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Manufacturing industry needs more innovation

There need for more innovation in the manufacturing industry has been highlighted by new research.

Just 11 per cent of manufacturers have a system in place to enhance innovation; this could put the UK at a distinct disadvantage in the future due to the many challenges the manufacturing sector is currently facing, according to RSM, who conducted the survey.

RSM found that more than half of the manufacturers interviewed said they do intend invest in business systems at some point. However, these efforts are mainly concentrated on technology to improve the way the business is run, boost efficiency and productivity, but many UK manufacturers are neglecting to invest in innovation.

Discussing the research, Mike Thornton, head of manufacturing for RSM, said:

‘As many UK manufacturers prepare for a potential surge in competition and uncertain trading conditions, harnessing technology could be the answer to future success. Technology will play an important role to help the sector become more efficient, productive and, in turn, more competitive, but this requires significant investment into the right software, equipment and talent to drive change.’

Lack of innovation not limited to manufacturing industry

Experts say that innovation is crucial if the UK manufacturing industry is going to be competitive post-Brexit and if it is to keep up with cheaper manufacturing bases like China.

However, the manufacturing sector isn’t the only industry struggling when it comes to innovation.

A study from PWC found that relatively few of the UK-based companies interviewed (32 per cent) viewed innovation as important, with most companies preferring to prioritise technology instead.

Government initiatives to improve innovation in manufacturing

Although a considerable percentage of manufactures admit that investing in innovation isn’t their priority, government agency Innovate UK say UK manufactures do still rate as a ‘major driver of innovation’.

The agency also explains how new technologies that involve digitisation, like the Internet of Things and cloud based data, have the power to transform manufacturing.

Digitisation is where a new generation of ideas and products is most likely to come from in the future, and progress is being made in this area. Research shows that most UK companies plan to have invested in digitalisation by 2021, although they don’t plan to invest quite as much as other countries.

And to encourage fresh innovations in the sector, government agency Innovate UK has opened the third round of funding competition, which is designed to encourage manufacturers to come forward with new ideas.

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