Britain can become world’s fifth largest manufacturer by 2021, says Sage

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Britain can become the world’s fifth largest manufacturer by 2021, according to a new report from cloud business management solutions specialist, Sage.

Results from the ‘Discrete Manufacturing in a Changing World’ reveals how advanced the UK’s manufacturing is compared to global counterparts in adopting new processes and thinking to drive growth.

It found that adopting circular economy and servitisation strategies are critical in driving new revenue and profitability opportunities for discrete manufacturers.

96% of British discrete manufacturing companies stated that they have been impacted by green manufacturing trends. As a result, 79% of manufacturers have adopted a system to eliminate waste and recycle existing resources, also known as the circular economy.

Most UK manufacturing professionals who responded see the circular economy as a net benefit to their organisations from a brand reputation and profitability perspective.

However, 65% said they face undertaking substantial transformation to take advantage of it – especially in adapting supply chain practices and balancing sustainability with the bottom line.

Three quarters of UK firms surveyed said they are in the middle of their transformations. Many are working on driving down waste in the supply chain and using data to better understand consumer demand, to adopting more environmentally friendly practices and creating new operational efficiencies.

Interestingly, 2% of discrete manufacturers say they have a fully functioning circular economy business model, while a further 16% say they have nearly completed the transition to it.

The report found that 66% of companies impacted by green manufacturing trends are pursuing a servitisation strategy. 88% of British manufacturers see servitisation as having a positive impact on their business.

Servitisation is the opportunity for businesses to expand their product lines with services and solutions.

The report shows that the UK could move from the eighth largest manufacturing country in the world, to fifth in the next 12 months. By harnessing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies including artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing and robotics, there is a window for British manufacturers to re-establish itself as one of the top five manufacturing countries in the world.

Sabby Gill, MD of UKI at Sage, said: “It is exciting to see the opportunity for the UK manufacturing sector to grow and expand its position globally, especially in light of the political and economic uncertainty we’ve experienced in the UK.

“While sustainability will remain a challenge for the sector, our research indicates that British manufacturers are embracing it and looking at new models including the circular economy and servitisation, for growth.

“The sector will need to address outdated business models and technology and a lack of IT infrastructure to capitalise on this opportunity. Using data more effectively will enable them to be more agile in the way they source, design, make and recycle their products.”

Tim Figures, Director of Industrial Sectors, Technology and Innovation at MAKE UK, added: “The smart use of technology – and above all data – has the potential to unlock significant improvements in productivity, hone their supply chains and explore more sustainable and digital business models.”