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Some reasons to be cheerful
25 January 2013
Although the outlook for the UK and the 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.Paul O'Donnell, head of
What will the New Year hold for the country's economy and in particular for manufacturing? It's a good question and one to which the finest brains in economics are struggling to provide a solid answer.
At first glance, and certainly if you believe much of what you read in the papers, it might be thought that the economy threatens to cast a dark shadow over the year as Britain, along with most of the rest of the developed world, remains mired in a pattern of low or no growth. Things are perhaps at their most depressing in the Eurozone, the UK's biggest trading partner, with many countries either in, or tottering on, the brink of recession.
But there are grounds for optimism in some sectors including engineering-based manufacturing.With sectors that enjoyed remarkable runs in the last decade, such as property and retail, becalmed, British companies that actually make things are taking up at least some of the strain.
Last year saw some remarkable recovery figures from engineering-based manufacturing. The Manufacturing Technologies Association which represents companies in the sector reported that orders across the sector were running around 66% higher than during 2010 for the first nine months of the year.
The MTA's President, Simon Pollard of Kyal Machine Tools, said: "In the current economic climate, the role of manufacturing has become more important than ever.We continue to show growth and we're aiming to pull the economy along." What is driving the growth in the manufacturing technology market is the growth that key end user industrial sectors are experiencing in the UK. It's no secret that companies like Rolls Royce and BAE Systems are huge players in the global aerospace market but the country's strength is more broadly based than that - more so than many people recognise.
For instance the automotive sector saw significant growth in 2011 with vehicle manufacturing rising 5.1% to 1,465,122 and engine production rising 4.9% to 2,504,054.
Around 81.6% of the vehicles and 70.2% of the engines were for export, record breaking shares and proof that the UK's industry is capable of competing in the global market place. As a result of this strength, the sector is seeing significant investment with companies as diverse as Jaguar LandRover,Mini and Nissan all recently announcing significant plant investment programmes.
And it's not just cars and planes; In power generation the UK has long been strong in oil and gas but is now looking to take a lead in offshore wind and has an ambitious programme of nuclear new build in the pipeline. Overall engineering is back to 2007 levels.
As a result of these market conditions, the UK's engineering-based manufacturing sector is looking forward with confidence to its biennial showcase - MACH. The exhibition, the UK's largest for manufacturing technologies, celebrates its 100th birthday this year and has always been at the forefront of technology.MACH 2012 is looking to be widest ranging staging of the exhibition yet. By bringing together traditional processes and the latest technological advances, the 2012 show will be a one-stop-shop for manufacturing.