The Future of British Manufacturing

An article from our Kent Manufacturing Ambassador Kieran Bevan – Commercial Director, Triflex Productions Ltd

At the beginning of this year, I was standing in front of a machinery demo having just signed off on 1,000 solar panels to be installed on the roof of our factory. The robot in front of me was lifting a 200kg drum around and guiding it through the air in seconds as if it was a paper aeroplane.

I couldn’t help but think how far we had come in industry, both in Britain and the world over. What would have Henry Ford or Adam Smith have thought of the current industrial environment? Could Adam Smith have envisioned his infamous pin factory with robot arms and sensors assisting in the process?

We’re at what is a turbulent time in the British manufacturing industry; we’ve just come out of a global pandemic, the supply chain is the most chaotic it has been in a long time, with price increases the likes of which have not been seen in a generation and massively extended lead-times and/ or supply shortages.

This coupled with the obstacles and opportunities that Brexit has generated, increased red tape at the import and export stage and personnel shortages has resulted in a chaotic time for British manufacturers. As business leaders, often we’re firefighting issues rather than getting on with innovation and driving the business forward.

These tumultuous times, highlight the need for constant evolution and investment in innovative ways of doing business and producing goods. Whether it be new tech to cut down the paperwork involved in import/ export and customs clearance, or sensors that give real time feedback on manufacturing processes to greater improve our understanding of deficiencies in the process. We need to constantly be thinking of new ways to be at the cutting edge.

To drive this, the Government should be setting out a clear, and ambitious strategy for assisting in driving this innovation in British manufacturing. British businesses can be at the very leading edge of Industry 4.0.

By providing incentive schemes for investment, R&D and assisting with training our workforce so people have the skills to be involved in these cutting-edge environments, the British Government can provide a blueprint for British manufacturing to be a world leader.

It’s simply incorrect ‘that all manufacturing moved far east’, for high skillset based, hi-tech and ‘just in time’ production there are substantial benefits to manufacturing in the UK. As highlighted by the Telegraphs discussion with industry leaders.

I think Adam Smith would have been excited at the technology available to his pin factory today. I myself am excited to see how the manufacturing environment evolves and to be involved in driving innovation in our sector. In particular, championing British industry so that we can be world leaders in innovation and at the very forefront of cutting-edge industrial tech.

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