Discussion is heating up in the UK digital space as industry looks to identify how it can bring about a step-change in digital uptake in manufacture and construction. The Review of Industry Digitalisation interim report sets out its early findings and emerging recommendations to government.
It is widely acknowledged that potential productivity gains for UK industry from increased digitalisation are significant. Productivity in the global infrastructure sector has remained static at 1% for the past 20 years. A technological step-change is required to break the low productivity cycle.
A recent study identified that by fully applying industrial digital technologies over the next decade UK industrial production would be up to 30% faster and 25% more efficient.
Automation, AI, real-time monitoring and predicative maintenance can help to realise considerable efficiencies and reinforce the UK’s standing as a world leader in smart infrastructure and digital delivery.
The Modern Industrial Strategy green paper
The UK Government recognised this opportunity in its Modern Industrial Strategy green paper, spawning a Review of Industry Digitalisation, which is due to report later this year. The review cuts across a range of manufacturing sectors where there are identified opportunities for productivity gains – including construction.
The review’s interim report, published last week, identified opportunities and barriers to UK industries engaging with digitalisation.
Emerging recommendations from the review to address these challenges include:
- Focused leadership required to support industrial digitalisation
- Stronger marketing of the UK’s digital ambitions both at home and abroad
- A Digital Technology Institute and a Digital Technology Network to support a strong ecosystem
- Identify institutions well placed to lead on each technology
- Rapid digital adoption required among SMEs
- Visible institutes to make SME uptake easier
- Develop a range of tools specifically to support SMEs
- A more systemic approach to digital engineering skills
- Innovation assets required to support start up and upscaling
- Provide an environment to rapidly incubate and mature product offerings
- Educate financers about the potential returns from supporting investment
- Promote industry support to enable rapid upscaling of sectoral products
Implication for infrastructure
While the focus of the review is on manufacture the barriers, opportunities and emerging recommendations are applicable across a host of sectors – including infrastructure.
Realising digitalisation through the whole life of infrastructure assets, beyond construction, has the potential to create efficiencies and deliver far greater benefits for the ultimate client, the public.
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