Published online only late every
Issue:- 26 June 2014
Britain' - British Manufacturing in the spotlight at IBF2014
THE Engineers' Employers
have held a few events in Liverpool as part of the International
Festival for Business 2014. The events are part of the
Manufacturing, Science and Technology Week, that started on 23 June
and ends on 27 June 2014. The events started with the release of a
report, accompanied by a press and schools event, at the UTC on
Monday, 23 June 2014. The Liverpool Life Sciences event 'Pioneering Great
British Products' had local schools attending and representatives
from British manufacturing and education, along with Secretary of
State for Business, Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP. After Vince Cable MP
had opened the event and was shown around exhibits like the
educational computer Raspberry
Pi Foundation's display
and the maritime robotics group Seafloor Production Tools, who have
a world leader, cable laying machine, which is designed and
manufactured in the UK. That is not forgetting the space company,
who have invented the SABRE engine (Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket
Engine), and an F1 and sports car development display by McLaren
This inspirational event
allowed school children to ask questions directly to industry
representatives from those businesses and also others from the
science, technology, and engineering as well as highlighting worries
that we are not promoting innovation in the UK. Terry Scouler, Chief
Executive of EEF, on the day, said on her blog that:- "Our
ability to innovate in the future hinges on the talents of our young
people. We need to inspire them and this starts with giving rightful
recognition to our great inventors and giving young innovators every
reason and encouragement to want to follow in their footsteps."
All the groups attending that day were extremely interesting
examples of pioneering products that are often overlooked by our
media and business community. One of the school students commented
that:- "I have been interested in computers for years and
would love to go into the programming field. Sadly, it is very hard
to find out what I need to do to get into the likes of robotics.
This has been very helpful for me." Another who was
interested in aviation said:- "This is a fantastic opportunity
for me to learn and ask questions about the industry, like this
'Lighter than Air' vehicle design." The fascinating thing
for us, the media and those exhibiting, was just how well thought
out the questions had been. An interesting connection was also
examined by students in many of their questions, relating to
interconnectivity of devices and objects, like Wi-Fi being added to
AIRLANDER, made by the Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd. in Bedford,
UK. This event was
inspirational, but also from talking to some of the exhibitors and
also the children, who attended, should be repeated more regularly,
to "encourage" our next generation of young innovators
While also unveiling 5 cutting
edge, British inventions, the AIRLANDER airship, Raspberry Pi, the
SABRE engine (Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine), and the i-limb
bionic hand, the most important thing though was the report that was
launched by Vince Cable, Business Secretary at the event. It looks
at Britain's strong heritage in bringing ground breaking products to
the world. In the report, issued by the EEF and Siemens, it warns
us, in the UK, that consumers are in the dark about Britain's role
in bringing cutting edge products to the world:-
► Best British inventions include the computer, the telephone, TV
and jet engine, but only 54% of consumers think the jet engine is a
► In the dark:- only 25% of
consumers are aware Britain gave the world ATM/cashpoints; even less
(23%) know we invented the automatic kettle too.
► Living in the past:- while 69%
are aware that Britain invented the steam engine, just 22% know
we're behind modern day carbon fibre.
► Unimpressed:- 51% of consumers
take a cutting edge gadget or tool for granted within a month of
► Make it Britain:- despite our
rich heritage, only 51% of consumers think that Britain is good at
both inventing and manufacturing.
Sadly, this international and national lack of awareness of what
British inventiveness has contributed to the world, could now hinder
our future ability to innovate. More worryingly, many seem to see
British inventiveness as something in the past; while 69% are aware
that we invented the steam engine, only 22% are aware we gave the
world modern day carbon fibre too.
To read the report please download
it by clicking on
According to consumers interviewed
in the production of this report, the main attribute of a
'great invention' is that it improves quality of life (66%).
59% say that a great invention radically changes everyday life,
makes life easier (57%) or solves a problem (57%). Many of the
things we use on a daily basis tick these boxes. However,
familiarity doesn't breed any greater recognition for its roots.
Just 25% of consumers are aware that ATM/cashpoint machines and the
automatic kettle (23%) are a British 'claim to fame’ as well.
Top 10 British inventions according to
Top 10 best British inventions
People aware that they were invented by Brits
Source - EEF and Siemens.
So what can be done to fly the flag of our inventions to the world?
Well that was looked at in the next event which was held on,
Wednesday, 25 June 2014, entitled:- 'Make It Britain'.
This was also a fantastic conference, but this time those attending
were nearly all exclusively people in the manufacturing industry.
This flagship event, 'Make It Britain', was hosted at
the Liverpool Hilton Hotel and included a fantastic Breakfast
Buffet, tea and coffees, along with a very large lunch buffet.
The EEF's conference was put on in partnership with Siemens, who
also took part in the debates that took place, which considered a
very wide range of topics.
The conference agenda was split over 3 main sections, the 1st
being:- "The Future of Manufacturing" that posed the
question:- "Can Britain lead a new industrial revolution?” That was followed by "The 4 Sides of Make it Britain"
and lastly, in the afternoon:- "World Class Skills and Talent
for the UK."
The 1st event on the agenda was "The Future of Manufacturing"
which posed the question:- "Do you think Britain has what it
takes to be at the forefront of a new industrial revolution?" The response to this question was given in a high tech manner
with delegates using remote voting controllers. the result was
surprising, with 60% saying:- "yes", just 135 saying:-
"no" and 27% saying:- "I am not sure!" This
showed though how positive the audience was to change.
On the panel for the 1st session
was Juergen Maier MD,
Siemens Industry UK and
Ireland, Lord Young
MP, Parliamentary Under
Secretary of State, Terry Scouler, CEO of EEF along with Dick Elsy,
Catapults and Andrew
Churchill MD, JJ
Churchill. So unsurprisingly,
having the Under Secretary of State on the panel, the next question
might have been predictable. That question was:- "Do you think
the UK Government is investing enough in technology to sustain
manufacturing growth and make Britain at the forefront of the future
of manufacturing?" 59% said:- "No", 21%
responded:- "I am not sure" and 20% said:- "Yes".
Too many, who we talked to in the networking session between the
sessions, told us that they would have said it anyway. "The
problem as some of the panel have pointed out, is that all the
policies are too short term to be of any real long, lasting effect,
like they are in the likes of Germany." This feeling of
Britain lagging behind Germany was highlighted in the question put
to delegates the question:- "Which countries do you most
associate with advanced and high quality manufacturing?"
Shockingly 76% said Germany, with only 9% saying UK, 8% saying
China, 6% picking the USA and 25% opting for the:- "I am not
The host of the 1st session
Bellingham, best known by most
World (1990 to
1994) tells us the results
arising from the session made people leave feeling very much more
optimistic than they had been when entering it.
Our audio interview with Kate
Bellingham, which you can play by clicking on below... is very
To download or play our audio copy of this
interview, if the above play is not working on your system,
please try click on the following links:-
You can also hear some of the
discussions as well that took place over the event via the player at
the bottom of the page.
A familiar face on television to
those in the North East, Wendy
Gibson hosted the 2nd session
which was called:- "The 4 Sides of Make it Britain."
This again was a very interesting session. On the panel was:- Colin
Spencer Halsey, who is the Chairman of
Hymid Multi-Shot , along with
Stephen Blatchford, CEO Chas. A. Blatchford
and Sons, Stuart Cochrane,
Manufacturing Manager at
Numatic International Ltd.
alongside Andrew Peters, Divisional Director, Drive Technologies
Siemens IADT. This part of the
event was especially interesting with groups, explaining how
technology has changed the way they work and what they can sell. The
delegates said that often innovative solutions developed through the
drive for industrial automation and, despite fears that it would
lose jobs, it has in fact created more and sustained even more. It
was fascinating to hear the information about how hardware and
software automation had changed the way Numatic has operated and
even the way Siemens factories are being changed by it. They also
stressed that educational opportunities and encouragement of
employees and management is vital to the success and growth of
modern businesses. Siemens also pointed out the strengths in working
together, with business partnerships overcoming industry problems
and creating new opportunities for all parties, within that
co-operative. This was a very uplifting session, that even if you
are not in the manufacturing industries, the lessons learned by
these businesses and the information given by the speakers, was so
comprehensive, that their solutions to many business problems could
be applied to nearly all business sectors.
Over that session the audience was
asked the following question which for many was probably the most
important to be asked at the event. "Are there benefits to
using more UK based suppliers?" The answers voted on were:-
"Yes, proximity to suppliers means we can be more flexible."
that received 39% of the votes. "Yes, because of reliability"
gaining 21% of the votes. Gaining 17% of the votes was:-
"Maybe, but it can be hard to find the right capabilities in the
UK." 19% went to "No, location is irrelevant, and we
use the best wherever they are." With just 4%, "No, UK
suppliers are not as competitive as those overseas."
Coming away from the event, we got
the strong feeling that all parties, political and business,
including banks, as some of the audience were bankers, that the
manufacturers feel that the country has seen the light again, in
investing in industry and not just commercial and financial sectors.
How much of a risk we take in innovative ideas in the future is
still open for debate, especially when banks and the government are
worried about investing in high risk technology development, after
being caught out by the financial industry’s mistakes with high risk
investment. Sadly, it was those high risks that paved the way for
the industrial revolution in the UK, that we now fear doing. So will
we truly be able to lead a new revolution of we do not take high
risks? What are the costs if we do not take the risks and the costs
should they fail? After visiting this event, the feeling we got was
that we still have a long way to change minds and to become more
open, or as Andrew Peters put it:- "Disruptive" rather
than "Compliant" to pull away! Unfortunately we could
not stay for the last session, but what we did see and hear was
extremely interesting. So what are your views on manufacturing in
the UK? Do you think we are able to lead the way again?
We can say for definite is that
the 'Make it Britain' campaign
needs support, and that it truly is time to ditch 'urban
myths' and misconceptions about British manufacturing' that
it is failing, as UK's manufacturing industry is actually growing.
As the representatives and delegates all said:-"We need to
promote ourselves better internationally and stop reinforcing these
potentially damaging urban myths."
Did you attended any of these
events? What are your views on the manufacturing world?
Have you been affected by the changing business practices?
What can be done to get Britain's name on the lips of others as the
place for invention? Please do email us your thoughts and
views to any of the topics raised in this report and let us know
what you think.
Email our newsroom today!
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