Optimism and innovation drive UK tech
There is optimism in the manufacturing sector which has not been seen for five years.
Companies are investing in technology and looking for new markets again because they believe the business is on an up-curve.
“There is innovation again,” says Craig Wright, CEO of Andover-based electronics manufacturer, Custom Interconnect Limited (CIL).
“After the recession of five years ago, we see firms starting to look for new markets again,” says Wright. “I know of one customer which is making the UK a design hub for its global business.”
Another customer, says Wright, moved production from France to the UK because it was 30% cheaper.
He believes the UK will see increased prototyping activity over the next few years as improving economic conditions lead to larger research and development spend.
“There is no doubt that confidence is growing among OEMs,” says Wright. “Order books are filling and there is a sense that research and development budgets are being restored or increased.”
Wright says that the much-commented on turnaround in the UK’s automotive sector has given new confidence to the manufacturing sector as a whole.
There is an appetite for banks to invest in manufacturing business again.
Wright was surprised how response banks were when he was looking for investment funding last year.
“If your strategy is right there is funding available, banks see manufacturing as an asset-based business,” says Wright.
The areas where UK manufacturers are winning business are in the high-reliability systems markets of military, aerospace, transport and medical where specialist skills and a secure supply chain are important.
“The UK has secured a position in specialist manufacturing,” says Wright. “The integrity of the supply chain is critical.”
According to Wright, half of the value CIL can add to a project comes from managing the supply chain.
Wright saw an up lift in business early in 2013 and he expects this to continue for the rest of this year.
UK manufacturing is back with a vengeance, as Wright puts it: “New business tenders may now have two or three UK-based bidders to one from overseas.