Industrial digitalisation review publishes its interim report

How can UK manufacturing rapidly increase the development and adoption of industrial digital technology to become more productive and competitive, sustaining and creating well-paid jobs across the country? The potential prize is big: recapturing the UK’s industrial spirit as a nation of ‘creators and makers’.

How industrial digitalisation benefits the economy

The faster adoption of industrial digital technologies (IDT) can become a key driver of improved productivity, global competitiveness and increased exports. A recent study identified that by fully applying these technologies over the next decade, UK industrial production would be up to 30% faster and 25% more efficient.

For example, automation of manufacturing processes, coupled with real-time process monitoring and re-engineering, could deliver radical improvements in cost efficiency and accuracy allowing work to move back to the UK from low wage economies. Technologies such as additive manufacturing fundamentally could change the supply chain, where advantages afforded by high volumes and low labour costs are replaced by proximity to market and the opportunities for products to be unique to each customer.

Review and report

A group of businesses from across the UK have come together to lead a review for government of ‘Industrial Digitalisation’ – sometimes described as the 4th Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 – and how to unlock the opportunities it presents.

The interim report, published today, comes halfway through the review and summarises the group’s work to date: where it sees the opportunity for the UK from this important agenda; what’s holding the UK back; and an early view on emerging recommendations.

Over 200 companies are already involved in the work and sharing this interim report is the next step in testing the initial findings with an even wider audience.

How industry and government can work together to meet the challenge

The review has identified three themes which are limiting the UK from achieving its potential:

  • Lack of leadership of industrial digitalisation in the UK
  • Poor adoption, particularly amongst SMEs
  • Under-leveraged innovation assets to support start-ups/scale-ups

The review group has started to identify some possible solutions to these barriers which it has published in the interim report and now wants to test further. These are:

  • Leadership – the adoption of much stronger marketing and messaging of UK’s ambition supported and amplified by national government, local government and industry, and the establishment of a Digital Technology Institute and Digital Technology Networks to identify clearer priorities and provide better coordination
  • Rapid adoption – focused support for SMEs through a stronger and much clearer national framework of effective business support that is deployed in the regions through LEPs and other business support hubs to drive the adoption of IDT, especially by SMEs
  • Innovation – specific recommendations to drive forward the key technologies of industrial digitalisation, such as Additive Manufacturing and Artificial Intelligence within autonomous operations/vehicles, and hence build these as segments in their own right and create new industries

Read the full interim report here

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