Talking about manufacturing

Jason Ford

News Editor

Leaders from manufacturing and engineering gather in Sheffield tomorrow to address how the industry can support the government in its efforts to rebalance the economy.

The Manufacturing Convention, part of the Global Manufacturing Festival: Sheffield, brings together senior figures from companies including Siemens UK, Tata Steel and Westinghouse to discuss how manufacturing will contribute to the UK economy.

Taking place tomorrow, the convention intends to address the key issues relating to emerging markets, the UK skills strategy for manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, and the nuclear sector.

Despite widespread public concern over the safety of nuclear power following recent events in Japan, the nuclear sector received some fresh momentum on Friday March 11 when Rolls-Royce and Areva signed a strategic industrial partnership covering the manufacture of components for new nuclear power plants in Britain and overseas.

Areva is to build the nuclear steam generating systems for the first four EPR reactors planned for construction in the UK by EDF. Similarly, the company is competing for four reactors with Horizon Nuclear Power and is in discussions with NuGen for the construction of two EPRs.

With between 390 to 400 new reactors estimated to be built globally, the partnership has been designed to put Rolls-Royce and Areva at the forefront of nuclear new build.

A report published today suggests that manufacturing in itself is only part of the story when delivering fiscal value to the economy.

In a statement, The Work Foundation argues that if the Coalition is to safeguard the future of UK manufacturing, it must go beyond the traditional view that manufacturing is just about “making things”.

The report says that manufacturers now earn between 15 and 20 per cent of their revenue from services.

These so-called ‘manu-services‘ (combinations of innovative products with value-adding services) should, the report argues, be placed at the heart of the government’s growth agenda.

The report shows that while the UK currently trails behind Germany, Japan and France in hi-tech manufacturing, its biggest strength now lies in the ability to integrate services into manufacturing processes.

Report author Andrew Sissons said: ‘Manu-services play to Britain’s strategic strengths: a highly skilled workforce, a strong service sector and excellent universities and institutions.

‘Only 42 per cent of manufacturing jobs in the UK are now in production. This…reflects the growing level of employment provided by key manu-services areas, chiefly research, design and marketing and servicing of products.’

Policy recommendations include ensuring that Technology and Innovation Centres engage in non-technological innovation, specifically designed to promote manu-services.

Similarly, universities should be encouraged to work with manufacturers to provide skills for manu-services which may include joint STEM and non-STEM degrees. This would ensure that manu-service firms have access to the skills and specialists needed to effectively combine goods and services.

Finally, the winners of 2011’s National Science & Engineering Competition were announced over the weekend at Big Bang: UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair in London

Andrew Cowan, from Sutton Grammar School for Boys, was named Young Engineer of the Year while Hannah Eastwood, from Loreto College, Coleraine, was announced as Young Scientist of the Year.

Andrew’s Search and Rescue Robot allows the user to control the robot and view environmental information from a remote control panel. Hannah’s project explores how chromium can be removed from drinking water in order to purify tap water and reclaim it for the steel industry.