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Catapulting British innovation to success

High Value Manufacturing Catapult

2 min read Partner content

British inventions are often monetised overseas and the benefits accrue elsewhere. From the world wide web to the electric car, this is the land of missed opportunity.

The fourth industrial revolution is transforming the way products and services are delivered. While the first industrial revolution boosted manufacturing with the steam engine, the second used electricity to create mass-production lines and the third introduced computers into the manufacturing process. Each stage has greatly improved productivity and raised living standards. Industry 4.0 is about to revolutionise production again.

The latest industrial revolution offers a suite of mainly digital technologies, which are set to make manufacturing more efficient, profitable and far more productive. These digital technologies are unleashing the power of big data. The growth of data from a wide variety of sources helps businesses predict demand more accurately and learn more about the precise needs of customers. Sensors in the production process emit data on the workings of machinery, which stands to make manufacturing far more accurate.

An example of this is improved quality-testing, which can be carried out on a continuous basis by offering data on the exact weights, measures used, and the state of components and ingredients.

Sensors will also enable advanced diagnostics of machinery, so producers will be able to see the first signs of something going wrong in the production line and take steps to remedy it. This will forestall glitches in the production process leading to less downtime and hiking productivity.

Meanwhile, automation is bringing a raft of new robotic machinery into the production process, taking over many of the mundane tasks previously carried out by humans. Workers are increasingly working alongside robots to increase efficiency.

Industry 4.0 techniques are already being used in the automotive and aerospace sectors. But there are concerns among some of the UK’s leading manufacturers that companies in their supply chain are failing to adopt fourth industrial revolution techniques, impairing their suitability to work with forward-looking manufacturers. This could leave the biggest producers looking overseas to find suppliers that have modernised production.

UK innovators need to grasp the opportunities offered by new technology and transform their production processes. The HVM Catapult offers the support that British inventors need to turn fresh ideas into gold.


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The Engineering a Better World podcast series from The House magazine and the IET is back for series two! New host Jonn Elledge discusses with parliamentarians and industry experts how technology and engineering can provide policy solutions to our changing world.

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