Celebrating 10-years of UK manufacturing insights & analysis

Posted on 26 Jun 2018 by The Manufacturer

Since 2008, Mike Rigby has spent nearly every week on the road visiting sites across the nation, alongside attending numerous conferences, seminars & open days. In his final piece as Barclays' head of manufacturing, transport and logistics, he looks back over 10 years of memories, success stories & good friends made.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) set out its priorities to assure the UK manufacturing automotive industry’s future success - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
After being marginalised and maligned by so many for so long, UK industry is now rightfully back in the spotlight – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

After spending more than a decade supporting UK manufacturing, transport and logistics businesses, it is time for me to move on. It is with a sense of excitement tinged with sadness that I will be stepping across to assume the mantle of Barclays’ Head of Business Services.

Excitement because services dominate the UK economy. They account for almost 75% of private businesses, almost 80% of employment and more than 70% of total revenue, according to a recently published government report. Globally, the UK is second only to the US in service exports, which totalled £245bn in 2016.

Sadness because after being marginalised and maligned by so many for so long, UK industry is now rightfully back in the spotlight. British industrial businesses have made considerable gains over the past 10 years and it has been a genuine privilege to have been on the front lines and witness these changes taking place.

However, as significant as this progress has been, I believe it will pale in comparison compared to what the next two years hold in store.

Looking back

2008 saw the official inauguration of the Large Hadron Collider, the launch of music streaming service Spotify, the world’s first privately developed space launch vehicle – the SpaceX Falcon 1 – successfully make orbit, and surgeons at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital perform the first operations using bionic eyes, implanting them into two blind patients.

However, it is perhaps the global financial crash that the year is most remembered for.

At the start of 2008, the UK was the world’s sixth largest manufacturing nation by output having grown, albeit gradually, year-on-year since 2005.

The effects of the financial crisis forced that growth into a tailspin. Though individual business continued to achieve success, the UK dropped four places in 2009, and slipped out of the top 10 completely between 2012 and 2013.

Happily, the intervening years have seen UK industry not only return to a more even-keel, but surge forward. We re-entered the top 10 largest manufacturing nations in 2014 and we are currently eighth. If recent growth levels are maintained, the UK should enter the top five by 2020 – a feat last achieved exactly two decades prior.

What is behind this welcome period of sustained growth? The simple answer is technology. As I have regularly said, when there is a surge in technology (Industrial revolutions) the UK Manufacturing sector takes advantage and out performs globally.

Further thought-leadership courtesy of Mike Rigby:

Is the Levy resulting in a sinking (apprentice)ship? – twelve months on from the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and unfortunately, the figures don’t make for a positive reading experience.

Thinking outside the box: A 4IR case study – the story of how one of the world’s largest packaging producers is embracing, and importantly benefiting, from 4IR technologies.

Q1 2018: Is UK manufacturing on a stable footing or slippery slope? – the past three months have seen manufacturing businesses continue to face national and international challenges, yet there are some very clear signs for a positive future.

UK has the drive to succeed as an industrial nation, whatever the future may bring – an overview of some of the key findings from the Annual Manufacturing Report 2018 and what they reveal about the nation’s manufacturing businesses.

UK manufacturers must seize the opportunities of 4IR – 87% of UK manufacturing businesses express confidence for the future; but, why isn’t that confidence translating into greater capital investment?

An industrial revolution for the modern age

Whether you prefer the term ‘Industry 4.0’, the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, ‘Smart Manufacturing’ or any other derivative, there can be no denying that technology (particularly digital) is fundamentally changing how products are designed, made, sold and serviced, for the better.

The factories/Logistics hubs I have visited over the past 10 years have changed significantly. They are leaner, they are well invested, they are places people want to work. No longer are they filled with workers performing low skilled tasks. The workers are working alongside technology where they are performing more dynamic/challenging roles.

Smart factory industry concepts in network connectivity - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
By enhancing investments in technology, manufacturers could benefit from an overall boost to annual revenues of £102bn – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Our latest piece of Barclays research revealed that by enhancing investments in technology, manufacturers could benefit from an overall boost to annual revenues of £102bn. This could lift the sector to growth of more than 15% above current expectations within a decade, and could create more than 100,000 extra direct jobs and 44,000 indirect jobs.

The positive effects wouldn’t solely be limited to industry. This enhanced investment could enable UK businesses to improve global competitiveness, address our nation’s persistently poor productivity performance and, ultimately, result in a £31.6bn boost to overall GVA.

Brexit has been dominating almost every conversation this year, so it’s particularly positive to hear that manufacturers are confident about the UK’s future competitiveness, with more than 40% believing new technologies hold the key to boosting productivity.

Judging by the technologies manufacturers expect to offer the greatest potential – automation/robotics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, embedded sensors, big data/advanced analytics, and 3D printing/additive manufacturing, I expect that our nation’s factories will continue to distance themselves even further from the outdated dirty, dingy, downtrodden image they’ve been saddled with for much of the past half-century.

Looking ahead

A little more than two years ago, I switched from our monthly email – The Engine Room –to start publishing regular articles on LinkedIn. These have ranged from industry snapshots and comment pieces, to event reviews and case studies. To date, I’ve published more than 50 articles.

Furthermore, since February 2008, I have spent nearly every week on the road visiting clients’ facilities, alongside attending numerous industrial conferences, seminars, open days and discussions. So many memories, so many stories of success, and some good friends made.

These invaluable face-to-face interactions with manufacturing, transport and logistics business owners has allowed me to hear their concerns, experiences and growth ambitions, and ensure our policies adequately reflected them.

To everyone I’ve met and spoken with, and to those who have read, liked, shared and commented on my articles, I say thank you and I hope our paths cross again soon.

My replacement Helena Sans is now in seat and is already active with our customers. She will bring with her a fresh approach, new impetus and new ideas. I am excited for her as the future looks bright for UK Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics. I know she will be a great Head of Sector for Barclays