Vodafone UK: 5G could boost manufacturing by £6.3bn by 2030

Could 5G be the answer to boosting productivity in UK factories? Vodafone UK has found that the adoption of 5G could boost manufacturing by £6.3bn

With the global industrial 5G generating US$12.47bn in 2020, and an estimated value of US$140.88bn by 2030, the technology is predicted to transform manufacturing operations and significantly increase productivity.

“We are only beginning the 5G journey, but through our work with Ford, we know it offers huge potential for the manufacturing sector and beyond. To realise this potential, we need to all get behind it, from the 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,” said Anne Sheehan, Business Director, Vodafone.

In a report titled ‘Powering Up Manufacturing, Levelling Up Britain’, Vodafone UK discovered that the adoption of 5G could add as much as £6.3bn to the UK manufacturing industry value by 2030.

In the report - with a specific focus on the North West, North East, East, West Midlands, and Wales - Vodafone identifies the importance of manufacturing, the potential 5G has for the industry, how 5G can boost productivity and the policy recommendations for such investments and adoptions.

Vodafone calls on the UK government in the report to set ambitious targets to become a global leader when it comes to the use of 5G over the next decade, as well as encouraging incentives to be put in place to make it easier for manufacturers of all sizes to upgrade their factories with 5G MPNs.

Other recommendations for the government include: 

  • Expanding the Made Smarter Adoption programme, with significant additional resources, and a focus on supporting manufacturers to realise the benefits of 5G.
  • MPNs should be covered by future legislation on supply chain cybersecurity, and managed service providers, complementing the government’s existing plans.
  • Extending the industrial 5G testbeds and trial programmes by another five years, and increasing its funding to at least £60mn.
  • Introducing regional 5G test and innovation centres.

Elsewhere in the report, Vodafone highlights three key areas where 5G can support economic growth in UK manufacturing: 

  • Supporting the sharing of large quantities of data with wirelessly connected factories and bespoke 5 MPNs, enabling real-time, better and faster decision making, and improving adaptability to maximise productivity.
  • Enabling predictive maintenance capabilities to avoid expensive unplanned downtime.
  • Harnessing 5G supported AR and VR technology to visualise and plan designs prior to constructing physical prototypes, as well as helping to maintain and repair failed machinery, train workers without direct use of expensive physical machinery, and connect workers with remote engineers and designers.

“5G can change the way Britain builds and we’ve sparked a wave of innovation in UK manufacturing through our £200m 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,” added Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure.

“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,” concluded Warman.

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