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Torque Limiters Manufacturer | Howdon Power Transmission Ltd Howdon Power's Blog Page January 2018 Blog

Industry 4.0: why the traditional manufacturing SME should embrace the fourth industrial revolution

In this month’s blog,  we look at why the traditional manufacturing SME should embrace the fourth industrial revolution.

“Ah yes… the fourth industrial revolution. Wow. That’ll have a huge impact on big manufacturing companies like JCB and Jaguar Land Rover. Can’t see it affecting us much, though.”

If you’re the owner or manager of a small or medium-sized manufacturing business, chances are you subscribe to this train of thought. But Industry 4.0 can – and will – affect businesses of all shapes and sizes.

It’s hard to keep up with the latest chatter about the developments in technology that form part of Industry 4.0, and just how this will materialise. The convergence of IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology), the internet of things (IoT), augmented reality, additive manufacturing (including 3D printing, direct digital manufacturing and rapid prototyping), autonomous production, big data analytics…

Of course, we won’t wake up one morning and find everything has changed. Like all significant transformation, Industry 4.0 will happen gradually. What we don’t know is how soon. But if we embrace the chances to come – rather than baulking at the sheer scale of the unknown – ultimately, our businesses will benefit.

Small steps to adopt Industry 4.0

There are small steps even the most modest traditional manufacturing business can adopt, including digital twin simulation models, and agility monitoring for events, processes and devices. And both of these can streamline and improve the manufacturing process.

Digital twin simulation enables manufacturing businesses to test the mechanical performance of their products offline before they start production, using software and physical and mechanical simulation programs.

Agility monitoring simply means becoming more responsive to customer demands. The process is best suited to consumer durables such as household appliances or cars, but you may be able to make your business more agile simply by adjusting your manufacturing lines so that you can make more than one product on them.

Embrace the change

There are many reasons why SMEs aren’t investing in Industry 4.0 technologies. Perhaps the biggest is the belief that their business is too small to profit from developments. But the fourth industrial revolution heralds exciting opportunities within manufacturing and industry – and with them, great opportunity for businesses prepared to embrace change.

Don’t get left behind.

To find out more about Howdon’s engineering solutions, call our sales team on 01453 750814, email, or visit

In a nutshell… the four industrial revolutions

The first industrial revolution came with the age of steam. Machinery began to revolutionise processes that had been manual for generations, and rural communities became industrial and urbanised.

The second industrial revolution describes the period between 1870 and 1914. The discovery of electricity enabled the growth of the steel and oil industries, and mass production of goods. The lightbulb, telephone, and internal combustion engine were invented.

The third industrial revolution – also known as the digital revolution – began in the 1980s, when technology evolved from analogue machines to the digital devices we use to this day. This was the dawn of the internet, the PC and other information and communications technologies (ICT).

 The fourth industrial revolution – also known as Industry 4.0 – anticipates new ways in which technology and automation will become embedded in our lives. Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum, predicts Industry 4.0 will help to regenerate the natural world, radically improve business efficiency, and connect billions more global citizens to the internet.