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May 21, 2019

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New global partnership aims to prioritise safety in the future of manufacturing

As new manufacturing techniques are increasingly adopted and automated, where control systems are autonomous, and where complex networks and the internet of things enable rapid wireless connections, the things we make and the people that make them are increasingly exposed to risk elevating unanswered questions on the safety standards of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

GMISLloyd’s Register Foundation and the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), a joint initiative by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), have announced a new partnership that will set out the safety challenges for global manufacturing and support safe innovation for all.

This new partnership will undertake applied research to identify and assess the knowledge gap, safety challenges, risks and opportunities associated with the deployment of 4IR technologies in critical manufacturing infrastructure.

These findings will then be presented at the next Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit 2019 that will be held from 9 to 11 July in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, and that will serve as a basis for the launch of a multi-stakeholder working group to engage experts from the public and private sectors as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academia. The working group’s collaboration will identify concrete action plans and recommendations for the safe integration of 4IR technologies in the manufacturing sector.

Nature-inspired technologies

The theme of the summit will be ‘nature-inspired technologies’ and it will highlight the ways in which manufacturing is inspired by our surrounding environment to innovate. The summit will also focus on the impact of the 4IR on global economies, and the role of manufacturing in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

It will be the world’s first cross-industry platform and will aim to unite manufacturers, governments and NGOs, technologists and investors, in a mission to transform manufacturing to enable the regeneration of the global economy. The partnership, which was announced earlier this month, reinforces the missions of both organisations, prioritising safety from conceptualisation, and highlighting the importance of tackling some of the challenges presented by the 4IR to unlock their transformational impact on society.

Productivity and commercial success

Globally, key sectors of the 4IR are expected to grow exponentially within the next few years. For the Artificial Intelligence (AI) market, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2016 and 2021 is expected to reach 55.1%, while a CAGR of 61.5% is predicted for the blockchain market. Moreover, 86% of the world’s top companies by R&D spend stem from the manufacturing sector. The factory automation market, meanwhile, is registering a CAGR of 8.8% from 2018 to 2025.

Many of these technologies are still new, and in an already complex value chain, applying them presents a number of risks to manufacturers keen on embracing 4IR technologies to achieve greater productivity and commercial success. Privacy is one issue; an EY survey mentions rising employee concerns about being monitored when IoT devices were installed in facilities, even when it was done to reduce HVAC or utility costs. When surveyed, more than 60% of respondents cited privacy as a priority when deploying disruptive technologies.


Cybercrime is also a concern; a survey by the United Kingdom-based manufacturing association, Make UK, found that while the vast majority of manufacturers are investing in digital technologies, 35% believe cyber-vulnerability is inhibiting them from doing so fully.

More than a third of manufacturers surveyed don’t believe they have access to sufficient information to confidently assess their specific risk and are not confident they have access to the right tools for the job. The findings indicate a clear gap; in order to truly integrate 4IR technologies and reap significant rewards, manufacturers must better understand their vulnerabilities and be educated and equipped to manage the risks.

Recognising the vast skills gap and the imperative to anticipate and mitigate risks in order to facilitate the adoption of 4IR technologies, this outcome-driven partnership will contribute knowledge, promote safety and enhance public understanding of risk, ultimately resulting in a better and safer world for all.

Professor Richard Clegg, Chief Executive, Lloyd’s Register Foundation said: “As new manufacturing techniques are increasingly adopted and automated, where control systems are autonomous, and where complex networks and the internet of things enable rapid connections, how do we ensure that the things we make and the people that make them are safe? Our partnership with GMIS will set out the safety challenges for global manufacturing and support safe innovation for all.”

Badr Al Olama, Head of the Organising Committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) said: “As the manufacturing sector embraces the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is essential that we continue to develop the skills that are needed for these new technologies, with safety at the forefront of it all. Our partnership with the Lloyd’s Register Foundation is a testament to the importance of ensuring a multi-stakeholder approach when addressing challenges related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution”

Lloyd’s Register Foundation is an independent global charity that helps to protect life and property by supporting engineering-related education, public engagement and the application of research. The Foundation aims to promote safety and the public understanding of risk, and to maximise the impact of its research for the wider benefit of society.

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