Blogs

Derek Bishop

Director

Manufacturing power

Date added: 24th Mar 2015
Category: Innovation Culture

Infrastructure changes, faster broadband, support for R&D; all these measures and more will help to back up the manufacturing resurgence. But lasting success will only be assured provided the culture changes which have kick started the renaissance are sustained and focused.

In the period since 2010, the UK’s manufacturing output has grown 4.5 times faster than it did in the entire decade before the crisis.  This statistic from the March 2015 Budget underpins the growing body of evidence about the way in which the UK’s manufacturing base has shrugged off the legacy of past decline and is becoming a real force again within the economy.  In fact the Markit Manufacturing PMI announced at the beginning of March revealed that for the third month running manufacturing PMI figures were up, rising to the highest level seen since June 201

Even before The Chancellor got on his feet to deliver the budget, comments in Prime Minister’s question time pointed to a manufacturing success story. The recently announced new BAE systems apprentice training academy in the Ribble Valley will help to boost the training potential for the more than 800 apprentices which BAE systems are looking to take on this year.  With manufacturing success very much in mind, the budget saw announcements including:

  • 60 million investment in the new Energy Research Accelerator
  • Confirmation that the new national energy catapult will be in Birmingham.
  • Backing for the automotive industry with a £100 million investment to stay ahead in the race to driverless technology

Those questioning how Britain’s manufacturing base has turned itself around need look no further than a 2014 article by Professor John R Bryson, Professor of Enterprise and Competitiveness at Birmingham Business School.  In the article Professor Bryson commented that:

“British manufacturing companies have been quietly restructuring away from competition based on price, to competition founded upon knowledge, innovation, quality, reputation, brand and speed of response.”

But if this cultural transformation is to continue then manufacturers may have to move even further towards a collaborative culture of innovation.  Whilst they may have gained a short term advantage by turning their cultures around, market forces and disrupters from across the globe will soon be looking to imitate UK success.  The only way to stay on top of the game is to stay ahead of the game and the further our manufacturers can move towards innovation culture, the more they can dictate the shape of the market.

With innovation comes agility, getting products to market and creating solutions faster than ever before.  With innovation comes collaboration, working with customers, and external organisations to create products which actually solve a need.  And with innovation comes intelligence, really getting under the skin of customers to truly understand their drivers.  Here, the UK also has an advantage as a world leader in digital technology, enabling manufacturers to tap into IT expertise to better understand their market.

Infrastructure changes, faster broadband, support for R&D; all these measures and more will help to back up the manufacturing resurgence.  But lasting success will only be assured provided the culture changes which have kick started the renaissance are sustained and focused.

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