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Identifying the UK's manufacturing challenges as a benchmark for future growth

Andrew J. Thomas (Newport Business School, University of Wales Newport, Newport, UK)
Paul Byard (Engineering Employers Federation, Bridgend, UK)
Roger Evans (Schaeffler Bearing Company, Llanelli, UK)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 3 February 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to recognise the key manufacturing challenges currently facing UK manufacturing industry and to further identify the Key Developmental Areas (KDAs) (which includes technologies, systems and paradigms) which need to be developed and employed in order to ensure manufacturing firms in the UK become economically sustainable and are able to operate effectively in a global competitive market. The aim of the paper is to provide a benchmark for UK manufacturing industry to work from, after which future measuring instruments could be employed to track whether companies are meeting these challenges.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey into 100 UK manufacturing companies provides the basis for the identification of the challenges and KDAs. The findings from the survey are analysed against information obtained from existing strategy reports and foresight papers/studies to reach a point where the authors identify a balanced set of challenges and developmental areas obtained from this mixed research approach.

Findings

Through a comprehensive academic and industrial study, the authors identify and propose nine key manufacturing challenges for UK manufacturing industry to consider. Furthermore, the authors also identify a number of the KDAs which could be used to assist companies in meeting these challenges. The KDAs are not meant to be exhaustive but aimed to provide the underpinning support to the challenges proposed.

Research limitations/implications

The paper proposes a set of key manufacturing challenges for UK manufacturing businesses to consider and apply appropriate technologies and systems to achieve business resilience. This paper will therefore be of benefit to the academic community in that it distils a wide range of academic theory and industrial practice in order to create a coherent body of knowledge. As with any survey work, the accuracy of information depends largely on the size of the survey. Whilst 100 companies were surveyed, a further extension to this number would always help to strengthen future research.

Originality/value

The identification of these key manufacturing challenges and their corresponding technologies, systems and paradigms is aimed at providing a new manufacturing perspective to both academics and industrialists. The challenges and developmental areas proposed provide the basis for a new and advanced manufacturing strategy to be developed for UK companies which aims to create economically sustainable manufacturing organisations.

Keywords

Citation

Thomas, A.J., Byard, P. and Evans, R. (2012), "Identifying the UK's manufacturing challenges as a benchmark for future growth", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 142-156. https://doi.org/10.1108/17410381211202160

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited