The speakers included the Alan Mak MP in his capacity of founder and chair of the APPG on Industry 4.0, Mark Slaughter, Director General for Investment at the Department for International Trade, and Mark Bottomley, UK Country Director for Rockwell Automation.
Following a welcome from Robert Wood Johnson, Director General for Investment at the Department for International Trade of the United States of America to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Mark Slaughter addressed the summit about the importance of the US-UK investment relationship. Mark Slaughter said “The US and UK are already the largest investors in each other’s countries and my international economic department is working to make sure this vital trade relationship continues to grow. In my role as Director General for Investment, I have already had the chance to meet with an exciting range of American investors, and look forward to meeting many more in the coming months.”
Keynote speaker, Alan Mak, MP said: ““Our Government has placed automation and digital transformation of the economy on the same level as climate change and the ageing society in terms of political importance – rightly seeing the 4IR as a seismic global challenge to which the UK must respond. This new, Fourth Industrial Revolution will impact every sector of the economy, from financial services to life sciences - from manufacturing to retail – and from transport to energy. After leading the first ever House of Commons debate on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I created the All-Party Group to raise the political profile of these issues and support the exchange of ideas and best practice between industry, academia, and government. We must not let our people see the 4IR as a binary choice between innovation and jobs. The essential message must not be about replacing humans with machines - but instead combining the capabilities of both”.
To complete a packed first session, Mark Bottomley of Rockwell Automation reflected on how customers have leveraged 4IR technologies to deliver value to the bottom line of their organisations, and spoke about the cultural, skills, and technology implications of creating a truly Connected Enterprise. According to Bottomley: “The scale of the opportunity for UK Industry is huge; it is incredibly well placed amongst nations to exploit the benefits of the technological changes associated with Industry 4.0, and those organisations able to start extending and scaling their pilot schemes in this area stand to benefit immediately.”
The proceeding panel discussion offered delegates the opportunity to interact directly with a panel of experts on a range of topics associated with 4IR adoption in the UK. Prevalent among the topics discussed, were issues concerning the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) involved in driving 4IR technology adoption, the productivity puzzle facing UK Industry, and the skills and employment issues associated with delivering the new era. Tackling these issues head-on were panelists, Lee Hopley, Chief Economist, EEF; Rajh Das, Sector Director, Manufacturing and Resources UK at Microsoft; Steve Brambley, CEO, GAMBICA; and Mike Loughran, UK CTO, at Rockwell Automation.
Speaking about the importance of bringing together leading industrial decision makers to discuss Industry 4.0, Bottomley added: “It’s fantastic to see how well supported this conference has been – it was over-subscribed almost as soon as we announced it, which is proof of the appetite of UK industry to maximise the opportunity presented by the fourth industrial revolution. We’re very grateful to the US Embassy and Ambassador Johnson for supporting and hosting everyone today, to the speakers and panelists for giving their time and offering excellent insight into how the UK is adapting to the new era, and to the delegates, who represent many household-name organisations of UK Industry, for attending and contributing to such a lively panel discussion.”