Following years of unprecedented uncertainty caused by Brexit, UK manufacturers have learned that it pays to be prepared for the unexpected. Indeed, the recent pandemic has simply served to accelerate many trends that were already in motion.
These are the top trends affecting UK manufacturers right now:
1. Investments and innovations
UK manufacturers have reported weak orders1 which will surely affect profits. Preserving cash for new investments and innovations is now a top priority as manufacturers await a UK government strategy that will deliver long-term stability for the sector.
Access to sufficient finance, dwindling cash reserves and the availability of trade credit insurance present challenges to manufacturers as they prepare for a full return to production. However, there has been some support available from the temporary government-backed reinsurance scheme, designed to help UK businesses access trade credit insurance as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.2
2. Digital transformation
Manufacturers are keen to pick up the pace where digital transformation is concerned. Driving efficiency and enhanced productivity is just the start. In today’s fast-moving trading environment, utilising digital technologies to identify future needs, and transform at speed to deliver against these demands, is becoming business critical.
3. Skilled workforce
Maintaining a skilled workforce will be essential for adapting to issues like climate change and adopting new industry 4.0 innovations. Yet only one-third of firms are confident they will be able to access the digital skills they need in the years ahead.3
4. Sustainable manufacturing
As costs for energy and raw materials escalate, sustainable manufacturing is rising up the strategic agenda as firms look to capture savings, improve products and win new markets. Indeed, 84% of manufacturers say the drive for a carbon neutral society represents an opportunity to transform their future.4
Manufacturers know that thriving and surviving in a world that’s vulnerable to major macroeconomic events depends on thinking and working smarter. So, it’s little wonder that many firms are preparing to reconfigure business models and factory floors, as well as embrace new robotics and digital technologies that will deliver enhanced insights and agility to their operations.
But when it comes to prioritising long-term recovery over short-term survival, transforming for success will require a deep understanding of how to manage and mitigate against risk.
2 Make UK, June 2020