The 2016 Annual Manufacturing Report, published by Hennik Research, reveals that British manufacturers are predominantly optimistic about the future of the industry.
The fourth Industrial Revolution, commonly known as Industry 4.0, is transforming the manufacturing and construction landscape through technologies like automation, sensors and 3D printing that produce higher efficiency, reduced costs and faster speed to market. In this environment, companies must decide to either adopt these innovations or face the prospect of being left behind.
According to Nitin Rakesh, CEO and President of leading digital modernisation firm Syntel: "The digital age has disrupted many different aspects of manufacturing, from research and development, to marketing and sales. Businesses cannot afford to put production on hold in order to modernise, but must transform their manufacturing processes in order to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment."
According to the report, 83 per cent of companies have implemented some form of automation in their production process over the past five years. The few companies which did not automate their technology systems cited financial considerations as an inhibitor, with 54 per cent fearing that ROI will be too slow to materialise, while 31 per cent were unable to accommodate the investment in their budget, and were concerned about ongoing costs.
"Financial pressures in the manufacturing sector are prompting organisations to re-assess how they use technology in their manufacturing operations, to determine how they can best modernise their systems in order to maintain a competitive edge," said Rakesh. "Cost-conscious businesses need to realize that their long-term run-the-business costs will be higher without the proper technology infrastructure in place."
The report revealed several key factors which prompted manufacturers to invest in automation. 78 per cent were driven by increased efficiency, 60 per cent by cycle time and 58 per cent by quality. Factory managers are deploying new supply-network management tools, which support them in planning operations and deliveries by gaining a better understanding of the flow of raw materials and products.
Rakesh points to modernising and automating back-end support systems as a key driver that can enable manufacturers to cut costs and improve efficiency.
"The digital revolution has reached the factory floor," said Rakesh. "Investments in IoT-enabled machinery and connected devices now enable manufacturers to harness data from these assets to optimise factory operations."
"The insights available allow organisations to monitor the input, boost their output and maintain a high level of quality control. Through integrated sensor and automation technology, organisations are positioned to make more effective decisions in other areas such as finance, product design and distribution."