Research from KPMG, commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), has highlighted a £74 billion opportunity for the UK in the automotive industry alone, if the manufacturing industry fully embraces digitalisation over the next two decades.


The UK automotive industry is calling on the government to support the sector’s future competitiveness by prioritising digital manufacturing.


Digital manufacturing, sometimes known as the fourth industrial revolution, refers to an overhaul of manufacturing processes to include methods controlled by data and analytics – often collected by The Internet of Things.


For the uninitiated, this is a catchy name to represent items which are hooked up to the internet and communication infrastructure, using sensors and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to collect data. First seen at home in the form of kettles you can boil before you get home, in the manufacturing arena think of plant that can communicate across the production line when an element is broken, or machinery which reports smart insights into its operations.


Just like every other industrial revolution before it, digital manufacturing represents the possibility to manufacture quicker, smarter and better, automating and digitising processes, and self-optimising to achieve levels of efficiency not possible 10 years ago.


The SMMT research suggests that by embracing digitalisation, the automotive manufacturing sector as a whole stands to gain £6.9 billion every year by 2035, with a cumulative benefit to the wider economy of some £74 billion.


What about the manufacturing industry in total? £352 billion, according to Accenture, which estimates that the Internet of Things could add around £9.54 trillion to the world economy in the next 15 years.


But embracing digitalisation is not challenge free. KMPG suggests the UK’s digital infrastructure needs to be improved, the skills gap addressed and investment in digitalisation accelerated, while clear policies on cyber security and standards for data sharing must be developed to promote trust.


Have your processes gone digital?