Margaret Wood, member of the Made Smarter Commission and founder of specialist glazing company, ICW (UK) Ltd, joined fellow commissioners and former Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Greg Clark, last month at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at Rotherham to call for greater integration of digital technologies into manufacturing.

She said:

Automation is one of five Integrated Digital Technologies (IDTs) that can make a massive difference in delivering on the Made Smarter’s ambitions to boost employment, tackle inefficiencies and improve productivity, only if SMEs take advantage of all it has to offer.

Alongside Additive Manufacture, Immersive Tech (AR/VR), IoT & Connectivity, AI/Big Data/Analytics it can help businesses improve productivity, increase efficiency and therefore boost profitability.

Fertile breeding grounds of innovation such as the AMRC can add value and make a massive difference to the lives of ordinary citizens and society. Similarly, integrating automation can free skilled workers from mundane tasks liberating them to develop their skills and boost productivity. Yet sadly, many are excluded because they either don’t know or lack the support to investigate further.

There is advice, sign-posting and funding available to underpin the ambition of the smallest enterprises.

Already some have had great ideas, harnessed automation and taken advantage to increase production, increase employment and boost skills and training. More need to step through this doorway to growth."