UK manufacturers are confident about the future but are failing to plan how to get there, survey finds

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Although most UK manufacturers are confident about the future, many have not made specific plans for implementing new technology nor personnel succession, according to a survey of 200 UK manufacturing decisionmakers commissioned by Fanuc.

It found that despite 86% of UK manufacturers being confident about the future, almost a quarter do not plan for the implementation of new technologies (22%).

Respondents report that they are ever more reliant on technology. Almost all respondents – 89% – agreed with the statement “keeping up with new technology is important to the success of my company”. A third (33%) of respondents said they have become more dependent on technology over the last year.

A similar fraction (31%) of UK manufacturers planned to invest more in manufacturing technology in the next two years. The main drivers behind technological adoption are business owners (38%) and customer demand (37%).

Production line automation is the most important technology to respondents’ business (50%) followed by IT (39%), and telecommunications (7%).

The study also found a quarter of businesses do not have personnel succession plans in place for staff (24%). It also reveals that 91% of manufacturers in the UK do not see employee training as a key component to their business.

Tom Bouchier, managing director of Fanuc UK says: “The study highlights the need for manufacturers to establish more effective planning protocols across their business for the implementation of technology, and to empower and support their staff.

“Manufacturers need to start placing more emphasis on investment in people. New technologies, including the Internet of Things and smart factories, are changing the nature of the workforce and businesses need to consider how to retain and attract talent in order to evolve.

“The findings reveal that one of the top barriers to success for many manufacturers is staying ahead of the competition. Manufacturers can only do this if a dual approach is taken: increasing efficiency through technological innovation, coupled with a training and development programme to upskill staff into other areas of the business.”

The survey was conducted by Census Wide and commissioned by FANUC. It interviewed 200 decision-makers (100 large organisations, and 100 small and medium enterprises) from companies with operations across the UK including England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland across a wide range of manufacturing businesses including aerospace, agriculture, automotive, constructive, electronics, energy, food and beverage, machinery and equipment, medical, metal casting, packaging, pharmaceutical and cosmetic, plastics, precision mechanics, sheet metal processing, as well as wood, marble and glass.