Furniture Industry Research Association help organisations embrace ‘Industry 4.0’
The Furniture Industry Research Association has published new guide entitled ‘Improving UK Productivity and Industry 4.0’, authored by Bruce Lovell, Consultant at FIRA International. The guide aims to assist Research Association members across all sectors of the furniture industry to better understand the potential for Industry 4.0 to improve their productivity.
Whilst not limited to the furniture industry, the Bank of England has suggested a number of reasons contributing to weak productivity over the last ten years (since the 2008/2009 recession). These factors include weak demand conditions resulting in labour hoarding, a strong labour market, under investment, high firm survival rates and slowing innovation. These factors have led to the emergence of Industry 4.0 (the fourth industrial revolution) in manufacturing whereby computers are connected and communicate with one another to ultimately make decisions without human involvement.
Speaking on the publication of the new ‘Improving UK Productivity and Industry 4.0’ guide, author Bruce Lovell said “The Furniture Industry Research Association have been aware of the emergence of Industry 4.0 for some time, and felt it was now right to support members in understanding more about its potential and start thinking about what elements of 4.0 they can embrace within their organisations.
“The UK furniture industry boasts proportionately higher employee numbers than many other sectors and, whilst this is important to government in terms of helping to reduce unemployment, it also means that productivity per man hour, will have a tendency to be low. This is where Industry 4.0 can make a difference, and this new publication is there to offer guidance and ideas.
“Not all furniture manufacturers are at the same stage of knowledge about what Industry 4.0 will mean for their business. Many will be at the start of the journey, or still getting to grips with the subject, but by implementing smart factory concepts of Industry 4.0, improvements can be made across the production process.”
Sections within the 44 page guide include:
- UK Productivity Conundrum, including reasons for weak productivity, manufacturing Sector Productivity and factors affecting productivity performance
- Industry 4.0, industrial revolutions, industry 4.0 origins, industry 4.0 building blocks, industry 4.0 production system and stepping stones to Industry 4.0
- Useful technologies / concepts to consider in the smart factory including cloud solutions, capital equipment with networked control systems, multi-purpose production lines, capital equipment with embedded data analysis and sensors, rapid additive manufacturing/ 3D printing, universal data integration networks, fully autonomous robots, 3D simulation of manufacturing processes and predictive maintenance
- ‘Smart’ furniture factory of the future, including vertical networking - optimisation of back office and supply chain processes and horizontal networking - optimisation of production processes