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Industry 4.0 – It’s not a buzzword, it’s happening now!

In recent years Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution have been buzzwords – until now.

No longer is it just talk as Britain embarks on being at the cutting edge of this digital revolution.

But what is Industry 4.0?

It is, in simple terms, a fusion of technologies with an emphasis on the digital and disruptive technologies that will impact on nearly every sector in every country, creating new opportunities and challenges for people, places and businesses.

Elements of Industry 4.0 are happening right now across a broad spectrum of sectors with advances in medicine, 3D printing, automation, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, advanced engineering, big data, robotics, renewable energy, digital technology and food technology.

Scientists and engineers are pushing the boundaries of innovation and centres like Sci-Tech Daresbury and the companies that call it home, are at the forefront of this.

Industry 4.0 will drive change in the following ways.

Intelligent technology – this is data driven, providing insight that will not just generate predictions but provide guidance

Connectivity – a digitally connected world (the Internet of Things) where machines and digital tools will communicate and connect with each other – not just inside a set location but remotely.

Autonomy – as technology develops more and more tasks will be automated, which is already the case. Online chatbots, driverless cars, robots taking on more labour-intensive tasks – and greater use of Artificial Intelligence so these machines self-learn

New business models – the availability of technology will see how businesses run change dramatically offering new ways of operating

The UK has for years led the way when it comes to innovation, but so often has fallen short on developing these ideas as international competitors found the ways and means to capitalise sooner.

But that notion has changed, particularly with an eye on Brexit, and there is a need and desire for Britain and British-based companies to be a leader in this global digital revolution.

The government are fine-tuned to this and in November 2017, the Prime Minister Theresa May, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clarke, were all singing from the same hymn sheet as they unveiled the Industrial Strategy White Paper* – that aims to cement the UK’s status as a technological power to rival the likes of Germany, China, Japan and the US.

In his Budget statement, the Chancellor recognised Britain’s growing status as he stated: “For the first time in decades Britain is genuinely at the forefront of this technological revolution.”

The white paper revealed there would be five key foundations that would feature as part of the Fourth Revolution, four Grand Challenges that would need to be met, while four industrial sectors would be the first to get funding.

The Foundations and Challenges

The five foundations are: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places.

The four Grand Challenges: artificial intelligence and big data; clean growth; the future of mobility; and meeting the needs of an ageing society – have been identified on the advice of leading scientists and technologists.

The four sector deals: life sciences, construction, artificial intelligence and the automotive sector

Many elements of the Industrial Strategy that will power Industry 4.0 are at the heart of the R&D being carried out by companies and our collaborative partners at Sci-Tech Daresbury.

Medicine, energy, big data, artificial intelligence and VR, advanced engineering, cybersecurity are just some of the areas that companies on the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus are leading the way in.

Sci-Tech Daresbury also has the facilities to drive this change as it is home to the one of the world’s largest supercomputers, the Hartree Centre – a leading centre working with industry on applying big data and AI technologies, the Virtual Engineering Centre – part of the Univesity Liverpool applying VR/AR technologies into engineering sectors , the Campus Technology Hub – a rapid prototyping centre with a focus on 3D printing and IOT technologies.

Industry 4.0 also requires SMEs, who are agile, can collaborate, develop the necessary skills and possess the right forward-thinking people to adopt and drive change.

You can be a part of the latetst Industrial Revolution at Sci-Tech Daresbury.

*Read the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Sci-Tech Daresbury, located close to both Manchester and Liverpool, is internationally known for the quality of its work and is home to scientists and engineers from across the academic research community as well as private industry. Areas of study include accelerator science, bio-medicine, physics, chemistry, materials, engineering and computational science, as researchers explore new areas of science and new technologies – and facilities stretch from a VR/AR lab to a particle accelerator.