The Manufacturer: Best contributions of 2017

Posted on 12 Jan 2018 by Jonny Williamson

The Manufacturer received many insightful and thought-provoking contributed articles throughout 2017. Here are the ones which manufacturing decision-makers found the most useful.

Productivity Digitalisation Technology Industry 4 4IR Digital - Stock Image
Will the UK experience another decade of flat productivity, or will digital technologies transform our fortunes?

Why digitalisation is key to increasing productivity

It is now 10 years since the start of the most recent financial crisis. Despite years of austerity measures, the UK economy has largely recovered.

Yet despite a relatively rapid return to growth following 2008, and the huge success of maintaining high UK employment levels over the past decade, the nation’s productivity has barely risen.

Chris Reeves examined why that particularly economic performance measure remains so incredibly elusive.

Four innovation lessons from Aston Martin

The Aston Martin Atom is the world’s most successful fully functioning concept car, and an iconic piece of British motoring history. Built in 1939 and still running today, the Atom is a remarkable story loaded with innovation lessons that are relevant to today’s brands – and just automotive ones.

Alastair Cole explained how the development of a car almost 80 years ago can still teach senior executives valuable lessons about leadership and design.

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Are manufacturers hungry enough to capitalise on the opportunities?

The Industrial Strategy is setting out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths.- image courtesy of Depositphotos.
China, South Korea, Japan, the US and Germany represent (74%) of total robotics sales volumes – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Is there still a lack of appetite for capital investment from UK manufacturers – particularly in the fields of technology and automation?

If so, how can the trend be reversed, and what impact could failing to do so have in the long-term? Mike Rigby reported.

What’s new about the Industrial Internet of Things?

Many of the under underlying technologies that make up the Industrial Internet are already well established in their own right – components such as electronics, sensors and actuators, combined with various software applications and data routing.

Alan Griffiths explored the six ‘layers’ that make up what most people consider to be the Industrial Internet of Things to see what was new about each one.

Leadership in the digital age

Manufacturing stands on the brink of a new industrial revolution, presenting executives with both a huge challenge and an opportunity.

Professor Andy Neely took a look at the five key issues manufacturing industry leaders should focus on if they want to survive in the age of digital disruption.

Digital Twins: Distilling science from fact

Digital Twin Digital Twins Digital Twinning - Stock Image
Digital twins aren’t necessarily a new concept – the term has been around since the turn of the millennium.

Once the preserve of critical infrastructure or high-value assets such as gas turbines, ‘digital twinning’ is now a technique increasingly being integrated into many a production line.

Danny McMahon explained what digital twins are, how they work and their application to traditional industries such as whisky production.

The crucial element digitalisation ignores

In the much-publicised march towards the digitalisation of manufacturing, one very important aspect is routinely ignored, namely – how to integrate the digital sharp end with back office systems that traditionally have relied on paper.

Dominic Fahy explained how that can be achieved.

Blockchain: a new paradigm for supply chain security?

How do supply chain managers really know where their deliveries come from? Is there a way to track and trace a product’s journey with 100% confidence? Businesses lose an estimated $22.6bn globally each year due to cargo theft, and the price paid by manufacturers impacted by other supply chain risks also adds up.

Helen Saunders revealed the supply chain security opportunities provided by blockchain.

Positive images key to raising number of women engineers

Since 2008, female hourly pay in manufacturing has increased by 26%, - image courtesy of Brose UK
Research shows that 93% of parents would be happy to support their child going in to a career not usually associated with their gender – image courtesy of Brose UK.

The UK’s lack of diversity in engineering and the technical workforce could be fueling the chronic recruitment shortage, according to a major report published by the IET in December.

The pressure on businesses to develop skilled new engineers and technicians would be eased if more young women took STEM subjects at school and went on to purse technical careers.

Emma Curati-Alasonatti reflected on her experience as an engineer.

Rise of the British start-up

When thinking of start-ups, the image of tanned Ivy League dropouts developing complicated pieces of software from their unconventional workspaces often springs to mind.

But the reality of launching a business – big or small – from scratch can be very different, as is often the case with those entering the UK’s industrial sector.

Rita Lobo examined the challenges, technologies and landscape of taking the first steps in manufacturing.