In a recent industry roundtable discussion, entitled ‘Is UK manufacturing ready to harness the power of new IoT technologies?’, industry experts revealed the top manufacturing trends for 2020—which is anticipated to be a particularly turbulent year for UK manufacturing.
Speakers at the roundtable included Mark Hughes, regional vice president UK & Ireland at Epicor, and moderator of the discussion, Professor Duncan McFarlane, professor of industrial information engineering at the University of Cambridge, Stephen Edginton, vice president of engineering at Epicor—and Jos Greeve, ICT manager at Boers & Co FineMetalworking Group. Together, they discussed how IT will continue to become a more integral and strategic part of manufacturing in 2020—and how, as the true impact of Brexit is revealed, developments in Industry 4.0 technologies, including IoT and robotics, will continue to be pivotal for future success.
Mark Hughes, regional vice president UK & Ireland at Epicor, kicked off the roundtable discussion with the observation that rather than battening down the hatches, manufacturing firms are equipping themselves with the technologies needed to ride out the Brexit storm and pave the way for growth—something that he predicts will continue in the coming year. “From speaking with people, it seems they’re all just getting on with it—in fact, a lot of firms are seeing potential opportunities that could arise as a result of Brexit.”
Aside from manufacturing firms getting ‘tech-fit’ for the future, the following themes emerged as the key manufacturing trends for 2020:
· IT will become more strategic—Whereas CIOs used to operate under a separate IT or information strategy, in 2020 IT will become interwoven with an overall business strategy. This will result in firms strategically addressing business problems with tech—as opposed to blindly introducing new tools and systems, as a result of a growing pressure to ‘be more digital’.
· Reverse mentoring will increase—Firms will encourage new digital-savvy workers to teach upwards throughout an organisation and expand their capabilities as a result.
· Cloud will happen by default—There will be a significant increase in cloud adoption amongst UK manufacturers, enabling business agility and cost efficiencies.
· Technology will become increasingly naturalised—As cost barriers for technology continue to crash down, and IT becomes more usable and accessible, businesses will take advantage of new and innovative manufacturing solutions that can improve business agility and boost efficiency in 2020, enabling growth.
The roundtable concluded with attendees discussing that, whilst a lack of clarity over Brexit has cast a shadow over the future for UK manufacturing, they have all been surprised by the level of optimism and inward investment from manufacturing firms, both large and small. Amongst the five trends highlighted, they conclusively agreed that technology will play an increasingly vital role for UK manufacturers’ future growth.
“Voice-driven tech, augmented and virtual reality, and robotics technologies will all help manufacturing firms increase productivity and pave the way for growth in 2020. However, they must be married with the right systems such as ERP to be able to reap the benefits these technologies offer,” concluded Hughes.