April 2019: What you missed this month in manufacturing

Posted on 30 Apr 2019 by Maddy White

This month in British manufacturing has seen steady progress despite continued political turmoil. We look at some of the key news stories and topics that surrounded industry in April, alongside exclusive factory visits and interviews we reported.

From advancing your digitalisation journey at any business level, and the inner workings of the world’s oldest cheddar factory, to changing the stereotype of the steel industry and another episode of The Manufacturer’s podcast series, April for both the sector and TM’s newsroom has been as lively and diverse as ever. 

Here are the key insights we divulged this month that you might have missed. 

1) The Manufacturer Podcast: Is this person the greatest STEM ambassador ever?

Ian Green celebrating National Apprenticeship Day at the House of Lords with (L-R) Eden McGlen from Unipres, and Rachel Whitworth, Charlotte Parks and Emma Coulson from Nissan.
Ian Green celebrating National Apprenticeship Day at the House of Lords with (L-R) Rachel Whitworth, Charlotte Parks and Emma Coulson from Nissan.

In the latest edition of our podcast series, editorial director Nick Peters spoke to Ian Green, Senior Controller of the Nissan Skills Foundation.

They talk about how Green could have been one of this country’s top manufacturers, but fate – in the form of an accident –  had other ideas, so all that energy and creativity went into training and spreading the manufacturing apprenticeship message far and wide.


2) Industrial Data Summit 2019: IIoT, Big Data & Supply Chain Insights

This year’s Industrial Data Summit 2019 was held in London’s Mary Ward House (10 April). Digital editor Jonny Williamson recaps the conversations heard on his morning roundtables that centred around the ‘Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Big Data’, and gaining greater ‘Supply Chain Insights’.


3) Will Vertical Farming solve the world’s growing ecological and human crises?

Vertical Farming is a new approach that could help solve the world’s escalating food chain crisis, and it is all made possible by data and lean manufacturing. Editorial director Nick Peters discussed this concept with pioneer of aeroponic farming AeroFarms’ co-founder David Rosenberg.


4) Changing the stereotype of the steel industry and its workforce

Many women we speak to in manufacturing say that a career in industry was never their first choice. However, once in the sector they can’t imagine doing anything else. Earlier this month, reporter Maddy White spoke to one woman who has worked in the steel industry for 25 years and has never looked back.


5) Barber’s: Inside the world’s oldest cheddar cheese maker

Barber's is the world's oldest cheddar maker - image courtesy of Alex Steele Perkins.
Barber’s is the world’s oldest cheddar maker – image courtesy of Alex Steele Perkins.

Cheddar is one of the best-known cheeses in the world. It originates from the small village of Cheddar in Somerset, South West England, and it has been produced there since the 12th century.

To capitalise on the growing taste for the hard cheese, Daniel Barber began making Cheddar on Maryland Farm in Somerset in 1833. Six generations later, Barber’s now churns out more than 80 tonnes a day. Reporter Maddy White visited.


6) This is how digital transformation can optimise your working capital

Cash is the lifeblood of any company. It’s more important than ever for businesses to optimise this aspect of financial performance if they are to maintain a steady course in these uncertain times.

In our latest webinar, editorial director, Nick Peters, Andrew Spence, solutions director at Sage, and Natalie Henfrey, working capital specialist at PwC discuss how manufacturers can utilise their cash.

7) Blockchain: Beyond the hype

The capabilities that blockchain could provide to manufacturers is yet to be fully understood, but it is promising a lot; secure supply chains, traceability, advanced IoT security and more. At this year’s Industrial Blockchain Exchange (11 April), we explored the advanced tech beyond its ‘hype’.


8) T Levels: Worrying lack of awareness & engagement from manufacturers

This month, manufacturers urged the government to work more closely with them on new reforms to technical education to avoid repeating the same mistakes over the Apprenticeship Levy which was rushed in without proper consultation. Digital editor Jonny Williamson reports.


9) First major test for world’s first ‘space plane’ passed

Sabre is a new type of engine that aims to offer flexible travel.

Designed to drive space planes to orbit at Mach 5, and also take airliners around the world in just a few hours, the Sabre air-breathing rocket engine has passed a crucial testing phase.


10) From IT to dairy free, meet the leaders of ‘free from’ chocolate

A few years ago, the ‘free from’ area of the supermarket was a mere shelf, now there are dedicated aisles for it. Moo Free is a vegan chocolate business based in Exeter who has taken full advantage of this accelerating market, reporter Maddy White headed to Devon to find out more.


11) Comment: We need to stop viewing manufacturing as simply a commoditised function

Having worked in several industries, from FMCG to Defence, award-winning British entrepreneur George Edwards has always been fascinated by how manufacturing is perceived in the wider organisation. Here he comments on how industry is viewed.


12) Andrea Thompson on steering the £20m Made Smarter North West Pilot

Nick Peters speaks to Andrea Thompson, managing director for Europe & International Programmes at BAE Systems, and recently appointed chair of the Made Smarter Commission’s North West Pilot.


13) 5G technology to boost UK manufacturing revenue by £2bn

A reliable, widespread 5G network could increase annual business revenues by up to £15.7bn by 2025, with manufacturing one of four sectors set to reap the greatest potential return, according to a new study.


14) The UK manufacturer of industrial safety barriers setting the standard for export growth

Industrial Safety Barriers - A-Safe Atlas barrier airport installation
A-Safe Atlas barrier airport installation.

UK manufacturing needs export stars like never before. A-Safe, winner of The Manufacturer MX Award 2018 for Export, is an international champion with its feet firmly on the ground in the UK.

Steven Barr talked with co-owner James Smith and head of international marketing Sharon Hendry about the secrets of their success.


15) Three key tips for innovating products and processes

How do you innovate products and processes in a sector that has, at its core, remained unchanged for centuries? One cheesemaker provides the perfect recipe to follow.


16) Women in Innovation: Innovate UK’s campaign backing female creativity

Simon Edmonds reports on the success of Innovate UK’s strategy to boost support for the nation’s talented pool of female innovators. Plus, the important work of Open Bionics, which manufactures bespoke 3D-printed prosthetics for children.


17Blockchain: Five-year technology versus 100-year IP

Industrial blockchain exchange - image courtesy of TM
Manufacturing and blockchain experts at the Industrial Blockchain Exchange – image courtesy of TM.

The term ‘blockchain’ is little more than a decade old; related tech businesses are less than half that. Should manufacturers be embracing such a new, unfounded technology?


18) Top tips: Transforming the role of finance in manufacturing

Do you want to know how your manufacturing firm can be strategic in its finance function? Finance executives from leading international manufacturers like Aston Martin, Rolls–Royce, AkzoNobel, Pladis, Puratos and Jaguar Land Rover share their insights on how finance teams can drive transformation.


19) Is effective change management the key to a successful digital transformation?

An expert panel at Industrial Data Summit 2019 explored the common change management pain points associated with digital transformation and advised businesses on how they could overcome or eliminate them. Digital editor Jonny Williamson reported.


20) The UK is leading the £62bn autonomous car race

Britain is leading the market for connected and autonomous vehicles, with a £62bn boost to the UK economy by 2030 available, a recent report found.