Manufacturing expert urges Mid Ulster firms to prepare for digitisation
A manufacturing expert has urged firms in the sector in Mid Ulster to prepare for digitisation.
Peter Marsh, author of The New Industrial Revolution and former manufacturing editor at the Financial Times, visited some of the region's 800 manufacturing firms.
Companies in the area include heavy equipment manufacturers CDE Global and CDEnviro in Cookstown, Strickland Ireland in Coalisland and Specialist Joinery Group in Maghera.
He told a seminar at Specialist Joinery Group that new technologies such as advanced robotics, automation and digital fabrication would usher in the next industrial revolution.
"It has been fascinating to see, in this my first visit to the region, how locally founded and owned businesses are embracing the integration of digital technology and machine automation to address areas of innovation that are necessary to compete successfully on the global stage," he said.
The visit was led by Mid Ulster District Council, which said it was "driving the digitisation of manufacturing agenda". Council chairman Sean McPeake said: "Mid Ulster has the highest concentration of manufacturing businesses here, the largest Gross Value Added at over £830m annually, and our latest research shows very clearly that the sector's dominant position is set to grow. Engineering alone accounts for 21% of jobs in the industry, more than twice the average of 9%, and our businesses are now looking to the future and the challenges of digitisation. Smaller firms can gain a competitive advantage by embracing technology."