Daily Manufacturing News Digest – the industry stories you should be aware of today

Posted on 17 Nov 2023 by The Manufacturer

Each day The Manufacturer compiles the top manufacturing news stories from around the web. To make your life a little easier, we trawl through all the major trade publications, broadsheets and business magazines to find you the most important manufacturing news each morning. Don't forget to bookmark this page and check back daily.

Britain’s best summer for bus and coach fleet renewal since 2019

Britain’s new bus, coach and minibus market grew by 130.6% in the third quarter of 2023 with 1,739 vehicles registered, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Operator demand more than doubled compared with the same quarter last year, as passenger levels return to pre-pandemic levels for the first time – providing a confidence boost for UK road transport services looking to replace their older vehicles. The July to September period saw the greatest demand of any quarter since Q4 2019, with more of the latest, greenest models joining roads in towns and cities across Britain. More via The SMMT

Five manufacturing trade bodies call for long-term industry plan

With a general election a certainty within the next 12-18 months, the leaders of five of most successful manufacturing sectors, called the Manufacturing Five (M5), are calling on all political parties to unite around a long-term vision for UK manufacturing.

With a combined turnover of £309bn, the M5 – the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), ADS, the Chemical Industries Association (CIA), the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) –has come together to propose an essential new ‘manifesto for growth,’ which sets out the critical actions needed to drive the competitiveness and growth of innovative manufacturing.

The five-point manifesto sets out the reforms necessary for the UK to close the gap with global competitors and unlock the potential for manufacturing to drive prosperity and pride across the UK. The plan focuses on building the workforce of tomorrow, regulating for growth, supporting innovation, leadership in sustainability, and securing Britain’s place as a leading trading nation. More via PES

Oxford announces new AI Environment centre amidst wider UK investment

The university has announced plans to open a new ‘Intelligent Earth Centre’ focusing on the intersection between artificial intelligence and environmental sciences. The centre will be funded by a £12m grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), with nearly £3m more from the university itself and partners including Google DeepMind, IBM, the European Space Agency and the Met Office.

The ‘Intelligent Earth Centre’ is intended to train almost 100 PhD students to use AI technologies to tackle environmental crises over the first eight years. The announcement follows the recent AI Safety summit which signalled the UK’s determination to regain its dominance in the AI field. More via The Cherwell

Region wins 5G Innovation competition funding to accelerate its adoption

The West Midlands Combined Authority has won £4m to accelerate the adoption of 5G technology across manufacturing and smart communities. Won through a joint bid between WM5G (West Midlands 5G), JLR (Jaguar Land Rover) and the WMCA, the funding comes from the government’s £40m 5G Innovation Regions competition.

Advanced manufacturing and smart communities (which include social care and housing) are two key clusters identified in the West Midlands Plan for Growth, launched last year with the aim of boosting the regional economy.

Now, the partnership is looking to scale proven 5G use cases through the UK’s first adoption hubs in operational manufacturing and social housing facilities and then support many other organisations to benefit through adoption programmes. More via The Business Desk

Unions call for action as Derby train maker considers job losses after HS2

Union leaders are calling for the creation of a joint task force to secure the long-term future of the country’s biggest rail assembly plant amid fears of huge job losses.

Alstom is consulting on potential redundancies – around 550 at its train manufacturing site in Derby, with 780 contractors also at risk. Unite said a further 900 jobs are also under threat in the supply chain, adding that the proposed job losses are a direct result of the delay in the construction of the HS2 high-speed railway line.

The union’s general secretary Sharon Graham said: “There is absolutely no justification for the proposed job losses. It is madness that there is a huge amount of work that Alstom could and should be bidding for but the government has not got around to tendering for it.

An Alstom spokesperson said: “Alstom UK has been working with Government for the last six months with the joint objective of securing a sustainable future for our rolling stock factory at Derby Litchurch Lane, which has not confirmed workload beyond the first quarter of 2024.

“No committed way forward has yet been found and therefore it is with deep regret that we must now begin to plan for a significant reduction in activity at Derby by entering a period of collective consultation on potential redundancies at Litchurch Lane.” More via The ITV

Orbex backs innovative peatland restoration research

UK-based orbital launch services company, Orbex, is supporting research work to monitor Scottish peatland restoration using satellite and ground radar data. Georgina Page, a PhD student at the University of Stirling is leading a pioneering project to improve our understanding of the role changing water levels play in peatland restoration. By monitoring the fluctuations in water levels, the initiative will assess the success of existing and future peatland restoration projects.

Peatlands – such as those covering 200,000 hectares of Caithness and Sutherland, and the location of Sutherland Spaceport – are increasingly recognised as valuable carbon stores, storing more carbon than all other types of vegetation combined. They’re capable of mitigating the effects of climate change, and, although many peatlands across the UK have been degraded, restoration work is effective and makes a significant impact in reducing emissions. More via Orbex

Toyota (GB) introduces £1,000 relocation grant for students

Toyota GB is introducing a £1,000 relocation grant to help students joining its Emerging Talent programmes to move within a commutable distance of the company’s Eco HQ near Epsom, Surrey.

The new grant has been introduced following feedback from Toyota’s 2023 student cohort which highlighted the cost of relocation as a potential barrier to placement applications. The company already supports candidates by reimbursing their travel costs when they attend assessment centres for interviews; the new relocation grant is designed to encourage applications from universities and candidates from a wider catchment area. More via Toyota

BAE Systems selected to enhance GPS technology on Eurofighter Typhoon

Following successful activity to demonstrate functional compatibility and physical installation feasibility, BAE Systems Digital GPS Anti-jam Receiver (DIGARTM) has been selected to continue into the next phase of the Phase 4 Enhancements (P4E) capability program on the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft. DIGAR will boost the protection of the aircraft from GPS signal jamming, spoofing, and Radio Frequency (RF) interference, so that pilots can execute their missions in the most heavily contested RF environments.

DIGAR uses advanced antenna electronics, high-performance signal processing, and digital beamforming for significantly improved GPS signal reception and superior jamming immunity. These capabilities considerably increase the level of GPS jamming protection and are critical for combat aircraft as they maneuver through a contested battlespace. More via BAE Systems