Manufacturers herald new digital age with tech investment set to increase in 2023Posted 15 Dec 2022
UK manufacturing leaders reveal virtual & augmented reality, and digital twins, as their top tech picks for 2023.
Manufacturing industry investment in deep tech to steadily increase despite supply chain challenges and rising costs.
Supply chain resilience, upskilling talent and flexible business models are major priority areas for manufacturing leaders in the new year.
Digital Catapult’s Manufacturing Leaders Poll 2022 has revealed that investment in deep tech solutions and a commitment to innovation remain top of the agenda for many business leaders across the UK manufacturing industries, despite economic headwinds.
Even with supply chain challenges and the rising costs of energy and components, the UK’s manufacturing industries will invest more cash into transformative technologies in the next 12 months, paving the way for faster adoption of digital solutions by industry in order to retain a competitive edge, according to new research from Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology.
Manufacturers revealed their top tech priorities for 2023 are:
- Virtual and/or augmented reality (35%);
- Digital twins (28%);
- Blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies (26%);
- Additive manufacturing (26%);
- AI and machine learning (25%).
Virtual and/or augmented reality (VR/AR) technologies will be boosted by 22% during 2023, with 66% of manufacturers looking to invest, or continue investing in, VR and/or AR technologies compared to 44% in the previous Digital Catapult Manufacturing Leaders Poll.
The number of manufacturers eyeing more investment in additive manufacturing technology also increased by 22%, with 68% of UK manufacturers highlighting it as a major growth opportunity compared with 46% last time.
Continued rise in tech deployment signals strong growth of Industry 4.0
This year’s Digital Catapult Manufacturing Leaders Poll showed that the appetite for deploying more advanced digital technology solutions across the manufacturing sector remained strong, particularly cloud computing and industrial internet of things, which remained in the top two spots overall for the second year running.
5G (18%) and blockchain (16%) – alongside additive manufacturing (22%) and VR/AR (22%) – saw the biggest increases in the number of manufacturers who were currently investing in, and planning to invest in these technologies in the coming 12 months.
Flexible business models (52%), building a more data driven supply chain (51%) and collaborating with startup businesses (46%) were viewed as some of the greatest opportunities facing manufacturing next year to grow.
Manufacturers said that helping their business become more competitive (43%) was the main motivator for digital innovation. Business leaders also recognised that innovation could help increase growth and improve profitability (41%), help reduce operational costs (37%), and assist with efforts to optimise and monitor supply chains (31%).
28% of manufacturers are planning to introduce more advanced digital technologies into their supply chains, with 21% set on working with more agile, disruptive and innovative suppliers to find the right solutions to help solve their critical business challenges.
Supply chain crunches and rising costs cause headaches for manufacturing
Manufacturers identified making their supply chains more resilient as a major focus area for 2023 (60%), closely followed by upskilling talent (57%) and creating a more flexible business model (52%).
And with continued concerns about availability of products and parts, and increases in fuel and energy costs, 49% of respondents said that energy supply and costs was their biggest worry for 2023. Costs of parts and components (32%) and managing supply chain disruption (28%) were second and third biggest issues keeping manufacturing leaders up at night.
Increased focus on sustainability and becoming ‘greener’ continues into the new year
UK manufacturers are placing more focus on environmental sustainability to benefit both the planet and the bottom line. The Digital Catapult Manufacturing Leaders Poll found that, as sustainability efforts become more deeply embedded into industry, manufacturers across the UK are focused on making their businesses greener in 2023.
38% are focused on using more sustainable raw materials, 32% of manufacturers plan to purchase more renewable energy, and 31% are putting more focus on ESG investment and working with ‘greener’ suppliers or partners. 26% of companies are looking at ways to improve energy efficiency in their warehouses or other buildings, and 20% of UK manufacturers highlighted the importance of circularity (sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing or refurbishing) as the key priority for becoming a greener business next year.
More than ever before we’re seeing the power and tangible impact that technology can have – and indeed is already having – on manufacturing businesses right across the industry.
2023 may present more challenges for the manufacturing industries, but the potential for technology-led solutions and the benefits that come from working with startups or other partners, is clearly front of mind for leaders within the UK manufacturing sector, and that’s a really exciting and encouraging picture taking us into the new year.Nick Wright Director of Market Development at Digital Catapult
Find out more about Digital Catapult led initiatives for the manufacturing industries, including the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub and Digital Catapult’s Field Labs.
Notes to editors
Table below shows the combined percentage of respondents that have “already invested in and will keep investing in” from the 2021 and 2022 research polls.
|Industrial internet of things (IIoT)||(-)||76%||61%||+15%|
|AI and machine learning||(-)||70%||54%||+16%|
|Blockchain/distributed ledger technology||(+1)||67%||51%||+16%|
|Virtual and/or augmented reality||(+3)||66%||44%||+22%|
The Digital Catapult Manufacturing Leaders Poll was carried out by OnePoll amongst 100 UK business leaders in manufacturing – director level and above – between 24-31 October 2022.
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