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Digitalisation delivers an ‘adapt or fail’ ultimatum to SMEs

Industry 4.0 and digitalisation continue to usher in a new era of manufacturing and as large businesses are already reaping the benefits, SMEs need to decide if they’re willing to adapt or risk being left behind.

The automotive industry in particular has already embraced the next generation of manufacturing with open arms. According to Siemens, Volvo Cars have managed to halve their engineering costs by using a software solution to plan and simulate their production lines. Alongside this, Nissan managed to halve the development of new vehicles by using CAD and collaboration software.

With large manufacturers already seeing positive results, SMEs that supply components to them may face added pressure and urgency to transform their business into a digital enterprise. Often this is from multinational manufacturers, who are looking to ensure their supply chain evolves with them to become resilient and future-proofed.

Small and medium businesses in this position may be offered compensation and further support as there will be an increase in data shared between companies, but those who are reluctant to change could find themselves being replaced.

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding digitalisation is that only large, global companies will see the benefits of upgrading their production lines. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth and early adoption means SMEs have the opportunity to rival their larger competitors.

Industry 4.0 is improving the competitiveness of manufacturers across the board by helping businesses of every size build sustainable and future-proofed business models. Upgrades such as big data analysis, automated robotics and simulations are helping businesses significantly improve their innovation cycles. With smart factory technology, 3D modelling can allow a business to quickly and efficiently develop new products and services—all while maximising outputs and minimising waste.

However, despite the advantages that SMEs can gain from Industry 4.0, beginning the upgrade can seem intimidating, even if it isn’t. While they may not be able to dedicate the same resources as larger manufacturers, they can craft a plan that breaks the entire process down into a series of achievable and affordable steps:

  • Assess the company’s needs
  • Identify how a smart factory could meet those needs
  • Create a budget to begin introducing new technology over time
  • Start educating the company on Industry 4.0, from top to bottom

The next industrial revolution is already upon us and while many manufacturers are preparing their business for the change, there are those who are yet to start. Any companies who are sceptical about the effect digitalisation could have on their industry only need to look towards the entertainment industry and Netflix, or the effect Amazon has had on the UK high street.

At Underwoods we have the expertise you need to help plan and implement your Industry 4.0 plan. For more information on how we can help, get in touch today.

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