Oct 30, 2017 | By Benedict

The “Industrial Digitalisation Review,” a UK government-commissioned review on industrial digitalization, has suggested that the UK could create £455 billion ($600 billion) and 175,000 new jobs by embracing Industry 4.0 technology like 3D printing.

With Brexit looming on the horizon and many economists predicting a potentially grim future for the United Kingdom, the country is looking at ways it can mitigate the damage caused by exiting the European Union. One of those ways involves embracing futuristic technologies and modernizing the manufacturing sector, a tactic that has been strongly advised by initiatives like the Additive Manufacturing UK National Strategy.

The AM UK National Strategy was only published a month ago, but the objectives of that scheme have now been corroborated by another government-backed initiative: the Industrial Digitalisation Review.

Carried out by leading business figures on behalf of the British government, the Industrial Digitalisation Review aims to “assess how UK manufacturing can benefit from increasing digitalization and technological change,” by making a concerted effort to adopt technologies within the Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things domain.

The review was first announced back in January, and was published today. It contains some impressive figures in relation to the UK’s potential growth should it choose to pursue 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and various other futuristic technologies that can improve the manufacturing sector.

Those figures include a forecast that the UK could generate £455 billion ($600 billion) through Industry 4.0, as well as creating 175,000 new skilled jobs for workers who could operate 3D printers and other relevant equipment.

The numbers aren’t just plucked from thin air either. The review was led by Jürgen Maier, the UK and Ireland boss of German engineering company Siemens, a company that knows a thing or two about technologies like additive manufacturing. (Siemens has worked with 3D printing companies like HP and Materialise, and opened a metal 3D printing facility in Sweden last year.)

“The business and academic community has set out a vision for much greater ambition needed for Britain to be a world leader in the fourth industrial revolution,” said Maier. “The good news here is Britain is not starting from nothing. The UK has brilliant knowledge, assets, and skills in this space but it is sometimes not as organized as it could be.”

Thankfully, the 246-page review should help with that organization, as it neatly compiles expert advice from industry leaders like Rolls-Royce and Accenture, as well as academic institutes like the universities of Cambridge and Newcastle.

The document encourages the government to take an interest in potentially lucrative technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, AR, and VR, all of which could help the UK edge ahead of the competition—China, the US, and elsewhere in Europe—in the race for Industry 4.0.

“The UK manufacturing sector has the potential to be a global leader in the industrial digital technology revolution,” commented Greg Clark, the UK’s business secretary. “Government and industry must work together to seize the opportunities that exist in this sector and promote the benefits of adopting emerging digital technologies, as well as cutting edge business models.”

The ambitious goal of creating 175,000 new jobs would be made by possible by training workers to operate Industry 4.0 equipment. The review acknowledges that some Industry 4.0 technology would negate the need for manual labor jobs, but suggests that the net gain in working opportunities would be significant, allowing workers in redundant positions to be retrained for new roles.

Some of the specific proposals made in the Industrial Digitalisation Review include developing a national digital ecosystem that would provide collaborative, well-equipped workspaces where small and medium-sized business would be able to get access to 3D printers and other equipment without having to invest in their own expensive machines.

The government would also provide financial aid to these smaller companies looking to get a foothold in futuristic technologies.

In addition to this new digital ecosystem, the review advises the UK to build a dozen “digital innovation hubs” where academia and private companies could meet to collaborate on new ideas, and urges the government to establish a “Made Smarter UK Commission”—consisting of individuals from industry, government, and academia—that would be responsible for realizing the aims of the industrial review.

The government will now consider the review, and the hope from both sides is that some public-private deal can be agreed, likely involving investment from both the UK government and private companies like Siemens.

Other business representatives to have worked on the Industrial Digitalisation Review include Sir Charlie Mayfield (Chairman, John Lewis Partnership), Phil Smith (Chairman, Cisco UK & Ireland), Carolyn Fairbairn (Director General, CBI), David Stokes (CEO UK & Ireland, IBM), Oliver Benzecry (CEO of Accenture UK), Roger Connor (Head of Global Manufacturing, GSK), and Nigel Stein (CEO of GKN).

“Smaller businesses that are growing at scale, especially industrial companies, need support learning about how digitalization can help their business grow,” added Sean Redmond, CEO of software company Vertizan. “The proposals could help the UK to catch up with international competitors who have long sought to take advantage of this new industrial revolution.”

A government white paper relating to Industry 4.0 adoption is expected to be published before Christmas this year.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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