Dubbed as the 4th industrial revolution, the 21st century has become a time for emerging markets, ideas and breakthrough technologies. There are numerous definitions for the principles surrounding Industry 4.0 but for most it is the era of system automation and data accessibility, transforming economies, workforces and societies.
Coined by a German government project, Industry 4.0 is set to influence the manufacturing sector by creating new ideas and innovations. However, with change and innovation there will be inevitably come challenges for manufacturing firms and the need for finance.
Research has suggested that while there is speculation of how economies will fare, manufacturers categories their uncertainty into two - Political standing and information understanding2.. As Brexit grips the nation and the ever increasing technological jargon and financial choice to understand, some business leaders are confused by the options that are available to them2..
According to the 2018 Scaleup Index, manufacturing ranked second behind property development for visible scaleups in 20183 and finance remained a significant challenge4.. Though raising finance wasn’t seen as the biggest challenge, most were keen to see better access to innovation and growth finance delivered locally and 56% of scaleups would like to see more government backed loan4.
Although economic uncertainty is stress-testing the sector, many reports are suggesting that businesses are taking it as a time for development and not letting their confidence slide when it comes to future prosperity.
Despite the doom and gloom from some, SME manufacturers have used 2018 to scale and strategically plan. According to the Made in the Midlands annual survey1. 74% of businesses have confidence that the sector will grow next year and 73% reported that they were taking a pragmatic stance and planning for a strong future and according to a recent readiness report 87% of business leaders believe that Industry 4.0 will lead to more social and economic equality and stability5.
With ambitious growth plans, 8 out of 10 manufacturing businesses expect to see their turnover grow next year1 and 74% of scaling businesses will look for external finance and look to invest in physical equipment and machinery to embrace the influences of 4.0 4..
This is a similar trend to some of FDC investee manufacturers, have been taking in 2018, seeking to invest in new tooling and product development for future projects.
Star Precision Tools secured investment from the National Tooling Loan Fund to enable the development of tooling required for components to be used on the second-generation Land Rover Evoque and were confident of both short and long-term growth for the business.
And GeoSlam, a renowned developer of 3D mapping software and hardware, secured investment from the National Debt Fund to further the research and development of their products and are confident of large-scale international growth.
While there is much ambiguity and opinion when discussing future prosperity, it is undoubtable that Industry 4.0 is transforming the manufacturing sector and having a positive impact on businesses leaders’ optimism.