Industry 4.0 held back by costs and change

Posted on 07 Feb 2019 and read 668 times
Industry 4.0 held back by costs and changeUK manufacturers are optimistic about Industry 4.0 technologies, with 96% anticipating that new ‘state of the art’ equipment will lead to cost savings for their company.

However, their lack of expertise and their concerns about costs and the pace of change are hindering the widespread uptake of connected, predictive and data-based tech-nologies.

In light of this, collaboration will be key to unlocking progress, according to Shell Lubricants in its latest manufacturing industry report, Exploring Industry 4.0.

Almost all (94%) of the 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 adopting 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 their 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.

Shahina Kazi, UK B2B marketing manager, said: “According to the survey, a major issue facing UK manufacturers is a growing knowledge gap about the technologies, as well as the lack of trusted external experts to provide them with support (58%).

"They are also concerned about the difficulties of up-skilling workers to use these new technologies (58%). This is something that we in Shell Lubricants want to change and can help them overcome.

“Effective maintenance regimes are crucial to help companies maximise returns from their new high-tech equipment.

It’s interesting to note that although 90% of those surveyed agreed that the introduction of these new technologies will have an impact on their choice of lubricants, only 32% feel that they will need to place more emphasis on equipment protection, and a third would focus more on lubricant quality.”

Optimising lubrication can have a significant impact on component life, maintenance costs and unplanned down-time, so it can contribute to reduced TCO and improved equipment productivity.

External support is important for companies looking to improve their maintenance practices, and 86% of those surveyed using Industry 4.0 technologies plan to use their lubricants supplier to help them progress.

Shell offers a range of technical services, including a mobile chat application called LubeChat — the first artificial-intelligence chatbot tool for B2B lubricants customers in the UK, designed to help them up-skill their teams and provide the services they need to implement effective equipment lubrication.

More information is available on the Web site (

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