Do manufacturers really need the internet?

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Internet connectivity is central to industrial production now and in the next industrial revolution.

86% of manufacturers agree that every business should have a right to a high speed internet connection

Away from the usual web browsing and emailing, what else do manufacturers need the internet for? Why is it so important for them to be connected?

  • 95% of firms need to access secure online services such as banking every day
  • 53% of firms need to access online data repositories (i.e. the cloud) every day
  • 55% of firms need internet access for resource planning every day
  • 48% of firms use internet connected objects such as sensors and automated machines at least once a week

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Existing infrastructure isn’t holding the sector back

This is largely because manufacturers are paying significant costs to get the best in class. Two-thirds of firms in our survey say their current internet connectivity needs are being met whilst just over a quarter disagree. Whilst half say their internet upload and download speed is fast enough for their needs, this comes at a cost.

Almost half of companies say their connection costs have gone up in the last two years, whilst a quarter of small companies and half of medium size companies are paying over £5000 per annum to gain proper access, rising to 89% of large companies.

But...

There's always a but. While the quality of networks isn’t currently an issue, companies are paying inflated sums to have proper access and are fearful they will not have competitive access five years’ down the line. Decisions taken now on internet connectivity will have a critical bearing in the near future on whether or not Britain is a leading player in Industry 4.0.

Tune into the blog again later in the week when Chris will be discussing whether the UK could pioneer next industrial revolution.

Author

Senior Policy Researcher

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