China and USA at the forefront of digitalisation, UK keeping pace despite Brexit


An international comparison shows that Chinese and US companies are the frontrunners in the use of digital technologies in an Industry 4.0 environment. The United Kingdom, though slightly off the pace, is managing to keep up, due in some part to the early course set for Brexit. These are the key findings of the Industry 4.0 Barometer 2021, compiled by the management and IT consultancy MHP in cooperation with the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) Munich. 776 experts from industrial companies in GermanyAustriaSwitzerlandChina, the UK and the USA took part in the survey, which was conducted for the fourth time last year. The barometer shows the status quo of Industry 4.0 activities at the companies surveyed and provides insights into market-specific features in the regions studied.

Associated Partner und Head of Operations Performance & Strategy at MHP Tom Huber says: “In addition to the four topic clusters of technology, IT integration, strategy and goals, and drivers and obstacles of digitalisation, which are surveyed every year, we also analysed the focus topics of digital leadership and supply chain resilience in more detail. Our international comparison shows that different directions of development can be observed in the different countries.

Digital Leadership: DACH stagnating, while China sets a fast pace

Companies in the German-speaking region are performing worse overall than in 2020: the results in the technology categories surveyed have remained at the same level as in previous years or fallen even lower. DACH region companies do not make a convincing impression in international comparison either. In Chinese companies, for example, use of digital twins is 20 percent higher, supply chain transparency is twice as high and there is twice as much automation and remote control of plants. US companies also achieve high scores – more than half have advanced technology infrastructures that enable them to use artificial intelligence. However: not everyone in the US can keep up with the rapid pace. SMEs and established companies in particular are in danger of losing touch. The situation in the UK is similar: Just about half of companies with less than 100 employees have implemented additive manufacturing processes, while 75 per cent do not use sensor-equipped systems and autonomous robots.

Cross-nationally: High costs and a lack of expertise

Prof. Dr Johann Kranz, Professor of Digital Services and Sustainability at LMU Munich: “Companies globally are under enormous pressure to digitalise, now that customer requirements for products and services are undergoing massive and continuous change as a result of digitalisation. In hesitant companies, the economic potential of this change is not being sufficiently exploited and thus appears too small in comparison to the investment costs. However, current challenges such as the Corona pandemic or the supply chain problems show that companies that have done their digitalisation homework can manoeuvre their way through these crises significantly better.” In addition, there is a lack of qualified employees with digitalisation skills, China being the one exception here. “There is often simply a lack of employees with the know-how to implement Industry 4.0 successfully and quickly,” adds Prof. Kranz. In addition to the lack of qualified staff, difficulties with internal coordination and bureaucracy slow down the progress of digitalisation projects, especially in German-speaking countries.

“The DACH companies need to reduce their digitalisation deficit quickly in order to remain competitive. Internationally, a CIO in the management, customer focus and collaboration are proving to be universal guarantees of success,” states Tom Huber.

The complete report is available for download free of charge here

Jean-Paul Olivier, Communication & PR
E-Mail: [email protected]

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Avoiding credit-risk related collapses : TradeFlow reduces risk in SME trade finance using innovative FinTech, non-lending, non-credit system


When large credit lending firms collapse, huge shockwaves are sent throughout industry; the risk of contagion looms, threatening thousands of jobs, disrupting supply chains for essential goods, and increasing the barriers to credit  that hits SMEs most.

Recognising these challenges, TradeFlow uses a system to enable trade that removes the issue of credit insurance whilst enabling SMEs trade profitably. FinTech-powered, it is non-lending, non-credit based and reduces fraud risk with more control over the logistics and testing of commodities transacted as a neutral principal; IOT tracking devices and the use of drones are used to minimise the risks of unauthorised cargo container swapping and unauthorised commodities access.

Such financial issues happening reveal the vulnerabilities of trade finance models that have not kept pace with rapidly evolving economic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. SMEs, by their nature, do not have deep reserves or pools of collateral that they can pledge against  the loans they have traditionally sought to give them the liquidity they need.  In the aftermath of financial shocks, it is those SMEs that suffer disproportionately as banks and other lenders carry out portfolio rebalancing exercises. The business model of firms that rely heavily on credit risk insurance against defaults is one that is particularly vulnerable.

Termed the “Digital Transaction and Risk Transformation Engine (DTRTE)”, TradeFlow’s system enables global physical commodity trade for SMEs, with the DTRTE architecture providing the added advantage of superior risk-adjusted returns and capital preservation for investors. The system is also highly complementary to traditional trade finance lending institutions like Banks; TradeFlow does not lend money.

Tom James, CEO of TradeFlow affirms, “TradeFlow strives to innovate and bring digitised solutions to the international trading community that adds value in operational and capital efficiency, transforming risk to enable trade .” John Collis, CRO of TradeFlow adds, “TradeFlow’s mission is to enable SME trade worldwide. When a financial  earthquake hits there may be many casualties, but those numbers are dwarfed by the follow-on losses caused by the problems of getting adequate and timely relief and aid to the needy.  Financial earthquakes remind us of the value of the system we have created. ”

Nations around the world struggle with socio-political challenges, many made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Greater economic hardships brought about by higher-risk systems of trade can be prevented through innovations made possible by Digitalisation.

The world’s growing trade finance gap needs to be filled, stably and sustainably , and TradeFlow’s trade solutions can help achieve that to support the everyday flow of goods and money getting to the right places at the right times.