Industry 4.0: Digitalisation for productivity and growth

Briefing 22-09-2015

Many observers believe that Europe is at the beginning of a new industrial revolution, considered to be the fourth such leap forward and hence labelled Industry 4.0. The ubiquitous use of sensors, the expansion of wireless communication and networks, the deployment of increasingly intelligent robots and machines – as well as increased computing power at lower cost and the development of 'big data' analytics – has the potential to transform the way goods are manufactured in Europe. This new, digital industrial revolution holds the promise of increased flexibility in manufacturing, mass customisation, increased speed, better quality and improved productivity. However to capture these benefits, enterprises will need to invest in equipment, information and communication technologies (ICTs) and data analysis as well as the integration of data flows throughout the global value chain. The EU supports industrial change through its industrial policy and through research and infrastructure funding. Member States are also sponsoring national initiatives such as Industrie 4.0 in Germany, the Factory of the Future in France and Italy, and Catapult centres in the UK. However challenges remain. The need for investment, changing business models, data issues, legal questions of liability and intellectual property, standards, and skills mismatches are among the challenges that must be met if benefits are to be gained from new manufacturing and industrial technologies. If these obstacles can be overcome, Industry 4.0 may help to reverse the past decline in industrialisation and increase total value added from manufacturing to a targeted 20% of all value added by 2020. Please click here for the full publication in PDF format