The integration of digital technologies into manufacturing is a major opportunity for businesses in the North East according to the findings of a new Science and Innovation audit.
Through a new audit of the region’s advanced manufacturing and digital sectors, the North East LEP and partners have identified opportunities for businesses in the automotive, pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing sectors to build links with the North East digital sector, increasing the region’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.
James Davies, North East LEP Innovation Programme Manager, said: “In the North East we have a reputation for making things and making them well and our goods and products remain the source of the majority of our exports. However, the way we make these goods is continually changing and the region must prepare for this next great shift. We see the potential for links between the digital and advanced manufacturing sectors leading to new types of products and services.
“Our Applied Digital Technologies Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) was carried out in partnership with organisations across the North East and Tees Valley, with the aim of understanding more about how Industry 4.0 will impact on some of the North East’s biggest businesses.”
Based on a proposition set out by the German Government, Industry 4.0 refers to the next stage in manufacturing that uses new, digital and real-time approaches to production to meet demand for more complex, individualised and digitally enabled products.
The North East LEP worked with Tees Valley Combined Authority, local business and sector organisations, universities and the national Catapult Centres for Digital (North East and Tees Valley) and High Value Manufacturing (CPI) to carry out the SIA, gathering information on the opportunities and challenges facing three of the North East’s biggest manufacturing sectors: automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
The audit also looked into how the region’s digital sector can provide solutions, for example by using digital technologies to drive efficiency and competitiveness within the manufacturing process.
James Davies added: “We knew there was already work being done in the North East to use digital technologies to make our manufacturing more productive and competitive and the audit has helped to show what can be done to support more of this type of integration. We found opportunities to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies within advanced manufacturing businesses in the region, including actions that will help overcome the barriers to uptake.
“The digitisation of manufacturing is a major opportunity for us here in the North East and we will now be working with partners to roll out delivery of the recommendations from the audit.”