What is a ‘Factory of the Future’?

Technology is changing the face of manufacturing. Some businesses may already use smart processes and innovative solutions worthy of an ‘Inside the Factory’ visit – while others will be at the very start of their technology journey. Either way, manufacturers need to leverage the benefits of smart-technology and embrace the robot revolutions in order to remain competitive, meet customer needs and respond to social and environmental challenges.

Brexit, the climate emergency and the global pandemic have only added to the case for accelerated development and investment in technology – particularly given the need for robust disaster recovery solutions and sustainable business models.

We can help

That’s why we have developed this site, which provides you with:

  • a project timeline to help you identify the key risks and challenges you might face at any stage of a factory of the future or smart-technology project
  • a knowledge hub, with tailored insights and events for manufacturing businesses
  • on hand specialist advisers who are happy to have a chat with you at any stage

What does it all mean?

Phrases such as ‘smart manufacturing’, ‘ Factory of the Future’ and ‘industry 4.0’ are becoming more prevalent. But what does this terminology mean?

Essentially, we’re looking at the use of technology to improve production in terms of

  • Plant structure
  • Plant digitisation
  • Plant processes

It’s about using flexible systems that can automatically run production processes to drive value and self-optimise performance.

“Digitisation” v “automation”

Digitisation is the invisible technology (such as 5G connectivity connected data, Artificial Intelligence software) whereas automation is the visible technology (for example robots, smart machinery).

The Opportunities

The potential benefits of smart factories are huge, including:

Process optimisational / increases in efficiency and capacity

Reduction in waste of resource and benefits for the environment

Improved data accuracy and predictability

Improved quality of products

Maximum flexibility and increased agility

Remote capabilities through use of augmented realities

The Challenges

The primary reasons businesses give for not adopting the technologies is the perception that the technology is:

  • Expensive
  • Overly complicated
  • Requires extensive training
  • Required skills and capabilities we don’t have

For these reasons, the UK manufacturing sector is lagging behind many other nations in the uptake of smart factories. Currently, the UK manufacturing sector ranks 22nd worldwide for robot units installed by 10,000 employees (85 units).

However, that is beginning to shift and a new mind-set is underway.

Tips for success

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Business strengths

View more information about Business strengths

Focus on your business' strengths – make investments in key technologies


View more information about Objectives

Understand the objectives – have a clear business case and understand the outputs


View more information about Talent

Find the right talent and invest in upskilling your existing workforce – to manage the change throughout the organisation and develop the technology

Intellectual property

View more information about Intellectual property

Understand who owns the intellectual property and the assets – and ensure these are protected

Legal protection

View more information about Legal protection

Get the right level of legal protection – to ensure your contracts minimise your risk and offer you the right level of flexibility

Ready to get started?

Use our timeline to guide you through each step