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It's not complete doom and gloom
25 January 2013
It can't have escaped anybody's notice that the autumn has been dominated by grim economic tidings, especially from the Eurozone.Against that background it is easy to forget that parts of the real economy are doing reasona
Paul O'Donnell, head of external affairs at the MTA (Manufacturing Technologies Association) comments
Despite the weakening performance of the economy as a whole, 2011 has been a good year for engineeringbased manufacturing with orders across the sector running around 66% higher than during 2010 for the first nine months of the year, according to survey data released by the Manufacturing Technologies Association.
For the UK market, machine tool sales are 35% up on the 2010 levels for the same comparison, while the tooling sector saw growth of 21% in these months.
Although the outlook for the UK and global economy is uncertain, there are good reasons to believe that demand for manufacturing technology equipment in the UK will continue to be strong in 2012.
Many of the end user markets for manufacturing technologies are strong. The aerospace sector has remained buoyant over the last few years as globalisation has meant that demand has been strong. There has been plenty of good news too in the automotive sector with big investments announced recently by Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan.
There are also big projects in the pipeline in the energy generation and rail sectors.
Show success The EMO Trade Show, held in Hannover Germany in September, while not hitting pre-recessionary heights, proved successful with lots of businesses reporting new orders and lots of interest in new technology.
Almost 140,000 attendees had the chance to visit more than 2000 stands across six days.
With the NEC Hall 5 almost sold out and stand bookings for Hall 4 coming in thick and fast, the steady recovery of the engineering based manufacturing sector is also reflected in MACH 2012 scheduled for April 16-20. MACH, the UK manufacturing technologies show, organised by the MTA, continues to attract major players from the industry; from tooling and robotics to supply chain and software firms.
So, given that manufacturing is doing better than the rest of the economy, it is no surprise that the Government would like to put it at the heart of its plan for growth.
Manufacturing is special for several reasons.
Manufacturing as a sector can address many of the social and economic problems we face as a country.
Rebalancing the economy is often expressed in terms of industrial sectors but there is a geographical element to is as well.
Manufacturing provides employment across the country - good jobs across a range of skills and professions.
Another key reason as to why manufacturing is so important is its crucial role in boosting our exports. Over half of the UK's export earnings derive from manufacturing.
At the MTA we have been working with the Export Credit Guarantee Department to refine its offering to manufacturing SMEs.
For too long the ECGD has been only focussed on large contracts, mainly in the aerospace sector. Now it is seeking to offer export finance for smaller deals - but this is being delivered through the banks. It is important to ensure that it puts those offers in front of the companies that need access to them. You can find out more about ECGD at www.ecgd.gov.uk and about the new products for SMEs in particular at www.ecgd.gov.uk/assets/bispartners/ecgd/file s/prods-servs/quickguides/ecgd-newproducts- information-july2011.pdf Manufacturing is never boring and at the moment economics place it very much at the centre of politics. It's very much a space to watch over the months and years to come.