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Survey reveals manufacturing growth, but lack of investment

21 February 2018

According to the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey, the UK manufacturing industry is experiencing sustained growth, with 21 percent reporting a quarterly increase.

Uncertainty around Brexit is affecting the UK manufacturing sector, as businesses invested £7.7bn less on new factories and equipment in the year following the referendum – according to analysis by the Bank of England. Despite this, the manufacturing sector must become a priority area for digital innovations that will help UK businesses to boost productivity and fuel economic growth, says systems integrator World Wide Technology (WWT).

Barclays Corporate Banking’s research found 27% of businesses investing in innovations such as the internet of things (IoT), machine learning and big data found return on their investment. But many manufacturers are still reluctant to invest in smart technology for their factories, despite 51 % reporting a positive impact on productivity. This reticence could cost manufacturers £102bn a year in lost revenue.

Don Rogers, Head of Manufacturing Industry Practice at WWT, says: “The UK manufacturing sector is slowly waking up to the untapped potential which technologies bring to provide sustainable growth for UK businesses and the wider UK economy. Conditions are ripe for industry to drive investments to enhance capacity, meet customer demand and boost efficient workflow processes using productivity-enhancing technology. Manufacturers are ready to reinvent operational strategies by adopting IoT technologies to trigger a productivity boost and cut costs.

“However, this is easier said than done. Businesses need to redirect their focus to their existing IT architecture and whether it is fit for purpose to accommodate IoT technologies. Without setting out defined business outcomes, identifying the current factory operating conditions, manufactures will be at a disadvantage. It’s important to not be drawn in too hastily by the hype surrounding IoT, but rather understanding how it fits in your own business operations and work environment. Investment in new technology should be a competitive advantage rather than a costly headache.”

“Big Data is as big enough an asset for manufacturers as the machines they use to create their products. The factory floor is becoming more connected and integrated with data enabling manufacturers to anticipate maintenance and repair key assets automatically. If done right, IoT deployment can pave the way for UK manufactures to adopt a forward-thinking approach through smart real-time analysis of machinery and systems.”

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