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UK’s great home-grown talent in digital technologies can help transform the UK’s manufacturing sector

Posted on 13/08/2018

Ben Peace talks to Industry 4.0 magazine about the governments support for and strategy for SMEs and the direction 4.0 is headed in the UK.

In the article Peace refers to “a variety of digital technologies that have been emerging in recent years which, when deployed successfully, can have a transformative effect on manufacturing – making it more efficient and productive; delivering better value to customers and high quality jobs. I’m referring to technologies such as additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, cyber security, sensors, and immersive technologies. Here in the UK we have great home-grown emerging innovation in these areas – both within academia and within innovative businesses big and small. The businesses that will really benefit will be the ones that can successfully integrate a range of such technologies, taking a collaborative approach that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. When such momentum starts to build, we will move from something that feels more like a genuine revolution. This is for certain: Even if we don’t adopt the latest technologies we can be sure that other nations will. Our industry will be left behind”.

Industry 4.0 is all about connectivity and system level thinking. So it’s a good fit with the Knowledge Transfer Network’s remit which is focused on making connections across the full spectrum of sectors and disciplines. In the context of manufacturing and Industry 4.0, our remit can be described in two parts: i) linking manufacturers to those partners that can enable exploration and deployment of innovative technologies; and ii) helping commercialise the innovative solutions by linking the developers to early adopter manufacturers.  At the KTN, we help companies make the right connections based on their particular needs, and secure the right funding and finance. This saves time and accelerates deployment.”

When asked whether the UK is ready for Industry 4.0, Peace commented, “ It will not happen overnight. It is not a panacea and it feels sometimes like we are at risk of over-hyping it, which can have the effect of putting some businesses off. Many businesses indeed are not ready yet. Others don’t know where to start or who to talk to out of all the competing voices. But we are starting to see early adopters big and small go beyond adoption of digital technologies to genuine system level integration that is delivering benefits to the bottom line. Momentum is starting to build. In parallel, things are starting to join up better across the policy and support landscape, which will bring much needed clarity and enable that momentum to continue”.

The full interview can be found here.

Ben Peace is Head of Manufacturing for KTN, leading the manufacturing team to help manufacturers to innovate – both in their products and in their processes. It does this by making targeted links to the right knowledge, partners, facilities and funding.