Page 36 - European Energy Innovation - Spring 2016 publication
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36  Spring 2016 European Energy Innovation


Smart Manufacturing

By Pilar del Castillo, MEP, Industry, Energy and Research Committee (ITRE)

                Digital developments are
                                                                                                                                     truly transforming and
                                                                                                                                     enabling technologies
                                                                                                                                     (such as 3D printing,
                                                                                                                      Cloud computing, big Data, Machine
                                                                                                                      to Machine communications and
                                                                                                                      very soon 5G), which can improve
                                                                                                                      efficiency, effectiveness, productivity,
                                                                                                                      competitiveness and customerisation
                                                                                                                      across the economy as a whole. This
                                                                                                                      process affects all sectors, from energy
                                                                                                                      to health, from transport to education,
                                                                                                                      etc. Its potential is so great that it is
                                                                                                                      estimated that digital technologies
                                                                                                                      could cut global total economic costs
                                                                                                                      by $4.9 trillion: $1.2 trillion from
                                                                                                                      reduced electricity expenditure, $1.1
                                                                                                                      trillion from reduced fuel expenditure.

                                                                                                                      Being an integral part of our economy,
                                                                                                                      manufacturing cannot be an exception.
                                                                                                                      In fact it is even more pressing in
                                                                                                                      this area. Not just because of its
                                                                                                                      importance. Manufacturing represents
                                                                                                                      the major share of investment in R&D
                                                                                                                      (62.3% in 2013), it's a key source of
                                                                                                                      exports (80% of total EU exports) and
                                                                                                                      in terms of employment it has been
                                                                                                                      demonstrated that each additional
                                                                                                                      job in this sector creates between 0.5
                                                                                                                      to 2 jobs in others. In addition Europe
                                                                                                                      has shown that it has found difficulties
                                                                                                                      in maintaining a strong industrial
                                                                                                                      base and a competitive position at
                                                                                                                      international level (in the last 6 years
                                                                                                                      the share of manufacturing in GDP has
                                                                                                                      fallen from 15.8% to 15.1%).

                                                                                                                      For all of these reasons we must
                                                                                                                      move away from past and current
                                                                                                                      mainstream thinking and practices
                                                                                                                      regarding industrial policy. There is
                                                                                                                      an urgent need for a shift towards a
                                                                                                                      coordinated approach at all levels,
                                                                                                                      that is: between Member States,
                                                                                                                      across industry, between public and
                                                                                                                      private entities, and even between the
                                                                                                                      different directorates-general of the
                                                                                                                      European Commission.

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