Industry 4.0 summit urges long term vision among business leaders

Written by: Justin Cunningham | Published:
Industry 4.0 needs long term strategy Industry 4.0: Calls for long term strategy were mixed with more immediate calls to action

The first day of the UK’s inaugural Industry 4.0 summit has seen key figures call for long term thinking among industry and business strategy makers.

Lord Prior of Brampton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy, said: “We are looking at a massive change in the corporate sector, and strategy cannot be based around incumbencies.”

The two day summit in Manchester has brought together a number of key stakeholders to discuss the rollout of Industry 4.0 technologies and hurdles that need to be overcome. Among the discussions was the need for both Government and industry to agree on a long term strategic vision, or risk falling behind Europe and the US.

“We need deeper pools of longer term 'patient capital' in the UK,” Lord Prior continued. “If a company’s management does not take a longer term strategic view – even if that means sacrificing short term results and difficult meetings in meantime – then they simply won’t be here in 10 years’ time.”

With London's financial hub as strong as ever, the culture for many public and private companies is to closely view quarterly results as the measure of success or failure. However, Industry 4.0 is likely to require patience among investors.

Despite the long term vision required, key industry figures were keen to stress that Industry 4.0 is happening now and that it's implementation should be made a priority by both big business and UK SMEs, with Airbus VP, Jens Gralfs, commenting, "this is not about being fashionable, but staying competitive."

For UK SME's looking at Industry 4.0 the advice was to form partnerships. However, some individual engineering and manufacturing firms have privately expressed a nervousness at moving quickly, running the risk of losing IP that could quickly be exploited by competitors.

Tanuja Randery, UK and Ireland President of Schneider Electric, said: "I don't think anyone will make Industry 4.0 work on their own. There is no clear solution to this and it remains a challenge for everyone, but there are some common themes.

"[UK Industry] needs to engage with the technology that is available today. SMEs, for example, can start by implementing it in bite-sized chunks and get an immediate benefit - whether that is energy saving or increasing productivity. You don't have to start by making huge five year decisions that you will be locked into."

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