Investment in 5G in manufacturing could increase growth in the sector across the country, especially in the North West, North East, Midlands and Wales.

The report, ‘Powering Up Manufacturing, Levelling Up Britain’ with economic analysis by WPI Economics, looks ahead to how the technology could impact the UK’s manufacturing industry and highlights how the adoption of 5G in the manufacturing industry could play a significant role in realising Government’s “levelling up” ambitions, especially in the North West, North East, East and West Midlands and Wales.


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The report calls on the Government to set an ambitious target to become a global leader in the use of 5G technology in manufacturing over the next decade. The report recommends support for manufacturers to invest in 5G mobile private networks, and the creation of 5G test and innovation centres in the regions and nations that stand to benefit most from increased take-up of 5G in manufacturing.

The report highlights key areas where 5G can support economic growth in the manufacturing industry across the UK:

  • Wirelessly connected factories with bespoke 5G mobile private networks (MPNs) can support the sharing of large quantities of data from thousands of devices simultaneously in real time, enabling better and faster decision- making, facilitating machine learning and allowing processes to be adapted to maximise productivity.
  • 5G allows for predictive maintenance. This means monitoring hundreds of variables, forecasting when and where repairs will be needed and avoiding expensive unplanned downtime.
  • 5G-supported Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology can be used to visualise and plan designs in detail prior to the construction of physical prototypes. This will help workers to maintain and repair failed machinery and enable workers to be trained with less direct use of expensive physical machinery. 5G-supported AR and VR technology can also connect workers on a factory floor with engineers and designers located elsewhere, enabling them to access technical expertise without costly and time-consuming site visits.

Anne Sheehan, Business Director, Vodafone said: “We are only beginning of 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 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.”

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said: "5G can change the way Britain builds and we’ve sparked a wave of innovation in UK manufacturing through our £200 million 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. 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."