Digitizing UK Manufacturing

31 March 2020

By Cindy Atinault, VP Marketing, Senseye

The UK is one of the world's largest manufacturing nations. Almost 3 million people work in the industry and deliver almost half of all UK exports and drive over 60 percent of all UK research and development. As a result of that investment, manufacturing as we know it is changing, adapting, and transforming each and every day.  

Public funding supports manufacturers via national and local (council) schemes. The European Union was also a great contributor for this industry and the question remains on how without the support from the European Union these companies in the UK will remain competitive.

Cindy at Make UK

On 9th March I had the chance to join a workshop hosted by Make UK on the topic of Digitization and what it means for the SMEs and large-scale companies within the manufacturing industry in the UK.

Formerly known as EEF, Make UK champions engineering and manufacturing in the UK, supporting businesses around the country.

Many discussions from both the local and national governments provided some key takeaways:

  1. There is no consensus on digital threads.

What digital transformation means for one company might be very different for another. Is it to go paperless or is it to take advantage of the technology to address a specific issue linked to production, productivity, unplanned downtime, etc.?

Digital transformation and change can be scary. New technology changes the way a company operates and can impact employees so it’s important that business owners seek a solution to support their project and tie into existing methodologies and training.

The key is to not change everything but to focus on the challenges you need to overcome as a company to perform better: to increase your margins or to deliver a better customer experience by delivering your products on time reaching an optimum quality.

  1. Location is key and could mean the difference between your business being sustainable or not

Depending on where your business is located, your company might be entitled to access specific and local funding so when establishing a new business this should be considered. There is no consensus between local and national governmental bodies, and it can quickly become a maze to find the right funding for you. Not to mention the increased workload due to the paperwork you will need to fill out, making it even more challenging to lead your business.

Another point to consider with location is access to talent and experts. For example, being located near a University or Technology College supporting your field could allow you to source highly skilled staff. Remote working can of course be leveraged but not all companies are set up to work this way currently. However, with the pandemic now ongoing is there really any other choice?  

The challenges highlighted above are not exhaustive. UK manufacturers need to continue to adapt and perform in order to survive. Trade Organizations like Make UK help connect the dots between the different parties and offers a wealth of knowledge and advice to help UK manufacturers succeed. 

To learn how Make UK and Senseye supports UK manufacturers to adapt and take advantage of new digital solutions, watch our on-demand webinar "How to Leverage Industry 4.0 to Increase Reliability and Productivity".