Industry 4.0: the digital transformation in the manufacturing industry

Digital transformation has been one of the big buzz phrases of recent years. In practice, it involves using software, automation and robotic machinery to streamline business processes. One of the industries gaining most from digital transformation – or industry 4.0, as it is sometimes known – is manufacturing.

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A study commissioned by the government in 2017 shows that with digital transformation, UK manufacturing could have the potential to create 175,000 new jobs, increase growth by as much as three precent per year, and reduce CO2 emissions.

Seeing the benefits

For businesses to embrace the opportunities of industry 4.0, they first need to be able to see how it can benefit them. At the moment, there is still a somewhat old-fashioned view of the manufacturing sector in some quarters. It’s often seen as being low-tech and not digital-friendly, the preserve of people in grimy workshops and sheds. Businesses can therefore become blind to the savings in time and costs that automation can offer.

Part of the problem is that digital transformation can be something of a nebulous concept. People aren’t quite sure what it means or what it can do. An injection moulding company like may be reliant on high-tech machinery, but this does not always come across to people who still see manufacturing as a manual and labour-intensive sector.

Driving innovation

Industry 4.0 is all about driving innovation that benefits manufacturing and the economy in the longer term. Some of the country’s most talented and highly skilled engineers work in manufacturing, and they are helping to ensure that components can be delivered faster and with more accuracy and quality than ever before.

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Industry 4.0 involves investment in new machinery, software and techniques. In uncertain times, there may be some reluctance to take this step. However, businesses that fail to embrace digital transformation will rapidly start to find themselves being left behind. They will also begin to become uncompetitive, as automation can bring significant savings in costs and cut the time it takes to bring new products to market. Fortunately, it is not too late. Industry 4.0 is still in its early stages, so there’s still plenty of time for companies to take advantage of the benefits it can offer and look confidently to the future.

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