK," he said.
Security is also a concern highlighted within the report.
Indeed, more that 70% of the 318 companies surveyed think Industry 4.0 will increase the risk of cyber security breaches in their business.
However, 48% said they had an adequate IT infrastructure, which could prevent breaches.
Philippa Oldham, head of manufacturing at the IMechE, said the survey proves that more must be done to help manufacturers understand the impact of Industry 4.0 on UK business.
“It is now time for government to set-out a clear long-term strategy which empowers UK companies to invest in these technologies and UK manufacturing’s long-term future,” Oldham said.
Ken Young, technology director at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, said the companies that do well out of the fourth industrial revolution will be the ones that recognise the business opportunities and apply the technologies in a focused way to drive the benefits.