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British manufacturing companies have taken significant steps in adopting digital technologies with some 80% confident that Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs) will be a reality in their businesses by 2025.

The use of 3D printers, AI, Internet of things, Augmented and Virtual Reality are making a real contribution to business operations across companies of all sizes -especially around the recent need for remote production and monitoring - but a significant number of small to medium sized businesses remain at the digital starting block. 

The two years since our last Innovation Monitor have seen little change in the barriers to digital adoption, particularly for SMEs – lack of skills and technical knowledge remain top of the list but scarcity of finance is becoming a more significant block, with companies stretched due to loss of business caused by the pandemic. But a lack of knowledge of available Government schemes, and an absence of targeted digital implementation help for SMEs is further holding back progress. 

The current COVID crisis has renewed the focus on resilience, creating significant opportunities for investment in IDTs. However, the pandemic will hit many manufacturers’ spend on in-house R&D with two-fifths planning to decrease investment, so access to bespoke advice to choose the most appropriate technologies is a must to enable businesses to make the best choices. 

In the coming months, as supply chains return to normal, it is important to build resilience and further accelerate digital adoption to give UK manufacturing that turbo charge to deliver even greater international competitiveness. Digital adoption allows companies to work as effectively and efficiently as possible and it is vital Government steps up to work with industry to make sure Britain’s smaller and often most innovative companies get that bespoke help they need to make the most of the technologies available to them.
Stephen Phipson CBE Chief Executive, Make UK
There is an emerging set of leaders within UK manufacturing that have embraced digital opportunities, scored early wins and are carving out strategies for further competitive advantage. These businesses will not only be the most resilient in the demanding post-Brexit climate, but beyond any short-term market volatility they will be more agile, smarter and more responsive to customer change.
Andrew Dalziel Vice-president, Industry Solution and Strategy, Infor

Available resources

Industry report / Digital technology / 4th Industrial revolution