Manufacturing News, Late February, 2020


Staffordshire digger giant JCB is set to reduce production levels at its UK factories due to anticipated component shortages from Chinese suppliers hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

It means a shorter working week from Monday for around 4,000 JCB and agency shop floor employees, mostly at plants at Rocester and Uttoxeter, and follows an immediate suspension of all overtime.

Less than a third of manufacturing and engineering SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) have a strategy for the introduction of Industry 4.0 technology, a new report has found.

Despite the much-publicised potential for automated, ‘smart’ and modern robotic technology to improve efficiency and productivity, 32% considered a strategy in the area but “decided it wasn’t right”, according to the annual Manufacturing and Engineering report from accountancy group MHA, produced in association with the IMechE.

Recruitment of skilled employees is a key concern for manufacturing businesses in 2020, new research has found. National audit, tax, advisory and risk firm Crowe has worked in conjunction with the Confederation of British Metalforming on the research.

Brexit uncertainty is still concerning UK manufacturing industry with 94 per cent expecting the UK’s exit from the EU to have an impact on their business, with future trading tariffs and global economic conditions cited as two of the top concerns.

The UK government still has a long way to go to reassure the industry, with 80 per cent of respondents viewing existing export incentives as ineffective, while 62 per cent note that their business’s profitability has been affected by the cost and/or availability of raw materials.

Despite uncertainty over the impact of Brexit and wider global economic issues, there remains a cautious mood of positivity for growth prospects during 2020 and beyond with the majority of respondents (59 per cent) expecting their turnover to grow in the next 12 months.

The latest MHA Manufacturing and Engineering Report confirms SME 2018/2019 revenue continued to grow.

 MHA – the UK-wide group of accountancy and business firms – in its analysis found that while global economic conditions, Brexit/future trading tariffs and staff shortages impacted growth, SMEs remain buoyant and they’re building resilience by increasing their assets, reducing borrowing and re-evaluating supply chains.

Having taken a quantitative and qualitative approach to this year’s Report, the content is broader. Working with its Data Insights team, MHA compared feedback from 1000+ UK manufacturing and engineering SMEs with over 230 client responses, creating a national, yet detailed, financial picture of this sector.

 It is very welcome news to see the new £20m Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Cymru open for business in Broughton – the first High Value Manufacturing Catapult location opened in Wales.  The state-of-the-art centre will enable businesses to access advanced technologies, helping them to drive improvements in productivity, performance and quality.

Situated in the Deeside Enterprise Zone, it will focus on advanced manufacturing sectors, including aerospace, automotive, nuclear and food.

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