The adoption of 5G could add more than £6bn annually to the value of the UK manufacturing industry by 2030 according to a new study by Vodafone and WPI Economics.
The study claims that “5G could help factories make better decisions and maximise productivity by facilitating the management and sharing of large quantities of data”, especially in “left behind” areas of the UK such as the North West, North East, East and West Midlands and Wales.
Following publication of the report, Vodafone has called on the UK government to “invest in the creation of 5G test and innovation centres” and make it easier for manufacturers to invest in private 5G networks.
Vodafone’s business director Anne Sheehan said: “5G offers huge potential for the manufacturing sector and beyond.
“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.”
According to the authors, 5G could also power the wider use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) within manufacturing to improve visualisation and design plans prior to the construction of physical prototypes.
This 5G-enabled increase in productivity would result in a manufacturing gross value added (GVA) of £3.6bn per year by 2025, and £6.3bn per year in 2030 according to the report.
However, the authors claim “this will only happen if at least 91% of manufacturers have access to 5G in their operations”.
Commenting on Vodafone’s report, digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman said: "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.
"5G can change the way Britain builds and we’ve sparked a wave of innovation in UK manufacturing through our £200m 5G trials scheme.”