23 Jul 2024


Help is at hand to guide you on your digital journey

It can be bewildering for manufacturers embarking on the journey to digitalise their operations. But, argues Nikesh Mistry*, Gambica’s sector head for automation, expert help is available to guide them in the right direction.

In a famous quote, Bob Marley said: “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice”. I’ve always felt that this powerful phrase has many parallels. For example, in our industry, given all the current geopolitical pressures, it can be applied directly to manufacturers’ resilience.

Manufacturers are not able to tell how resilient they really are until they face a shock to which they need be robust. In recent times, there have been many of these, so it has been a great opportunity for manufacturers to re-assess their business models and focus on how they can maintain or improve their throughput during crises.

This is evident in the way they are adopting digital technologies. By realising the need to implement artificial intelligence, preventative and predictive maintenance, and other Industry 4.0 technologies, manufacturers have been able to enhance their “shock resistance”.

But how do they “realise” this need? This is a frequent topic of conversation among Gambica experts, and has led to several questions from manufacturers looking to tackle these issues. Typical questions include: “What is the need for automation?”, “How can I justify X amount of capital expenditure?”, and “What is the return-on-investment on installing new software?”

At a recent round-table meeting of Gambica’s Industrial Automation Council, it was emphasised that manufacturers need to analyse each application before they consider digitalising or automating it. They need to assess their options and only use the appropriate automation system for a particular application. We must ensure that even though the UK lags in the adoption of digital technologies, manufacturers do not automate for automation’s sake, and that they use the right expertise when they do so.

Where can manufacturers find the right expertise, you may ask? Given the current skills shortage, it can be difficult for every UK manufacturer to have employees who are automation experts. However there are plenty of experts out there who can help. Contractors, larger firms, catapults, trade associations and more, all have access to expert information that can really help manufacturers on their journeys to more efficient business models.

These experts can help to direct businesses that are struggling to justify and make the right investments. Through meetings with trade associations such as ours, it can be really useful for manufacturers – albeit sat alongside competitors – to look at businesses with similar models to their own, and to decide what they need to do to improve their efficiency. The best way to learn is by example, and these meetings really help to set goals and targets for achieving industry best practice.


There are plenty of barriers to entry to the digital world and, as I mentioned above, the UK lags behind much of the rest of the world in its journey to adopt digital technologies. This needs to change at a pace that industry is able to keep up with. Some people are already talking about Industry 5.0, yet many haven’t achieved Industry 4.0 yet.
There needs to be active improvement to reduce the barriers to adopting of digital technologies, and there are many organisations and companies that can help. Manufacturers are not alone in their struggle and can seek assistance from many others who may be at a different stage in their journeys.

To get involved in these meetings or to find out how best to begin the journey of automation, then get in touch with us today at using the contact details below.

* Gambica is the trade association for the automation, control, instrumentation and laboratory technology sectors in the UK.
For more information, please contact Nikesh Mistry on 020 7642 8094 or via nikesh.mistry@gambica.org.uk