There is a growing opinion that the UK is on the verge of another industrial revolution.
If the first revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production, the second used electric power to create mass production, and the third, the digital revolution, used information technology to automate production, the fourth can be defined as the transformation of production through AI, VR & AR, automation, robotics and 3D printing.
The UK manufacturing sector is facing a challenge similar to construction.
The opportunity and the potential exists for manufacturing to transform how they work, potentially unlocking a reported £445Bn for the UK, but the sector struggles to join the dots and act as one, with government also struggling to bring together competing parties under one, comprehensive plan.... sound familiar?
Our industry, the construction industry, has a chance to learn from the experiences of our partners in manufacturing. Technology has the power to disrupt and transform how we deliver projects, programmes and manage our portfolios, but it needs the industry to respond together for the good of the many, not the few.
I believe the manufacturing sector will be the first to see a significant impact from global and local economic change, particularly Brexit, and the paper linked below sets out some interesting ideas as to how they can adapt.
The paper sets out the concept of creating a national digital ecosystem, potentially in the North West. This could open up the opportunity for SMEs to drive forward with innovation, and potentially reducing the period from prototype to mass adoption.
It also suggests that, unlike some opinion, the introduction of automation and digital technology will actually create a net increase in jobs, and create a better skilled workforce.
“The UK must compete with China, the US and much of Europe where there are already advanced plans to embrace the fourth industrial revolution,” she said. “I urge the government to consider these plans carefully, as they are focused on increasing productivity and wages, especially in smaller businesses.”