Modern business IS digital.

No sector demonstrates the scale of this shift more than manufacturing.

Industry 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things, smart factories, 3D printing: the list of digital technologies and strategies that promise to revolutionise manufacturing is endless.

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Equally never-ending is the list of potential benefits; from lower costs and faster responses to customer queries to better decision making and even better integration of acquired companies.

Technology is once again being promoted as the saviour of the industrial sector.

But there remains a profound lack of successful, in depth examples of manufacturing, industrial or engineering business adopting these technologies. In 2018, only 4% of Make UK members were at the ‘revolutionary’ stage, successfully unlocking significant improvements in productivity through the latest technological advances.

In the face of figures such as these, it would be dangerously easy to dismiss digital transformation in manufacturing as just vendor hype.

This would be a drastic mistake.

The productivity, profitability and viability of various businesses and even entire industrial sectors now depend on successfully embracing digital transformation.

And the sector has an impressive ability to respond. According to the Make UK, amidst the impact of COVID, nearly half of UK manufacturers moved to digital working practices within two weeks of lockdown: “With just a fortnight’s digital installation and planning, 94% of companies said they had staff working successfully from home in industries often associated with manual tasks and an extremely high proportion of production-based work.”

So manufacturers are caught between acute, business-threatening pressures that demand technological and digital answers and a willingness and ability to make the necessary changes, but those answers seeming far too elusive.

And many manufacturers remember being burned before by the promises of new technology as a panacea. So it is easy to understand a sense of skepticism.

Solving this issue is about taking the best technology available and applying it in a resolutely non-technological way: it is about ensuring that the people and the processes are put first and the technology then serves both.

We know this approach works because whilst case studies of digital transformation in manufacturing are rare, they do exist. We have some here.

If you want to find out more about how we have successfully delivered digital business change throughout the manufacturing sector, feel free to drop one of our industry specialists an email and we would love to talk.

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