How implementing industry 4.0 processes can help SME’s improve manufacturing, reduce costs and increase profits.


Industry 4.0 is a key area to focus on for the future of manufacturing. It represents an unprecedented opportunity to revitalise UK manufacturing. Concerningly manufacturers are unsure of how it will affect their business and whether they have the resources to take advantage of the technology (KPMG). A study from PwC states “Industry 4.0 is set to transform the competitiveness of European industries, adding €550 billion over five years in revenues” (PwC).

The MAKE (The Manufacturers organisation) Manufacturing survey 2018, found some of the obstacles in the way of companies adopting industry 4.0 technologies are:

  • Lack of skills within the business for implementation
  • Not understanding how the technologies can help their business
  • Resistance within business culture towards change
  • Lack of available finance to invest
  • Unable to build a case for investment
  • Not knowing where to go for information

The effect Covid-19 has made on the implementation of industry 4.0 technologies

“Covid-19 has accelerated the fourth industrial revolution (4iR) while fundamentally changing ways of working, possibly for good. The lesson is clear. If businesses don’t adapt to embrace digital technologies, they will miss out on opportunities” (Marc Funnell Make UK event ‘How technology can improve resilience post Covid-19’. 14th July 2020. MAKE).

How ADE can support SME’s implement the technologies

ADE has access to industry 4.0 technologies including expertise in how to use the technology and provide solutions through R&D to solve and improve manufacturing challenges.

ADE R&D capabilities and advanced manufacturing processes

  • Design for Advanced Manufacturing Methods – Re-design products for advanced additive manufacturing. 
  • Topology Optimisation/Generative Design Applications – Parts can be optimised to very light organic structures. Resulting in highly efficient and cost-saving designs.
  • Optimisation for Batch Manufacturing – Material selection, computational modelling and parametric studies to optimise production.
  • Structural/Stress Analysis – Structural analysis can be performed using the latest ANSYS software ensuring products are safe and reliable.
  • Complete End to End Product Development – The initial concept can be taken from design drawings to a working prototype that is ready for test trials.
  • 3D Scanning/Reverse Engineering – Parts and assemblies can be scanned within fine tolerances to the original and a CAD file produced that can be used to reverse engineer.
  • Election Beam Melting (EBM) Titanium Ti6Al4V – The EBM process takes place under a vacuum and at elevated temperatures using Titanium Ti6Al4V powder. This results in stress-relieved products with properties better than cast and comparable to wrought materials.
  • Stereolithography – Produce medium/large scale, cost effective 3D models in the shortest possible lead times. Utilise the excellent Somos Watershed XC Clear build material, which exhibits properties that mimic ABS.
  • HD Multi Jet Technology – Produce robust, high quality and durable parts. Possible to manufacture geometries that have been previously unattainable using traditional methods.
  • Vacuum Casting – Vacuum Casting is a process used to produce multiple components from a single master model in materials that closely mimic many production plastics.

Benefits of adopting these technologies are:

Save time

  • No lead times waiting for suppliers
  • Rapid prototyping using 3D printing

Boost productivity

  • Reverse engineering
  • Optimised solutions

Respond efficiently to consumer demand

  • Provide immediate solutions
  • State of the art solutions

Reduce waste and costs

  • Less material use from additive manufacturing
  • Lower transport costs

MADE Cymru is a suite of three programmes designed to navigate organisations through Industry 4.0 via collaborative research & development and upskilling. Part/Fully Funded by the European Social Fund/European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

We offer manufacturing SME’s across Wales the opportunity to collaborate with experts in accessing advanced manufacturing technologies, techniques, materials and skills to the benefit of their company. Our team work alongside businesses to seek innovative new ways to develop and manufacture new products and to discover and implement new processes. 

For information about how MADE Cymru can help navigate your business through Industry 4.0, please contact us below.

By Sam Minshell, Research Officer, MADE Cymru