Manufacturing Industry Leaders Dinner, Demystifying Digitalisation - adopting a strategy that works for you

Manufacturing Industry Leaders Dinner, Demystifying Digitalisation - adopting a strategy that works for you Author: David Thomas Published: 25 October 2018

Berwick Partners’ Manufacturing and Engineering Practice were delighted to host our latest leadership dinner last week. A broad range of experienced Managing Directors shared their views on rapid technology change and how it was impacting their businesses.

Guests reflected on the industrialisation journey through mechanisation, electrification and automation. There was a feeling that UK manufacturing had under-invested during the automation era; a product of the ‘make do and mend’ philosophy ingrained in the British psyche. This meant we entered Industry 4.0 playing catch up with regard to productivity.

The onset of truly autonomous capability was the focal point for the discussion - how best to augment human endeavour with the unprecedented networking capabilities that now exist between humans and machines. Whilst people’s skills will have to change, the prevalent view was that for every job displaced, two will be created.

We debated how best to unpick the technology opportunities that exist and adopt a strategy appropriate to the individual circumstance. As one guest stated, ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’. 

In a wide ranging discussion, various themes emerged:

  • Access to funding and the support of the Catapults for early stage activity.
  • Productivity variation from sector to sector - how technology can unlock gains.
  • The emergence of data as a currency.
  • The capability of virtual reality to support faster design cycles.
  • The value of machine learning.
  • The need to grow your own skills, value apprenticeships and encourage radical thinking.

Those who attended were at various stages of their digital factory journey, but all recognised the need to further understand the opportunities that are being unlocked. Thank you to all who attended the dinner and contributed to the debate.

David Thomas is a Partner in Berwick Partners’ Manufacturing & Engineering Practice.

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