How have Estonian companies implemented Industry 4.0 principles and what are the bottlenecks to technology adoption? These questions were at the forefront of the READY4I5 project, one of the aims of which was to raise awareness of the importance of Industry 4.0/5.0 in society.

The project’s survey brought together and compared the technical equipment, technical and managerial competences and skills of Polish, Italian and Estonian companies in implementing Industry 4.0. Although the countries seem very different at first sight, the analysis revealed a number of similarities. For example, respondents in all countries rated the data network for the digitisation of industrial processes, the digitisation of administrative and business processes and the automation of production as well developed. These processes are underpinned by advanced telecoms and ICT sectors and widespread support for the use of digital tools to increase business efficiency and competitiveness. At the same time, companies are making less use of quantum communication and blockchain technologies, as well as virtual and augmented reality applications. The complexity and high costs of implementing these new technologies are a major barrier.

There are also similarities in the skills and knowledge needed to implement Industry 4.0. Respondents in all countries highly value their own competences in business optimisation and planning. However, in all countries, a lack of skills to implement the principles of Industry 4.0 was identified as the main barrier. This relates both to the scarcity of the engineering workforce and to the new skills needed at all levels to implement rapidly evolving technologies in enterprises.

Of course, cooperation between businesses and education institutions is important here. Young specialists in IT, mechatronics, automation and robotics are very welcome in companies. This is a key factor to increase the further capacity to implement Industry 4.0. The development of new skills and collaboration could help companies in the partner countries of the study to fully exploit the potential of technologies to digitise manufacturing and industrial processes using data analytics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation.

A more detailed overview of the benchmarking study is published here.

The study has been prepared in the framework of the project “Ready4I5:Towards Industry 5.0- challenges good practices and lessons learned from Industry 4.0”.