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How The UK Manufacturing Sector Is Changing

22nd November 2018

The manufacturing industry has always been influenced by the demands of society – which remain permanently in flux. Britain has a reputation for lagging behind other nations when it comes to manufacturing, focused primarily on moving goods in high volume at the lowest possible cost.

The manufacturing industry has always been influenced by the demands of society – which remain permanently in flux. Britain has a reputation for lagging behind other nations when it comes to manufacturing, focused primarily on moving goods in high volume at the lowest possible cost.

Whilst this operational model had its day and age, it is no longer suited to the current requirements of the native public – a realisation that a number of countries on the southern hemisphere have already come to.

However, there is real evidence to suggest that the UK is taking influence from the east. Here, we take a closer look at what the sector is doing to adjust to a modern cultural shift.

Discover some of the key ways in which the UK manufacturing industry is changing.

Big data, analytics, and research and development

Big data and analytics are only set to become more prominent and influential in manufacturing moving forwards – particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI is gradually taking over the way in which businesses handle particular processes, including service and support solutions. It is also offering increased scalability for businesses, as well as a stronger sense of personalisation (meaning warmer, more helpful customer assistance).

The organisations that readily embrace big data and analytics through AI-powered resolutions are the ones that will continue to grow and progress in the future – even in the uncertain political climate in the build-up to a Brexit deal.

It has quickly become clear that manufacturers must constantly embrace change. As comfortable and familiar as it may feel to stick with traditional processes and methods, it is impossible to move forwards in this sector without contemplating new ideas and approaches.

Alongside a willingness to welcome change and adopt new methods that facilitate differing demands, manufacturing employers must also invest in their own research and development to find working solutions for their business. Channelling funding into this area can help to ascertain the areas in which the business is lagging behind the competition – and subsequently forge strategies which can resolve hindering issues.

Industry 4.0

The next phase of manufacturing is being widely referred to as Industry 4.0. Some argue we’re right on the cusp of this exciting new chapter in manufacturing, whereas others believe it has already begun.

Industry 4.0 concerns the combination of AI and data for increased interconnection – leading to a sector powered by the Internet of Things (IoT). One of the key changes we’re likely to see as it takes shape is the increased presence of automation and robotics, with millions of new industrial robots set to be installed across factories within the next couple of years.

Companies will also increasingly depend on smart devices to fulfil tasks and functions – including sensors for stock levels and touchscreen/voice activation technology for operational controls formerly managed by hand.

Continuous improvement is a never-ending process that involves the extraction and enhanced management of important, useful data. Smart devices are designed to pave the way for this process, simplifying and speeding up ordinary methods for faster, better and more accurate results.

In the current climate, ERP systems are gathering increased amounts of data, but Industry 4.0 will see businesses taking action to make sense of all this information, and use it in advantageous ways to realise continuous improvement and, ultimately, operational excellence.

The Manufacturing Institute have supported many of the organisations currently leading the way in terms of adapting to this new environment. Our best practice visits and study tours are a key way of providing this support. During these, participants are able to take a look inside high-performance sites and see how lean manufacturing is implemented in the modern age. Visit our Inspire page to find out more.

Education and training

As technology in the manufacturing industry hurtles forward, those working within the sector are left facing an uphill battle when it comes to keeping pace with the rapidly developing machinery.

That’s why education and training is becoming so increasingly important in the manufacturing sector. Standards are rising across the board, and higher numbers of businesses are striving to achieve operational excellence, implementing processes that meet Shingo Institute standards.

Those looking to constantly improve are embracing training and educational programmes from top to bottom, as both managers and assembly line workers engage in modern courses designed to enhance contemporary knowledge in the manufacturing sector.

Some of the best learning can be accessed through The Manufacturing Institute. We have a range of public and internal programmes available, along with a series of qualifications for supporting improvement, creating leaders and achieving enterprise excellence.

We are also hosting a Framework for Excellence conference in March 2019, where leading experts in manufacturing will share stories about their success in the industry. Visit our educate and courses pages for more details.

The Manufacturing Institute: Changing the industry for the better

 At The Manufacturing Institute, we are helping to take the industry into a new era by combining inspiration, education and improvement services – in the UK and globally.

Our best practice visits and study tours give businesses the opportunity to learn from the very best and implement key changes to instil operational excellence, whilst our education programmes and consultancy support are designed to teach the latest, most effective techniques for the greatest chance of success.

We’re on hand to support the industry in every possible way, from carving out new careers to initiating enhanced processes. If you’d like to speak to a member of our team to find out more about our role in the world of manufacturing, simply give us a call on +44 (0) 161 875 2525. We’d be more than happy to answer questions you may have.

You can also drop us a line using our online contact form. Our team will get back to you as soon as possible.


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How The UK Manufacturing Sector Is Changing



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The Manufacturing Institute are actively involved in the Shingo prize for excellence - an award widely considered to be the Nobel Prize of manufacturing. With our help, organisations can grow and develop to the point where they meet, and even surpass, Shingo prize criteria standards.



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