A new tech task force, launched and convened by Green Alliance, will focus on the opportunities for smart technologies to boost the resource efficiency of UK businesses and improve the economic prospects of manufacturing regions.
Around 80% of manufacturers say industry 4.0 will be a reality by 2025 but only 11% they will be ready to capitalise on it. According to PwC’s 2018 CEO survey, climate change and environmental damage are among the top five threats to businesses, in Western Europe and globally, for energy, engineering, construction and transport companies.
Although the UK has set out the ambition for digital innovation and clean growth in its industrial strategy, little attention is being given to delivery as UK politicians have their hands full with Brexit.
To fill the policy vacuum, the new tech task force, whose members include a number of leading construction sector firms, is bringing together businesses committed to smart clean growth to work out where policy can accelerate the adoption of technologies that could help businesses across the UK grow their profits by reducing their environmental impact.
It is estimated that technology enabled resource efficiency has the potential to add £10bn to the profits of the UK manufacturing sector. Open Energi is already helping construction firms cut their electricity consumption by 10% by optimising energy demand in real time using machine learning.
The task force’s key aim is to address the regional productivity gap in the UK. Organisations involved range from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which works with manufacturing businesses of all sizes to bridge the gap between new technology concepts and their commercialisation, to Schneider Electric, a company currently working on the digital transformation of energy management and automation.
Angela Francis, chief economist at Green Alliance, said: “We know smart technology is a powerful way to deliver clean growth and bring business resource costs down, but limited uptake is preventing UK businesses from realising those opportunities. To get politicians’ attention we have to show them how this can benefit blue collar workers in the midlands and the north of England, who have told them in no uncertain terms the economy isn’t delivering for them.”
Chris Fry, director infrastructure and regeneration at Ramboll, said: “The digital revolution is key to creating more liveable towns and cities and a sustainable future. The UK is a fantastic place to make this work, with centuries of ingenuity designing buildings and infrastructure, and the curiosity to work with the best new ideas from around the world. Digital design technologies coupled with offsite construction is a great example of how to reduce carbon and waste whilst creating safer and higher skilled jobs in new high-tech factories across the UK.”
Mark Enzer, chief technology officer at Mott MacDonald, said: “The tech task force’s goal to help the UK become a world leader in digitally enabled low carbon growth aligns strongly with the work of the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s digital framework task group. Infrastructure is an information-based industry, in which better decisions, based on better data, lead to better outcomes for the ultimate customers - UK citizens.”