How can you Join the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Lynne McGregorInnovation Lead for Manufacturing and Materials at Innovate UK, asks ‘How can we bring UK manufacturers to the forefront of Industry 4.0?

Artificial intelligence. 3D printing. The Internet of Things. Autonomous vehicles. A wave of emerging technologies are transforming our world and the way we operate within it. Everything from watching films to managing money is evolving as the digital revolution picks up pace across the globe. Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, describes how digital technologies will change industry, and the way we design, produce, sell, use, maintain and recycle products.  This shift presents UK manufacturers with a wealth of opportunity. A recent study identified that by fully applying these technologies over the next decade, UK industrial production would be up to 30% faster and 25% more efficient.

Industry 4.0 can keep the UK competitive

Vitally, the fourth industrial revolution provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to return the UK to higher levels of productivity. Manufacturing has been a source of wealth and jobs for our nation since the first industrial revolution, and still is: it currently provides over £162 billion to UK GVA, accounts for 50% of exports, and employs 2.6m people (with a further 2.5m people across the extended supply chain). However, this source of wealth is declining. Since 2004 the UK has fallen from sixth to ninth place in the world rank of manufacturing nations, and its productivity is now the lowest of any G7 country.

Quick and widespread adoption of Industry 4.0 will be key to securing a more competitive global position, increasing productivity and creating highly skilled, multidisciplinary jobs within the UK manufacturing sector. As such, Innovate UK is keen to encourage the successful use of digital technologies in manufacturing.

Partnerships and ‘Hack & Pitch’ events

So how can we bring UK manufacturers to the forefront of Industry 4.0? Collaboration between the manufacturing and digital communities is imperative. This will give manufacturers a clear idea of the potential benefits of digital technologies and how to implement them, while developers of digital technologies will gain insight into industrial use of their products. Innovate UK has been fostering such collaboration through its various networks – the Digital and High Value Manufacturing Catapults, and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

Sheffield-based AMRC, one of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult centres has recently partnered with Sheffield Digital – an organisation helping to grow digital businesses in the area. This new relationship will “feed expertise into the supply chain and increase opportunities for innovation,” says Mel Kanarek, director and co-founder of Sheffield Digital.

AMRC have initiated a Digital Meet Manufacturing (DMM) campaign. Working with the support of the HVM Catapult and partners such as Tech North, Innovate UK, KTN and The Manufacturer, DMM includes a coordinated programme of Meets, Demonstrations and Challenge events between Autumn 2017 and Spring 2018 to promote and intensify collaboration between innovators and entrepreneurs from the two sectors.

Another interesting way of getting the digital and manufacturing communities to work together was developed by the Digital Catapult.  Their  ‘Hack & Pitch’ format involves digital SMEs competing to solve manufacturing challenges identified from industry. Typically, winners receive a prize and go on to develop solutions with the manufacturing companies posting the challenges.

These events are a great way to get the two communities working together to positively disrupt the UK manufacturing industry. Past successes include the Digital Catapult’s Tech Challenge, which ran from January to March 201, where three manufacturers presented challenges, 15 digital SMEs applied to solve them, with seven shortlisted to pitch and one winner.  Innovate UK also ran a Hack & Pitch competition at the Industry 4.0 Summit in Manchester in April, with three industry led manufacturing challenges, 24 companies pitching solutions, three companies winning prizes and one overall winner.  The Digital Catapult are planning another Hack & Pitch event to be held at the Smart Factory Expo in Liverpool in November.

The KTN’s “4Manufacturing” initiative has been helping SMEs to take their first steps into Industry 4.0, develop a plan of action, and find the right partners and funding.  Thus far KTN have helped over 175 SME manufacturers in this way.

Get involved

Innovate UK, the Digital Catapult, the HVM Catapult centres and the Knowledge Transfer Network are working together to grow the use of Industry 4.0 within UK Manufacturing.  New Hack & Pitch competitions and events to bring the digital and manufacturing communities are planned. KTN will feature case studies from its 4Manufacturing initiative at the next Industry 4.0 Summit in February.  KTN is also helping put together two of the sessions on Industry 4.0 at Venturefest Scotland in Glasgow on 20th September. Registration is free and you can book your place here.

To get connected to the right partners and funding get in touch with KTN –  or see the flyer here and watch for news releases from the Digital Catapult

Growth in Manufacturing through Servitization and Advanced Services


Dr Ali Bigdeli, Senior Research Fellow at The Advanced Services Group, Aston Business School blogs about the growing importance of servitzation to the manufacturing sector.

In the drive to create more stable revenue stream and enhance competitiveness, manufacturers have started to think beyond product and production. It has become clear that simply making and selling physical products is no longer enough to secure success. As a result, the manufacturing sector finds itself transitioning to a new paradigm where services fulfil an essential and arguably dominant role. Such transition is known as ‘servitization’.

A clear understanding of servitization, and its implications, demands a clear definition and view of the forms of services that might be offered by the manufacturers to their customers. Differing types of services exist, capturing value in different ways, and offering various potential benefits to the manufacturer. While most manufacturers offer ‘base services’ such as warranty and spare parts, in which the outcome focuses on product provision, others build up the service side of their business by providing  ‘intermediate services’ such as maintenance, repair, overhaul and remanufacturing, in which the outcome focuses on the product condition. The third type of services that the outcome goes beyond the product condition, and focus on the capability of the product is ‘advanced services[i].

Advanced services are clustered as technology-enabled high-value services and can be seen as value propositions, where the manufacturer delivers outcome, which is based on the capability enabled by the use of the products. Examples of such services include Rolls-Royce offering Total-Care on gas turbines for their airline customers based on a ‘fixed dollar per flying hour’; Xerox delivering ‘pay-per-click’ scanning, copying and printing of documents; and Goodyear offering fleet management and drivers’ behaviour solutions to the transport companies based on ‘pence-per-mile’ contracts.

Advanced services are a special case in servitization and are widely associated with a paradigm shift in ideas about the very nature of manufacturing. Specifically, they bundle together products and services in a relatively complex offering that frequently features performance incentives (i.e. penalties if the product fails to perform when in service); revenue payments structured around product usage (e.g. pay-per-use); and long-term contractual agreements (e.g. spanning 5, 10 or 15 years) and cost-down commitments.

The opportunity of such initiatives is rapidly growing because of the interplay between the digital revolution (the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Digitalisation, and Industry 4.0/4IR) and customers growing demand for ‘experiences’ over ownership. Competing through advanced services enables manufacturers in the UK and across the world to improve their productivity (e.g. through further collaborations with customers, suppliers, partners etc.), boost the value creation and value capture, and improve environmental performance.

Yet, in spite of their significance, such services have to be comprehensively described. From the one hand, the shift towards servitization and competing through advanced services is very complex. It requires not only business model innovation, but also widespread organisational change and transformation. Furthermore, the debate surrounding such services and their role in the manufacturing sector is beset by inconsistent, often confusing terminology and conflicting advice.

As part of our activities in The Advanced Services Group within Aston Business School, I have been working closely with multinational manufacturing firms to understand their transformation journey towards servitization, the stages they have gone/are going through, and the key barriers and enablers affecting their journey. In my keynote at the SMAS Future Manufacturing conference, I’ll share some of our key findings, which are based on empirical research on both multinational and small/medium size manufacturers.

[i] Other terms have been used in academic or practitioner publications include outcome-based contracts, performance-based contracts, pay-per-use contracts, etc.

How can we Support Scotland’s Industry 4.0 Journey?

Photography by Angus Forbes

Dr Rachael Wakefield, Business Development Manager at CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems, asks “How can we support Scotland’s Industry 4.0 journey?”

Scotland has a proud manufacturing history, playing a crucial role in the first industrial revolution. It is on the cusp of a massive change once again, as we approach the fourth sweeping transformation of the business world: Industry 4.0.

While momentum is building behind placing Scotland’s industrial base at the forefront of this global evolution, there’s a battle for hearts and minds to be won. Industry 4.0 may be a daunting prospect for some. It’s unlikely to be the top priority for many manufacturers as they focus on running and growing their businesses.

This sentiment is highlighted by the stats: a report from BDO and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers published last year found that while 59% of UK manufacturers recognised the fourth industrial revolution will have a big impact on their sector, only 8% said they have a “significant understanding” of what it means.

Let’s take the UK automotive industry, for example, arguably the ‘gold standard’ among the first adopters of Industry 4.0 and advanced digital manufacturing. While it has recognised that the fourth industrial revolution could unleash huge benefits, most automotive facilities haven’t reached that perfect state of connectivity between man and machine just yet.

It could be down to a lack of knowledge of what can be achieved and how – the biggest barrier to implementation of digital systems according to a recent KPMG report. It said that if the UK automotive industry made a step towards embracing digital vehicle manufacturing within the next 20 years, by 2035, gross value added in the UK would be £8.6 billion higher.

So how does Scotland shape up? Scottish Government analysis shows that 99.3% of Scotland’s private sector is made up of SMEs. In early 2017, CENSIS, in partnership with the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), organised a workshop and questionnaire to gain insights into the Scottish manufacturing industry’s perception of Industry 4.0, and its impact on capital expenditure and operating expense.

Several barriers were highlighted. Among them, businesses said they are already extremely busy, find it difficult to take time out to strategise, and a lack of information on what might be practical and available underpins this challenge. Also common to most SMEs is the ongoing use of old equipment, operated with legacy processes. There are concerns surrounding the cost implications to transform these systems in line with Industry 4.0 standards, while still delivering return on investment within two to three years.

To address these issues, a consortium of organisations, involving CENSIS, Scottish Enterprise and the AFRC is evaluating the development of a regional digital manufacturing innovation hub. Called Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS), the initiative is a European Commission-backed project designed to help companies build capabilities, explore new and different business models, collaborate and develop integrated supply chains.

However, there’s still the challenge of skills to tackle. This is where the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) comes in. One of its principal aims will be to teach SMEs how to engage with Industry 4.0, by providing training for businesses, as well as qualifications from apprenticeships all the way through to engineering doctorates.

These initiatives need to be supported by organisations that can help businesses foster and accelerate innovation – centres, like CENSIS, are designed to talk to companies and develop powerful, relatable case studies. Our IoT Centre, for example, is designed specifically to progress internet-of-things products and deliver workshops and mentoring support.

Encapsulating the progress that’s been made recently is one of Scotland’s first Industrial IoT demonstrators at the AFRC. The project is analysing the use of low-cost sensor technology in machinery to cut the cost of maintenance, minimise downtime, and detect faults by recording and analysing a range of data – including vibration and temperature. The result will allow predictive maintenance to be implemented and help improve the efficiency of machines, with the aim to use the technology to help businesses boost their bottom line.

Great strides have been made in the past 18 months as Scotland seeks to position itself among the frontrunners in the global Industry 4.0 race. The first crucial steps have been taken, but there’s still a great deal of ground to be covered.

Industry 4.0: Revolutions don’t need to be Expensive

Not yet started on your digital journey? Rab Scott, Head of Digital at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), argues that Industry 4.0 needn’t be expensive.

If you do an internet search on the terms: ‘4th Industrial Revolution’, ‘Industry 4.0’ and ‘Industrie 4.0 (the original German spelling)’, you get a combined number of hits which exceeds 130,000,000. And yet, if you talk to SMEs, many lack a clear understanding of what it means and of the benefits it can bring to their businesses. The other message which comes through is that industry has bought into the lie that the adoption of these technologies is going to be expensive.

The High Value Manufacturing Catapult is attempting to debunk these myths and to communicate more clearly what the 4th Industrial Revolution could do for UK manufacturing.

This digital revolution has three main components – data, connectivity and analytics, and actually, manufacturers have been using these components for ages. So what has changed?

What has changed is that the data capture capability of sensors has greatly increased, while at the same time, sensors have got much cheaper. Combine this with the advent of cheaper, faster connectivity and this means that the possibilities of greater access to your data and the insight that can be derived from it is now a reality. Where previously, data analytics either took high levels of capital investment, or a willingness to wait for the answer (or both), the provision of cloud analytics or shop floor, high performance computing, means that manufacturers can now get access to knowledge derived from their own data much more quickly and cheaply.

After all, data has no value unless it is converted in to knowledge!

So, is it expensive? The answer is that it doesn’t have to be. To start on your digital journey may be as simple as getting a wireless current meter attached to your one machine tool sending current data back to your laptop – all for under £100.

What could that low cost system do for an SME? Well, if they can monitor their current, they can start to correlate current draw with activity – if the machine tool is cutting metal, the current draw will be greater that when it is idling. From this monitoring, they can start to understand when their equipment is making them money (cutting metal), and when they have spare capacity (idling) – spare capacity that they can then offer to the market.

The delivery of knowledge is another area that has challenges, especially with the changing demographic that is seen in the UK manufacturing base. More and more we are seeing mixed ages on the shop floor, and the level of information that one engineer needs compared to another may differ greatly – after all, would a time served mechanical engineer need to know ‘righty tighty, lefty loosey’?

And this is where the combination of smart technologies with smart systems comes in. In the not too distant future, a worker will be able to swipe into a system, which will then publish work instructions on the fly, at an appropriate level of detail for that worker, onto the worker’s preferred platform, whether it is a tablet, wearable device or headset providing the worker with an augmented view of the procedure they are about to carry out.

So why are more UK manufacturers not adopting these technologies more readily?

One word – ignorance!

But sadly, ignorance in this case, isn’t bliss. It can spell commercial disaster.

And that is where the High Value Manufacturing Catapult can help. The Advanced Forming Research Centre in Glasgow is just one node of a national network of centres with the capability, capacity and commitment to inform, demonstrate and accelerate the adoption of these technologies. Why not come and see what the 4th Industrial Revolution is really about?

Digitalisation Changes Everything

Alan Norbury, Central Technology Officer at Siemens plc, blogs about the challenge of digitalisation and how leveraging connected technology will drive business growth.

Digitalisation changes all areas of our lives: The way we stay informed, the way we travel, the way we buy things, and the way we manufacture products.

Digitalisation is also changing business models, the pace of innovation and the ability to disrupt are becoming key success factors in global competition.

Digitalisation is putting increasing pressures on manufacturers, there’s an expectation from consumers for products to be designed and manufactured to individual requirements. Automotive industry is a great example of ‘Mass Customisation’ where every car is manufactured to Customer specifications, the amazing thing is that each customised car is produced on the same production line as everyone else’s customised car!

The demand for customisation will cross all sectors, from electronics to food & beverage to construction. One of the most exciting sectors, impacting all our lives, is Pharmaceuticals, where the vision of personalised medication is already underway.

Today if you were to visit a Doctor’s surgery with an ailment, irrespective of weight, gender, size etc. The Doctor will generally prescribe the same medication for a common ailment. In the future medication will be customised to potentially match individual DNA, possibly a combination of medications combined into a single tablet.

So the challenge for manufacturers is – how do you ‘Mass Customise’ at the same speed and quality as mass production of the past?

What technologies and processes will be key to enabling ‘Mass Customisation’?

Will ‘Mass Customisation’ have an impact on Productivity?

There’s a general perception that increasing productivity is all about making more products with less people. Well that’s not necessarily the case, increased productivity  can also be achieved by increasing product value, customisation to meet individual consumer demands is a way of increasing value.

‘Mass Customisation’ requires the product to define its own destiny and inform the machine/process what is to be done to it, as opposed to the traditional way of manufacturing where the machines take control of the product. Raw materials will need to have a form of identification e.g. RFID, such that the manufacturing process/machines know which product they are dealing with.

To achieve ‘Mass Customisation’ the processes and machinery need to be very flexible/adaptable to work with the expectation of the product.

Adapting machines and environment to suit the product will require accelerated innovation cycles, such that a change in customer demand can be accommodated throughout the manufacturing process without delay.

Virtualisation has already proven itself as a great tool for accelerating innovation cycles, the ultimate vision being zero physical prototyping, in other words all the prototyping is completed in the virtual world. Any changes can then be quickly made, modeled and tested in the virtual world before producing the physical equivalent ‘Digital Twin’.

‘Big Data’ if filtered and managed in the right way will be key to optimising customised manufacturing processes, increasing quality and reducing downtime. ‘Big Data’ from the Manufacturing process could ultimately be fed back into the virtual model to ensure any changes to the product design can be accommodated in the manufacturing process. Systems that have the ability to close the loop on the ‘Digital Twin’ as a product is being manufactured is often referred to as a ‘Cyber-Physical System’.

In essence, what I’m trying to describe in this blog is effectively the underlying principles of the 4th Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0 #4IR.

Industrial organisations across the globe are trying to address the challenge of digitalisation. Siemens is also on this journey, a journey which is absolutely essential for any organisation trying to remain globally competitive.

Although Siemens is one of the few global Companies whose technologies span the width and breadth of Industry 4.0, we are also a key UK manufacturer, having 14 manufacturing facilities in the UK alone.

Siemens plc as a UK manufacturer realises we need to embrace and invest in digitalisation. If the value is clearly understood and the principles correctly applied, digitalisation has the capability of increasing productivity and growth, reducing unemployment and ultimately contributing towards a globally competitive high wage economy.