February 2019: 20 things that happened in UK manufacturing you should know

Posted on 28 Feb 2019 by Maddy White

This month in industry has seen The Manufacturer report on a variety of sectors, technological advancements and innovations from leading British businesses. Here are the top 20 things that happened in UK manufacturing in February.

From supersonic jets and solving the skills gap of the future, to the launch of the Annual Manufacturing Report 2019 at the House of Lords, and a leading innovation in the femcare industry. February proves UK manufacturing is in high spirits.

MD of Hennik Research, Grace Gilling at the House of Lords UK manufacturing
MD of Hennik Research, Grace Gilling speaks at the House of Lords.

1) The Annual Manufacturing Report 2019 was launched, and with it came exclusive insights into the key opportunities and challenges UK manufacturing businesses face.


2) At a reception at the House of Lords, nominations for The Manufacturer MX Awards 2019 were officially opened. The awards are unchallenged as the UK’s biggest celebration of the manufacturing industry, and is part of Digital Manufacturing Week 2019, a suite of top-level events that attract the biggest and most qualified visitor base in the manufacturing sector.


3) Airbus announced that it is ceasing production on its A380 jumbo aircraft 12 years after production started. We asked why has the world’s largest passenger aircraft failed?


4) Tharsus has become the advanced machines and robotics manufacturer of choice for Ocado and other discerning customers.

Their recent award as The Manufacturer’s ‘Progressive SME of 2018’ recognises their journey, and continuing growth ambition.

Steven Barr spoke with chief executive Brian Palmer about vision, commercial excellence, and being surrounded by creative people.


The world's largest offshore windfarm supplied its first power this month.
The world’s largest offshore windfarm supplied its first power this month.

5) The world’s largest offshore windfarm off the Yorkshire coast supplied its first power to the UK electricity grid this month. TM asked could it fill the gap left by a failing nuclear industry?


6) This month we learnt that society’s most pressing challenges can’t be solved by government and charities alone. Businesses need to help shoulder the responsibility and use their influence to drive positive change.


7) Hydrogen trains, autonomous and electric cars and supersonic travel, the modes of transport we will use in a few years are looking to be radically different to what they are now. Reporter, Maddy White, explored how transport is rapidly changing.


8) The vision of a smart, clean, green steel industry became one step closer to fruition with the announcement of a new £35m initiative which will see steelmakers and universities work together on a seven-year research programme to transform the sector.


The AS2 supersonic jet is being developed – image courtesy of Aerion. UK manufacturing
The AS2 supersonic jet is being developed – image courtesy of Aerion.

9) Intelligent use of real-time data is critical to successful industrial digitalisation. However, ensuring that data flows effectively is just as critical to success. Todd Gurela explained the importance of getting your manufacturing network right.


10) This month the race to launch a supersonic aircraft continued as aerospace giant Boeing partnered with Aerion to develop a plane that could bring back faster-than-sound premium travel, 15 years after Concorde was axed.


11) With cyber security becoming increasingly critical for survival, half of IT decision-makers say that budget constraints are hindering efforts to protect their organisation’s networks. TheManufacturer.com Editor, Jonny Williamson, reported on how funding is impacting cyber security.


12) Now more than ever before, a combined approach is needed to tackle the skills gap head on. Brendan Lynch, CTO and board member of the Worcestershire 5G Consortium, explained why.


13) What do chewing gum, lasers, and lines in the sand have in common? They are all a part of the story of the barcode, the 44-year-old technology that changed the modern economy.

The history of barcodes: A lesson in digitalistion - barcode scanner - stock image
The barcode scanner taught us a lesson in digitalistion

For the February print issue, Robert Glass examined the many parallels between how the barcode changed the world and how digitalisation is doing the same today – using the digital revolution to open up new opportunities and improving productivity.


14) Embracing the skills of the future is fundamental to business’ innovation, though integrating this into everyday learning is no easy task.

One company has created a modular robot that aims to transform the way we learn, from programming to problem-solving. Earlier this month, reporter Maddy White sat down with Moises Pacheco, co-founder and CTO of Shape Robotics.


15) Robots active in the UK now number around 2,300 units – an increase of more than 30%, according to figures compiled by the International Federation of Robotics.


16) The UK digital economy is worth nearly £184bn and the size of the digital connectivity prize has never been bigger. To maintain this momentum the UK needs to seamlessly integrate 5G, and fast.


17) For the February print issue, Simon Edmonds reported on the latest success stories from Qioptiq, ICoNiChem and the University of Oxford. Plus, a reminder of the support available for projects involved with zero- and low-emission vehicles and technologies.


(L) Ewa Radziwon, product development lead, and (R) Thang Vo-Ta, co-founder & CEO – image courtesy of Callaly.
(L) Ewa Radziwon, product development lead, and (R) Thang Vo-Ta, co-founder & CEO – image courtesy of Callaly.

18) The global femcare industry is worth £27bn. Despite this, innovation in the industry is glacial.

One invention plans to be the first market disruptor in over 80 years, and it is long overdue. TM sat down with CEO and co-founder of Callaly, Thang Vo-Ta.


19) 81% of manufacturers experience problems recruiting new staff and yet barely 11% of engineers are women. Resolving that would make recruitment easier, reduce the skills gap and increase profitability. Maddy White reported.


20) Manufacturers have a heavy burden of processing raw materials, a process that is costly and can result in a lot of waste and by-product. Head of international strategy at The Manufacturer, Tim Brown, shared 20 tips for making your company more profitable and efficient.