Why are manufacturers not adopting Industry 4.0?
The technology leap that has occurred in recent years is set to transform the UK's factories, increasing productivity and giving the sector and economy a boost. And yet, manufacturers, particularly SMEs, seem to be slow on the uptake.
Industry 4.0 has been widely reported and celebrated across news reports, trade articles and exhibitions, but the focus has often been on the high-end tech, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality. Industry 4.0 can seem daunting, expensive and possibly irrelevant to SMEs, as larger organisations take centre stage, being more likely to deploy relevant Industry 4.0 technologies. Although interesting to SMEs, they do not see it as being a part of their immediate future or within reach and so enthusiasm declines and focus returns to the task-in-hand; after all, they have always managed without it.
Historically, the limiting factors for SMEs in adopting new technologies, such as cost and maintenance, have held them back. However, the technologies that are emerging can be viable for small and medium manufacturers.
So what is holding manufacturers back?
Industry 4.0 fatigue, perhaps?
The repeated rhetoric of 'Industry 4.0', 'The 4th Industrial Revolution', 'Big Data', 'Data Analytics', 'IIoT', 'Connected Value Chain', can all be a little exhausting if the benefits to you are not clear. Some vendors have certainly been guilty of talking up the technology without understanding the operational benefits and ROI of these disruptive technologies.
Is the perceived scale of change required just too overwhelming?
Some manufacturers may feel their operations are not big enough to adapt, others feel the pace of change is too fast and anticipate large capital expenditure for which budgets do not exist. SMEs may not even have the physical space for automation, so they feel that they can't adopt connected technologies.
The reasons as to why new technologies are not being adopted could be far and wide; we have picked a handful of common issues that in our experience, and according to research, may be standing in the way of manufacturers making the most of the new technologies and developing their Manufacturing Transformation Strategy.
Each blog focusses on a separate issue and what can be done to overcome any challenges or fears about the brave new world of manufacturing. The blogs were previously featured on the Yorkshire Insider website.
5 reasons why you're not adopting Industry 4:
1. The Skills Shortage
The connection between skills and economic success is detailed in the Government's Industrial Strategy, which summaries two main outcomes of the strategy; to improve living standards and increase national productivity. Making progress towards these outcomes requires effective investment and action on the skills shortage from the Government, educational establishments and from all sectors within manufacturing. However, in recent years, manufacturers have failed to invest in skills, creating more low paid jobs. Do manufacturers now fear that they do not have the skills in-house to cope with new technology?
Is the skills shortage slowing down Industrial Internet of Things adoption in the UK manufacturing sector? Paulo Nobre of Cimlogic explains further.
2. Cyber Security
Security concerns have heightened since the high profile, disruptive cyber-attacks on NHS hospitals, pharmacies and GP surgeries in the UK. Cyber-attacks are inevitably on the rise, and due to a lack of investment in Cyber Security the manufacturing industry are now amongst the key targets, second only to healthcare.
As industrial technology advances, manufacturers are utilising cloud services, data analytics and mobile connectivity more to improve their infrastructure. On the flip side, this means more opportunity for cybercriminals to strike. Are some manufacturers so worried about cybersecurity, that this is causing a significant barrier to IIoT adoption?
Are growing cybersecurity concerns prohibiting IIoT adoption in the UK manufacturing sector? Chris Borrowdale of Cimlogic lends his expertise.
3. Not enough knowledge about Industry 4.0 amongst SMEs
Industry 4.0 can seem daunting, expensive and possibly irrelevant to SMEs, as larger organisations take centre stage - being more likely to deploy relevant Industry 4.0 technologies. Although interesting to SMEs, they do not see it as being a part of their immediate future or within reach and so enthusiasm declines, and focus is returned to the task in-hand.
According to the Penton IoT research in 2016, amongst the top deterrents to leveraging IIoT technology are: not enough knowledge about available solutions; a perceived high cost of implementation and uncertainty about what the IIoT benefits are.
Is the lack of knowledge and uncertainty about the benefits of Industry 4.0 technology prohibiting IIoT adoption in the UK manufacturing sector? Alan Sookrah of Cimlogic explains further.
4. The convergence of operational technology and information technology
Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) have a long history of working independently. Over the years they have both developed completely separately, operating in different networks and with different objectives.
Manufacturers must start to realise the importance of bringing IT and OT together in a connected factory if they are to gain benefits from IIoT such as: capturing and analysing more data for better decision making, enhanced productivity, reduced machine breakdowns, assured quality, reduced operational costs and better profits. But, according to the Penton IoT research in 2016, IT and OT integration are one of the top deterrents to leveraging IIoT technology.
Is the convergence of operational technology and information technology prohibiting IIoT adoption in the UK manufacturing sector? Chris Borrowdale of Cimlogic explains further.
5. Legacy systems
Government funding and new business models are beginning to make tech for SMEs a reality, so SMEs need to start planning for the short and long-term future. Innovation and technology are one of the areas that can significantly improve productivity, increase capacity and drive growth. So why the slow up-take of new technology? One very large and complex elephant in the room is legacy systems and the headaches that they can cause.
Are legacy systems in your 'too hard to deal with' tray? Are they prohibiting you from adopting IIoT? Chris Borrowdale of Cimlogic explains further.