How to boost productivity by making manufacturing smarter

In this article, Nicole Ballantyne at KTN explains the support available through the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge.

UK manufacturing has to get better at adopting new technologies and driving innovation if the country is to maintain its global status post-Brexit, recover post-COVID and fight the decades-long decline in productivity. But in times of economic uncertainty, it’s scarier than ever for individual businesses to take the necessary risks.

UK productivity has taken a beating from COVID-19, but it’s no secret that it wasn’t in a great state beforehand. The UK has long been slow to embrace innovation and adopt new technologies. In fact, we’re only at the world average in terms of the rate at which we’ve adopted industrial robots, so it’s no wonder why we’re fifth out of the G7 for productivity.

Adopting new technologies can feel risky. There’s upfront cost, there’s the complexities of changing processes, there’s digital retraining to think about and there’s always the worry that the tech we’re investing in won’t live up to the sales pitch.

But if the economy is to recover following the pandemic, and if we are to be successful as we strike out on our own post-Brexit, we really have no choice. That’s because, according to Made Smarter UK, speeding up innovation and our adoption of digital technologies could represent an extra £455 billion over the next 10 years.

That’s right, digital technologies like additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, robotics, AR and VR and the internet of things could grow the manufacturing sector between 1.5-3% every year, creating a conservative estimated net gain of 175,000 jobs throughout the economy.

So, how can we de-risk innovation and encourage individual businesses to embrace the new tech that will save them money in the long run? The answer is the Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge.

Nicole Ballantyne

Over the next four years, KTN has partnered with the UKRI to deliver Manufacturing Made Smarter, one of the government’s Industrial Strategy Fund programmes, designed to inspire innovation and accelerate the adoption of new tech by connecting the dots between industry and academia and tech providers, actively make new technologies more visible, accessible and adoptable, and drive the innovative new tech of the future too.

I encourage you to join our community to find out first-hand about events, opportunities and funding from the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge.

If you’re aware of areas of your business that could be updated, and actually even if you’re not, seeing as innovation happens every day, visit the link below.


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