Q) How has business been during the last year?
A) The past 12 months have undoubtedly posed a significant challenge. The Covid-19 pandemic was very different to any other recession, and there was of course no ‘manual’ for managing the process. However, as a business we remained agile and adapted to each different scenario with a planned series of investments in both people and process, which has enabled to us to keep our staff safe, remain productive, and ultimately navigate this difficult period largely unscathed.
While we initially experienced a lull in sales throughout Q2 and Q3 of 2020, enquiries gradually improved from October onwards. Market confidence really started to return from the start of the year, coinciding with the release of the roadmap out of lockdown; and, combined with the launch of a number of new products, has led to a very productive period for us.
Q) What is your view on UK manufacturing?
A) My biggest takeaway of the sheer resilience of UK manufacturing. Given the unprecedented challenges the industry faced, the level of innovation, agility and determination that many businesses demonstrated to not only survive, but even diversify into new sectors, is truly impressive.
From a Mazak perspective, we were fortunate in that our worse fears did not materialise. The furlough scheme helped us maintain skillsets which may have been lost in different circumstances, while the Government must also be credited for its efforts to stimulate investment through new loan schemes and the Super Deduction Tax.
Q) Have you seen any new growing trends?
A) The adoption of industrial automation systems has certainly increased as companies look to not only become more competitive, but futureproof themselves against any further effects of the pandemic.
Interestingly, we have witnessed demand grow across all sectors, including those with medium-to-low-mix and medium-to-low volume, rather than exclusively from more traditional low-mix and high-volume applications.
Indeed, given the tangible productivity benefits it can deliver to end-users – flexibility, quick set-up times and fast changeovers, to name but a few – ease of integration for automation systems was a key design focus for one of our newest product ranges, the INTEGREX i-H series of Multi-Tasking machines.
Ultimately, automation has the potential to drive productivity for every segment of our customer base, starting with the large OEMs and Tier One suppliers, right the way through to the two-man machine shops that are in operation.
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