22 Jul 2024


Gambica members are back to working at 75% of full capacity

Brambley: the positive news is that no businesses stopped

Members of the Gambica, the trade association which represents companies in the UK’s automation and instrumentation sectors, are now running their operations at about 75% of their full capacity, according to the organisation’s chief executive, Steve Brambley.

Gambica has surveyed its members nine times since mid-March to allow companies to benchmark themselves, and to feed the impact back to the government. “The positive news is that no businesses stopped – albeit often operating at a reduced rate,” says Brambley. “On average, the industry is now running at 75% capacity, as orders slowly start to increase from the low point of mid-April.

“The impact depends strongly on the customer segment, with automotive being one of the hardest hit, compared to food and drink which has largely maintained full operation,” he continues. “In contrast to this, one in ten members have seen an increase in orders, mainly in the areas of healthcare and research, for sales of laboratory technology and PPE.”

According to Brambley, a third of Gambica member companies’ employees continued in their usual place of work throughout the lockdown, especially where manufacturing, distribution and service required a physical presence. They have implemented distancing, shielding, one-way systems and increased hygiene and PPE to mitigate any risks and continue to operate.

More than half of Gambica members’ employees have been working from home, with many reporting an increase in productivity due to reduced commuting and travel. The industry has used the government’s furlough scheme to safeguard some jobs in the face of reduced orders, but this requirement has been reducing and now accounts for around 15% of the workforce.

Brambley was speaking at a press briefing given by manufacturing industry leaders earlier this month. Another speaker, Paul O’Donnell, head of external affairs at the MTA (Manufacturing Technologies Association), reported that the lockdown period has had a profound effect on the Association. “We took the decision quite early to reschedule the Mach exhibition,” he said.

“In January, we were concerned about how we could bring people over from China,” O’Donnell recalls. “But then we had Italy – the first inclination that we were going to have to deal with a significant issue, and then things escalated at pace. Because it’s a working show, going online was not an option for us.” The event has been rescheduled to January 2021.

Vanda Jones, executive director of the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS), reported on what has been happening in her sector: “Our members have never stopped working, so we focused on early engagement to make sure the government were delivering what they required. The health and safety guidance on safe working in close proximity has been important from the very beginning. We’ve been more efficient with less travel, and more able to support the members. And we have secured more engagement online, rather than taking time out of their days.”

• Almost three quarters (74%) of the UK public believe that manufacturers stepped up to meet the challenge of supporting the UK as the Coronavirus took a grip on the nation, according to a survey conducted by Populus for Cadence Innovation Marketing. A similar number believe that a strategic long-term plan to help UK manufacturers to be more productive and competitive, will help insulate us from future pandemics and go some way to protect UK GDP, of which manufacturing contributes over 17%. Furthermore, three quarters (75%) of the UK public believe more strongly in the importance of the UK manufacturing as a result of coronavirus.