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digitalisation in UK manufacturing

Expertise gap and lubrication errors are hampering adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies

17 December, 2018

Shell Lubricants’ latest manufacturing industry report exploring Industry 4.0, has revealed that UK manufacturers are engaged and optimistic about Industry 4.0 technologies with 96% of those surveyed anticipating that new high-tech equipment will deliver cost savings to their company. However, a lack of expertise combined with concerns about pace of change and costs are hindering the widespread uptake of connected, predictive and data-based technologies.

Today, almost all (94%) UK manufacturers surveyed currently use at least one Industry 4.0 technology. Cloud-based technologies (50%) and sensors (54%) are most prevalent, while technologies like robotics (32%) and artificial intelligence (32%) are not yet as commonplace. Over half (54%) of those surveyed said increased equipment productivity is the major benefit they expect from these technologies. Despite this, the industry in general remains cautious with 56% feeling that technology is changing too rapidly, and 66% unwilling to invest in new equipment while current equipment is still operational.

There are also concerns about the implications on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Around half of companies expect TCO to increase as a result of introducing new technologies, primarily because of the higher up-front investment and because they expect maintenance costs to rise.


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