Juergen Maier, chair of the Digital Catapult, has used his keynote speech at DMW2020 to, among other things, urge manufacturers to step up and utilise digital technologies to ensure the transition to the fourth industrial revolution is a success.
Introducing Juergen was Rosa Wilkinson, Director of communications at High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult.
Rosa said we are in a “time of extraordinary challenge for individuals, for firms, for the whole of the country.” Digital technologies, she said, “have never been more important to us. They are a key tool in helping us address some for the challenges we face as a nation.”
She also highlighted the enormous potential of digital technologies, referencing the World Economic Forum’s outlook even before the pandemic struck. “The World Economic Forum“, she said, “estimated that there was a $100tn opportunity from the better application of digital technologies”.
The questions right now are “how can this country seize that opportunity? How can we in manufacturing use it to aid the climb out of Covid’s economic sinkhole? And how can we make sure that some of that $100tn helps to spread prosperity through every single community in this land, including some of those that have been left behind by the process of industrial transformation over the last decade?”
‘A V-shaped recovery isn’t going to happen’
Juergen began his keynote by commending The Manufacturer for putting on DMW, adding that the “timing is so perfect”.
Juergen Maier speaking at DMW 2020 about how digital technologies will be key for the manufacturing sector to successfully transition to the fourth industrial revolution
He then began his keynote in earnest by outlining the rather grim reality facing the manufacturing industry at the moment, saying that a “V-shaped recovery definitely is not happening and it’s not going to happen any time soon”.
Juergen then cited Make UK figures that show only around 20% of manufacturers have seen some increase in orders over the last few weeks. Furthermore, the same figures reveal that investment levels are also down by 25%.
Nevertheless, there has been an upside to the coronavirus pandemic, Juergen said, primarily that it has “accelerated the pace of technology adoption”. Indeed, 80% of manufacturers say they are confident that they will be adopting the latest advanced industrial digital technologies by at least 2025.
‘Matter of survival and responsibility’
Juergen said that for many manufacturers up and down the country, accelerating their way through this turbulent time is not just a matter of survival, but also responsibility.
“I’m more sure than I ever was before that the only way we as a country are ever going to really level up and really create better jobs — especially in our northern regions — the only way it will happen is if we make a really good job of investing in this fourth industrial revolution”.
Juergen also said that while manufacturing was absolutely here and present, accounting for 10% of GDP, “it needs to be larger to really create that levelling up agenda”.
And while it might not seem like it, “now is the time to step up”. The manufacturing industry, Juergen said, “has a responsibility to make this transition to the fourth industrial revolution a really successful one”.
Juergen urged manufacturers to “use much more 3D printing, AI, Internet of Things and Augmented/Virtual reality” — many of which can be seen, demonstrated and engaged with at the DMW Expo.
To listen to all of Juergen’s keynote, head over to the Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit on the Digital Manufacturing Week platform and watch it on-demand now.