Precision engineering forms the backbone of manufacturing activity; it forms an integral part of electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering. From semiconductor chips, to the most advanced medical devices and the most sophisticated drill parts used in oil exploration, precision engineered products play a vital role in the development of the overall economy.
So what will happen in 10 years time when all of the highly skilled engineers we have, retire? The British industry will need 100,000 new graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects every year until 2020 just to maintain current employment numbers.
More than a quarter of respondents (26%) to the Manufacturing Advisory Service’s latest Barometer stated that concerns over the cost of offshore production was the principal reason for reshoring, followed by improving quality (20%) and reducing lead times (18%).
Reducing costs is the main driver for small to medium sized manufacturers looking to bring production back to the UK.
However, the cost of domestic labour continues to remain the biggest barrier for producing within the UK according to manufacturing SMEs, with nearly one in ten also concerned about the availability of the right skills.
The future of the automotive industry is based on quality research and development, optimised with innovative and cutting-edge precision engineering. Precision engineering has played a vital role in the growth of the global automotive industry. Vehicle manufacturers look to the precision engineering sector for innovative, modern and low-weight components in order to develop more advanced and fuel-efficient products.
1913 saw the development of the moving assembly line by Henry Ford, car production increased from one every 12 hours to one every one and a half hours. It was this revolutionary step in production techniques that started the mass production of vehicles and led to the automotive industry fast becoming one of the most important leading global economies.
For decades the move to overseas manufacturing was seen as inevitable, the attraction of cheaper foreign-made goods proved too strong and caused manufacturers to shift their production abroad in order to become more cost effective. This has had a devastating impact on domestic manufacturing, which declined from about 30% of national GDP in the late 1970s, to 14% before the recession, to just 11% today.
But British manufacturing may be heading for a genuine revival as more UK companies choose to swap their international suppliers for UK-based ones and move more of their operations back to the UK. Recently we have seen a string of high-profile names publicly profess their conversion to manufacturing in Britain. John Lewis recently announced its aim to increase sales of UK products by at least 15% over the next three years to £550m. Even Tesco has now suggested it is keen to source from British farms, and has started investing in British agriculture to boost its competitiveness. Continue reading →