The recently released ‘The Manufacturer: Annual Manufacturing Report 2019’ once again tested the mood of manufacturing within the UK, revealing a mixture of optimism, uncertainty and concern amongst industry leaders.
Inevitably Brexit is one of the major areas causing uncertainty, however there is a clear eagerness and optimism amongst the sector when looking forward to adopting and utilising the technological revolution and embracing 4IR, with 81% suggesting they are ready to invest in new digital technologies to boost productivity and a staggering 91% agreeing that data from connected machines will improve decision-making and reduce costs.
Despite this confidence that new technology will improve efficiencies, increase production, and reduce costs, the report also highlights that many manufacturers are just beginning their digital journey.
So if the benefits of digital technologies are significant, why are some business owners slow to embrace these changes and what can we do to overcome these?
Whilst uncertainty reigns, having the confidence to invest in your business can be a difficult decision and knowing where to find funding can be difficult, but it needn’t be. Government is going some way to assist, with beneficial Capital allowances incentives, Research and Development Tax credits, and the introduction of the Made Smart pilot scheme in the North West. There are also a number of other ‘non traditional’ routes to access funding for your business.
It’s sometimes difficult to understand how digital technologies could work to improve a business, often because business owners don’t have the time or resource to sit and work through it, however getting the right support and advice, and setting a Business Strategy is an essential starting point before looking to make any change.
This is well documented in the manufacturing sector, with businesses struggling to find the skilled resource for their businesses right now. The workforce of the future will look very different in the sector and recruiting people with the right skill set is paramount to the successful implementation of a Business Strategy.
Understandably some manufacturers will be resistant to change - and perhaps for good reason - however, to survive and thrive, manufacturing business owners need to look beyond what’s working now and look towards succession planning as stakeholders’ expectations continue to change.
Whilst manufacturing leaders can take affirmative action to help prepare their businesses to succeed and prosper during the Fourth Industrial Revolution, what is clear from the survey results is that this can’t be done in isolation. Whether this requires a change in governmental approach, education and training, through to a significant culture shift, what is for certain is that those businesses that carefully plan and execute a well thought out Business Strategy will have the greatest opportunity to reap reward.