PROSPER MAGAZINE: ISSUE 01 | SECTOR FOCUS
MANUFACTURING: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
In the past four decades, the sector has seen the effective abandonment of large-scale low-cost metal bashing to countries in which costs are lower, and a shift into producing goods that require higher levels of innovation and advanced skills and the development of agile and integrated supply-chains.
Warnings from the Bank of England about the effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit are creating concern among all manufacturing businesses. Monthly data from the PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) showing that manufacturing output has fallen by the largest amount for seven years due to continued uncertainty caused by Brexit, as well as reduced demand due to a slowdown in economies across the world, especially China, add to an impending sense of crisis.
But this crisis could become a disaster for manufacturing if the UK leaves the EU with no arrangements in place and tariffs and customs checks become necessary as a result of trading within WTO rules.
Dr Steven McCabe, Associate Professor, Institute of Design and Economic Acceleration (IDEA) and Senior Fellow, Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University, said: “As all businesses have learned over the last 40 years, what is essential is continued investment in innovation and the development of new products coupled with training of the next generation of workers.”
Dr McCabe believes the industry must remain positive despite the uncertainty.
He said: “There will be better times ahead and there is no reason to believe that customers across the globe will continue to buy goods and components manufactured in the UK simply because they are the best and offer the best value in terms of performance, reliability and are innovative.
“However, there is no doubt that there are tough times ahead, even if Brexit were not to occur. This is a time to look to the future and, crucially, beyond events that may or may not occur later this year.”
He added: “This country became great because of the ingenuity fostered by the industrial revolution. What was achieved during this period of phenomenal growth and development of new techniques and products should give inspiration for the next great industrial age. British manufacturing should be seen as the bedrock upon which the UK economy grows as it offers wonderful opportunities for jobs and prosperity for all parts of the UK.”
What happens next for the Manufacturing industry will no doubt come down to if the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, and on what terms. We wait in anticipation.
HUGE INVESTMENT ANNOUNCED FOR BRIERLEY HILL FIRM
One of the UK’s leading manufacturers of round, flat and profile wire has recently completed a £250,000 investment drive to help it build on a record year.
Alloy Wire International, based in Brierley Hill, which employs 31 people across manufacturing sites in the Black Country and Yorkshire, broke through the £11m barrier in 2018 and immediately pushed the button on the acquisition of 560mm single block and 200mm multi-block drawing machines.
These installations will help increase capacity and will ensure AWI continues to deliver its industry-leading 3-week lead times, so crucial for customers in the automotive, aerospace, nuclear, oil and gas sectors.
There has also been a number of infrastructure improvements, including internal and external refurbishments, new floors in the flat wire rolling department and, following consultation with employees, a re-organisation of the manufacturing plant to deliver further production efficiencies.