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KTN: Helping Manufacturers to Innovate and Innovators to Manufacture

Posted on 31/07/2018

Find out how the Knowledge Transfer Network’s manufacturing team is helping manufacturers innovate their processes and products.

First published in the High Value Manufacturing Catapult Newsletter July 2018 here.

There has been a lot of talk about the UK’s productivity gap. Raising productivity is one of the government’s key priorities, forming a central part of the industrial strategy.

In May 2018 BEIS launched the business productivity review. This call for evidence which is now closed was used to understand what firm level actions could be most effective in improving the productivity and growth of small and medium-sized businesses. This review focused on businesses with lower productivity, sometimes described as a ‘long tail’ that lags behind the leading firms and underperform relative to domestic and international benchmarks.

Some would say that there is no coincidence that in July 2018 the Government launched Business Basics: Boosting SME Productivity a new fund to support small business growth.

‘Put simply, UK businesses must do more to improve their productivity to get themselves match fit to compete globally in the years ahead. Low uptake of the nuts and bolts technologies of today is a key feature of the productivity puzzle that can, and must, be tackled.’

Matthew Fell, CBI UK Chief Policy Director

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR, Industry 4.0, Industrial Digitalisation, Digital Manufacturing (the list of names goes on) is seen to play a key role in improving productivity across the UK. However when people mention these words do you know what they really mean? Surely cost is a barrier for these long tail businesses?

“It isn’t about finding pieces of a puzzle, it’s about creating and putting those exceptional pieces together” – Glenn Van Deken

With this in mind should manufacturers be looking to innovation as part of the solution to improving productivity?

We know from experience that innovation doesn’t always have to be time consuming or expensive. There are inexpensive, innovative solutions that can be used to monitor traditional manufacturing equipment, combining the use of low cost computing power with sensor technology. For a manufacturer with traditional machinery this is revolutionary and make Industry 4.0 more accessible than ever.

So if you are sat reading this with your own productivity (or dare we say innovation) challenges and not really sure, the good news is that there is help out there (and also lots of things you can read about the topic) across the UK.

There is no denying that productivity is an issue, and that when implemented well, digital technologies can play a key role. We know the landscape is confusing and it’s difficult to know where to start and identify what support is out there.

The Knowledge Transfer Network’s manufacturing team is here to help manufacturers innovate their processes and products to drive growth and productivity; working to inform, simplify, connect, signpost to funding and support. We have developed 4Manufacturing®, a diagnostic tool focused on helping manufacturers accelerate the adoption of digital technologies to drive innovation and improved productivity.

If you are interested in finding out more please get in touch.

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