SMMT highlights ‘£74 billion’ need for industry to embrace digital technologies

Time 9:00 pm, November 29, 2016

THE government needs to invest in modernising the British motoring manufacturing industry, according to a new SMMT report.

‘The Digitalisation of the UK Automotive Industry’, released in conjunction with accountancy firm KPMG, highlights a potential gain of £74 billion by 2035 if the UK’s motoring industry is properly invested in with a possible gain of ‘£6.9 billion every year by 2035’.

In the report, the SMMT states that: ‘The transition to digital manufacturing represents the biggest step change for automotive manufacturing since the introduction of automation in production lines in the 1960s.’

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘We may only be at the beginning of a new industrial era but with innovation and continuous improvement part of the automotive sector’s DNA, we are well placed to embrace the opportunity.

‘Significant capital investment will be necessary and we must put digitalisation at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategy to ensure we are equipped with the right skills, infrastructure and standards.

‘The competition from other countries is intense, so we should follow the model that is proving so successful in the development of low emission and connected and autonomous vehicles in the UK, with a collaborative approach between government and industry.’

The report highlights the improving technologies in the manufacturing sector, such as intelligent robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence, which can combine with new data management techniques to improve efficiency and speed up production.

Germany was the first country to introduce such a policy, called ‘Industrie 4.0’, and it was soon followed by the United States, which has the Industrial Internet Consortium with funding of $1 billion.

John Leech, head of automotive for KPMG in the UK, said: ‘The UK automotive industry is already the most productive in Europe but faces increasing competition from lower cost countries and uncertainty following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

‘The application of digital technologies to the design and manufacture of vehicles will help to secure the industry’s competitiveness in the decades to come. The industry has started to apply digital technologies with the vision of creating a common digital thread from the customer, through the vehicle manufacturer and its supply chain.

‘It is now time for the UK government and industry to accelerate its collaboration into digital manufacturing technology, following the examples set by Germany, Japan and the US.’

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