24 February 2012

Progressive future for UK manufacturing, says new report

Key issues for industry over the next two decades are: improving resource (materials and energy) efficiency; adopting advanced manufacturing systems; responding to the promises of materials technology; developing agile, more cost-effective manufacturing processes; and building better business models.

Those are key findings of a study covering trends, challenges and opportunities for UK manufacturing by Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), commissioned by the Technology Strategy Board, and released at the Government's Growth Summit in Bristol yesterday (23 February 2012).

It will be used to inform public policies, research strategies and investment programmes, particularly in the high value manufacturing Catapult centre, opened in October 2011.

Beyond the five key themes, the report also identified what IfM sees as the most promising research and development innovation opportunities in the future. These are wide ranging, including, for example, additive manufacturing, robotics and automation, micro- and nano-manufacturing processes, low carbon vehicles, sensor technologies and energy storage, particularly in the form of hydrogen fuel cells.

"Using tried and tested road mapping techniques, coupled with a highly structured consultation process, this report reflects the views of a broad cross-section of senior industrialists, academics and institutions," comments Professor Sir Mike Gregory, Head of the University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing.

"Their collective expertise provides an excellent foundation on which to build robust and focussed policies to support our vital manufacturing industries," he adds.

"The UK has a well-deserved international reputation for the quality of its science and engineering research. However, the pathway to impact from excellent research can be convoluted," states Mark Claydon-Smith, EPSRC lead, Manufacturing the Future.

"This report highlights a number of areas of clear national advantage, where the prospects for successful innovative outcomes are strong. The strategic focus described ... provides an opportunity to build and sustain manufacturing competitiveness over the long term," he asserts.

Brian Tinham

Supporting Information

Cambridge University

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