The UK government will boost manufacturing SMEs for their “productivity and competitiveness” through a new Intelligent Production Data Center (SMDH). Productivity in the sector is currently slow, and we hope that increased adoption of digital technologies can change that.

The new hub and test bench, announced today, will be run by the University of Ulster and will be supported by £ 50 million in government funds and business co-investments. The funding comes as part of the £ 300 million Challenge Made Smarter Innovation Challenge, designed to support the development and increased use of new and existing industrial digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Manufacturers from the United Kingdom can take advantage of a new smart center based in Northern Ireland, announced today. (Photo: alvarez / iStock)

The government says nearly 10,000 producers in the UK are expected to benefit from SMDH, with 13,000 jobs supported. This, in turn, will help boost economic growth and “rising” regions in the UK, it said.

SMDH will first be available from “small and medium-sized manufacturers in Northern Ireland” in the coming months before starting to work for companies in the rest of the UK.

“The Intelligent Production Data Hub, backed by £ 20 million in government funding, will support companies to deploy cutting-edge manufacturing and technology techniques themselves, helping to deliver the next generation of products to our shelves in a more efficient and sustainable way,” said the industry minister. . , Lee Rowley.

What is a smart data center?

SMDH is hosting an online production data exchange platform that will allow companies to present their production data and receive recommendations in return. The government says this will help improve products and processes.

An additional £ 5 million fund will then provide grants to companies to make further improvements in areas that are critical to their business. The program will also be supported in the rest of the UK by 12 supply partners, including the Institute of Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge, Industry Wales and Scottish Engineering.

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A virtual production test bench will allow companies to create a digital twin of their company, allowing them to simulate the implementation of digital technology in their own processes. This will also allow them to use data from other manufacturers who have already adopted the technology, encouraging investment.

SMDH is part of the Made Smarter Innovation program, which supports manufacturers and technology developers to scale “out of the box” digital technology solutions, as well as to support the manufacturing “revolution” in the UK.

“Made Smarter provides an opportunity for innovative collaboration that will be transformative to boost the competitiveness of the industry,” said Professor Liam Maguire, Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Ulster.

Why is the UK government focusing on smart manufacturing?

According to McKinsey, The UK manufacturing sector has been shut down of several challenges. Overall productivity in the United Kingdom is consistently below another advanced economy, and this is reflected in the manufacturing sector.

Since 2010, production productivity in the United Kingdom has stagnated. While in other countries there is an improvement of 2-3% on an annual basis, the United Kingdom remains unchanged. As a result, labor costs in the UK manufacturing sector are now higher than in all other major manufacturing nations.

Moreover, the company says manufacturers run the risk of falling behind in retraining their workforce, with two-thirds of the UK workforce potentially lacking “basic digital skills by 2030”.

Separately Make UK study, the manufacturing industry organization, says the UK risks falling behind countries such as Germany and Japan, which have ‘advanced support systems’ to help small and medium-sized businesses. His findings show that 9% of respondents agree that the United Kingdom is a leader compared to other countries when it comes to adopting industrial digital technologies.

Make UK says the use of technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and augmented and virtual reality can make a real contribution to business operations. However, barriers to digital perception, such as technical knowledge and lack of funding, can deter SMEs, the organization said.

£50m data hub to aid UK’s smart manufacturing ambitions

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