January 2019: 18 things that happened in UK manufacturing you need to know

Posted on 30 Jan 2019 by Maddy White

The last month in manufacturing has certainly not succumbed to January blues; industry has remained buoyant and resilient despite challenges faced. This has been reflected in much of the Editorial team's latest news, features and analysis.

From business leaders’ digital transformation and skills plans for the year ahead, to overcoming Brexit disruption, an electric aircraft, and even visits to a bespoke shotgun manufacturer, an urban winery and two ceramic manufacturers in Stoke-on-Trent.

Here are 18 things that happened in UK manufacturing this month that you need to know.

Stock digitalisation digital transformation digital technologies tech Industry 4.0 - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Digital transformation defines the manufacturing sector of today – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

1) Digital transformation defines the manufacturing sector of today.

Over the last month, we spoke to leading executives about the 2019 4IR strategies they will be introducing this year.


2) The UK’s largest automotive manufacturer announced that it is cutting around 4,500 jobs – the majority coming from its 44,000-strong UK workforce. Digital editor, Jonny Williamson asked why that is.


3) Reporter, Maddy White spoke to Nishant Raj, Industry 4.0 lead at a global manufacturer, about his experiences that show major miscommunications between the government and industry over work visas, further fuelling the skills gap.


4) Rolls-Royce revealed its plans to build a zero-emissions plane expected to hit a target speed of over 300mph in 2020.


Holland & Holland - Dec 2018 - Photography by Chris Harmer (www.gingerbrownphotography.com)
Holland & Holland’s guns are highly prized – image courtesy of Chris Harmer.

5) Editorial director, Nick Peters sat down with Mick White, manufacturing director at British bespoke gunmaker Holland & Holland, whose handmade shotguns are highly prized and highly priced, retailing for £250,000 each. 


6) UK manufacturing continues to grow from strength to strength amid significant domestic, global and technological disruption.

We rounded up and reflected on our top 10 news stories from the past 12 months!


7) Recruiting and retaining the right skills remains a well-documented challenge for UK manufacturing.

With Brexit looming ever closer, business leaders crucially need to secure their future talent now. We asked them what are they planning.


8) With the boost to bakery chain Greggs largely down to its newly launched vegan sausage roll, and many taking on ‘veganuary’ this month, the rise of alternative food and drinks products is no longer a trend, but a shift in lifestyle. Reporter, Maddy White asked how can businesses leverage it?


9) Over the past 12 months, UK manufacturing faced a variety of challenges and opportunities, both international and domestic. The Manufacturer reported and reflected on the past year.

manufacturing (R) Morven Burden at The Manufacturer MX Awards 2018 - image courtesy of The Manufacturer.
(R) Morven Burden at The Manufacturer MX Awards 2018 – image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

10) At 27-years-old Morven Burden is the youngest factory manager international confectionery business pladis Global has ever had. Reporter, Maddy White spoke to the young success.


11) Digital editor, Jonny Williamson shared his highlights from the Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit – the largest gathering of manufacturing decision makers in the UK, which was held at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool last November.


12) BAE Systems invests approximately £90m per year in education, skills and early careers activities in the UK. Earlier this month, the aerospace giant announced plans to recruit 700 new apprentices over 2019.


manufacturing Competition is the single biggest challenge currently facing UK businesses overall against backdrop of Brexit, according to new research.
Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected.

13) MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal – this the biggest defeat for a government in history. We asked leading UK manufacturers their thoughts and next steps.


14) Increasing numbers of industrial businesses are replacing their rigid, protracted innovation strategies with a ‘fail fast, fail forward’ framework, and the gains are clear to see.

Digital editor, Jonny Williamson reported on how low-code can help to fuel growth ambitions.


15) The industry-led productivity and competitiveness improvement programme, Sharing in Growth, has now helped UK aerospace suppliers win orders worth more than £3.4bn.


16) Where is your favourite wine from? Your answer probably isn’t Battersea. The area may be more famous for its power station, but it’s also home to an urban winery that sources its grapes from just down the road.

It’s one of many in recent years to have opened up in the capital, as the urban wine movement gains momentum. Maddy White visited.


British Ceramics - image courtesy of Steelite International
For years Stoke-on-Trent has been regarded as the ceramics heartland of the world – image courtesy of Steelite International.

17) Did you know that Stoke-on-Trent has been regarded as the ceramics heartland of the world for centuries?

Though to keep pace with the demands of today, the city can’t rely on its industrial pedigree, it needs to offer cutting-edge technology and manufacturing excellence.

Digital editor, Jonny Williamson visited Johnson Tiles and Steelite International to find out more.


18) According to a report published this month, the cost of electric cars will match that of diesel and petrol in the UK by 2021.

As a result of decreasing price, an additional 21 million electric vehicles (EVs) will be on roads across the world over the next decade.


Get exclusive industry news before anyone else when you sign up to our newsletter!