Digital future of manufacturing outlined in new report

A new report has outlined the steps that need to be taken by the UK’s manufacturing sector to ‘make the most of’ new digital technologies. 

Five recommendations have been made in the Digital World 2050 report, which is based on a six-year study by Connected Everything network, made up of experts from the digital manufacturing industry along with ‘circular economists’. 

Researchers from the Universities of Exeter, Nottingham, Liverpool and Cambridge also co-authored the report. 

The recommendations made are to: Connect digital tech developers to manufacturers, reduce digital manufacturing knowledge barriers, consolidate guidance, support employee wellbeing over the transition, and maintain transparency for value chain data.

woman in white long sleeve shirt using black laptop computer

Professor of Circular Innovation at the University of Exeter Business School Fiona Charnley, a co-author of the paper, said: ‘Digital technology is becoming embedded throughout manufacturing and society and has a critical and growing part to play in addressing manufacturing challenges and delivering a more sustainable, circular and resilient future. 

‘Maximising its contribution will depend on the decisions we make today, and the actions of governments, industry and funders.’ 

The report also describes the potential of creating a smooth transition to a digital future including the creation of new jobs and data-driven business models as well as greater resource efficiency and a better way to achieve net zero manufacturing goals. 

Alongside the study, researchers also spoke with educational, industry and policy leaders in four key themes including digital tech of the future, digitisation and the manufacturing workforce of the future, digital support for net zero and using digital tech to ensure manufacturing resilience. 

Dr Oliver Fisher, another co-author, said: ‘By bringing together of expertise from across disciplines we were able to gain new insights and perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that may emerge as digital technologies are embedded within manufacturing processes and workforces. 

‘I hope the knowledge generated within this report will help accelerate the transition towards a sustainable manufacturing future.’ 

The report comes as the government creates a new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology with an aim of addressing the technologies of the future, outlined by the new Secretary of State Michelle Donelan.

You can read the Digital World 2050 report here.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng


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