Life is no longer ‘normal’ as the coronavirus continues to disrupt our daily lives across all industries. The UK manufacturing sector is no different. It has promised so much for so long but how will it cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic? Could there be an increased demand for UK manufacturing instead of going overseas?
UK Manufacturing In A Competitive World
There was almost a hint of optimism when factories shut in China as it may have led to an increased demand for UK manufacturers. For some time, manufacturers in the UK have benefitted from having tooling and production of moulded components available locally. However, overseas companies are the first choice for many as the components and labour costs are significantly less while they enjoy shorter lead times.
While it’s true that Britain is the birthplace of the industrial revolution, and have remained a global leader in manufacturing, the main obstacle has always been the skills gap. Many people are leaning toward a desk-based role while others chase the latest trends, including social influencing. Unfortunately, it seems manufacturing and engineering are not options people are considering.
Considering how everything is developing, it’s hard to not think about whether COVID-19 could result in a resurgence of the UK manufacturing sector.
Is UK Manufacturing Prevailing?
It’s not easy to see a silver lining as things stand now but one should always try to focus on the positive. Whilst the economy is undoubtedly heavily affected, it’s during these challenging times that we, as a proud nation, stand together.
The world is experiencing unprecedented times but businesses and individuals are supporting one another in ways we never imagined. Looking at how hard everyone is working to keep the resources and supply chain network on track is truly inspiring.
Things are not perfect by a long shot but the UK manufacturing sector is prevailing by working together and diversifying their business offering. This predominantly refers to the demand for PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) and the ventilator shortage.
Overcoming COVID-19 Challenges
Despite all of the challenges, the manufacturing industry is standing together in a national effort to fight the coronavirus. More than 3,000 companies and individuals have registered their services to the NHS Ventilator Challenge.
Everyone involved offered a wide range of services and manufacturing capabilities to help the government meet the urgent demand for life-saving equipment. The shortage of medical equipment highlights the importance of UK manufacturing and engineering on the economy. Not only that but it’s also a true reflection on what a fantastic career it could be.
According to Dr Jakob Mathiszig-Lee, researcher and senior anaesthetic registrar at Royal Brompton Hospital in London: “Across the UK, dozens of individuals, academic departments and commercial companies are collaborating to design and manufacture ventilators that could save the lives of people suffering with COVID-19. Many are working around the clock in what’s been described as an unprecedented ‘wartime effort'”.
What Changes Could We See Going Forward?
Despite all the challenges, the UK manufacturing sector is working tirelessly and has become a vital cog in fighting COVID-19. The question is, will UK manufacturing earn the well-deserved recognition once the pandemic is over? Also, what could change as a direct result of the coronavirus?
There is a real possibility that some supply chains may change from ‘just-in-time deliveries’ to allow more robustness. This could result in a better structure system with a slight increase in required warehouse space. We could also see more reshoring in manufacturing which results in shorter supply chains.
The UK manufacturing sector may also look at the workplace environment in terms of all functions integrated within the warehouse and at the regional level. Buildings in the future could also focus more on workplace configuration looking at how hygiene factors and air conditioning systems can be maintained more effectively.
Perhaps the silver lining to an otherwise dark and depressing situation is that UK manufacturing could deliver exciting and interesting career paths. Who knows, this could all lead to more employment within the sector. Additionally, people might change their views on local tooling in an attempt to safeguard their supply chain in the future.
Whilst nobody knows exactly when this pandemic will subside, governments will hopefully learn from their shortcomings and have better systems in place to save lives. Whatever happens, growth in demand for UK manufacturing services seems likely over the next few years.
Contact PRV Engineering to find out more about their precision engineering and custom fabrication services. They have worked closely with several industries on various projects including aerospace, aviation, defence, automotive and rail.