The manufacturing industry has long been a significant driver of the UK economy. Despite concerns over de-industrialization, it remains a crucial sector, contributing around 10% of the country’s total economic output and employing approximately 2.6 million people.
In addition, the industry generates roughly £192 billion in annual output, making it a vital source of foreign exchange, boosting GDP and creating jobs for UK residents.
The Importance of Manufacturing for the UK Economy
In fact, the manufacturing industry is responsible for a staggering 45% of the UK’s total exports, making it, not just an important source, but a critical source of foreign exchange for the country.
This underscores the industry’s contribution to the UK balance of trade, boosting its GDP and creating jobs for UK residents. Furthermore, the manufacturing industry is crucial for research and development, driving innovation and progressing technology in various sectors, thus helping to transition the UK into a high-value economy.
The Need for Innovation and Investment
Although the UK has a strong manufacturing base with a highly skilled workforce, productivity in the manufacturing industry has lagged, dragging down growth across the economy. Since the financial crisis, Brexit, and the pandemic, productivity growth has been meager, rising only 7% over the past decade compared to 21% in the preceding decade. As a result, the industry needs innovation and investment to increase efficiency, reduce waste, improve quality, and create new markets and opportunities for growth.
Innovation and Productivity in UK Manufacturing
According to Lizzie Houghton, managing director at Moleroda Finishing Systems, a UK-based firm supplying innovative finishing tools and solutions to manufacturing firms, innovation is crucial for driving productivity in UK manufacturing. She emphasizes that “only by adopting new technologies, processes, and materials can manufacturers increase efficiency, reduce waste, and improve quality. Additionally, adopting new technologies helps the UK as a whole compete on the global stage by leading to higher productivity, lower costs, and increased competitiveness.”
Moleroda Finishing Systems is an innovative firm that supplies finishing tools and equipment across the manufacturing sector. From aerospace and the medical industry to automotive, restoration tools, and even jewellery making tools, the company’s products can help manufacturers in a wide range of industries increase productivity and efficiency.
The UK’s World-Class R&D
The UK has a strong tradition of innovation in manufacturing, boasting world-class research institutions and a highly skilled workforce. Lizzie Houghten is convinced that “by continuing to invest in innovation, UK manufacturers can stay ahead of the curve, driving productivity and ensuring the industry’s continued success and contribution to the UK economy.”
The Need for Government Support
Industry leaders have been calling on the government for support to help the manufacturing industry transition into a high-growth, advanced manufacturing economy.
In June of this year, Moleroda is hosting the Innovations in Finishing Showcase in Birmingham, a free (but ticketed) event where manufacturers can see and try the latest in mass finishing technology. The event will include live demos and displays and is an excellent opportunity for manufacturers to learn about the latest innovations in the field.
In conclusion, the manufacturing industry is crucial to the UK economy, contributing significantly to GDP and providing jobs to millions of UK residents.
However, to remain competitive on the global stage, the industry needs innovation and investment to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and improve quality. As Lizzie Houghton of Moleroda Finishing Systems notes, “only by adopting new technologies, processes, and materials can UK manufacturers stay ahead of the curve, driving productivity and ensuring the industry’s continued success.”
Following the, so far largely negative consequences of Brexit, it’s vital for the UK to embark on a strong PR campaign in order to attract more inward investment. Furthermore, by continuing to invest in innovation and offering support to the manufacturing industry, the UK can maintain its position as one of the world leaders in manufacturing and drive its economy forward.
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