Understanding the art of the possible

The Made Smarter commission is developing a vision for the future of UK manufacturing and driving the digitalisation of the sector increasing jobs and skills

SMEs have been signing up to the pilot project of the Made Smarter commission in their hundreds since the beginning of the year.

The commission is supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and is supported by manufacturers across different sectors including Rolls- Royce, Airbus, BAe Systems, Jaguar Land Rover and GSK.

Made Smarter aims to boost productivity, creating more highly-skilled jobs and enabling more efficient, cleaner production systems.

175,000 extra jobs within the UK

Ian Funnell, CEO of ABB, explained Made Smarter’s goals: “The commission’s objective is to improve productivity across all the manufacturing sectors, including aerospace. It’s early days in terms of trying to identify the real benefit at the moment but the benefit is estimated to be billions to the UK economy - 175,000 extra jobs within the UK and that goes to all sectors including aerospace.”

A pilot scheme is already in place in the North West of the UK. Funnell said the scheme has been a success so far with more companies signing up: “The pilot is trying to engage 6,000 SMEs in this whole process, we are over 400 now but only started in January 2 this year so its been a great start to that process, its very encouraging.”

Funnell added that the cost of digitisation was rarely an issue, barriers to adoption were usually leadership skills or a lack of understanding the transformative power of data insight.

Understanding the art of the possible

“The issues for adoption as far as we have understood is leadership, its not a technology issue, its leadership skills and even the ability to understand the art of the possible,” he said. “There are many issues but cost typically is not one of them.”

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