On Wednesday 27th July 2016, Tom Dawes (Valuechain CEO) joined Insider magazine for a special roundtable discussion about the current understanding of Industry 4.0 amongst manufacturers.
Tom was sat alongside some of the key promoters of Industry 4.0 in the North West, including: Liverpool John Moores, Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Liverpool, Unilever and several technology businesses
Industry 4.0 For UK Manufacturers
On Wednesday 27th July 2016, Tom Dawes (Valuechain CEO) joined Insider magazine, Liverpool John Moores, Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Liverpool, Unilever and several technology businesses, at a special roundtable debate discussing what the current understanding of Industry 4.0 is among digital manufacturers in the Liverpool City Region and where the biggest challenges and opportunities lie.
With increased productivity, better data analysis, increased competitiveness and lower manufacturing costs touted as the top ways in which Industry 4.0 will affect UK manufacturing, the roundtable looked into how the region’s manufacturers take full advantage of the possibilities and what challenges they faced. Better collaboration was key, said Unilever’s vice president of operations & open innovation, Jon Hague: “We’re probably all trying to solve the same challenges but not really talking to each other about it.”
Tom Dawes, Valuechain
For me the definition of Industry 4.0 is about valuechain integration, innovation and intelligence. It depends on what sector and what tier you’re in. If you’re an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) you’re looking at product innovation and some process innovation. If you’re a supplier, it’s all about process innovation as you won’t have much control over product development.
Anthony Walker, Liverpool John Moores University
Strategic manager, LCR 4.0 project.
One of the pillars of Industry 4.0 is cyber security. So if you’re looking to create more autonomy and digitise the supply chain, your IP (intellectual property) could be held in the cloud. Are you comfortable with that? Cyber security is massive challenge to any process of digitisation.
SMEs are telling us that they have jobs but they can’t find the right people without having to train them up for a long time. From the university perspective we’re striving to create industry-ready graduates and we’re developing an MSc around digital manufacturing, for example. But we’re just one university, we can’t do it all on our own. We are looking to partner with people who will enhance the curriculum and bring industrial input into the skills side. I’d also like to address the silo mentality culture within companies. Staff are scared of new technologies; people are terrified of Industry 4.0 as they think it will replace all the staff with automatic systems. But it won’t; what it will do is upskill staff. Companies need to change culture and understand the benefits.
Sector Manager, Advanced manufacturing
We went on an Industry 4.0 fact-finding mission to Germany and visited Siemens’ national training centre in Berlin. They are taking their16 to 18-year-olds through what used to be a mechatronics apprenticeship into what’s now a mechatronics and IT apprenticeship. They are now looking at how mechanical and electrical properties interact with the digital world. I visit colleges and schools in the UK and they are doing some great science projects, but their IT students are doing completely different things. I always ask whether there are any projects where the IT, mechanical and electronic engineers can collaborate.
At the LEP we have to grab the opportunity of Industry 4.0. Using European funding there’s a programme called LCR 4.0 to proactively go out to companies through the Growth Hub and take the Industry 4.0 message to the boardrooms in the Liverpool City Region. We can show them the potential productivity gains, the potential new markets, the export opportunities and new partnerships that could be formed and to help de-risk it for them with European money to pump-prime that sandpit.
The CBI found that if the UK manufacturing supply chains could share data, that’s £149bn worth of efficiencies. It’s a big prize.
Gillian Murray, Virtual Engineering Centre
The biggest challenge is the breadth of it and where an organisation starts in order to add value. Another challenge is the pace of change intechnology.
Peter Salt, Immersive Interactive
However, we know that if we take a graduate on using a knowledge transfer partnership that the graduate will grow with the company and become very marketable. That could lead to a problem with IP—especially if all the IP is developed by one person.One of the biggest frustrations I have at the moment is developing our overseas market. We have to supervise the build of our immersive rooms at the moment. We want to try to set up a reseller network that will enable us to focus less on the physical build, and concentrate on the software. If we can do that, we can transform the company quickly. Our tie-up with John Moores is about getting the software content to stay ahead of the game.
John Hague, Unilever
Vice President of Operations & Open Innovation
At Unilever, want to digitise our research and development and we’d love to be in a position where for the products we make – fast-moving consumer goods – we don’t make anything that we don’t sell.
We want to be able to predict how a product will behave with consumers, what packages are going to do – whether they are going to leak, for example; how will they behave in the supply chain; all in silico rather than the physical prototyping and testing that we have to do now. The most obvious benefit is, and the one we’re interested in, is speed. But you can also see knock-on impacts on quality and manufacturability.
We’ve got more than 250 factories around the world and approximately 400 co-manufacturers. There are all those assets already out there making Unilever products and if we wanted to transform all of our manufacturing capabilities to Industry 4.0, how on earth do we do that? I don’t know if people have really figured out how to retrofit and digitise old assets, but that will be our big challenge. We will build factories of the future, of course, and we have a couple of projects on the go, but that’s just two out of hundreds that are on the ground already manufacturing. We’ve got to look at what we’ve already invested in and how that becomes part of Industry 4.0 as much as what the future is going to be.
Another challenge with bringing more autonomy into a business is ‘idleness’. If you have autonomous factories and autonomous knowledge work, what’s in it for people? Industry 4.0 has to paint a scenario of the future that does generate employment otherwise how does value get created? By 2030, when we’ve gone through the transformation curve, what will the workplace look like?
John Hopkins, MedeTrax
But the pace of change in the NHS and its appetite of perceived risk make it difficult for us. The data we produce from our type of product can start to produce datasets of a predictive nature that will help the diagnostic path. That will see us move towards personalised medicine and delivering care when it’s needed.
As we develop software for the health service, one of the challenges we have, as we explore the sensor technology route to feed into our products, is getting well qualified people who understand the health sector and its challenges and the electronics of sensor technology. We’re working closely with LJMU and Alder Hey, pulling in the sensor knowledge and the clinical knowledge and marrying those two aspects together to deliver benefit. We require a good pool of talent.
Luke Walsh, Brainboxes
When it comes to the internet of things, I would be very careful of what you put on the internet. Initially you may not need that internet connection to benefit from what Industry 4.0 has to offer. There’s very little appreciation for cyber security and what the impact could be if someone got hold of your information. Someone could build a very detailed picture of your organisation, and if they can see things, they may be able to control things too.
The big challenge is people; it’s a new generation of graduates that we need with operations management skills, electronic engineering, software engineering and data science. Getting data is relatively straightforward, being able to interpret it to make valuable, informed decisions, is important.
There are also cultural issues around supply chain collaboration—customers and suppliers sharing data more openly. There’s no point having a smart factory if you’re scuppered by your supply chain and you’ve got no visibility.
What I would like to see next is more awareness among SMEs. Having evidence to answer questions like what is it, why should I do it and what is the return on investment of Industry 4.0. I would also like to see some frameworks or standards to help analyse and visualise data more effectively; putting processes in place and preconfigured approaches.