The revolution starts here

Posted on: 16/11/2016

4Manufacturing programme helps SMEs access benefits of advanced technologies.

4Manufacturing programme helps SMEs access benefits of advanced technologies.

Recently, there was a much-needed debate in the House of Commons led by Alan Mak MP – Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).

This “revolution”, which fuses physical, digital, and biological technologies, has already contributed to the development of driverless vehicles, robotic manufacturing and 3D printing – and Mr Mak believes it is “essential” to the success of a post-Brexit UK economy. In a report published this week, entitled “Masters of the Revolution”, he suggests that 4IR should be central to the new UK industrial strategy.

This resonates strongly with us at KTN. As the UK’s innovation network, we work with both large and small companies, and recognise that innovation strategies may need to be adapted for each. The presentations I have listened to at conferences and events were delivered by companies like Siemens and Cisco Systems, and show how 4IR can be implemented. They are wonderful exemplars of what progress can be made and benefits achieved.

But from an SME perspective, an entry point to 4IR might seem confusing. We wanted to find a solution that KTN could roll out nationally to help start the 4IR journey and be affordable to the majority of UK manufacturing SMEs.

That’s why we developed the “4Manufacturing” programme, which enables smaller companies to embrace 4IR and all its benefits.

We address both the technology and the skills to enable successful adoption and integration. SMEs frequently see the progress some large companies can make, but don’t have the capability or budgets to implement change on the same scale or pace. Often companies are unsure where to start within the high complexity that 4IR challenges us with. We simplify and demystify 4IR for manufacturing SMEs.

The 4Manufacturing approach is to start small, and build SME confidence and competence with projects and innovation mapped within a structured approach to 4IR.

We are currently supporting projects like automated lines for heat treatment in the steel industry, software integration tools for SMEs and micro companies, and an automated production line for a new and innovative product supported by Innovate UK. We help to develop innovative solutions that add real value and a good return on investment (ROI).

To increase UK economic growth, deliver these productivity improvements and cost reductions, we work with our extensive network of members, partner companies and supporters, including BEIS, Innovate UK, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Catapults, and commercial organisations. Together, we can help companies of all sizes to gain a competitive edge in this fast-growing sector.


For further information, please contact Malcolm Harold.

4Manufacturing: Connecting the innovation landscape to help realise the next industrial revolution


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