Manufacturing Outperforms UK Productivity Trend

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This week The Manufacturers Organisation launched a report on our favourite topic of the season, productivity, offering a hugely positive summary of UK manufacturing. The Productivity: The State of the Manufacturing Nation publication reported that manufacturing had outperformed other areas of the UK economy and bucked the trend for slow momentum in improving productivity.

In a climate which has given much attention to the UK’s need to increase efficiency, as we outlined in our article A Call to Enterprise: We Need to Challenge the ‘Productivity Puzzle, manufacturing has repeatedly been named a focal area for development to achieve that economic objective. Pushing the performance of the sector has become as crucial for economic improvement as supporting those which underperform, and the reason the Government made manufacturing one of its focal investment areas last month, as it pledged £561m to the cause of better business (Source: UK Gov).

One of the most interesting insights the report offers comes via their surveying of those operating businesses within the industry. Work took place analysing the methods of over 170 manufacturers running firms at ground level, and the adjustments they made to their business models, offering an insight into the opportunities for both improvements of efficiency and growth within the sector. The results of the survey identified two key areas that made an impact on productivity. One, “Incremental gains through continuous improvement”, the other, “Investment that triggers a radical step change in productivity improvements.”

Recognising the overlapping relationship between business model refinement, and impactful research and design or technology provides a foundation for understanding how we can best support businesses within manufacturing to fulfil their potential. We should be asking ourselves what external factors we can provide that will catalyse their performance.

The Manufacturers Organisation offers six areas it believes provide the biggest gains in productivity within the current climate, including ‘Creating Demand’, ‘Optimising Supply Chains and Processes’, and ‘Training’, citing the importance of providing ways to make these things available to manufacturing firms. PNE Group believes it is important to look one step further, and to question how we can enable manufacturing firms to develop their own solutions and to provide support which empowers them, such as to train effectively when there is a lack of skills regionally, or means to access best practice in the absence of R&D investment.

There is a huge amount of positive influence to be taken from the manufacturing landscape exposed by this report, and into the future it is key we provide the support for them to continue to over perform, and perhaps even provide encouragement for the rest of the country.

You can access the full report, Productivity: The State of the Manufacturing Nation here.