Building a better Britain?

Jason Ford

News Editor

Wednesday sees UK Manufacturing Summit 2011: Rebuilding UK Manufacturing taking place at the IMechE’s Birdcage Walk premises in London.

The inaugural Manufacturing Summit was launched in March 2010, focusing on The Future of UK Manufacturing.

At the event, UK manufacturers were able to hear from and question representatives in industry, government, politics, economics and industry associations with the aim of restating the importance of manufacturing prior to the May General Election.

This year’s Manufacturing Summit brings together leading keynote speakers including industry minister Mark Prisk, a Question Time panel and discussion forums addressing skills, capital investment, SME innovation and outsourcing-versus-insourcing.

This year’s summit is expected to provide a further opportunity to influence the consultation document for UK manufacturing strategy planned for mid-2011 and to further discuss how confidence in UK manufacturing can be restored.

Questions to be addressed include: can Britain rebuild to become a thriving industrial economy? And, against a background of massive spending cuts, how can this be accomplished?

The 81st International Geneva Motor Show kicks off this week, promising 170 World and European premiers, of which over 40 fall into the category of alternatively powered vehicles.  

On Wednesday The Engineer’s Stephen Harris will be providing an in depth report on three such vehicles including models from Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW.

In the interim, Briefing is drawn to the so-called ‘Electric Tilter’ all-electric urban mobility vehicle. Developed in France by SynergEthic, the two-seat, three-wheeler is claimed to have a range of 75 miles and a maximum speed of 68mph.

At 2.53m in length, 0.90m wide and 1.65m in height, the rear-wheel drive Tilter is expected to make it onto the market in 2012 at a cost of less than €10,000, including tax and a subscription package that includes the use of batteries.

Anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the ban on using a mobile ’phone whilst driving will be pleased to hear that Ford SYNC is coming to Europe in 2012.

Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally will deliver the news to the 2011 CeBIT technology show in Hanover, Germany this week.

Installed in around three million cars in the US already, SYNC has been designed to offer a simpler and safer means for drivers to operate mobile devices inside their cars and to stay in touch with the outside world while on the move.

Vehicle functions, settings and information are made accessible to the driver through voice control, steering wheel controls or a tap of the centre stack touch screen.

Ford anticipates that nearly two million new vehicles in Europe will feature the system by 2015.

Other notable events this week include today’s launch of a consultation on the route of HS2, a 250mph high-speed rail line aiming to link London to Birmingham in 49 minutes by 2026.

Commenting on the consultation, Tom Foulkes, director general of ICE said: ‘High Speed Rail carries huge economic and environmental potential and could free up capacity on an already stretched network. The consultation on the preferred route is a welcome step towards progressing this ambitious project, however actually delivering it still demands the very strongest commitment going forwards, both politically and financially.’

Finally, the National Audit Office publishes a report this week regarding Eurofighter Typhoon procurement. Entitled ’Defence: Eurofighter Typhoon’, the report will look at the development and procurement of the aircraft and the aircraft’s support package and at how well partner nations have been working together. The number of aircraft the UK is purchasing fell to 160 following the 2010 defence review.