Simon Reid, sector manager at the Liverpool City Region LEP, discusses the potential for local partnerships and Industry 4.0 technologies to transform productivity.
When it comes to productivity, it’s widely reported that the UK lags behind its European counterparts such as France and Germany.
Key to tackling this will be the government’s Industrial Strategy, which is designed to drive up levels of productivity, giving Britain a stronger lead globally – but what about on a local level?
At its core, the success of Britain’s manufacturing future is rooted in the regional ecosystems that are already in place. By tapping into up-and-coming tech businesses, local academic research and centres of excellence, the full potential of a region can be harnessed and the results can be truly exceptional.
One of the first business support programmes in the UK to connect these dots is LCR 4.0. Part funded by ERDF (European Regional Development Fund), the LCR 4.0 programme is delivered in partnership with universities and other key research institutes from across the Liverpool City Region to enable SMEs to unleash the transformational potential of Industry 4.0 technologies.
LCR 4.0 has a clear aim to engage and support businesses wanting to take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but how will this type of programme boost growth in manufacturing and what impact could these types of programmes have UK wide?
This article first appeared in the September issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here.
Simon Reid, sector manager at the Liverpool City Region LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and one of the LCR 4.0 project partners, says, “We already have an issue when we discuss productivity in the UK.
“We know that we lag behind our European competitor nations, and yet talk of productivity is confusing to many SMEs. For a start, if you get 10 economists in a room and ask them to define productivity you will probably get 10 different answers.
“Personally, my preferred terminology is ‘earning potential’, which has a great deal more resonance with SMEs. But how do we unleash this earning potential?
ERDF in the North West
LCR 4.0 is receiving up to £4.4m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund.
Established by the EU, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regeneration.
For more information, visit: www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding
“Utilising technology and the adoption of digital manufacturing techniques, delivered by the Fourth Industrial revolution (4IR), is one avenue that companies can pursue.
“The UK has immense strength tied up in its universities and knowledge assets and there is increasing momentum to derive commercial benefit from these.
“One of the foremost ways we could do this is to remove the financial and bureaucratic barriers (real or perceived) for smaller businesses, which would otherwise not collaborate with these assets, to improve their processes, augment products or create new ones.
“This is the essence of LCR 4.0, with the ‘nine pillars of 4IR’ covered in some form by each of the research institute partners and the LEP acting as a business-friendly single point of access.
“This model could certainly be replicated in different areas of the UK. Some geographies have research specialisms that could be particularly attractive to businesses within the various sub-sectors of manufacturing. There is a clear potential link here to the government’s Industrial Strategy, considering how the government wants ‘place’ to feature as an integral component.
“Having a local mechanism like this means that manufacturers can look to the horizon of their sector and be proactive in securing new contracts and accessing new markets, as opposed to being reactive and rushing to not be left behind by the trends set by OEMs or Tier 1s as they cascade down supply chains.
The importance of productivity growth
“If productivity had maintained the same trajectory post-crisis, as it did between 1997 and 2007, an hour’s work would be worth 17.9% more than it currently is (see: www. bit.ly/2uwWMHq).
“If we were to adopt the same levels of automation across all manufacturing sub-sectors as the countries leading those sub-sectors, we would be looking at a productivity increase of around 20%.
“This would result in a significant increase in living standards across the UK if the regions were able to facilitate their local business base taking advantage of these new technologies and processes.
“In this respect, LCR 4.0 is acting as a trailblazer and is already generating data about what works and what doesn’t in terms of how SMEs are getting to grips with something that has been traditionally thought of as in the realm of large companies.
“LCR 4.0, which has tremendous support from both industry and government, is taking steps to assist Liverpool City Region companies to develop new and enhanced digital processes, develop new 4IR-enabled products and open new market opportunities both at home and abroad.
“All of which, once successfully established in the business, mean enhanced earning potential and a more balanced economy.”
The transformative effects on business of this engagement will be showcased at Digital Manufacturing Week, part of The Manufacturer Live, from 15-16 November at the Exhibition Centre in Liverpool and at venues across the Liverpool City Region.
The Manufacturer Live
The Manufacturer is coming to Liverpool – bringing together 4,000 manufacturing professionals for the country’s largest digital manufacturing show and conference!
The North West is the UK’s biggest manufacturing region – with 15.5% of regional output. It is also a hotbed of advanced manufacturing – with world-class companies like JLR, Unilever, Alstom, Siemens and GE active in the region.
Visit The Manufacturer’s Smart Factory Expo, Leaders Conference, Top 100 and MX Awards – and join us for one of our free site tours (limited availability) to manufacturing facilities in the region! See what’s going on here: www.themanufacturerlive.com
About LCR 4.0
The first of its kind in the country, LCR 4.0 (‘Liverpool City Region four point zero’) is a leading business support programme for manufacturers that want to take advantage of the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
LCR 4.0 is delivered in partnership by the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), Liverpool John Moores University (specifically ETRI, the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Research Institute), Sensor City, STFC Hartree Centre (part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council) and the Liverpool City Region LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership).
LCR 4.0 is part of the Liverpool City Region Local Growth Hub, which aims to provide a joined-up approach to local and national business support by actively engaging SMEs and growth businesses across the six local authority areas, to discover the right advice and support they need to grow.
For more information: www.LCR4.uk // 0151 237 3903