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Manufacturers target technology to drive productivity

Regulatory challenges and Brexit do not appear to be dampening optimism among UK manufacturers, according to new research from cloud business management software firm Sage.

A vast majority of process manufacturers who took part in the research said they are preparing for growth while over 80% reported confidence that their UK home grown industry will be considered a world leader by 2025.

This is despite almost two thirds saying that regulatory changes are affecting their business and 82% revealing that the threat of import-export shake ups around Brexit is having significant impact on strategic decision making.

“Contrary to prevailing sentiments about the decline of manufacturing in the UK, our research reveals attitudes are anything but downbeat,” said Sage managing director for UK and Ireland Sabby Gill. “With the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathering pace, we see an industry taking the initiative to equip itself with the technologies and skills it needs to succeed.”

The research demonstrates that enhancing profitability is the top long term priority for process manufacturers. For the majority – 61% – this means investing in technology to drive greater productivity.

In addition 52% see data driven production as a key trend changing the sector right now and 54% believe that emerging technologies like robotics, Internet of Things and automation will have the greatest impact on their business over the next five years.

Key benefits of these technologies are said to include reduced operational costs, increased visibility / traceability across the supply chain and enabling automation of repetitive tasks.

“In an increasingly digitised world, and with political and economic uncertainty a daily reality, manufacturers that prioritise digital transformation have the best chance of maintaining growth and riding the wave to success,” added Sabby Gill.

Sentiments around the importance of technology are also reflected in the skills being sought by process manufacturers. Two fifths of those surveyed reported that proficiency in data science and computer science will be critical if UK manufacturing is to remain competitive, compared to proficiency in engineering at just 18%.