On December 6th the government celebrated the Industrial Strategy ‘One Year on’ event in Bristol, with the positive announcement of the Aerospace sector deal and ISCF Wave 3 funding. Graham Malley, Principal Director Accenture’s Manufacturing Practice and Programme Manager of Made Smarter review 12 months of progress.

Graham Malley

The decision to launch an Industrial strategy green paper in January 2017 was the catalyst for the Made Smarter review. It brought together a wide cross-sectoral group of Industrial companies and government departments to set out an ambitious plan for the UK to become a leader in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), through the development and adoption of Industrial Digital Technology (IDT). The opportunities for the UK over the next decade are significant.

  • £455bn positive contribution from the manufacturing sector to the UK economy
  • Net gain of 175,000 jobs (counteracting the impact of automation) 
  • Reduction in CO2 emissions by 4.5 per cent
  • An increase in manufacturing productivity of more than 25 per cent

This opportunity presented by 4IR is not being ignored by our global competitors, who are making significant headway and enjoy active support from their National Governments.

The Made Smarter review proposed actions to address the key barriers preventing these opportunities being realised: Adoption, Innovation, Leadership and Skills.

So where are we one year on?

The exponential increase in digital technology has continued, powered by Moore’s Law. While the UK’s level of adoption remains behind other international competitors’, recent surveys indicate the level of awareness within manufacturing companies is increasing.

As a result of a strong Government and Industry partnership, substantial progress is being made and Made Smarter is now recognized as the key Government industrial digitalization programme.

Adoption: In November the North West Pilot phase of a National Adoption Programme was officially launched, at the Liverpool Digital Manufacturing Week. Supported by £20m of government funding, the pilot is focused on encouraging Industrial Digital Technology uptake. It recognises the need for some experimentation to maximise effectiveness and share learning, to inform a future national programme. Details can be found at madesmarter.uk.

Innovation: £147m of Industrial Strategy Challenge Funding allocated to the Made Smarter Digital Manufacturing Challenge is aimed at increasing UK manufacturing productivity by 30% by 2030. It will bring vtogether universities and industry, as well as technology expert bodies, such as the Catapults, to develop – on an industrial scale – new processes that will lead to world class products and services. More detail on the challenge will be available in the New Year.

Leadership: A Made Smarter Commission has been established, which brings together – from all regions of the UK – industrial companies large and small; trades unions; academia and Government, to set the Vision for the future of UK manufacturing. Commission members are Made Smarter champions within their organization and wider sectors; they will meet regularly to review progress. The Commission will work to build confidence among industry leaders in the exciting possibilities of IDT, and encourage greater investment.

Skills: The ambition of Made Smarter is to re-train a million workers over the next five years, focusing on those in the existing workforce whose jobs may be threatened by automation and technology. The Commission is focusing on how we can leverage available support through the existing skills landscape, as well as overcoming some of the barriers within it.

Transformation of the manufacturing sector cannot happen overnight and will continue to face challenges at the macro level. We need to change perceptions and get everyone in the UK to see digitalisation as a great opportunity and not a threat. As with all change there are risks, but these can be managed and must not get in the way of the UK seizing the significant opportunities. We want to communicate this exciting vision to the next generation, who will be the workforce of the future and who arrive with outstanding digital skills, to take us even further.

A career in Engineering and Manufacturing is rewarding and exciting. The future products and services delivered through the application of digital technologies will only be limited by the imagination! Get involved. We welcome support from across the sector and from across the UK.