September 2021

News 0 8 | Plant & Works Engineering September 2021 In these challenging and unprecedented times, the UK defence sector remains among the most dynamic and innovative in the world. Manufacturers within the sector account for a crucial £12billion worth of output, employing over 200,000 highly skilled people. The sector is also a major player on the global stage being the second largest exporter of defence products. The sector is also a crucial employer in many UK Regions which will be critical to the Government’s levelling up agenda, paying its employees an average annual salary of approximately £45k, 27% higher than the average annual manufacturing salary. The sector recruits, trains and retains the best workforce and offers great and indeed unrivalled career prospects. Defence manufacturers also have a key role to play in delivering the Government’s Plan for Growth ambitions, whether this is accelerating the pace of digital adoption, developing new and more sustainable products which have commercial spin offs or tapping into new trade markets. This is good news not just for the defence sector but also for the supply chain. Yet these benefits are not fully understood or appreciated, and there is more work to do to share this wider industry success story. Looking ahead to the next five years, there are challenges but also huge opportunities. The sector is making great strides in addressing modern industrial issues, increasingly understanding the importance of diversity and inclusion, and responding to the climate change challenge. In particular, the introduction of social values which are linked to Government procurement will undoubtedly drive forward more positive change, enabling the defence sector to reach its full potential and deliver even more to support the UK’s prosperity. However, to take advantage of these opportunities the barriers to further growth and investment must be addressed, supporting the sector to attract and retain the very best calibre of talent, opening the doors to new trade markets and removing the barriers that SMEs in particular face to exporting more of their goods and services. In particular Government must restore the support to SMEs to enable them to attend trade shows which is a valuable route to market, as well as removing the obstacles which mean the majority of companies still struggle to obtain UK procurement contracts. As one of the most innovative sectors of the economy spending almost £2bn a year on R&D the sector is also looking to the future. In a recent Make UK survey almost three quarters of companies (71%) said they were investing in digital technologies in the last two years, the pace of which is accelerating, and almost half (46%) in green technologies. Furthermore the defence sector is heavily committed to evolving technologies with more than a third (35%) exploring opportunities in autonomous robotics and vehicles, over a quarter (26%) in clean technologies and propulsion and almost a fifth in Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality. Make UK believes that, in the same way the defence sector invented GPS which was then translated into civilian use the same can happen with these technologies which will have benefits for populations which go far beyond purely defence and security. There are exciting times ahead, and a closer, more collaborative relationship between Government and defence manufacturers can only help maximise the economic gains that can be achieved with a thriving and prosperous defence sector. Given its place as one of the most dynamic in the world and its unrivalled ability to adopt and, invest in, cutting-edge technologies, as the adoption of digital technologies in particular accelerates, we now have a unique opportunity to harness the talents of companies right across the sector. By working closely with the sector and, freeing up the agility and dynamism of SMES Government can help the process of cross-pollinating the success of the defence sector to maximise economic gains, seize export opportunities and build greater supply chain resilience. This will place an innovative defence sector at the forefront of helping address the many challenges society faces through the development of new products that benefit us all. By MAKE UK chief executive, Stephen Phipson MAKE uk - the manufacturers’ organisation monthly news comment Humber regions, expands that support to other key UK chemical clusters. “At the Chemical Industries Association we have been studying the impact and potential of digitisation for some time, having set out our latest thinking in our Digitisation in the Chemical Industry report. Investment in digital technologies for plants is increasing. However there are several key barriers preventing faster and more widespread adoption and in order to overcome these, we have urged the Government to implement the findings of the Made Smarter review.” Made Smarter, which has supported businesses to deliver an additional £176 million in gross value added, is now keen to reach more chemical manufacturers and has produced a free guide to help demystify digitalisation and drive technology adoption. The downloadable document includes topics such as how digital tools can help tackle key business challenges including: achieving consistent quality, complying with regulations, managing waste and pollution, identifying supply chain trends, and supporting production planning. Donna Edwards, North West Adoption Programme Director at Made Smarter, said: “The North West is made up of hundreds of chemical makers who create a variety of products which impact virtually every aspect of our lives, such as soap, paint and fuel. “The sector is adopting digital technologies at a faster rate than other sectors in a race to stay competitive, adapt to strict quality standards, compliance and reporting responsibilities, and reduce its environmental impact through waste and emissions. “However, in highly regulated manufacturing, jumping feet first is very risky and upgrading to new technologies can seem like a complex and daunting task. “To help demystify digitalisation and help SMEs to their first step, we have produced some crucial guidance as well as explained why implementing digital tools is such a priority in this sector.” To download the free guide visit: -the-challenging-world-of-chemical- manufacturing/