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Unlocking productivity through data confidence

The need

The increasing availability and capability of digital technologies and tools are changing the landscape for most businesses in a fundamental way, creating opportunities for significant improvements in quality, productivity and competitiveness. Many companies have already moved in this direction, with a PwC report identifying that a third of more than 2,000 industrial companies, have already started the journey to digitalise their supply chains, while nearly three-quarters expect to by 2020.

Within manufacturing, some of the most immediate impacts from digital technology adoption will take place in the factory, allowing organisations to achieve greater machine utilisation and resource efficiency, as well as providing an unprecedented level of generated data, allowing for greater process feedback and feed forward. The creation of digitally-interconnected end-to-end supply chains will enable increased flexibility and responsiveness in the face of changing customer demands and trading conditions through the opportunity to track, trace, monitor and respond in real time.

But without data confidence manufacturers will not be able to use data effectively or make confident decisions based on it. This means that the potential efficiency gains, cost and waste reductions throughout the supply chain will be lost.

Enabling confidence in the data that these digital technologies generate will be critical for consumers, businesses and the UK economy to see the full benefit of the digital age. To achieve this confidence, the user needs to understand what the data means and how accurate the data is.

The impact

Solving this challenge requires new and innovative measurement, and data integration techniques, as well as an ability to accurately trace data to primary measurements and internationally-accepted standards. NPL lies at the heart of the UK’s primary measurement system and is ideally placed to take this concept into the digital realm. NPL’s Digitally Enabled Supply Chain (DESC) programme has been designed to address data challenges through a focus on data collection, data validation, data uncertainty and trust of data as it passes through process and systems, and between organisations.

Effective use of data will disrupt and change traditional manufacturing and its supply chains, while creating new products, processes, business opportunities and markets. A recent study by the Tech Partnership identified that, by fully applying industrial digital technologies over the next decade, UK industrial production would be up to 30% faster and 25% more efficient.

As the UK’s National Measurement Institute, NPL enables data-confident approaches to technology insertion across manufacturing applications and sectors. It accelerates the capability of the UK supply chain base, particularly SMEs, through regionally-based access to NPL and delivery partners that provide digitally-relevant skills support.

DESC ensures that the UK realises the full benefits of industrial digitisation, helping to position a competitive UK manufacturing sector and supply chains for growth in a global market.