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Industry 4.0 is unstoppable in some industrial sectors in Spain, including transversal logistics and logistics operators, automotive, and facility management. However, its impact on SMEs is limited because of its investment capacity.

This is clear from a report prepared by the Imancorp Foundation and the Autonomous University of Barcelona as part of the Observatory of Digital Competences and Employment, promoted by both entities, for which a survey was conducted, and experts from the sectors were consulted.

This Observatory of Digital Competences and Employment published its first report in 2020, analyzing the population’s digital skills and how they affect their employability. According to the report, 23.9% of Spaniards need to gain basic digital skills.

The overall goal of this second report was to examine the impact of digitization on SMEs and identify new skills and training needs in four key sectors of the Spanish economy, particularly in the industrial sector (automotive, transversal logistics and logistics operators, and facility management).

According to the report, in addition to the lower penetration of Industry 4.0 in SMEs, there is a greater risk of displacement in less qualified positions due to digitization in these sectors.

Cross-sectional logistics and logistics operators

According to the report, 16% of logistics SMEs have replaced personnel with automated processes in the last five years. Furthermore, 17.4% of businesses have reduced their workforce due to digitization, while 8.7% have increased their workforce for the same reason.
Despite the low penetration of the primary industry 4.0 technologies in SMEs in the Spanish logistics sector, these workforce changes have occurred. Only 30% of companies in the sector have used big data in the last year, 21.5% use cloud services, and the Internet of Things (IoT) reaches only 26.7%. Some specific technologies, such as voice recognition or blockchain, are also in their early stages.


25% of SMEs in the automotive sector have already implemented artificial intelligence. The sector’s essential digitization (web, electronic invoicing…) is very well implemented, and the most innovative (big data, AI, 3D) is still on track. According to the report based on INE data, 8.89% of automotive SMEs in Spain already use some non-industrial robot, and more than 53% own a 3D printer.

The templates have already been affected by this digitization. 12.5% of the sector’s SMEs have seen some occupational profiles completely disappear and be replaced by automated processes. This is true for profiles like screwing processes or shopping.

Facility management

In the Spanish facility management sector, digitization still needs to improve. Cloud storage, for example, is used by only 20% of SMEs in the sector. It is nearly the same percentage currently using IoT, with only 15% performing extensive data analysis or having some robotics.
According to the same report, Industry 4.0 still needs to be fully implemented.

According to data collected in the study, more than 40% of SMEs believe the IoT will be the primary tool in their sector in the future. In comparison, 30% believe the CMMS – Computer Assisted Maintenance Management – has the best chance of consolidating.

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