Welsh manufacturers need to invest in IoT, says report

Welsh manufacturers must invest in smart technologies and solutions if they’re to accelerate growth and seek new opportunities, a study has found.

According to new research from Barclays Corporate Banking, 78 per cent of manufacturers in Wales are confident that Britain can compete in the international marketplace.

And this comes down to faith in the latest connected technology. The report claims that 54 per cent of Welsh manufacturing firms attribute future growth to the “fourth industrial revolution”.

The term refers to technologies that are set to shape the manufacturing sector over the next few years, including machine learning, IoT sensors and big data.

Of the companies that have already invested in this technology, 59 per cent have said that they’ve seen improvements in productivity. Meanwhile, 34 per cent have already witnessed a return on investment.

However, there is a sense of caution here. While there’s a high rate of adoption among Welsh manufacturing firms, 34 per cent are yet to invest in these technologies.

But, as the report claims, smart technology could boost the sector by £102 billion per year by 2026. That’ll only happen if companies continue to make investments in the area, though.

Although many people believe that technology such as artificial intelligence will have a negative impact on employment, Barclays believes that it’ll create new job opportunities.

Within the next ten years, 101,000 jobs could be created if manufacturers invest in smart factory technologies, and textiles and clothing, pharmaceuticals, wood, paper and printing, and fuels.

Simon Vittle, head of manufacturing for Barclays in Wales, said firms must invest in the right talent and infrastructure to be able to get the most out of connected technology.

“Our research shows that manufacturers see the benefits of this cutting-edge technology, and many have started to match their intentions with investment,” he said.

“The industry needs to raise its levels of investment in the skills and infrastructure needed to harness these new technologies and keep us more productive than other international manufacturing hubs.

He added that while the industry will face a plethora of challenges over the coming years, this technology presents manufacturers with a unique opportunity to experience huge growth.

“British manufacturing is going through another industrial revolution but confidence alone does not translate into success and benefit,” he continued.

“With sterling currently weaker and a robust appetite from domestic and international markets for British goods, the industry is in a strong position to take advantage of the opportunities investing in Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies can bring.”

Image credit: Steve