How to make UK manufacturing flourish


Lockdown has caused problems in supply and demand globally. And, as we pause and re-strategise, there’s far greater pressure now to trade inflexibility for diversity, as businesses seek efficient, intelligent, automated and flexible supply chains.

And while Gartner found 80% of organisations traditionally favour a cautious approach to new supply chain applications and technologies, COVID-19 is set to usher in a new era of investment in resilience, with distributed manufacturing as its foundation. New automated systems can alert you to impending problems with supply and changing pricing – a huge window of insight that often goes untapped.

Bram de Zwart, CEO & Co-Founder  of 3D Hubs, told IT Supply Chain what he believes is needed in order to make UK manufacturing flourish

“Uncertainty and job losses are weighing heavily on the performance of UK manufacturing. From March to June we have seen a steady decline in manufacturing demand. A drop of 30% in March, 15% in April, 12% in May and 18% in June does not paint a pretty picture. Our own preliminary July data shows a rise of 9%, signalling a more positive trend.

For decades, the UK economy has been fuelled by energy trading, travel and services, which have flatlined. Manufacturing must now take centre stage in the recovery.

For UK manufacturing to flourish we need to completely rebuild our supply chain, shifting to a distributed, automated model. Doing so would mean businesses could adapt to market changes instantly, becoming more resilient.

Earlier this year, we saw this intelligent production mechanism at work. In February, India, Europe and North America filled the supply void left by a Chinese lockdown. Similarly, as India went into lockdown in April, Europe, North America and China supply filled the void.

Working with a globally distributed network of suppliers will ensure that any similar shocks – including the second wave of COVID-19, escalating trade wars or a no-deal Brexit – can be automatically absorbed and mitigated.

The coronavirus must act as a catalyst for manufacturing change. Embracing digital, automated manufacturing platforms which grant engineers easy access to a globally distributed network of suppliers is the first step.”