SME MANifesto demands blueprint for long-term industrial strategy

Posted on 2 Jul 2020 by Jonny Williamson

A manufacturing collective employing more than 2,000 people has urged the government to make its ‘restart, reposition and transform’ commitment to industry a reality and not just another empty marketing slogan.

The Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), comprising nine sub-contract manufacturers and a specialist engineering design agency, has launched its ‘Post Covid-19 MANifesto’ detailing the support needs if the sector is to recover from the pandemic and restore its position as a manufacturing powerhouse in the 21st century.

Signed by MDs from all 10 companies, the 10-point plan focuses on the development of a coherent cross-party industrial strategy and a commitment to reshoring that will help build the domestic capability and supply chain so the UK can produce critical components and life-saving equipment.

It also calls on more dedicated manufacturing support, the introduction of immediate stimulus packages for critical industries, and sustainable investment to help with the transition to the ‘green economy’ and the transport revolution (automated, connected, electrified and shared mobility).

Barkley 55th (Action L2) - MAN Group

Inside plastic injection moulding solutions specialist, Barkley Plastics, part of the MAN Group.

Adam Cunningham, Chairman of MAN, commented: “While there is a real possibility of an economic downturn, the pandemic has underlined the importance of having a resilient domestic supply chain that can produce vital, often life-saving equipment in times of national crisis.

“This renewed shift towards ‘making things’ has gained momentum with the Chancellor and many economic experts calling for sustained investment in industry so we can build capacity and maximise our world leading design, innovation and quality.”

He continued: “We have been here before and we’ve heard politicians wheel out empty promises because it seems like the right thing to say. Well not this time; the MANifesto has been created by 10 SMEs that cover more than 15 sectors and have a real appreciation for the challenges we are facing, but equally importantly the massive opportunities that exist with the right backing.

“We want government to listen to and work with SMEs who are at the coalface to ensure UK manufacturing thrives again and is self-reliant wherever possible. In short, there can be no capacity in the modern-day supply chain without a healthy and vibrant SME base.”

The 10-point MANifesto in full:

1. Development of a coherent cross-party industrial strategy policy that separates job creation from productivity

2. A commitment to support reshoring by subsidising overseas investment/ trade and ensuring the majority of government infrastructure spend is ring-fenced for the UK

3. Continued investment in innovation and academic/industrial collaborations, with the Catapult Centres benefitting from a stronger manufacturing steer

4. Additional funding towards tailored Manufacturing support programmes, which help businesses grow sales and upgrade systems so they can meet global standards and take advantage of post-Brexit export opportunities

5. Coherent plan and investment strategy to maximise the opportunities around healthcare and the transport revolution (automated, connected, electrified and shared mobility)

6. A commitment to the transition to the ‘green economy’ and net zero emissions

7. Direct funding for technical apprenticeships and graduates, so we have young people that are industry-ready

8. Specialist assistance to accelerate the implementation of the latest automation and digitisation tools

9. Reinvent a world leading R&D initiative, which provides significant tax relief across all sectors

10. Implement economic stimulus packages to encourage consumers to spend again, including introduction of the car scrappage scheme and a cut in VAT.

The MAN Group is made up of Alucast; Barkley Plastics; Brandauer; C-MAC SMT; Grove Design; James Lister & Sons; KimberMills International; Muller Holdings; PP Control & Automation, and Ricor, with Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) providing academic expertise, knowledge transfer and access to cutting-edge technology.

Together, the collective offers a single-source solution to supply chain issues, providing access to castings, contract electronics, design, electrical assembly, forging, hydraulics, injection moulding, machining, PCB manufacture, pneumatics, high volume pressings/stampings and tube manipulation.

Alucast Machine Shop Tour (L) - MAN Group

Tony Sartorius giving a tour of the machine shop at aluminium casting specialist, Alucast, part of the MAN Group

It employs more than 2,000 people across 21 factories, boasting nearly £150m of annual sales and export orders to more than 35 countries.

Tony Sartorius, chairman of Alucast and a founding member of MAN, concluded: “We have a real opportunity to shape manufacturing for the next few decades if the government is brave enough to listen to manufacturers and pay us more than just the obligatory lip service.

“Yes, times are tough post Covid-19 and the first focus is on getting us back on track, but why stop there? We have outstanding firms, outstanding talent and a new-found public desire to see things being made in this country again. It’s time to seize the moment.”

*Header image – an apprentice at leading independent stamping and presswork specialists, Brandauer, part of the MAN Group