The Outlook for the Manufacturing Industry in 2017

The UK is currently the 11th largest manufacturing nation in the world. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK’s industrial sector has increased by 1.4% a year since 1948. In fact, manufacturing makes up 11% of UK GVA and 54% of UK exports. The industry directly employs 2.6 million people.

Despite this robust position, current uncertainty is putting a dampener on short-term forecasts. A recent survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) revealed that optimism amongst British manufacturers is at its lowest since the global financial crisis in 2009, even though the total number of orders was significantly up in the three months leading to July 2016.

The Brexit effect

The uncertainty around the method and timing of Britain’s exit from the European Union is leading to caution among some investors.

A weak pound has meant that buying some British exports has been cheaper and has acted as an enticement to certain foreign buyers. However, importing materials has been made more expensive by the weak pound, so it remains a challenge for UK manufacturers to stay competitive and profitable.

A growing industry

According to the ONS, the factors that have contributed to the sustained growth of the manufacturing industry in recent years are a more skilled workforce; a shift in production from low to high productivity goods; improvements in automation and ICT; and increased investment in R&D.

Investing in technology

One way for manufacturing businesses to continue their current momentum and not falter in the face of Brexit, is to invest in the latest technologies. Manufacturers are increasingly turning to sophisticated CRM and ERP software solutions to put relevant information into the hands of those who need it across every link in the supply chain including planning, procurement, monitoring, measuring, forecasting and logistics.

It’s this sort of technology that helps drive innovation and allows British manufacturers to remain competitive in these uncertain times.

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