The event was organised by Insider Media who teamed up with Liverpool John Moores, Liverpool LEP and Liverpool University to explore the topic along with digital manufacturers in the Liverpool City Region.
In order for the UK to compete on a global level and keep up with the rest of the world, manufacturers must grasp the opportunities presented to them by Industry 4.0.
Tom’s key thoughts:
“For me the definition of Industry 4.0 is about product lifecycle, value chain 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.
Industry 4.0 is also about capturing intelligence – from people, parts, processes or partners in the supply chain. It’s about analysing the data, and how you visualise and use that data to make more informed decisions.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.”
To see the key messages from other event participants, including Gillian Murray, Director of Virtual Engineering Centre, and Jon Hague, Vice President of Operations & Open Innovation at Unilever, please visit the full Insider article on the event.