Editor’s comments: The new world order

Firstly, bags of congratulations to all the winners and shortlisted companies who revelled with us on November 21 at The Manufacturer of the Year Awards 2012 (p26). Well done everyone!

Our awards broke records for entries and attendance. Comments emphasised just how much talented manufacturing professionals enjoyed the opportunity to recognise their prowess – but also showed that sponsors and guests from organisations that support and service the manufacturing industry felt privileged to observe your enthusiasm and passion for your achievements.

But while we celebrated, the world did not stand still.

Our awards ceremony was preceded by TM’s annual conference, MDC2012 (p20). Presentations here made very clear that after a year of ups and downs in 2012 (p92), the road ahead will require even greater intelligence in strategy, from both companies and government.

Noticeably in the two weeks before this issue went to press, industry commentators emphasised that evolving strategies must include a rethink of the way the UK interacts with Europe and the way that Europe collaborates as a competitive bloc in the global marketplace.

Lord Digby Jones at TM’s Awards, president of SMMT Nigel Stein at the motor trade association’s annual dinner and Lord Oxborough, president of the Institute of Measurement and Control, at a debate in the House of Commons over the future of the UK’s National Measurement System. They have all recently urged industry and government to push for more influence in Brussels and across Europe in order to redefine the Union’s competitive profile.

They highlight a need to balance the declining economic clout of Europe against the need to compete with and benefit from aggressively expanding economies in a new world order.

Michael Fallon, the new Business Minister, assured delegates at MDC2012 that government is working to align different departments so that there is a commonly agreed and expressed route to growth for the UK, with manufacturing front and centre. And we have the consensus of all political parties in the UK on this key point – witness the letter from the All Party Parliamentary Committee to the Chancellor in the run up to the Autumn Statement (p5).

Good news, but as we work domestically on making industrial strategy and industrial networks more joined up – and there is a lot of work to be done – we must not forget how closely we are tied to Europe and how her fate influences ours.

If supporters of manufacturing want a challenge in 2013 it should be this.Forget inventing new initiatives and concentrate on making what we have work in a co-ordinated and collaborative way – both at home and abroad.

Season’s best to you all!

Jane Gray, Editor