Andrew Stark leads the SME manufacturing team at Bank of Scotland. As an Area Director, Andrew works closely with the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service and Scottish Engineering.
The internet has transformed our lives quickly and irrevocably over the past decade or so. Industry 4.0, the next iteration of the digital revolution, has appeared on the horizon, threatening to shake up our world as we know it – yet again. We can expect big data and advanced analytics to reshape the manufacturing sector, says leading consultancy McKinsey & Co. Greater connectivity between machines will enable manufacturers to customise for the masses and circumvent intermediaries to up-sell, cross-sell and replace parts.
Virtual and augmented reality will help avoid costly builds through realistic tests and learn activities. And a focus on the circular economy will most likely generate extra services to help maintain equipment and machinery.
These are very exciting times for manufacturers who understand how to tap into the full suite of technologies and can apply discoveries in other fields in their own specialist areas. Manufacturing entrepreneurs will be increasingly required to understand the macro terrain as well as the finer details of implementing engineering and science discoveries in the industrial environment.
Strategic planning for Industry 4.0 has already commenced in some companies, and the roll out of innovations has started. We see this among our clients in Scotland. At Bank of Scotland, we are well-equipped to assist manufacturers in getting their ideas into production and seeking new markets and exports.
A case in point: We recently supported an oil and gas client with a funding package for a variety of solutions that will cut costs in the oil industry. We are also assisting them with advisory and other support to enter new markets in the Middle East and Africa.
Bank of Scotland and its parent, Lloyds Banking Group, are taking the lead in the banking sector to assist manufacturers. There are many beneficiaries, not only in Scotland but across the UK through a commitment to provide £1bn of additional lending to manufacturers each year and £1m in sponsorship for Britain’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre in Coventry.
Other Lloyds Banking Group initiatives to boost the UK manufacturing sectors include funding apprenticeships and a Continuing Professional Development programme for personnel to enable them to better advise manufacturers.
Scotland has a reputation for investing in innovation, though it’s not quite as good at transforming creativity into highly profitable commercial activity. It is also characterised by a growing digital divide – seen across the UK – between SME “early adopters” and mature manufacturers.
Events like the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service Conference 2016 create the opportunity for engineers and entrepreneurs driven to innovate and scale their inventions on a global stage to learn from each other and explore new ideas. Collaboration is the key to positioning companies to share in the success of the next wave of technological development.
Manufacturing’s next act, in the form of Industry 4.0 is gathering force. Now is an opportune time for manufacturing executives to monitor changes and develop strategies to mitigate risks and plan smart moves in the race to stay competitive and relevant.
Bank of Scotland plc
Lloyds Banking Group includes companies using brands including Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland and their associated companies. More information on lloyds Banking Group can be found at lloydsbankinggroup.com