Giants come together to bring Industry 4.0 ever closer

5th May 2016
Joe Bush

In an effort to accelerate the global manufacturing sector towards the fourth industrial revolution (commonly referred to as Industry 4.0), major players including Rolls Royce, ABB, Airbus, GE Europe and Hilti are set to come together for the Manufacturing Forum, which will examine how manufacturing businesses can begin the radical transformation towards Industry 4.0.

The commonly held belief is that manufacturers tend to view Industry 4.0 as a technology upgrade instead of a catalyst to initiate a fundamental change in business models – a view that has to change.

The Manufacturing Forum 2016 takes place on 16th June at Coombe Abbey Hotel in Coventry, and combines a nearby tour of The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC). The forum brings together top business leaders engaged in the quest to digitise and transform the global manufacturing industry. A recent report from PwC has revealed that the leading proponent of Industry 4.0, Germany, currently sees investment of more than €40bn per year into research and development projects, resulting in an increase in revenue streams of more than 12.5%. Other nations are still lagging behind with many manufacturing organisations still unsure of the steps they need to take in order to advance closer to the factory of the future.

Martin Rainer, VP and GM for Manufacturing Sector, from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who are sponsoring the event, explained: “Until relatively recently, tried and tested ways of working have served the industry well. But now, as many well established businesses are finding out fast, manufacturing is no longer simply about making and selling products. It’s about integrating end-to-end operations across the entire enterprise ecosystem to anticipate what customers want, quicker and cheaper than the competition.

“Hewlett Packard Enterprise calls this digital revolution ‘Connected Manufacturing’. It’s how we describe this new era of manufacturing, where everything is connected – operational technology, information technology, communications and consumer technologies.”

At the core of connected manufacturing is the acceleration of digital technologies, which are transforming people, processes and products. The increasing drive for manufacturing businesses to adopt service-based business models to achieve financial sustainability, and operational scalability, is a fundamental shift required for Industry 4.0. It’s a transition famously experienced by Rolls Royce, which introduced a complete engine and accessory replacement service on a fixed cost per flying hour basis, more than 50 years ago. As the business has continued to evolve, it is witnessing first hand the growing collaboration between man and machine, and will be exploring both the opportunities and the threats associated with digitisation.

Also on the agenda is a panel discussion led by Airbus on how manufacturers can strike a balance between protecting the core business and investing in new initiatives, a discussion led by Hilti on the digital tricks and tools that manufacturers already have at their disposal to boost efficiencies, and an exploration of emerging manufacturing business models, led by GE Europe. ABB and Hewlett Packard Enterprise will also lead a conversation about digitisation priorities for the manufacturing of tomorrow. The exciting line-up will be preceded by a tour of the UK Manufacturing Technology Centre, an integral part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult which is supported by Innovate UK.

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