Moving from surviving to thriving

Alan Reid

Alan Reid is a North West adviser for the Manufacturing Growth Fund (MGF), a business support initiative for small and medium sized manufacturers which aims to drive job creation, help develop new products and increase productivity.

He says: “The Industrial Strategy quite rightly highlights that we need to adopt emerging technologies, invest in more and better training and development, including STEM education and skills, and identify sectors which will drive growth.

“What is less clear is how a manufacturer or engineering firm that wants to embrace this ‘Industry 4.0’ vision of a smarter, cleaner and more innovative future should go about it.

“This is especially true for many North West SMEs, who are having to work innovatively every day, but in some instances are doing this just to survive.

“Getting these firms to see an opportunity to move from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’ through a fresh approach is challenging.”

He adds: “Brexit is clearly another major concern for manufacturers, and the events myself and other colleagues recently hosted around the North West were largely focused on practical things which can be doing now to minimise the challenges of leaving the EU which are also aligned to the Industrial Strategy.

“We recommended that businesses start to consider their supply chains now, to understand the potential risk to cost and lead times and recognise that there are also opportunities to build strong relationships with existing international customers. The advantages of using local suppliers were also highlighted.

“We also pushed the message that if the private sector can work more closely with the public sector to bridge the impending manufacturing skills gap, then the North West can be competitive in whatever form the new world order will take post-Brexit.”