Thursday, May 10, 2018

News: Northern Powerhouse "must lead the next Industrial Revolution"

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Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK is in the region today to urge industry across the North to commit to embedding technology, information and data into everything they do.

Speaking to an invited audience of northern industrialists and young engineers at the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the man behind the Made Smarter Review, an industrial digitalisation paper, said a new digital Industrial Revolution could see 175,000 new jobs over ten years, mainly skilled jobs in engineering, software and design.

The AMRC, which has multimillion pound facilities on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotheham and the Sheffield Business Park over the Parkway, is pioneering the coming together of cyber networks, with physical networks, to create new autonomous systems - the next industrial revolution, often labelled Industry 4.0.

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Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK (pictured top, centre), said: "Leading the next Industrial Revolution cannot be done from Whitehall; it cannot be done from London. It can only be done in the North.

"This city of Sheffield was world-renowned for high-quality steel production, but fell into decline as the industry collapsed and cheaper alternatives across the world became available. We should all be determined that we do not let this happen again.

"This is our chance to reverse that decline and create the high-skilled jobs for generations to come. Through embracing technology we can lead the world once again – exporting new Northern industries all over the globe.

"Many of our smaller firms have led the way. Now we want thousands more to come on board. There is nothing to fear but plenty to gain."

The first industrial revolution relates to mechanisation, the second to mass production, and the third to automation. The Fourth Industrial Revolution creates an environment where businesses can give customers exactly what they want when they want it, with all the variations they specify, from the same factory, in a shorter lead time, and more profitably than is possible today.

The recent report for the Government states that, over ten years, industrial digitalisation could boost UK manufacturing by £455bn, increasing sector growth up to 3% per year, and creating a net gain of 175,000 jobs whilst reducing CO2 emissions by 4.5%.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, added: "As the cradle of the first industrial revolution, the north of England sent new products to the world. Now we need the infrastructure, research, innovation and skills which will enable us to lead in the era of Industry 4.0.

"This means new approaches to bringing together world-class research and teaching with global companies and their supply chains, creating new products and reshoring production. This is an area where the University of Sheffield is leading the way, working with Boeing, McLaren, Siemens and Rolls-Royce to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality."

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The AMRC is working to ensure that SMEs can harness Industry 4.0.

Ben Morgan (pictured top, right), head of the Integrated Manufacturing Group at The AMRC, said: "Juergen's message is a wake-up call for industry across the North of England. If we don't exploit these technologies to the full, manufacturing in the UK will continue to be vulnerable to competition from early adopting countries across Europe and the Far East.

"Ensuring that companies across the North and the Midlands get access to the productivity benefits of the next Industrial Revolution is vital if the UK is to remain globally competitive. The University of Sheffield AMRC has a global reputation for supporting companies in de-risking this technology; so much so that we are now looking to expand with centres in the North West, North Wales and the Midlands, giving local SMEs the access to these technologies on their doorstep, which is what so many of them need.

"We are also extending our own network of SME engagement specialists to identify and work with companies that are thinking about the benefits and risks of adopting the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution."

AMRC website

Images: AMRC

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