The industry report “The New Era – Making the most of Technology Report” talks about how the UK manufacturing industry needs to adopt fourth industrial revolution technologies. Failure to do so will make the UK fall behind.
UK manufacturers want to invest in Technology, but there’s an obstacle.
UK manufacturers will lose opportunities by not investing in fourth revolution technologies (4IR) - big data, analytics, automated systems or AI (artificial intelligence). They’ll also create jobs over the next decade thanks to this investment. Embracing smart factory technologies could create around 101,000 new jobs.
Companies outside the UK are already making the change. While 83% of manufacturers are confident they can compete on an international scale, many still haven’t started investing in technology.
And they’re falling behind. British manufacturing companies are delaying the investment. They blame the shortage of skilled workers as the reason.
Today, new skills are required for the workforce. By the end of 2017, the barrier to reach business goals for the next three years was the recruitment of engineering and technical staff with the right skills.
The skills required today are much higher than five years ago. Lower skilled technician roles are being elevated to engineering roles. As digitisation increases, so do the skill levels.
The manufacturing sector is behind other industries
This investment isn’t limited to the factory floor. There are a lot of opportunities to explore systems for business processes, gain new customers and communication.
If manufacturers install and adopt 4IR, they can boost the sector by £102 billion per year by 2026. Yet, 43% of UK manufacturers still haven’t taken the leap.
In the Uk, there’s a sense that many areas of manufacturing are behind others in technology evolution. Manufacturing businesses have the chance to take advantage of the wave of technological innovation. This will be a strong base to support them through a new era for the industry.
Looking at retail and e-commerce, it’s possible to understand the benefits of automation.
How technology helps manufacturing businesses
The relationship between a company’s leadership and IT is becoming very important. CEOs and managers need to have a deeper understanding of technology.
Digital initiatives bring all kinds of benefits. But implementing new technology for its own sake doesn’t work. You’ll need to see how technology will help you. Look at your competition. How you can leverage technology to have the upper hand. Implementing technology has to be a business decision.
With the help of your IT department, that decision can be easier. Innovation must be used to improve products or enhance customer service and experience.
Medium-large manufacturing businesses opt for an ERP package to help them. With business apps, even small companies can do big things that ten years ago needed high technical skills.
Technology helps smaller companies to compete with bigger companies. A company with 50 people can be as sophisticated as one with 10,000.
There are big challenges during the period of digital transformation. But, you’ll be rewarded in other ways. Increased efficiency and new technological capabilities to take advantage of.
IT departments have the tools to measure with accuracy what goes on the factory floor. They can figure out why there are stoppages on production lines. Or how to lower manufacturing costs and increase margins.
To keep healthy margins, you must:
Choose technology that can support core functions
Ensure your company experiments and tries new systems that can give you a competitive edge
Warburtons decided to add new functionalities to its ERP. The new features included software that increases forecast accuracy and reduces administrative tasks. They managed to save over £0.5 million in the first two years of implementation.
Get your employees on board too
When introducing new technology, you have to tell your employees the reason. They’ll have to understand “the why” to get behind it. Only telling “the how”, will make them worry about their jobs.
If your employees know how they fit in the bigger picture, IT changes are faster and smoother.
Find a solution for your business
There are many ways technology can improve your manufacturing business. You just need to find the right way it can help you. Organisations can’t be afraid to experiment. They can’t be afraid of failure.
If a method doesn’t work, move on to another. Your investment will be returned sooner or later.
But, make sure it’s a business decision. Bringing new technologies and processes into a business can’t be a decision made for technology’s sake.