Smart factories could provide a £6.3B boost to UK manufacturing by 2030

Ryan Daws is a senior editor at TechForge Media, with a seasoned background spanning over a decade in tech journalism. His expertise lies in identifying the latest technological trends, dissecting complex topics, and weaving compelling narratives around the most cutting-edge developments. His articles and interviews with leading industry figures have gained him recognition as a key influencer by organisations such as Onalytica. Publications under his stewardship have since gained recognition from leading analyst houses like Forrester for their performance. Find him on X (@gadget_ry) or Mastodon (

A report from Vodafone suggests that 5G smart factories could provide a £6.3 billion boost to UK-based manufacturing by 2030.

One of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledges is to “level up” across the entire UK and end the disproportionate investment in the capital. Time will tell whether that’s just a political soundbite or something actually substantial.

The report suggests that investment in 5G-powered manufacturing could have the biggest impact in the North West, North East, Midlands, and Wales.

Vodafone’s report calls on the Government to set a target to become a global leader in 5G manufacturing over the next decade.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said:

“5G can change the way Britain builds and we’ve sparked a wave of innovation in UK manufacturing through our £200 million 5G trials scheme.

We’ve seen driverless vehicles at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, VR at BAM Nutall building sites in Scotland and Vodafone boosting laser-welding robots in Essex.

The benefits of 5G for improving productivity, efficiency and safety in our manufacturing sector and beyond are clear, and Vodafone’s report is a ringing endorsement of how this revolutionary technology can help us build back better from the pandemic.”

Three key areas where 5G can support economic growth in the manufacturing sector are highlighted in the report: wirelessly connected factories, predictive maintenance, and AR/VR.

Vodafone notes that factories with private 5G networks can support data coming from potentially thousands of connected devices in real-time, enabling increased productivity through employing technologies such as machine learning.

Predictive maintenance helps to ensure downtime is eliminated or minimised by forecasting when and where repairs will be needed.

Finally, AR/VR can assist workers in maintaining and repairing machinery. The technology could also be used to provide vital training prior to using expensive machinery that could be mission-critical or dangerous to use without adequate knowledge. Where more specialist expertise is required, AR/VR enables workers to connect with engineers and designers located elsewhere in the world.

“We are only at the beginning of the 5G journey, but through our work with Ford, we know it offers huge potential for the manufacturing sector and beyond,” comments Anne Sheehan, Business Director at Vodafone.

”To realise this potential, we need to all get behind it, from Government and Ofcom creating the right policy and regulatory environment, through to businesses embracing the power of innovation, and of course us as network operators creating this network of the future.”

Vodafone’s full report can be found here (PDF)

(Photo by Emily Wang on Unsplash)

Want to find out more from executives and thought leaders in this space? Find out more about the Digital Twin World event, taking place on 8-9 September 2021, which will explore augmenting business outcomes in more depth and the industries that will benefit.

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