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The future of manufacturing in the digital age

Posted 26 Oct 2017

As part of development of the Digital Manufacturing strand of the Digital Catapult, James Devitt of the University of Huddersfield, Centre for Industrial Analytics was commissioned to coordinate a piece of work to better understand Digital Manufacturing readiness, capability and capacity across the Yorkshire Region.

The aim of the study was to gain insight into the current state of digital manufacturing in the region and the appetite and barriers to digitalisation. Specifically the study was designed to contribute towards:

  • Supporting the Digital Catapult in understanding how it can underpin innovation efforts and accelerate productivity growth in relation to the application of digital technologies to innovation in manufacturing (Often known as ‘Digital Manufacturing and/ or ‘Industry 4.0’).
  • Developing a deeper and broad understanding of what the opportunities and challenges are for manufacturing sectors in the application digital technologies and the perceived benefits of innovating in this area.
  • Understanding how UK manufacturing businesses can benefit from the application of digital technologies across the value chain and through the supply chain, describing the barriers to achieving this.

Colleagues from the University of Huddersfield, the Digital Catapult Yorkshire and Connect & Create reached out to a number of manufacturers across the Region, during the Spring of 2017, to engage them in conversation about the digitalisation of their business to help assess business readiness levels and capacity for implementing digital manufacturing applications. A questionnaire was developed to aid discussion, help collate key lines of enquiry identify common themes and challenges. A series of events were held across the region aimed at demonstrating the potential of digital innovation across the Yorkshire manufacturing value chain.

The University of Huddersfield would like to thank the Digital Catapult London and Digital Catapult Yorkshire and, in particular, David Laycock and Janine Hamilton for their support and collaboration throughout this project.

Particular thanks are due to Ceri Batchelder (Connect&Create) and Tracey Johnson (Digital Media Centre/ Enterprising Barnsley) for their work in leading the “Connected Manufacturing” Project focused on South Yorkshire.

Finally the University would like to sincerely thank all the companies consulted and the national/ regional agencies organisations that contributed to this Project.