Industry 4.0 – UK Aerospace An ADS Membership Viewpoint

Nigel-Thomas-IBMIndustry 4.0 is not a new term, and it’s often difficult to agree a definition. The really difficult question is can Industry 4.0 help us with the global challenge for the UK aerospace industry? Can it improve our competitiveness in an increasingly global market as the world recovers from disruption to business, the likes of which we have not seen before?

The potential global market for Industry 4.0 digital transformation is measured in billions of dollars, we think Industry 4.0 can assist business growth, not just a recovery to pre-pandemic levels but onward to new levels of productivity and innovation in products and services. What evidence is there for this assertion?

ADS set up the Aerospace 4.0 Special Interest Group to be the focal point for members who want to know more about the wide range of technologies that make up Industry 4.0, to work with those members to make sense of what Industry 4.0 can do for them and to help navigate the roadmap from their current manufacturing technology landscape to a future where Industry 4.0 technologies can enhance competitiveness, provide a return on investment and enable a sustainable improvement in business performance.

This report, ‘Industry 4.0 – UK Aerospace, An ADS membership viewpoint’ is the result of a survey asking ADS members about the reality of Industry 4.0, as they see it. Why are companies using new technologies? What business benefits are they hoping to gain? What are the biggest risks involved and crucially, is your workforce ready for Industry 4.0?

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In this report you will find that ADS members think it is not all plain sailing, it is sometimes difficult to get the right advice about investing in new technologies and building a robust business case. Many Industry 4.0 projects do not progress beyond pilot stage and there are many reasons why our members embark on the journey but often fall short. We asked our members to tell us about these barriers to adoption and their answers make interesting reading.

Overall, the responses to this survey indicate that we are all on the journey to digital transformation but it’s not only about the technology. New skills, new ways of working and a plan for dealing with new cyber security risks are essential components of a successful Industry 4.0 strategy.

I am pleased to see the level of ambition of our members is high and many have made measurable progress, gaining real benefit from deploying elements of Industry 4.0. From this, and other similar global research, it is clear that the journey has only just begun. ADS members will continue to need access to better information and deep expertise to assist on that journey. The ambition must remain high – improving our globally competitive position as a result.


Nigel Thomas
Chair, Aerospace 4.0 Special Interest Group
ADS Group