The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has published a new report in which it has called for the Government to support growth in the digital manufacturing sector. According to the research, there is a £74bn opportunity available for the UK should it adjust its industrial strategy to fully embrace digitalisation during the next two decades. The digitalisation of the UK Automotive Industry thoroughly examined the future of digital manufacturing, an advent that many have referred to as the 'fourth industrial revolution'. It highlighted the many potential benefits of the approach, as well as the challenges the UK manufacturing sector must overcome in increasing its use of the technology. Many in the industry see the transition to digital manufacturing as the biggest step change to occur in the automotive industry since the initial introduction of automation to production lines in the 1960s, rivalled only by the invention of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) and autonomous car capability. A number of new technologies are beginning to be introduced, including intelligent robotics, 3D-printing and artificial intelligence combined with data management, all of which can have multiple benefits. Using the technologies, manufacturers will be able to save time, boost their productivity, reduce their costs, cut down waste levels and respond more efficiently to customer demand. The automotive manufacturer stands to gain £6.9 billion every year by embracing digitalisation, leading to a cumulative benefit to the economy of £74 billion. Key challenges include the improvement of the UK's digital infrastructure, the current skills gap in the industry as well as the increase in overall investment in digitalisation. Clearer policies on cyber security and standards will also be necessary. The SMMT has called for the government to further support the work, and to put digitalisation at the heart of UK industrial policy. Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: 'We may only be at the beginning of a new industrial era but with innovation and continuous improvement part of the automotive sector's DNA, we are well placed to embrace the opportunity. Significant capital investment will be necessary and we must put digitalisation at the heart of the UK's industrial strategy to ensure we are equipped with the right skills, infrastructure and standards. 'The competition from other countries is intense, so we should follow the model that is proving so successful in the development of low emission and connected and autonomous vehicles in the UK, with a collaborative approach between government and industry.î