Made in the Midlands held a roundtable discussion back in August highlighting the common barriers to success within smart manufacturing. Attendees felt there was a lot of confusion around the jargon used within the industry and found it hard to understand the technical language when talking about automation and industry 4.0.

The Made in Group also conducted a poll via social media asking the questions “Do you feel like you know what Industry 4.0 really means?” Of the 100 respondents;

  • 43% responded “absolutely”
  • 29% responded “sort of”
  • 28% responded “not a clue”

If you find yourself falling in with the “sort of” and “not a clue” responses, you should probably read our Complete Guide to Industry 4.0.

In light of these findings, the Made in Group gathered it’s members together along with some industry experts to shed some light on all things automation, industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing.

Automation advice from the experts – taking the first step:

  • Advice from Bauromat – Dom D’angelillo, Bauromat’s marketing coordinator said; “Don’t rush”. He highlighted that automation projects can take time. But you want to seek out automation companies that understand this and ask them questions. He said “there’s no such thing as a stupid question, automation companies have heard it all!”. He also stressed that these companies should be asking you questions – what are your targets? What are your budgets? What are your current processes? Where normally, they’d be allowed to come to you and see some of these things for themselves, they have had to find other ways to understand this information that are in-line with COVID-19 guidelines. Ultimately, the more information you can give them, the better the project will be. He also suggested that automation companies should offer you trials so you can see this automation in process and see that it works.


  • Advice from TotalControlPro – Our CEO Dorian Smellie said often when we think of Industry 4.0 we think of a revolution – an out with the old and in with the new approach with a lot pain and disruption happening in the middle. Dorian said, “start thinking EVOLUTION not revolution”. In practise what this means is getting an understanding of what your current processes are doing and getting data on what is really happening on the shop floor. “Let’s get data on that to allow us to make rapid and accurate decisions based on what’s actually going on instead of what we think is going on”. Focus in on controlled areas that allow you to adopt quickly and prove to anyone across the organisation what is possible with access to these kinds of technology. Dorian also stressed how important it is to acknowledge that technology will evolve faster than we do so try to adopt technology that can evolve with you like cloud  and Software-as-a-Service technologies.


  • Advice from Plus Automation – Mark Weymouth, managing director of Plus Automation said start at the part of your business you know the most about. He highlighted the importance of measurement using a quote from H. James Harrington’s Poor Quality Costs 1987, “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it.” Mark stressed the importance of collecting data from your business and it’s processes because “accurate measurement is the key to any counting”.


  • Advice from MCS Control Systems – Business Development Manager, Sam Thiara said ” Try to divorce the technology from the problem. In order to find the right solution we need to get under the hood of them problem.” Identify the problem you’re trying to solve and the impact it has on the business, then look at the tech that may resolve the problem. Sam stressed, “Don’t automate for the sake of automation!” This can have a negative effect and overcomplicate things to a point where you don’t end up solving your problem. Try to benchmark everything – that way when you go back and measure you can clearly see the impact the new tech has on the business.


  • Advice from Comau – Comau’s Business Development Manager, Nigel Hyland said that the key to success with Industry 4.0 is communication. Make sure your automation provider is trying “to understand where your business is now, and where your business is going to be.” This can uncover how you can leverage automation for today’s problems and opportunities of the future. He said, “anyone considering automation, NEEDS to speak to more than one automation supplier” because getting multiple views on what solutions there are will help to ensure you get the best one for your business.

Chat to us today about what you’d like to achieve and we’ll show you how we can help with our TotalControlPro™ Manufacturing Platform Demo!

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