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Connectivity’s crucial role in enabling sustainable manufacturing across Scotland
by Tom Marchbanks, Business Engagement Manager – Forth Valley, The Scotland 5G Centre.
As I pen this, COP 27 is underway in Sharm-al-sheikh (is it really a year since Glasgow!) and news about initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of human activity on the earth is never far from the headlines. And while there is much we can do as individuals to mitigate our own carbon footprints, the challenge facing industry is not insignificant.
One surprising area that could have a key role to play in industry’s efforts is improvements in digital connectivity.
A recent report from Mobile UK highlighted that 5G enabled technology could help the combined G7 manufacturing sectors reduce their total carbon emissions by 1%.
This may not sound like a huge difference from the outside but that figure equates to some 2.6MtCO2e by 2025. So how can this be achieved?
Enhanced 4G and 5G capability has the potential to increase Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by £17bn by 2035 if prioritised. Annual tax revenues could rise by £5.7bn, with 3,000 new businesses employing 160,000 more people.
There are demonstrated productivity improvements to businesses that adopt digital technologies. SMEs which use two or more business management technologies exhibit productivity gains of up to 25%. But digital adoption supports more than the user of the technology - greater use of digital innovation across the economy will provide larger markets for the UK’s digital businesses, fuelling their continued growth and success.
To build on this strategy, in 2019 Scottish Government launched Scotland’s 5G Strategy and established The Scotland 5G Centre.
The Scotland 5G Centre is the national centre for accelerating the adoption of 5G connectivity in Scotland’s Industry and Public Sectors.
In Scotland, 73% of businesses found that the pandemic has encouraged them to adopt new technology to provide their goods and services.
Businesses have been adopting new digital technologies at an unprecedented pace, transforming in a matter of weeks and months what would previously have taken years.
These figures match those of research by the OECD (February 2021) who found that global business surveys are indicating up to 70% of SMEs worldwide have intensified their use of digital technologies as a result of the pandemic.
This reflects the opportunity 5G can bring to Scottish economy and the role of The Scotland 5G Centre in facilitating this investment.
The S5GConnect programme, was launched by The Centre to accelerate the adoption of 5G across Scotland through the rollout of a network of regional hubs offering a 5G-enabled testbed.
Each S5GConnect hub provides free access to cutting edge 5G mobile private networks, allowing organisations to test new 5G enabled products and services, design innovative new solutions and understand how to deliver efficiency savings. The hubs focus primarily on these 6 key sectors manufacturing, healthcare, energy, transport, logistics, agritech and aquatech.
At the S5GConnect hubs, we collaborate with different partners to showcase the benefits of 5G – not just the business and economic benefits, but societal and environmental benefits too and offer a range of services to demonstrate both the features and also the benefits of high-capacity connectivity.
From running educational awareness workshops to demonstrating use cases and from providing Consultancy on what technologies might best suit a particular client, to offering them access to our private 5G network to enable testing, design and prototyping of goods and services.
There are now 5 such hubs open for business including this one here in Forth Valley. S5GC are now building collaborative relationships with organisations where we can demonstrate the features and more importantly the benefits of high-capacity connectivity to a wide range of industrialists.
Given that manufacturing is fairly wide-spread across this region, and that there is a pressing need to better understand the environmental impact of manufacturing processes, it’s now time to develop an approach that mitigates the worst of these impacts:
- Greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing in the UK were 60 MtCO2e in 2018. This represents 11% of all emissions in 2018.
Climate Change Committee, December 2020, Sixth Carbon Budget https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/sixth-carbon-budget/
- The Climate Change Committee’s Balanced Net Zero Pathway involves emissions cuts from manufacturing and construction of 70% by 2035 and 90% by 2040 from 2018 levels.
It is estimated that 5G-enabled technologies in manufacturing will bring efficiency improvements that could reduce the industry’s annual carbon emissions by 2.6 MtCO2e annually by 2035.
O2, A Greener Connected Future, https://connect.o2.co.uk/greenerconnectedfuture
The Scotland 5G Centre is now collaborating with CeeD on a series of seminars focusing on sustainable manufacturing and the vital role that connectivity has to play in this. By featuring Topolytics' innovative tool WasteMap, CeeD have taken an important leadership role within industry to highlight what’s possible. Together, S5GC & CeeD are illustrating what is possible by using the latest connectivity solutions to realise the environmental benefits that using such tools and adopting new approaches can have.
The first of this series is being planned for late January 2023 and will take place at Forth Valley 5G Connect Hub - so watch this space for details on the event itself and how to register.