From industrial automation, robotics and digital twinning to artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing and Big Data - the array of cutting-edge digital transformation technologies available to UK electronics manufacturers is positively mind-boggling.
But in the enthusiasm to get more manufacturers on board with Industry 4.0 is there also a risk that the digital landscape has become overly complicated, possibly even overwhelming, for those smaller to medium sized businesses looking to take their first steps?
For those UK electronics manufacturers who are keen to demystify Industry 4.0, here is a selection of events planned for the next twelve months that promise to provide the expertise, advice and practical solutions to help businesses get to grips with the subject.
Industry 4.0 Summit & Expo 2020
The world's first industrial city, Manchester, will play host to the fourth annual Industry 4.0 Summit and Expo which will take place on March 31st and April 1st 2020.
The event is billed as a "one-stop-shop" for visitors to explore the latest technologies covering robotics, automation, big data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, predictive maintenance and more.
More than 400 senior level executives from UK manufacturing, academia, government and industry associations are expected to attend.
The summit organisers are especially keen to hear from SMEs who have adopted Industry 4.0 across their operations and who would like to share their success stories, case studies and best practice.
Running alongside the Industry 4.0 Summit, will be the Industry 4.0 Expo which will provide an opportunity for manufacturers to get hands-on with the latest smart factory technologies and solutions.
Visitors will also be able to attend a variety of seminars and information-sharing events including an open technology forum, a robot zone and an SME clinic.
The Manufacturing and Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition 2020
The Manufacturing Supply Chain Conference and Exhibition will be located at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes on July 1st 2020.
This annual event serves as a national forum for manufacturers and supply chain professionals and will bring together a line-up of manufacturing leaders, government agencies and academics to explore the topical themes and technological solutions impacting global manufacturing.
A combination of keynote addresses and debates will provide an opportunity to explore the challenges and the opportunities presented by the rapidly unfolding fourth Industrial Revolution - from Lean Manufacturing, Robotics and Automation, to Machine Learning and Industrial Blockchain.
Industry experts will focus on the latest developments (and what we can expect to see in the future) in terms of automation and data exchange within manufacturing technologies - with discussions on the advancements of Cyber-Physical Systems, Cloud Computing and Cognitive Computing.
The event will also feature an extensive exhibition to showcase the newest technological innovations and business services.
Digital Manufacturing Week 2020
Digital Manufacturing Week will once again take place in Liverpool's Exhibition Centre this November 10th to 13th, with the aim of encouraging more UK manufacturers to embrace a "digital mind-set".
This popular annual event promises to provide an opportunity for collaboration, networking and the exchange of ideas to help fast-track adoption of Industry 4.0 technology and solutions.
In excess of 6,000 manufacturing executives are anticipated to attend the packed programme of forums, presentations and panel discussions which will include the following:
- A 'Best of British Manufacturing Showcase' which will celebrate production and export successes within domestic manufacturing.
- A 'Diversity and Inclusion Summit' designed to encourage more people from minority groups to join, thrive and achieve leadership positions within British manufacturing.
- A 'Speakers Corner' where manufacturers, entrepreneurs and advocates of Industry 4.0 can exchange ideas in an informal presentation and networking space.
- An 'Innovation Alley', running through the centre of the exhibition, which will link together a selection of the UK's most innovative manufacturing start-ups.
- A 'Pitch Competition' where up and coming manufacturing businesses will be given the chance to 'hack' business challenges set by established manufacturers and to pitch their solutions to a panel of senior industrialists.
- A 'Digital Manufacturing Visitor Trail' providing recommended itineraries for delegates and speakers with shared interests.
- The Manufacturer MX Awards and the Manufacturer Top 100
The disparity between the awareness and the uptake of technologies made possible by Industry 4.0 remains an undeniable challenge for electronics manufacturing, with many UK business leaders acknowledging that they've yet to "come to terms with" the challenges, or the opportunities, offered by digital transformation.
But for those electronics manufacturers who are keen to get to grips with the subject, getting hands-on at industry events could well offer a much-needed injection of knowledge where it's needed most.