29 Nov 2023

How AI can be regulated for the common good


By Stephen Phipson CBE, Make UK CEO: The use of AI is a very topical issue at the moment with the Prime Minister recently hosting a global summit Bletchley Park to discuss how it can be regulated for the common good.

As part of the wider issue of the use of automation in manufacturing including AI, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality it’s becoming mainstream in the sector. And manufacturers are set to see a surge in the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning as they push for greater automation and improvements in productivity, efficiency and quality according to a new survey published recently by Make UK and Infor.

The survey shows companies are increasing their investment in automation across a broad range of technologies and functions from manufacturing processes to product design and development. These investments are set to accelerate in the next two years leading to an increase in higher levels of skills and a fall in lower skilled roles.

However, despite this positive picture the majority of manufacturers believe the UK is failing to keep up with competitors, while significant barriers to further automation remain in the shape of a lack of technical skills, data integration and workplace culture.

In response, Make UK is urging the Government to roll out the successful Made Smarter scheme nationwide to help SMEs adopt digital technologies, as well as work with companies to address the continued shortfall of technical skills in the workforce and reform of the Apprentice Levy.

As Andrew Kinder, SVP, Industry Strategy, Infor says:

“We are seeing a substantial shift in the adoption of digital automation as manufacturers seek to improve efficiency, instill agility and drive greater productivity. While generative AI is still in its relative infancy, intent to capitalise on it is incredibly encouraging with many companies saying they are ‘aware of and planning to use’ the technology.

“Actions, however, speak louder than words. While the government clearly has a role to play in supporting AI adoption, manufacturers have an opportunity to take control in bridging the gap between intent and value in creating first-mover advantage. The technologies are now widely available, affordable and come with a typically fast return on investment, which all help manufacturers compete in increasingly challenging conditions.”

So the lesson of the survey is that all aspects of automation, including AI, are going to be of increasing importance to manufacturers in the years ahead as they seek to drive improvements in their productivity, efficiency and product development & design.

Company info: Make UK