The fourth industrial revolution will unlock billions in additional revenue for UK manufacturers. Through machine automation, AI, and SCADA systems, productivity will flourish, while costs could plummet by as much as £53bn—potentially passing £2bn of savings directly onto consumers.
This is according to a study by Accenture – leveraging methodologies developed alongside the World Economic Forum – which illustrates the potentially transformative effects of technological innovation.
Supply Chain Automation
The first significant breakthrough will come thanks to the efficiencies of machine automation enhanced by real-time data. Robotic workforces will operate on a continuous schedule with manufacturing processes optimised via constantly updated feeds.
Such improvements will shorten product time-to-market while increasing quality by upwards of 25-percent. Given just 13-percent of businesses currently realise significant gains from the same digital technologies, there is considerable growth potential in this domain.
Firstly, manufacturers will be able to quickly adapt the process of their robotic workforce. So, seamlessly introduce customised products into their supply chain. This will then allow them to charge a premium for personalisation; without disrupting workflows.
Secondly, advanced analytics – coupled with predictive AI – could improve the rate at which companies both identify, then test, new product ideas. Innovation could skyrocket, while there could be fewer product failures thanks to the more informed product development methodologies.
Reimagined Operating Models
The most noticeable gains could come from processes and models not yet realised; such is the rate of innovation that many of the technologies and systems now available are still to be put to full use.
To unlock their true value-creating potential, manufacturers may have to revisit how they approach their current supply chains. By removing specific areas of the workforce, leveraging automation, and upskilling employees with targeted technological expertise, businesses will unlock vast swathes of untapped value overnight.
The secret lies in fully harnessing the available technologies; a nut the industry is yet to crack.
SCADA systems – and other cognitive learning machines – are eliminating costly downtime across production lines. Where human error can lead to expensive supply chain mishaps, intelligent systems monitor all aspects, foreseeing the risk of an outage.
AI not only has complete oversight of the system, but it can also identify the least disruptive time to carry out maintenance. Moreover, the most advanced systems can even direct mechanics and coordinate the workforce, making the best use of human time; as well machine output.
By pinpointing risk at the earliest possible moment, then mobilising a workforce, industries can save billions a year on lost productivity; merely through fixing a machine before it breaks.
It’s Time to Act
While the opportunity is significant, an independent study has suggested the UK is quickly falling behind other nations when it comes to adopting transformative technologies.
As such, it is vital businesses look to move soon, as well as introducing the necessary training to keep UK industry at the forefront of global manufacturing.
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