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IMechE: UK needs a national industrial strategy

23 July, 2012

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is calling on the UK Government to develop a national industrial strategy and to help provide companies with more capital investment to boost UK manufacturing. The recommendations are part of the Institution’s new UK Manufacturing in 2012 policy statement, which it is releasing to coincide with the announcement of 13 companies shortlisted for this year’s Manufacturing Excellence Awards.

“Although manufacturing makes up just 12% of the UK economy, the companies shortlisted today, which range from businesses making potato boxes to defence systems, demonstrate the variety of talent and skill there is in the sector,” says Philippa Oldham, the IMEchE’s head of manufacturing (above). “Just a 10% rise in UK manufacturing exports, and a corresponding drop in imports, could bring an extra £45bn into the UK economy – spearheading the country’s economic recovery.

“But in order to do this, Government needs to show leadership,” Oldham adds. “Government must prioritise the development of a cross-party industrial strategy and improve access to funds in order to give industry direction and confidence to invest in UK manufacturing.”

The IMechE is recommending that the Government:
• should set out a clear national industrial strategy to provide industry and academia with a framework to deliver growth in the manufacturing sector. This strategy needs to be developed with a cross-party consensus to ensure UK industry has long-term political commitment;
• should work with the financial sector to deliver more capital investment in new production plants and machinery, along with training. An industrial bank is one option that could help manufacturers to access to funds for investment, providing options such as asset management loans;
• should work with industry and academia to support and publicise the work of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to increase the number of people and the skill levels required to meet the future requirements of manufacturing; and that
• the new High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centre should expand its role across all manufacturing sectors rather than be restricted to its own research programmes.

The 13 companies shortlisted for this year’s Manufacturing Excellence programme are:
•  KAB Seating, a Northampton-based vehicle seat manufacturer;
•  Draeger Safety UK, a Northumberland manufacturer of safety equipment;
•  ScotAsh, a Fife-based manufacturer of sustainable construction products using by-products from power stations;
•  SKF, the bearings and seals manufacturer;
•  H K Timbers, a potato and vegetable box manufacturer, based in Gainsborough;
•  G & H Precision Engineering, a Southampton-based precision engineering firm;
•  FFEI, a Hertfordshire manufacturer of inkjet products, printing software and 3D printing simulation;
•  Brother Industries, a toner cartridge and printer manufacturer, based in Wrexham;
•  Altro, a safety and commercial flooring manufacturer, based in Letchworth;
•  Hymid Multi-Shot, a Torquay-based injection-moulding specialist;
•  Accutronics, a battery manufacturer based in Newcastle-under-Lyme;
•  Building Adhesives, a Stoke-on-Trent manufacturer of tiling applications; and
•  MBDA, a Lostock-based missile and defence systems manufacturer.

The winner will be announced in November.

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