What the shift away from legacy technology means for manufacturing

Posted on Sunday, September 24, 2017 by The MSS teamNo comments

 

The manufacturing industry is changing. With Brexit, fluctuating GBP value, and a period of political uncertainty, the need for a productivity boost in the manufacturing sector is more essential than ever to maintain our global positioning. Currently, however, a large proportion of manufacturers are still trudging on with legacy technologies – sweating their assets to maximise profitability.

While in the past, this strategy has proved remarkably successful, it has worsened a tenuous position – the UK is currently falling behind in terms of productivity when compared to other G7 nations, coming ahead of only Italy. Notably, just 59% of manufacturing firms admitted that they did not believe this productivity drop to be a problem for the UK’s economy. Contrary to this, British Gas recently experienced a significant profit crash of almost one billion pounds. This came as a direct result of legacy infrastructure.

This is, naturally, a double-edged sword. While this strategy has indeed increased profits in the short term, the effectiveness of our systems and processes means it is harder to compete with competitor’s productivity outputs. While other G7 nations invest in newer technologies and the skills required to operate them, the UK does not.

When we consider the absence of investment into modern technology in comparison to our competitors, when combined with the staggering pace of innovation into Industrial Internet of Things Technology (IIoT), something curious happens. Processes and innovations are a product of the environment in which they are implemented. Put simply, investing in new infrastructure five years ago sets a benchmark within manufacturing – any upgrades are then completed on the basis of said older technology.

Investment today has the potential to leapfrog the investments made by other G7 nations, and develop the true factories of the future. Over the last few years, this change has been slow. Today, we see the adoption of new technologies increasing at its fastest rate. By 2020, research from GE has noted that the number of connected devices in industry will grow by 285% on 2015 figures.

The next step will, naturally, be to source the talent required to operate said technologies – a strong opportunity for engineers and industry specialists in the UK. Currently, legacy technology is hampering Britain’s ability to compete on a global stage.

With the correct combination of technology and skills, however, the potential exists to bypass the teething problems we have seen from other nations. The shift away from legacy technology is a foregone conclusion. What remains to be seen is when this will happen and whether, as an industry, we are prepared for it.

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