Everything you need to know about UK manufacturing in 2018

Posted on 15 Jan 2019 by Maddy White

Over the past 12 months, UK manufacturing faced a variety of challenges and opportunities, both global and domestic. The Manufacturer covered all of them.

TM has interviewed international leaders, learnt about the latest in automation, observed the shift to service-based approaches in manufacturing and the complete adoption of digitalisation, and noted how business models are continuing to transform.

From sustainability, to innovation, big data, IoT and how to be more tactical with financial matters, here is everything important that happened in UK manufacturing over the last 12 months.


Innovation enables businesses to remain globally competitive - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Innovation enables businesses to remain globally competitive – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Innovation is pivotal for businesses to remain globally competitive. Naturally then it has been a key talking point throughout the last year.

From the commercial opportunities of graphene to clear 3D printing and flat wine bottles, innovation remains crucial to securing future prosperity.

Read our top innovation stories of 2018: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/the-manufacturer-top-10-innovation-stories-of-2018/

Big Data

Growing numbers of manufacturing companies are successfully extracting, analysing and visualising their ‘big data’ to generate tangible, business-enhancing insights.

Find out key 2018 data strategies here: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/manufacturers-utilise-big-data-2018/

Switching to service

Embracing a service-based approach has been a priority for many manufacturers last year, as it can boost and open new revenue streams, and help strengthen customer relationships.

Read 2018’s leading servitization stories: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/switching-to-service-tms-top-servitization-stories-of-2018/

Digital transformation

Digital Catapult has announced Open Call for Augmentor - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Digital transformation has defined the last 12 months – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Digital transformation has been a crucial focus for UK manufacturing in 2018, and over the past year TM has reported how leaders have managed to overcome challenges and successfully transform their businesses.

Read the best digital transformation stories: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/digital-transformation-look-like-2018/


If you were to list the big trends of 2018, at the top of the list would be sustainability. The world has witnessed a significantly increased emphasis on developments relating to plastic packaging, electric vehicles, battery technology, circular economy models, and much more.

Read our top sustainability stories: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/sustainability-stories-2018-need-know/


The skills gap in manufacturing is a significant issue, but by no means a new one. During the past 12 months, business leaders have adopted a number of new strategies to address the issue having realised that the real enabler to success today isn’t technology, but people.

Learn how businesses addressed the skills gap last year: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/manufacturings-answer-skills-gap-2018/ 


IoT technologies are transforming UK manufacturing - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
IoT technologies are transforming UK manufacturing – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

IoT technologies, enhanced connectivity and artificial intelligence are fundamentally reshaping what it means to manufacture.

 At The Manufacturer, we publish real-world cases of how IoT tech is being impressively, and creatively, utilised.

Read how to integrate IoT into your business: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/how-was-iot-technology-utilised-in-2018/


Automation forms a core part of Industry 4.0, replacing laborious tasks with automated processes and in doing so upskilling the workforce. Robots, cobots and more took centre stage last year.

Learn how to automate your business effectively: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/the-manufacturer-top-automation-articles-of-2018/ 


Manufacturers face many opportunities and challenges when it comes to financial matters. Over the last year, we have reported the economic benefits of being British-made, how to monetise your innovation and addressing late payments as an SME.

Read our top finance stories: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/the-manufacturer-top-10-finance-stories-of-2018/

Interviews, features, video and news

UK manufacturing continues to grow from strength to strength amid significant domestic, global and technological disruption. That growth has been reflected in much of the news, features, interviews and videos our Editorial team have reported over the past 12 months.

An image from EEF’s annual photography competition – image courtesy of Andy Newman.

We are also lucky enough to visit world-leading factories. This year we’ve been to the elite in automotive and additive manufacturing facilities, and even the UK’s largest supplier of own-label gin and vodka – to name a few.


Read our top news stories: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/the-manufacturer-top-10-news-stories-of-2018-so-far/


Learn from leading industry figures: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/uk-construction-industry-must-modernise-or-die/


Read our top features of 2018: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/manufacturer-top-10-features-2018/


This year, TM produced more videos than any previous 12 month period, covering key questions including: how vulnerable is the sector to cyber-attack; how is digital tech having a positive impact of on staff, how to narrow the UK’s productivity gap, what does the future of employee engagement look like, and much more.

Here is TM’s editorial director, Nick Peters speaking with Siemens UK CEO Juergen Maier, about the £20m North West Pilot announcement that was made at The Manufacturer’s Digital Manufacturing Week.

Watch the best videos of 2018: www.themanufacturer.com/articles/manufacturer-top-10-videos-2018/

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