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Manufacturing News – Early June 2024

Estimated reading time 4 minutes

Britain’s manufacturers are seeing a boost in growth prospects as output and orders pick up, with the sector forecast to outpace the economy overall this year according to a major survey published.

Key findings:

The first-ever British Manufacturing Barometer report has been published. This report shares UK manufacturing companies’ current views and voices on the Economy and Industry.

While all data and insights come from Made in Britain members, the Barometer is intended to be representative of UK manufacturing as a sector. The Barometer is separate to but coordinated with Made in Britain’s Buying British and Exports Surveys. Reference to each of those is in this report, including that 8 in 10 UK companies now recognise the Made in Britain Trademark, and Europe continues to be the most popular export market for UK manufacturers.

Some of the top lines from the Barometer found that over half of the manufacturing companies surveyed are optimistic the economy will improve over the coming year, with a small minority (3%) strongly disagreeing with that sentiment.

Over the last year, manufacturers have maintained their health and wellbeing commitment, with spend remaining consistently high, a new survey has revealed.Companies have largely increased their level of investment (48.6%) or kept it at the same level (45.7%) in spite of difficult economic conditions.According to Make UK’s latest survey, “A Healthier Manufacturing Workforce – wellbeing and work in UK manufacturing”, mental health issues are the main driver in sickness absence, with 40% of employers identifying this as the main cause of long-term absence in their business. As a result, more emphasis than ever has been placed on employer investment, with workplace adjustments, access to counselling or other mental health support and health and wellbeing promotion top of the priority list.

Four new research hubs aiming to address the challenge of commercialising early-stage research within key areas of manufacturing, have been launched with academics at the University of Sheffield.

The hubs comprise four of five hubs in a funding programme unveiled by the UK Research and Innovation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

They will also work to make manufacturing processes more sustainable by reducing waste, emissions and pollution as well as lowering production costs.

The first hub – CSManuHubSust – aims to capitalise on the opportunity of compound semiconductor manufacturing.

Researchers will develop energy-efficient opto-electronics for use in key emerging technologies such as quantum.

They will expand on the environmental benefits of compound semiconductors by creating new devices, such as mercury-free “night vision” mid-infrared detector arrays and devices that both communicate and illuminate based on integrated transistors and LEDs.

The hub is led by Cardiff University in collaboration with Professor Lenny Koh from the University of Sheffield’s Management School.

The UK manufacturing sector returned to growth in May, as output expanded at the quickest pace in over two years on the back of improved intakes of new work.

The outlook also brightened as manufacturers’ positive sentiment rose to its highest level since early-2022, with 63% of companies expecting output to expand over the coming year.

The seasonally adjusted S&P Global UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI®) rose to 51.2 in May, up from 49.1 in April, its highest reading since July 2022 but a tick below the earlier flash estimate of 51.3. The headline PMI has posted above the neutral 50.0 mark in two out of the past three months

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