The whole landscape of the manufacturing sector is shifting, and in more ways than many realise. Sophisticated technologies, techniques and principles are broadening our very definition of one of the world's most innovative industries, but there's so much more to advanced manufacturing than 3D printing and robots building robots.
To make the most of the benefits, in terms of both ecological sustainability and financial future-proofing, manufacturing businesses have to change their way of thinking as much as their procedures and technology. The goals are ambitious, from working toward a net zero manufacturing sector to turning the UK into a science superpower as we build back from the devastating effects of a global pandemic. The critical role and power of investment in Research and Development have never been thrown into clearer focus, so it's more crucial than ever to ensure your biggest ideas always bring the greatest possible rewards. That's the promise of advanced manufacturing, and it falls on the entire sector to see it fulfilled by both daring to dream bigger and reaching for the rewards through R&D Tax Relief.
So, what are we actually talking about here? While advanced manufacturing's more visible components such as the increasing use of ever-more sophisticated robotics definitely belong in the conversation, much of the most significant progress is taking place behind the scenes. There's an accelerating shift in the way the industry is handling information that is proving capable of impacting even its more 'traditional' areas. In part, it's about how manufacturing draws techniques from, and collaborates with, other sectors, from research institutes to education. Developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence, for example, can have immediate and essential applications to manufacturers. Rather than a given robot performing only very limited and specialised tasks, machine learning techniques allow them to be effectively 'trained on the job', actually learning from their experience to accommodate unexpected situations without a specific instruction set. Alongside this, the growth of the Industrial Internet of Things is paving the way for machines to become even more interconnected.
Smarter technologies allow our machinery to do more to minimise risks and solve problems automatically. Integrated sensors, for example, are being linked in to diagnose emergent problems—and even to predict and counter them before they arise. Those same technologies can also work toward a more sustainable manufacturing sector by making more efficient use of resources like water, energy and materials.
As with the construction industry, which is facing many of the same challenges, there's a need to expand the understanding of what a career in manufacturing can offer, to ensure that the sector has the broad skills base it's going to need to meet the demands of greener future. At the level of individual businesses, understanding the scope and potential of advanced manufacturing is going to be the key to maintaining a competitive edge in a fast-moving field. These advances aren't just limited to getting more efficient use out of established principles like automation, either. Augmented and Virtual Reality systems can offer real-world and real-time benefits for workers, whether as core training tools or by making them more efficient and capable on the factory floor. Even end users and customers can be looped in with these technologies, from ensuring the perfect fit for a pair of glasses to designing a whole bespoke furnished space from scratch. The end result is a more productive manufacturing environment, safer conditions, less wasteful processes and superior final products.
With advanced manufacturing being rightly recognised as both a cornerstone of the future UK economy and an essential component in meeting the country's sustainability commitments, the Research and Development Tax Credits scheme is a vital tool for any business involved in the sector. Any form of innovation involves risk, but the rewards, opportunities and markets innovative thinking opens up are immense and undeniable.
Meanwhile, to hear more about what RIFT R&D can do to bring the benefits of innovation to your business, come and meet us in person at the Kent Event Centre on the 6th of October, where we'll be exhibiting as part of the Kent Construction Expo.
You can register for the event here - Kent Construction Expo 2022 (circdata.com)
If you're in the business of breaking through barriers and pushing back boundaries, whether in the manufacturing sector or elsewhere, you could be due invaluable R&D Tax Relief.
We can help you identify historic qualifying activity and get the credit you deserve - Get In Touch | Contact Us | RIFT R&D (riftresearch.com)