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James BrookJun 23, 2023 11:09:54 AM20 min read

Uncovering five myths behind factory digitisation

Challenging misconceptions about Industry 4.0 and unlocking opportunities with manufacturing analytics software.


Few industries are as resilient as manufacturing. Faced with post-pandemic supply chain issues, the industry showed signs of recovery in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.

We’re seeing great examples of resilience in the UK too. Findings from MakeUK show that the UK manufacturing contributes £183 billion to the global economy, with 2.5 million jobs and 15% of the country’s business investment. It’s not averse to change, either – having overcome the economic recessions of the 70s, 90s and 00s, as well as the latest shift: Industry 4.0.

The UK manufacturing industry employs some 2.6 million people, making us the 11th largest manufacturing region in the world. As a nation, we’re known for our resilience in the face of manufacturing challenges including economic recessions and the recent global pandemic.
With every new technological development comes an understandable wave of scepticism.

In particular, Industry 4.0 means we’re seeing more technology and arguably a faster pace of development than ever before. The Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and big data are all set to transform the way the industry works – but with this comes fear and uncertainty.

The objective of digital transformation is to help us all become better connected, moving away from data silos in order to connect data sources and share them in a manner that adds value to what otherwise would be blind spots within a business’s operations. Likewise, it seeks to automate manual tasks which may be holding the industry back – empowering humans to reach their full potential.

In the case of manufacturing analytics, the technology is enabling manufacturers to connect manufacturing equipment and extract data from it, which was once impossible to do. The outcome, full factory floor visibility. Machines of all ages and brands, sending data via IoT devices, securely to the cloud, providing managers and machine operators with the ability to see where process efficiencies can be achieved to maximise productivity.

Data analytics is just one of the many advancements that is changing the face of manufacturing. With so much information at their fingertips, manufacturers are poised to make strategic decisions, including the investments they make in technology and the impact this has on the way they operate, how to upskill their employees and reduce costs to maintain competitive, and in some cases, gain a competitive advantage to protect and grow profitability.
In this guide, we will explore some of the barriers to digital transformation and objections to technology upgrades. We’ll also seek to bust the myths around IoT manufacturing analytics technology, from insurmountable costs to job displacement.

This blog is ideal for stakeholders within a manufacturing business that is looking to better understand the role technology can play to improve processes. It champions the benefits of visibility with a simplicity-first approach. We use real-world examples of how accessible and affordable technology is being deployed. We also address the risks of staying put and explain how easy it is to take the first step.

We hope you take something away from this myth-busting guide and reap the benefits of IoT manufacturing analytics/machine monitoring tools in your manufacturing plant/facility.

Armac Martin shop floor-4

Exploring Industry 4.0

The 4th industrial revolution, also called Industry 4.0 only makes sense if we look at the three industrial revolutions that have come before:

  • Industry 1.0 (started 1765): The introduction of steam power and waterpower
  • Industry 2.0 (started 1870): The introduction of electricity and high-throughput production lines
  • Industry 3.0 (started 1969): The introduction of computational control systems and automation
  • Industry 4.0 (started 2010): The introduction of networking and communication between siloed systems

Each of these industrial revolutions has fundamentally changed the world of manufacturing. Industry 4.0 will too.

Industry 4.0 helps us connect digital systems together to make manufacturing businesses more productive, competitive and resilient. By sharing information amongst stakeholders including production managers and factory floor staff, we can break down silos and allow businesses to run as one joined-up unit.

There’s no one specific technology to Industry 4.0 – rather a concept that leverages tools like cloud computing, AI and robotics to get the job done.

Set against a backdrop of skills shortages, supply chain bottlenecks and wider economic factors, the manufacturing sector understandably has some concerns around Industry 4.0, with many seeing it as a distraction rather than a priority.

The concept itself emphasises the central role of machines and importantly, connecting them to extract valuable data insight to enable manufacturers to improve efficiencies, remove bottlenecks, make informed decisions which in turn reduce costs and improve profitability. The advent of machine learning, robotics and data analytics takes the pressure off human resources – which is where concerns lie.

Going beyond process improvement

A journal published in Technological Forecasting and Social Change highlighted the benefits of digital transformation. It noted that these changes go beyond process improvement, transcending business models, supply chain workflows and organisational structures.

This seismic shift may cause unease for manufacturing staff – fearing their jobs could be obsolete under these new structures. An air of caution still exists around Industry 4.0 but rather than fearing these technologies, we need to recognise the benefits that come with improved processes.

For example, machine monitoring tools let staff apply their skills to other less mundane tasks. Automation allows us to track machine performance in real time without taking up valuable human resources.

Machine operator-1

Lack of financial resources

Other concerns identified in the journal were a lack of financial resources – in particular, the means to standardise processes, integrate technology and assure data security. The right software can address all of these, bringing data together in one platform, even with older machinery.

A plug-and-play solution, for example, takes minimal resources (in terms of financial, human and technical expertise) to set up and can start collecting and presenting machine data almost instantly. Sharing this data across management and operational teams avoids silos of information existing in the business, and, as the data is presented in a user-friendly way, it can be interpreted and acted upon very quickly.

Manufacturing analytics platforms such as FourJaw provide visibility on downtime, utilisation, OEE, energy and carbon footprint and has been designed to be accessible and affordable. This means that manufacturers with or without ‘technical expertise’ on site can still benefit from the technology and the insight it captures.

Sensors, blockchain, artificial intelligence – it’s easy for manufacturers to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of options offered by Industry 4.0. A 2019 study by Deloitte showed that leaders felt they had “too many options” and lacked the strategic vision to make decisions.

This puts pressure on solution providers to cut through the noise. Rather than baffling manufacturers with buzzwords and science, we should focus on the tools that make a real difference to productivity and margins.

Looking to the future

As with any change, countries, companies and people will only change at a pace they feel comfortable, but the ripples of the speed of technology adoption are gaining momentum. The UK is an example of such a place where the speed of technology adoption within manufacturing has lagged behind many other developed countries.

The good news is that UK manufacturers are beginning to understand the value they can gain from digitising their factories. In a 2023 survey by MakeUK and PwC, 38% of UK manufacturing executives said they planned to “significantly increase” their data analytics investments.

Better still, four out of 10 said they had streamlined processes using big data analysis tools. To allay concerns about Industry 4.0, we need to bust the myths – and highlight the benefits of machine monitoring software.

Myth 1: We cannot afford manufacturing analytics technology

The first misconception about manufacturing analytics technologies such as machine monitoring software is that it’s unaffordable. Findings in the Technological Forecasting and Change journal suggest that multi-nationals have “higher driving forces and lower barriers” than SMEs. But though they may lack the financial resources of larger companies, smaller manufacturers can still benefit.

The cost of Plug-and-play IoT solutions versus ERP systems

In the UK, manufacturers rely heavily on enterprise resource planning systems (ERP), with the global market set to reach nearly $50 billion by 2024.

But these systems come at a cost. Mid-size companies spend up to 5% of their annual revenue on ERP systems. With manufacturers taking up the largest portion of companies using ERP, this presents a huge cost to the industry.

By comparison, advances in technology have meant companies can harness Industry 4.0 technology principles to provide plug-and-play machine monitoring. This helps manufacturers to access their production data without the traditional large capital expenditure and technical expertise associated with traditional ERP systems, enabling them to:

  • Improve production uptime
  • Improve factory floor communication
  • Understand what work is most profitable
  • Understand which shifts are more efficient and why
  • Reduce production backlogs and costs
  • Plan resources more efficiently
  • Remove, manual paper-based processes
  • Monitor energy usage
  • Reduce carbon footprint

Better still, half of all ERP implementations fail the first time around, and they can cost up to four times what was initially budgeted.

A typical pricing model for IoT based manufacturing analytics

As we covered in the previous sections, Industry 4.0 technologies typically come with a lower upfront cost and easier installation. When you’re looking for a solution, it’s likely the technology provider will offer a subscription-based pricing model, also known as Software as a Service (SaaS). One of the benefits of this type of pricing model is that manufacturers don’t need to set aside large amounts of capital to pay ‘upfront’ for the solution. Instead, this model allows manufacturers to only pay for what they need and usually by monthly payments.

Subscription models, typically include all the services, ‘hardware and software’. They also offer ongoing support and upgrades to the platform features as the product develops, so you’re always using the latest, most secure version of the technology.

FourJaw’s plug-and-play machine monitoring platform offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional machine monitoring solutions which typically require high upfront capital expenditure and technical expertise to install and deploy. Solutions offered by companies like FourJaw are designed to enable manufacturers of all sizes to benefit from ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies, companies can get started from just five machines, and choose from a subscription model available in four tiers:


Starting with a small one-off hardware cost, the Essential package benchmarks productivity with a live dashboard, energy monitoring and utilisation trends. There is also UK-based support over email and telephone, plus 24/7 access to an online Knowledge Base.


The Standard package has a small one-off hardware cost and helps to resolve issues faster with real-time alerts. It includes a live dashboard and downtime alerts to keep your machines up and running 24/7, as well as a suite of continuous improvement tools and a dedicated Customer Success Manager.


FourJaw’s Professional package includes all hardware (tablet for machine operators, mount and the IoT device_), as well as additional functionality over and above the essentials and standard plans in the form of downtime alerts, instant messaging and operator KPIs. In addition to continuous improvement, it has job tracking tools and downtime investigation features, plus quarterly support meetings.


Experience all the benefits of the Professional package, with a custom pricing model to suit your requirements. It can be fully integrated with APIs and any existing ERP software, and offers volume discounts which are also available in the Standard and Professional packages.

Myth 2: Industry 4.0 won’t work on old, legacy machines

One of the overarching principles of Industry 4.0 is connectivity – linking up devices to share data seamlessly and improve productivity across the whole value chain.

It’s also where most technology providers fall down. As noted in industry objections, the sheer number of options available can overwhelm business leaders, and often, they are not compatible with older manufacturing machinery.

FourJaw’s machine monitoring platform has been designed to combat this exact problem. FourJaw’s IoT hardware device, called MachineLink, simply clips onto manufacturing machinery using current clamps. It then sends the data it collects, securely over Wi-Fi to its cloud-based analytics web application.

The technology works by using non-invasive current clamps (CT Clamps) that clip to the power cable going into the machine to measure the current going into it. The current clamps feed data to a sensor box that processes the signal, and then to the MachineLink IoT device that sends the data over Wi-Fi or ethernet to the internet.

Because the hardware uses current clamps to clip to the machines power source, the technology is compatible with any machine, regardless of brand, type or age.

plug and play

A technology-agnostic solution

Another myth surrounding machine analytics solutions is that it is disruptive to the factory floor and can take weeks and sometimes months to set-up. This may have been (and could still be) the case with legacy machine monitoring solutions and ERP systems. These two factors, for many manufacturers have been reason enough to not pursue deploying new technologies to their manufacturing operations. Simply put, manufacturers are too busy dealing with the day-to-day operations and keeping orders going out the door, to look at pulling resources and potentially stopping production to install something that may or may not add value to their processes.

As we have mentioned, using technologies designed on plug-and-play hardware eradicates many of the concerns about installation. FourJaw is one such solution. A typical install of a FourJaw device takes on average 15-20 minutes per machine.

The hardware comes preconfigured with the machine details and Wi-Fi so all they need is a qualified electrician to connect the current clamps to the machine. The device will then connect to the Wi-Fi and start a learning phase where data is sent to the web application for validation. So instead of taking weeks, or even months, a factory could easily set FourJaw machine monitoring up across their factory floor within a day, based on a fleet size of 20 machines.

With this data, leaders can spot trends and respond in real-time. In turn, they capture valuable operational data from their machines (new and old) which can then be used to improve processes, remove bottlenecks, make informed decisions about investment and improve their sustainability by reducing energy usage.

Because the technology is quick to deploy and the data insight is available almost immediately, FourJaw’s technology provides manufacturers on average with an improved machine utilisation of 17% and an output increase of 60%.

In today’s unpredictable economy, this is a welcome change for manufacturers!

Myth 3: We don’t need more data

New technologies give us access to almost limitless reams of data, but the real value lies in knowing what to do with it.

Too much data is of no use to anyone, especially within a busy and complex manufacturing process. But the right data insight, at the right time, presented in the right way, is exactly what adds value to manufacturing operations.

FourJaw works by collecting machine data in real-time, negating the need for manual data capture using clipboards and spreadsheets – meaning staff can spend their time on more important tasks and minimise errors in manual data capture systems.

The data collected by FourJaw is categorised so you can understand why you’re losing unproductive and unplanned downtime, giving you the insight to make process changes in real time. The same applies to energy monitoring. How do you know how much energy and therefore money you are wasting if you don’t know what energy is being used in a downtime period?

Operations manager looks at factory efficiency data captured by machine monitoring software

How FourJaw can overcome the challenges of manual processes

In March 2022, The Manufacturer reported findings from Intoware’s independent survey of 1,030 UK-based industrial firms. A staggering 74% of manufacturers admitted that they were still using spreadsheets and paper-based systems to get things done.

This presents considerable risk and inefficiencies to manufacturers, particularly in today’s unpredictable supply and demand environment:

  • Manual processes such as data entry is time-consuming
  • Human-led data capture is open to manual error
  • Data quickly becomes out of date
  • It’s not a good use of your skilled workforce
  • Data is open to interpretation/bias

FourJaw provides a real-time view of the factory, showing managers when machines are performing at their best, when they’re experiencing downtime, and what can be done to improve. Depending on the package, FourJaw customers can gain essential insights including machine utilisation trends, machine benchmarking, OEE trends and energy monitoring.

Making strategic operational and commercial decisions with the right data

Rather than baffling managers with numbers, FourJaw reports on trends and anomalies to help manufacturers make decisions. For example, using FourJaw’s Pareto data visualisation, managers can see the top causes of machine downtime by machine, cell/production line or factory and use this information to focus process changes where they will have the biggest impact.

We have seen this across a range of clients. For example, luxury goods manufacturer Armac Martin switched to our automated data capture solution and moved away from paper-based processes. They were soon able to record which machines were being used most often, as well as which ones should be replaced. It even helped them to make commercial decisions such as hiring new employees and implementing training.

There is a cost-saving benefit too. With a range of data at their fingertips, manufacturing managers do not have to spend unnecessary funds partnering with third-party consultants.

manufacturing data visualised on factory floor

Myth 4: Big Brother technology is here to replace us

Often, the barriers to implementing Industry 4.0 equipment are not the technology itself, but the people who it may affect. In 2021, the Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management ran a survey on resistance to Industry 4.0 in production.

They discovered five key trends. Overall, staff reported feelings of:

  1. Micro-management
  2. Unclear values
  3. General inadequacy
  4. Job security worries
  5. Stress from overwork.

This supports the general consensus that Industry 4.0 is a ‘Big Brother watching you’ and may “replace jobs”, though this could not be further from the truth with manufacturing analytics technology. Machine monitoring enables manufacturers and their people to be more productive and safer, automating manual tasks and giving workers more rewarding roles suited to their skills.

Forbes defines this as an “augmented workforce”, wherein new skills create new job opportunities. It cites examples such as robots taking over traditionally hazardous jobs. These jobs still need to be overseen by humans, who can do so in a safe environment.

How FourJaw complements your workforce

From a data capture perspective, FourJaw simply replaces the boring, monotonous and manual jobs – such as logging production data in spreadsheets.

It is an operational tool that empowers and informs staff to identify process inefficiencies, and gives them accurate data so they can make confident decisions to improve processes.

Cultural adoption/friendly competition

By making things more visible and transparent, machine analytics technology can help to improve company culture. Working in partnership with machine operators, not replacing them, it helps to share data insights and company best practices.

In turn, all stakeholders communicate better and we’ve also even seen instances of ‘friendly competition’ where operators aim to achieve greater machine utilisation than their colleagues – in a bid to achieve the wider organisational goals.

Technology to provide visibility, not surveillance

General scepticism around visibility tools suggests that staff feel they are being “spied on”. In fact, the reverse is true – FourJaw’s data capture is only interested in the machine data and presents it to make life easier for those on and running the factory floor. It is a productivity improvement tool that enables staff, at all levels to be the best they can be, by understanding where efficiencies can be made.

The data replaces opinions with facts, enabling everybody to have the confidence to get involved in the decision-making process and suggest new ideas, making staff feel valued. What’s more, our case studies show a ‘gamification’ approach to machine uptime. Many operators report feeling more motivated by data in the platform, competing to keep their equipment running. Once again, this pushes up productivity and helps us make decisions.

A double whammy for manufacturing productivity

Not only does FourJaw increase manufacturing productivity; it also helps teams reach their full potential. In 2023, Business News Daily reported that employees who felt “heard and valued” had higher morale and performed better.

In tandem, staff turnover decreased. With the ongoing skills shortage and training costs, retention is a key priority for manufacturers today. Leveraging this technology is yet another example of how we can make holistic improvements to a business.

machine operator and production manager look at process improvement

Myth 5: Smart technology means we have to automate the whole factory

The UK is undergoing a momentous shift in manufacturing, with the rise of the “smart factory” coming to the fore. Indeed, the UK government has added to this, contributing some £7 billion to research and development, as well as introducing the £121 million Made Smarter initiative.

But such significant change does not happen overnight. In 2019, 27% of UK manufacturers said that smart factory technology was not “on their radar”. In addition to the concerns outlined above, it is also the immense undertaking that is transforming into a smart factory. However, the good news is a lot has changed since 2019 in the appetite for deploying smart technology.

Why we don’t have to upgrade overnight

The myth here is that all manufacturers have to digitally transform their entire operations overnight. With the introduction of one new technology comes the fear that everything has to change. Smart technology or smart factory, does not mean every piece of equipment and associated process is being run by technology. Simply put, a smart factory, or smart technology could apply to a part of a process or production line where technology is being used to improve efficiency.

How do I start a ‘digitisation’ project in my factory?

For those manufacturers looking to embark on a ‘digitisation’ project, we suggest starting with a continuous improvement mindset and asking the following five questions:

  1. How will it benefit customers?
  2. Will it give us a competitive advantage?
  3. How will it benefit our people?
  4. How does it impact processes? Simplify? De-risk?
  5. What are the investment criteria we are putting into this project?

And finally…

Start small. Don’t go for big-bang projects from the off. Look for the biggest benefit with the shortest payback period.

There is no doubt the manufacturing sector is facing challenges. By working together, upskilling and looking after your people, recruiting new talent, and adopting the ‘right’ technology, the challenges faced will be overcome, problems will be solved, and value and opportunity will be created.

shop floor collaboration using data from machine monitoring


The manufacturing sector at home and globally continues to face an uphill struggle of skills shortages and resource setbacks. In tandem, there is increasing pressure to upgrade technologies, helping manufacturers keep up with demand, maximise productivity and respond faster to external factors such as regulatory and consumer pressures such as reducing their carbon footprint.

While the benefits of digital transformation include increased productivity, larger margins and reduced waste, the real challenge comes in convincing personnel. Objections to Industry 4.0 include:

  • Job security – manufacturers may feel their roles are being “replaced”
  • Financial resources – concerns about standardisation or implementation deter leaders
  • Tech overwhelm – with so many IoT capabilities, manufacturers may struggle to choose.

FourJaw helps to allay these concerns with a simple plug-and-play solution. Unlike expensive ERP models, which can cost up to 5% of a company’s revenue and still produce errors, FourJaw is subscription-based and is scalable. Manufacturers don’t need to worry about essential IT resources being spent on time-consuming set-ups.

Likewise, there is no need to upgrade old manufacturing equipment. Offering a plug-and-play solution, FourJaw is compatible with older machinery and can still produce the same results – prolonging shelf life, increasing machine utilisation and helping make strategic business decisions.

Rather than being micro-managed or replaced, staff are made to feel part of the team as biased opinions are removed with fact-based insight using an accurate dataset. In turn, this improves not only productivity and processes but employee morale.

The path to digital transformation in manufacturing is not as difficult, time-consuming or expensive as many think it is. We have seen first-hand the profitability and productivity benefits of investing in this software. FourJaw makes this possible for manufacturers of all sizes.

Together we will ensure we maximise manufacturing productivity across the globe, by providing accessible and affordable technology.