Are You Lagging Behind in Industry 4.0? Statistics & Reality

Executive Summary

  • Industry 4.0 is dominating the manufacturing press, are you falling behind?
  • The media generally isn't reporting the full picture. 
  • Manufacturers cannot afford to keep Industry 4.0 on the backburner any longer.


By this point in 2018, you may be starting to worry about your organisation’s progress (or lack thereof) in getting moving with Industry 4.0, and like Keeping Up With The Joneses, you’re probably comparing yourself to what your neighbour/competition is up to.

But is your organisation really falling behind in getting going with your digitisation journey? There’s no doubt that now is the time to get going with 4IR projects, but just where do we stand at the moment?

Let’s look at some interesting Industry 4.0 figures to truly uncover the state of manufacturing's digitisation progress in the UK.

In 2017, 62% of Manufacturers Used Pen and Paper to Track Vital Manufacturing Steps 

In 2017, 62% of Manufacturers Used Pen and Paper to Track Vital Manufacturing Steps

The key to Industry 4.0 is intelligent data analytics, but roughly every 3 in 5 are still collecting important process data using clipboards.

This is a statistic that we’ve featured before on this blog, but it’s worth repeating as it clearly demonstrates the position many manufacturers find themselves in. Everyone knows they need to digitise to stay competitive, and everyone knows it’s bad practice to be using pen and paper to collect data but getting started shouldn't be considered an insurmountable challenge.

But take note; the number of manufacturers using pen and paper is expected to drop to 1 in 5 by 2022, so if you haven't already started, now's the time to do so. 


The UK Is Below the World Average for Robot Density, With Only 71 units per 10,000 Employees

The UK Is Below the World Average for Robot Density, With Only 71 units per 10,000 Employees

If there was ever a statistic to show where the UK stands in global digitised manufacturing, this is it.

We all know that automation and robotics are on the rise, but just how fast is the UK growing its robotic capabilities?

Well, despite much widespread fear over robots taking lots of jobs, perhaps not as fast as you might think compared to our European neighbours. The latest global average for robot density 74 units per 10,000 employees, up from 66 units in 2015.

The UK, however, ranks far lower than you might think at number 22, below the world average of 71 units. Compared to our European neighbours, we are behind; Germany ranks third with 309 units per 10,000 employees, Sweden fifth (223 units) and Denmark sixth (221 units).


56% have little or no understanding of 4IR 

56% have little or no understanding of 4IR

The BDO Industry 4.0 Survey 2016 revealed that only 8% of those surveyed had a significant understanding of the term Industry 4.0. Even more surprisingly, 56% had “little or no understanding” of the technology, despite 44% acknowledging 4IR would have a large impact on their business.

Somewhat promisingly, 48% of respondents admitted they have no Industry 4.0 strategy but they need to investigate this. However, this goes to show that many aren’t prioritising digitisation, and are perhaps too busy fighting fires & keeping things going to be able to move on with Industry 4.0.

Whatever the case, this demonstrates the struggle many in manufacturing are facing; a lack of knowledge and understanding of Industry 4.0.


Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics

What’s in a statistic? As a highly data-driven company focusing on data collection & monitoring, some of the statistics we read around Industry 4.0 can seem twisted.

For instance, this stat that looks at Industry 4.0 adoption in the UK claims that 79% of industrial companies have made progress towards Industry 4.0. Reading the small print, this figure amalgamates those in the survey who responded “2-little progress”, “3-intermediate progress” and “4-large progress”- all without revealing the breakdown of these results. How many of those who responded answered “little progress”? What is their definition of “progress”? This statistic may on the surface appear impressive, but, it doesn’t tell us much.

Are these figures helping the UK’s drive to digitisation, or hindering progress?


Industry 4.0 Can Be Like Social Media

Social media can be a misleading thing- highlighting our successes in front of our peers whilst hiding our failures. We believe this adage to be equally true with Industry 4.0.

Reading about others' Industry 4.0 journeys online, you’re rarely- if ever – going to get the full picture. It’s easy to look at the industry leaders and think they must be doing everything right, but they will be making mistakes along the way just the same as you are.

However, please don’t take this article the wrong way. In 2018 with a highly competitive international landscape, you can’t ignore or put digitisation on the backburner any longer. Yes, of course, there are many challenges along the way, and yes, of course, this will require some investment- but that will be nothing compared to the challenge you’ll face by getting on board too late.

Posted by Jordan Maciver on Friday, February 16, 2018



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