18 May, 2022

Expertise gap and lubrication errors hampering Industry 4.0 adoption

11 January, 2019

UK manufacturers are engaged and optimistic about Industry 4.0 technologies, with 96% of those surveyed anticipating that new high-tech equipment will deliver cost savings to their company.

However, a lack of expertise combined with concerns about pace of change and costs are hindering the widespread uptake of connected, predictive and data-based technologies. In light of this, collaboration will be key to unlocking progress, reveals Shell Lubricants in its latest manufacturing industry report, Exploring Industry 4.0.

Today, almost all (94%) UK manufacturers surveyed currently use at least one Industry 4.0 technology. Cloud-based technologies (50%) and sensors (54%) are most prevalent, while technologies like robotics (32%) and artificial intelligence (32%) are not yet as commonplace. Over half (54%) of those surveyed said increased equipment productivity is the major benefit they expect from these technologies.

Rapid change

Despite this, the industry in general remains cautious with 56% feeling that technology is changing too rapidly, and 66% unwilling to invest in new equipment while current equipment is still operational.

There are also concerns about the implications on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Around half of companies expect TCO to increase as a result of introducing new technologies, primarily because of the higher up-front investment and because they expect maintenance costs to rise.

Shahina Kazi, UK B2B marketing manager said: “According to the survey, a major issue facing UK manufacturers is a growing knowledge gap about the technologies, as well as the lack of trusted external experts to provide them with support (58%). They are also concerned about the difficulties of upskilling workers to use these new technologies (58%). This is something that we in Shell Lubricants want to change and can help them overcome.

“Effective maintenance regimes are crucial to help companies maximise returns from their new high-tech equipment. It’s interesting to note that although 90% of those surveyed agreed that introduction of these new technologies will have an impact on their choice of lubricants, only 32% feel they will need to place more emphasis on equipment protection and a third would focus more on lubricant quality.”

Optimising lubrication

Optimising lubrication can have a significant impact on component life, maintenance costs, and unplanned downtime, and as such, can contribute to reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and improved equipment productivity. External support is important for companies looking to improve maintenance practices, and 86% of those surveyed using Industry 4.0 technologies plan to use their lubricants supplier to help them progress.

Shell offers a range of technical services, including a mobile chat application called LubeChat, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot tool for B2B lubricants customers in the UK, designed to help customers upskill their teams and provide the services they need to implement effective equipment lubrication.

Enhancing competitive advantage

Kazi continued: “At Shell Lubricants, we pride ourselves on working closely together with customers to help improve their equipment maintenance practices and enhance their competitive advantage, now and in the future. This sharing of expertise will become only more valuable to help companies navigate the changes that lie ahead.”

The study into lubrication procedures in the manufacturing industry was commissioned by Shell Lubricants and conducted by research firm Edelman Intelligence. It polled 350 manufacturing industry staff who purchase, influence the purchase or use lubricants/greases as part of their job across 7 countries (USA, China, India, Germany, Russia, Indonesia and the UK) from March to April 2018. Data used in this press release is taken from the respondents from UK (n=50).


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