Working together is vital for recovery in manufacturing, debate hearsMay 25, 2010
The debate, which included high profile speakers from organisations such as Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems as well as the Technology Strategy Board, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, European Factories of the Future Research Association and the Engineering Employers’ Federal.
Delegates from a range of manufacturing organisations, from small businesses to large international organisations, research bodies and universities, discussed manufacturing for the recovery, including workshops on low carbon and sustainable manufacturing, design and innovation, advanced materials and technology and product-service systems.
The message that businesses need to innovate and work together in order to survive and benefit from the economic recovery was evident throughout the debate.
Cutting prices would not necessarily be the answer: increasing innovation and moving into more niche markets were key to maintaining a competitive edge over the next five years.
EPSRC portfolio manager Derek Gillespie said: “Working together is key. We need to focus on our current strengths and the supporting research that will underpin the emergent technologies of the future.”
Manufacturing organisations are increasingly recognising the benefits of collaborating with universities such as Cranfield to develop their ideas at reduced risk and cost. The links between smaller organisations and large multinationals is also growing in importance, delegates said. Larger organisations could use the focused skills and technology of smaller organisations, which benefit from the expertise and contacts of the larger business to improve their offering.
Professor Rajkumar Roy, head of Cranfield’s Manufacturing Department, said the UK manufacturing industry had the potential to make a significant contribution to the economic recovery, through identifying new opportunities and new sectors and working together to capitalise on the country’s strengths.
Professor Ric Parker, director of research and technology at Rolls-Royce, said: “The UK is still the sixth largest manufacturing nation in the world. Manufacturing contributes around £300 billion to the UK economy. Manufacturing and process technology innovation is the engine that will pull us into economic growth.”