The UK can play a major role in promoting the adoption of Industry 4.0 digital technology solutions, says Juergen Maier, chief executive of Siemens PLC.

Speaking as a panel member at the Siemens-sponsored Cheltenham Science & Business Summit, which was debating the digitalisation of industry, Mr Maier said that Industry 4.0 is the technology behind the fourth industrial revolution vision and has been proactively adopted by the German government to drive a manufacturing revolution in that country.

According to Maier, “the potential of digital technologies to use vast data volumes lies at the heart of solutions that have the potential, for example, to enable manufacturers to produce a batch size of one – but at mass market prices.”

Maier said that Industry 4.0 will allow for the customisation of all manner of consumer and industrial products to meet market demand and made possible via flexibile, highly connected and intelligence-led manufacturing processes.

“The German government recognises the potential of digital technology within a manufacturing environment and is encouraging and supporting its manufacturing base to invest accordingly,” he added.

Industry 4.0 cyber-physical systems, said Maier, can allow manufacturers to re-assess their processes and business models so that they can improve productivity and customised market responsiveness – both key factors for success within an increasingly competitive and globalised marketplace.

“The ability to extract, hold and interrogate huge volumes of data will also enable businesses to better manage their assets in all kinds of ways, offering, for example, the ability to vastly improve factory efficiencies and contribute to improving Britain’s productivity performance, which currently lags behind many leading industrial nations,” he explained, urging stakeholders, including policy holders within government, to grasp the strategically important opportunity that lies before them.

“This is an exciting moment in time for the world of engineering and manufacturing,” concluded Mr Maier.