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The Future of Manufacturing in the UK

The United Kingdom is among the world's top 10 manufacturing economies. Whether that country's leadership will continue is open to debate.

“The UK comes in at number seven in largest economies due to their healthy agriculture, electronics, and manufacturing industries,” according to one article. “England has long been considered a leading financial and political power in Europe.” Manufacturing businesses employ 2.5 million people in the UK, contributing 10 percent of the UK GVA (Gross Value Added), and accounts for 54 percent of exports.

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the UK's innovation agency, plays an important role helping UK manufacturers to remain competitive in the global market by shifting focus toward high-value, knowledge-rich products, processes, and services. The TSB brings together businesses, research, and the public sector. One of the main goals of the TSB is to support and accelerate the development of innovative products and services to meet international market needs.

Strong industries
The aerospace, pharmaceutical, and automotive industries in the UK have in common an innovative manufacturing sector. These industries have become strong in national and international markets thanks to their high R&D. Both aerospace and automotive industries depend on large and reliable electronics supply chains to keep their current positions in innovation, and they therefore receive TSB support.

Manufacturing innovation
In the next 15 to 20 years, it is likely that the UK will be generating wealth from manufacturing innovation. The TSB has established a crystal clear path for UK manufacturing, directing its investment toward innovation identified in 22 national competencies, which are expected to contribute at a great scale to economic growth in the UK.

Innovative business models and value supply chains
I am pretty sure we all agree that without encouragement it is difficult to keep up, whatever the job is. Business communities are no different from individuals. They need encouragement as well in order to develop innovative business models and supply chains.

The Technology Strategy Board is up to investing £10 million in projects that explore new design in additive manufacturing — for example, in 3D printing. Additive manufacturing intelligently combined with new developments in the digital area opens the possibility of manufacturing novel and complex components, which will be the base of the future of manufacturing.

What the future will bring
The world of design manufacturing is changing fast. To cope with the rapid evolution of technology the TSB, during the period 2013/14, is focusing on five high-value manufacturing areas. These areas have been chosen due to their strong potential for innovation to generate wealth:

  • Resource efficiency
  • Manufacturing systems
  • Integration of new materials with manufacturing technologies
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Manufacturing business models

By having the support of a government agency, many UK-based manufacturers and startups focusing on additive manufacturing and new technologies have a bright future awaiting if they devote their efforts to writing a good business plan for innovation that could not only help their own growth, but could also contribute to the wealth of the UK. I believe, from what I have seen in the recent exhibition at the Design Museum in London — The Future Is Here, sponsored by the TSB — that there is no doubt we are living a new industrial revolution.

26 comments on “The Future of Manufacturing in the UK

  1. Nemos
    October 31, 2013

    “The United Kingdom is among the world's top 10 manufacturing economies” to be honest I am a bit surprised I didn't expect that. Although they have a quite strong coin (exchange rate) the depth influence over the markets is high.

  2. FLYINGSCOT
    October 31, 2013

    Thanks for the post.  Living in the UK we all tend to moan about how our manf base has been dessimated over the last 30 years so it is encouraging to see the UK is 7 globally and more importantly trying to do a lot more to improve it.

  3. Susan Fourtané
    November 1, 2013

    Nemos, 

    Maybe it surprises you because it doesn't seem to have made it to dozens of articles. :/ But now you know. 🙂 

    -Susan

  4. Susan Fourtané
    November 1, 2013

    Flyingscot, 

    Yes. 🙂 Maybe it's about time you had a closer look while sipping your tea. I was nicely surprised about all what I found out recently about recent initiatives in manufacturing in the UK. 

    There is plenty going on, most importantly, the use of new technologies in the industry plus the support from the governent makes everything quite interesting. 

    And never forget that good news make it to the news with less frequency than bad news, unfortunately. I was happy to report about this. 🙂 

    -Susan 

  5. t.alex
    November 3, 2013

    It surprises me too 🙂 as I always believe all the manufacturing have been shifted to somewhere in China or Asia.

  6. Susan Fourtané
    November 3, 2013

    t.alex, 

    How nice. 🙂 This shows that it's about time we paid more attention to what's going on in the manufacturing world in the UK.

    I think it's a common assumption to believe that all the manufacturing has been shifted to China or India, as they are big manufacturing centers. 

    -Susan

  7. _hm
    November 3, 2013

    It is bit suprising and pleasnat news but UK has presence in value added market. If UK needs to enhance manufacturing, they also needs to have more innovations. For this, they need to invest much more in education.

     

  8. Susan Fourtané
    November 4, 2013

    _hm, 

    Education needs more investment in many places, indeed. There is pretty much going on in innovation at the moment in the UK. I think it has to be more exposed, right? :/ 

    -Susan 

  9. Wale Bakare
    November 4, 2013

    Esepcially research field. I learned UK government was recently raised concerns over few researches getting funds.

  10. Susan Fourtané
    November 4, 2013

    Wale, 

    Research getting fund? What have you heard? 

    -Susan

  11. _hm
    November 4, 2013

    @Susan: Yes, it ought to be more exposed so other people can employ this technology and UK earn more. But UK should always look at Germans like 10K run in Olympics and put more effort to earn Gold.

     

  12. Wale Bakare
    November 5, 2013

    @Susan,

     

    Few months ago UK govt made it known to the public. It was published that universities in Asia especially China and Japan get more funds in research field.

  13. t.alex
    November 5, 2013

    Susan,

    Is it true that in the UK the use of robots is more prevalent ? 

  14. Susan Fourtané
    November 6, 2013

    Wale, 

    That's an interesting topic. Is the fund for research in general or for research in the technology field? 

    -Susan

  15. Susan Fourtané
    November 6, 2013

    t.alex, 

    Yes, it is. And contrary to the old conception of robots being used only to perform dull and repetitive tasks the trend points out to more intelligente, general-purpose robots. This is also an area that is evolving quite fast.

    -Susan  

  16. Susan Fourtané
    November 6, 2013

    _hm, 

    Lol, but why always look at Germans? 😀

    -Susan

  17. _hm
    November 6, 2013

    @Susan: You ought to work and live in Germany to realise this. In most aspects, they are leader and worth learning from there.

     

  18. Susan Fourtané
    November 7, 2013

    _hm, 

    I have been in Germany, but haven't lived there. :/ Do you mean maybe I should go and live in Germany for some time to see about this? 🙂 Would one to three months be enough? Have you lived in Germany? 

    -Susan 

  19. t.alex
    November 7, 2013

    I need not live in Germany but it's well-known for long time as one of the technology leader with good and high-quality hi-tech products 🙂

  20. _hm
    November 7, 2013

    @Susan & Alex: I have lived, worked and have unduly high respect for Deutch land and its people for their work ethics and all other aspects of life. You may go their with open minded for one year and work there and learn many more novel ways of life. But now my advise is to send younger generation kids just out of university or like.

    Many a time you will have thought that North Amercia is almost 15 years backward.

     

     

  21. Susan Fourtané
    November 8, 2013

    Oh, t.alex, I know that! 😀 But you said you have to live and work in Germany to know that. 🙂 So I was packing already. 😛 

    -Susan 

  22. Susan Fourtané
    November 8, 2013

    _hm, 

    Well, yes. I have also seen that just being in Scandinavia, and the Nordic countries in Europe. In which city were you living and working?

    -Susan

  23. _hm
    November 8, 2013

    @Susan: 52.0167° N, 8.6914° E. Do you speak Deutsche?

     

  24. Susan Fourtané
    November 9, 2013

    _hm, 

    No, I don't. Why? 

    -Susan

  25. t.alex
    November 9, 2013

    _hm, thanks for sharing. That's great to know. Is language a problem there? 

     

  26. _hm
    November 9, 2013

    @Susan & Alex: “Language is the key” – This is very improtant aspect before visitng any country. Be it Germany, France, China, Japan or others. Try to learn whatever you can.

    Is that intellectual level of person also enhances with knowing more number of languages?

    People there are quite proficient in English. However, when they look you as visitor and expect to speak in english and suddenly you ask in German (may be with little dialect), they are so so happy. With this they help you out of the ordinary. With this you also enjoy their tradition and culture.

    Now is a time to visit there to enjoy Hot Glue Wine!

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