Britain is on the cusp of a global, technology-driven 4th industrial revolution, according to research by the manufacturers’ organisation, EEF.
However, despite eight in ten manufacturers saying it will become a business reality by 2025, there is concerns that the UK’s ability to play a leading role in the revolution – dubbed Industry 4.0 – will depend on it keeping up with advances in technology.
“The 4th industrial revolution will change the global face of manufacturing beyond recognition. The UK must take a leading role if we are to realise our ambitions for a healthy, balanced and growing economy,” explained Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF.
The research supports a key theme of this year’s National Manufacturing Conference, and is published alongside a specially-commissioned report - Manufacturing, Britain’s Future – which sets out how the 4th industrial revolution is at hand, and how, in the global battle for dominance, innovative firms can take the lead and help position Britain as the manufacturing and technology hub of Europe.
“Our sector’s ability to remain on top of the 4th industrial wave hinges on the decisions made now and over the next decade by consecutive governments. We must continue to establish the foundations to support our manufacturing renaissance, particularly alleviating the pressure that Industry 4.0 will place on investment and skills. It is vital that the Government steps up to this challenge and works hand-in-hand with manufacturers and academia to ensure that the UK is not left behind,” Scuoler added.
Within the research, manufacturers listed the levels of investment required, impact on skills and keeping on top of technological advances, as the main challenges holding the UK back in respect of Industry 4.0.
However, half of manufacturers believe that the rapid advance in technology will enable more reshoring of production back to the UK and 65 percent say there will be increased demand for highly skilled workers.
Pam Murphy, Chief Operating Officer at Infor, a company producing software for business, said: “Industry 4.0 is about connecting an increasingly rich and diverse set of information and using it to unlock new insights. Through embracing the technological change required to achieve these insights, UK manufacturing is well placed to enhance its reputation for productivity and service-led innovation, cement its platform on the global stage, and take a leading role in this new revolution.”
EEF will be revealing its manifesto - Securing a manufacturing renaissance: priorities for Government - at the National Manufacturing Conference on Thursday 26th February.