Industrial digitalisation could be worth as much as £455bn to Britain’s manufacturers over the next decade, according to a report published today.
The Made Smarter Review – previously the Industrial Digitalisation review – answers calls from government on how to UK boost productivity in the manufacturing sector by harnessing Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs) including robotics, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality as well as artificial intelligence.
A report that accompanies the review sets out industry-led recommendations that should be implemented to help make the UK a world leader in the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution by 2030. By doing so, the UK manufacturing sector could grow at up to three per cent per year, create 175,000 jobs, and reduce CO2 emissions by 4.5 per cent.
In his foreword to the report, review chair and Siemens UK CEO Juergen Maier said: “Our proposals don’t seek to answer every question about how we drive and embrace digitalisation. Rather, they seek to establish the institutional framework and ecosystems that will spur the next generation of domestic technological innovation.”
The Industrial Digitalisation Review considers three key themes – adoption, innovation and leadership. The proposals include:
Adoption: Building a national digital ecosystem. Government and industry should create a significantly more visible and effective ecosystem that will accelerate the innovation and diffusion of Industrial Digital Technologies. This includes a National Adoption Programme piloted in the North West, focused on increasing capacity of existing growth hubs and providing more targeted support. According to the report, the pilot would increase GVA by 15 per cent over three years. It would also allow 20 start-ups to work with industry on new projects.
The Review also recommends re-skilling or up-skilling one million industrial workers over the next five years to enable digital technologies to be deployed and successfully exploited through a Single Industrial Digitalisation Skills Strategy.
Innovation: Re-focus existing landscape by increasing capacity and capability through creating 12 ‘Digital Innovation Hubs’, eight large-scale demonstrators and five digital research centres focused on developing new technologies as part of a new National Innovation Programme.
Leadership: Establish a national body, Made Smarter UK (MSUK) Commission, comprising Industry, government, academia, FE and leading research and innovation organisations, responsible for developing the UK as a leader in Industrial Digitalisation Technologies (IDT) and skills.
The recommendations will be considered by the government and used to inform work towards a sector deal between government and industry.
“The business community has pulled together to shape these recommendations that will speed up technology adoption and bring new energy to the manufacturing sector,” said CBI, Director General Carolyn Fairbairn. “The UK must compete with China, the USA and much of Europe where there are already advanced plans to embrace the fourth industrial revolution. I urge the government to consider these plans carefully, as they are focused on increasing productivity and wages, especially in smaller businesses.”
The government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, launched in January identified industrial digitalisation as one of five potential early sector deals and the Review began work with stakeholders to identify opportunities for how government and industry can work together.
The Review brought together input and recommendations from over 200 stakeholders including Rolls Royce, GKN, IBM, and Accenture. The Review also received input from SMEs such as Yamazaki Mazak and Vertizan, Cambridge and Newcastle Universities, and the Digital Catapult and High Value Manufacturing Catapult.
Commenting on today’s report, Chris Richards, head of business environment policy at EEF, said: “The digitisation of manufacturing is real and is happening at pace, but this speed could create major winners and losers unless all of industry moves together.
“The opportunities are significant and the review highlights the barriers to adoption of new digital technologies that could stop us moving up the ranks, particularly the need for better leadership and a culture shift on innovation to boost adoption – particularly amongst SMEs.”