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Less than a third of manufacturing SMEs have Industry 4.0 strategy

Professional Engineering

(Credit: Shutterstock)
(Credit: Shutterstock)

Less than a third of manufacturing and engineering SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) have a strategy for the introduction of Industry 4.0 technology, a new report has found.

Despite the much-publicised potential for automated, ‘smart’ and modern robotic technology to improve efficiency and productivity, 32% considered a strategy in the area but “decided it wasn’t right”, according to the annual Manufacturing and Engineering report from accountancy group MHA, produced in association with the IMechE.

The report, based on feedback from more than 1,000 SMEs and supported by Lloyds Bank, found only 29% have a strategy in place and see it as a key part of the future. 26% said Industry 4.0 and robotic automation was not practical because of a lack of infrastructure, such as 5G internet. 13% said there was a lack of financial backing to invest.

“More needs to be done to help those organisations who don’t believe the technology has a role in their business,” said Sam Turner from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult in the report.

The 2019/20 report, now in its eighth year, found 78% of those surveyed had difficulty recruiting appropriately skilled staff. 55% were investing in training of current staff to combat recruitment issues.

The work also identified a 5% decrease in R&D investment, with 89% putting money into it. Of those who invested, 48% successfully applied for tax credits while 29% did not apply.

The report said the sector had post-election confidence and optimism, but Brexit uncertainty remains ahead of negotiations.

“We sit at the cusp of new dawn in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union,” said Chris Barlow, head of manufacturing at MHA in the report.

“What transpires from this point will, of course, be pivotal to the future of the vital manufacturing and engineering sectors. It may be that with the transitional period the direct impact will not be seen immediately and with many trade deals still to be negotiated we are still in for a period of some uncertainty. Our manufacturing and engineering sector is resilient and adapts to any particular situation but as advocates for the sector we will continue to push their agenda into government.”

Read the report here.


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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. 

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