Last week, we launched our podcast channel, The Skills Connection, exploring staffing, hiring and future skills within the engineering, manufacturing and technical sectors.
In the first of our podcasts, we discuss Industry 4.0 and what it actually means for SMEs, the Future of British Manufacturing Initiative and how its Digital Catalyst programme can make a significant difference to the long-term success of a business.
The first episode of our podcast is available to listen to by clicking here.
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If you haven’t got time to listen to the podcast, key takeaway points from the podcast are summarised below:
What Does Industry 4.0 Mean to Businesses?
- There are a number of constituent parts to industry 4.0 that inter-connect within manufacturing and engineering. It often begins with the gathering and use of ‘big data’, connective technology (in the Internet of Things, IoT) with cloud computing being the enabler.
- The third industrial revolution centered around automation while the fourth industrial revolution has moved to intelligent manufacturing. The fundamental elements of Industry 4.0, which include the integration of digital design, augmented reality, virtual reality or simulation, autonomous robots, additive manufacturing and flexible manufacturing routines, system integration – machines talking to machines, cobots, have advanced at an astonishing rate and we do not know what these tools may look like in five years’ time.
How Prepared are SMEs for Industry 4.0?
- There are many SMEs embracing Industry 4.0. For those not embracing or investing, it’s most certainly happening around them. We are seeing larger companies, which the SMEs may supply to, are placing higher demands on their supply chains - for example, with the expectation to be able to customise orders (mass customisation) – and for that reason, SMEs are having to react and embrace new technologies.
- While customer demand is forcing some SMEs to adopt disruptive technologies, many other SMEs are being proactive to make improvements to their business and gain a competitive advantage. SMEs are realising that productivity improvements can be made by implementing connective technology, for example, by analysing real-time data captured from the manufacturing process, to make informed decisions that will improve processes and ultimately profitability.
What ADvice is out There for Businesses?
- We can help!
Many of our consultants have worked in industry and can combine their industry knowledge and understanding of the skill-sets/people available to help. When we talk to businesses, we already possess an in-depth knowledge their sector, so when we listen to a business’ individual circumstances, we can probe that bit deeper to see what lies below the surface to advice the skills they need now and for the future to accomplish their growth and development plans.
The initiative is led and developed by Autodesk and we are one of the key partners and we bring our expertise in recruitment and future to the initiative. A key element of FoBMI is the online readiness assessment tool. The assessment takes 15-20 minutes to complete, it’s free of charge and at the end, participants receive a report to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie in readiness for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).
Information available to businesses is very generic with regards to industry 4.0. The readiness assessment tool provides answers that are specific to your business. Businesses want to understand how they, individually, can become more effective in productivity, future technology, OEE and ultimately their profitability – and this tool allows just that.
- FoBMI Digital Catalyst Programme
Today’s graduates are digital natives and can offer a different skill-set/mind-set, providing a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to a process or problem. FoBMI’s Digital Catalyst Programme works with leading design and engineering universities in the UK to provide members of the initiative with a student expert under a 'work experience' program to act as a “digital catalyst” to tackle a problem or project.
The Digital Catalyst Programme is free to any British design or manufacturing SME – simply take the online readiness assessment tool to begin the process. There are many case studies available to see how it has worked for businesses, visit https://www.autodesk.co.uk/futureofbritishmanufacturing/case-studies to find out more.