A look at the history books will quickly show how much pride the British had in their massive manufacturing sector. They were once seen as the world’s great creator — although, to be fair, that particular title is at least over a hundred years out of date! Still, even into the sixties and seventies, Britain had a worldwide reputation for its great manufacturing trade, and the country definitely had a sense of deep satisfaction about making things.
Things, of course, have changed. And not simply because we lost that title; it seems to be a little more extreme than that. In fact, it seems that we’re now one of the countries that don’t make things anymore. Why? And how can we tackle it?
There are certainly many signs that a lot of business owners in the industry simply aren’t taking good enough care of their factories. Many would argue that they’re simply not productive or efficient enough. That’s why business owners should be looking towards significant additions such as software use and big data, as well as more simple measures such as updated belt conveyor systems. But let’s not rest too comfortably on the idea that this is the fault of business owners not being eager enough with IT implementation; in fact, it could very well be the opposite.
Over the past few decades, many industries, governments, and funding resources have simply lost interest in the manufacturing industry, assuming that we’ve ‘evolved’ past the need for it all and that we can now focus on IT and service industries. These are sometimes painted as signs of economic progress; but the reality is that the powers-that-be have put too much stock in these sectors to the direct detriment of the manufacturing industry, forgetting that a strong manufacturing industry is precisely what helps keep those other sectors afloat!
Part of the problem we’re facing also has to do with high tariffs, unreasonable regulations, and employment restrictions that have made British manufacturing appear rather weak in the face of strong competition from China and the United States. In fact, for all its apparent problems, Brexit could assist in this area massively. (The aforementioned blockers are put in place by the EU, after all.) This is precisely why many of our biggest manufacturing companies were behind the move. Love it or loathe it, it will give us greater flexibility and exposure to the international market in the long term — which is precisely what British manufacturing needs not only to survive, but to thrive.
It’s vital that the next government — and, perhaps, the public at large, too — truly come to appreciate how important this sector is to our economy. It’s also essential that business owners in the field start preparing themselves for big changes and are willing to look at new technologies and techniques without overspending. To say there are going to be a few bumps on the road ahead could be a bit of an understatement — but the destination may be a more lucrative one than we’ve seen in decades.