EMBRACING INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES
The manufacturing industry can certainly be identified as one of the shining beacons of the UK’s business landscape.
Manufacturers’ trade body Make UK’s latest annual data for the industry reveals that the sector has £191 billion of output – a 7% growth over five years. Figures not to be sniffed at given the unprecedented issues the UK manufacturing industry has recently encountered.
The last 12 months have been tumultuous for everyone in the UK. However, the manufacturing industry seems to have faced more than its fair share of challenges, with both COVID-19 and pre-Brexit jitters affecting supply chains, demand, talent recruitment and even administrative tasks.
Realistically, the tough times are not completely behind us, with uncertainties over Brexit and the pandemic meaning that the industry is still treading water, trying to keep afloat.
The question is how can the industry not only survive in the current climate, but thrive as well?
Could the answer be for manufacturing companies to take onboard industrial automation and digital technologies? It has been widely thought for some time that those manufacturing businesses that can adapt to new technologies will quickly find themselves ahead of their competitors.
To answer this, the team here at White Label have looked into the latest challenges the industry has faced and how riding the waves of automation and new digital technologies could possibly help to overcome them.
Challenges still facing the manufacturing industry
It’s not rocket science to say that the two main challenges hanging over the sector are still the COVID pandemic and Brexit. Manufacturing companies in the UK are going to have to navigate the choppy waters of both if they are to emerge as steady ships.
As if this wasn’t hard enough, Make UK have also said its members are expecting lower investment in the UK and to have a harder time recruiting talent. With the many unknowns that loom out of the future, manufacturing businesses need to hoist their main sails and brace themselves for a potentially rough ride ahead.
- COVID-19: Covid has had a variety of impacts of UK manufacturing companies. Some have suffered hugely due to a lack of demand for commodities, while others experienced a growth in demand for home products and others took the opportunity to diversify and turn their talents to the production of PPE for instance. The UK’s vaccination programme indicates that the end of the voyage is near, but there are still long-standing effects of the pandemic which are expected to affect the UK economy – and all facets of it – for many years to come.
- Brexit: Despite the last-minute trade deal, businesses having to steer through the UK’s new trading agreement with the UK are certainly going to face some ice in the waters ahead. A major industry survey carried out by PwC and Make UK found that nearly half of manufacturers say the biggest risk they face in 2021 is the potential impact of customs delays and other administrative tasks on the shipping and receiving of goods. Ultimately, even though the US is the single largest importer of UK manufactured products, 46% of all UK manufactured goods were exported to European countries combined, totalling £169 billion.
How manufacturers can overcome challenges by embracing automation and technology
The industry as a whole has very little control as to what further implications Brexit and COVID-19 may have, but what they can do is develop agility, flexibility and resilience in the face of what is to come. Innovation in automation and technology is a significant part of this preparation.
Those willing to embrace this new era have a huge potential to grow. For example, output could be significantly increased, less raw materials will be wasted, and projects will become more time efficient and cost-effective.
The adoption of automation could also remove dependence on one vendor systems, which many manufacturers are currently tied into.
Importantly, the first task will be to identify which operations would most benefit from being automated, and what technologies could help them in their endeavours. Once identified, manufacturers across the UK could find themselves reaching new customers, serving new markets and raising the standards in the industry as a whole.
The right people for the right technology
We have talked a lot about automation and technology in this blog. However, it is crucial to remember that in order to upgrade to these systems, manufacturing companies have to ensure they have hired people with the right skillsets to understand and operate them.
With manufacturing processes evolving, the workers themselves must evolve as well. They must have superior technical skills, so they recognise how to get the most out of new technology, while also understanding the context of the wider sector as well.
Talented people who possess both these skills are hard to come by, indeed many manufacturing companies are reporting that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find quality candidates.
Why White Label is an expert in the manufacturing industry
When seeking a professional outcome, utilising the skills of a professional to get there can make all the difference.
White Label has been a specialist recruitment agent in the manufacturing sector for more than a decade and we have always been focused on delivering specialist Engineers & Technical staff to support the future of the Manufacturing & Engineering industries.
We have extensive networks within the industry and an unrivalled knowledge of the potential challenges and opportunities that our clients face. This means that there is no-one more suited to help UK manufacturers ride the waves of this new era of technology and automation.
When the waters are as choppy as they are in 2021, manufacturing companies need to make sure they have a guiding light leading the way to the top talent, so they don’t lose anyone overboard.
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