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OK Computer? The safety and security dimensions of Industry 4.0

Published on July 10th 2019

Manufacturing is changing. The emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), or “Industry 4.0”, is radically changing the ways in which firms manufacture products, the business models they adopt and even how they innovate. In order to realise the full benefits deriving from Industry 4.0, manufacturers will need to more proactively understand and address new safety and security risks and requirements arising from the adoption of 4IR technologies.

Many industry stakeholders are willing to undertake the organisational and operational transformation necessary to adopt 4IR technologies in manufacturing. In order to do so, they will need to be able to assess the risks entailed in the application of these technologies, from business, environmental and social perspectives – including the impact on future workforce safety and operational security.

Although a large number of academic, industrial and policy documents have been published in recent years on the topic of Industry 4.0, the focus has generally been on the technological aspects. Published work addressing the safety and security implications of Industry 4.0 remains scarce in spite of its importance.

Against this backdrop, the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), on behalf of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF), has commissioned Policy Links, IfM Education and Consultancy Services (IfM ECS), of the University of Cambridge, to explore the safety and security implications of 4IR technologies based on a review of the latest international evidence.

This review constitutes the first stage within an open, multi-stakeholder project by GMIS and LRF that aims to bridge the safety and security knowledge gaps in the deployment of 4IR technologies in manufacturing. The end goal is to promote better knowledge of the safety and security risks and requirements deriving from 4IR in order to design concrete implementation plans for industry stakeholders to adopt 4IR technologies confidently through pilot studies.

The objectives of this report are to:
  • Summarise the emerging safety and security risks and requirements for manufacturing, in the context of 4IR, based on a review of the international evidence;
  • Offer insights into strategies and practical steps adopted by national governments and industry stakeholders to address emerging risks and requirements;
  • Indicate priority areas for future work suggested across the literature.

This study was carried out in conjunction with two supporting briefing papers that provide deeper insights into key aspects of 4IR safety and security:

  • Safety assurance of autonomy to support the Fourth Industrial Revolution
    Commissioned by Policy Links to Richard Hawkins and John McDermid, Assuring Autonomy International Programme, University of York

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  • Managing cyber risk in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
    Commissioned by Policy Links to Jennifer Copic and Éireann Leverett, Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies, University of Cambridge Judge Business School

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Read the Lloyd’s Register Foundation press release about this report.

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This is one of two briefing papers developed under the project “The safety and security dimensions of Industry 4.0”, commissioned to the University of Cambridge (Policy Links – Institute for Manufacturing) by the Global Manufacturing & Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) and Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF).

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