Smart Factory Expo How manufacturers are investing their way out of recruitment and supply chain woes

Source: Hennik Research

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More than half of UK manufacturers have been significantly impacted when it comes to recruitment in the last year according to a new report. The 2022 Manufacturing Agility Assessment, which was launched on day one of Smart Factory Expo in Liverpool, painted a worrying picture of labour shortages and supply chain disruption, with 69 percent citing issues with sourcing material and components.

British manufacturers have a desire to streamline processes and boost their agility through digital transformation.
British manufacturers have a desire to streamline processes and boost their agility through digital transformation.
(Source: Smart Factory Expo)

Conducted by tech specialist HSO and industry experts Hennik Research, the 2022 Manufacturing Agility Assessment revealed that nearly four fifths of UK companies had accelerated investment in products, people, premises and processes to mitigate world events — a 17 percent rise on the previous year. This was reinforced by 76 percent admitting they had diversified activities to overcome global shocks and just over two thirds of the total 100 respondents (67 percent) stockpiling inventory during the past twelve months.

“2021 was a time for recovery, but other factors including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, a global microprocessor shortage and an increasingly challenging recruitment landscape have hindered progress for many companies,” explained Grace Gilling, managing director of Hennik Research. “The need to remain agile and the ability to adapt and react to changing situations is critical if firms want to not only survive but thrive. In fact, it is a key component in facing the obstacles associated with all the aforementioned factors, with digital transformation set to play a hugely important role in all of this.” She continued: “That’s why it’s so encouraging to see nearly four fifths of manufacturers increasing investment to mitigate economic shocks.”

James Devonshire, international reporter for Hennik Research and author of the report, added his support: “One of the most refreshing aspects of digital transformation projects — particularly for smaller manufacturing organisations — is that you don’t have to ‘go big’ to be agile. Being agile is about always looking for the next aspect to optimise and improve. For example, a step-by-step approach, with easier to budget stages, can reap dividends.”

Matt Birtwistle, manufacturing industry director at HSO, said the report reflects many of the conversations they are having with clients. “Manufacturers have a desire to streamline processes and boost their agility through digital transformation. However, most don’t know where to begin. The bottom line is that streamlining working practices through Digital Transformation doesn’t necessarily require a large investment and years of effort; as we’ve proved time and time again with our customers.”

2,000 visitors, 170 exhibitors, 138 keynote speeches

‘Agility’ is a significant talking point at this year’s Smart Factory Expo, which is being held in Liverpool as part of Digital Manufacturing Week. More than 2,000 visitors are attending The Exhibition Centre to explore 170 exhibitors and to hear from 138 esteemed speakers, including experts from ABB Robotics, Airbus, Deloitte, Jaguar Land Rover and Microsoft.

Regarded as the UK’s leading showcase for innovative manufacturing technology, the event shapes the future of the manufacturing industry and helps firms tackle energy costs, labour shortages and the move to sustainable production. Delegates will enjoy world first demonstrations, immersive experiences and hands-on opportunities delivered by companies with their finger firmly on the digital manufacturing pulse.

Technologies on display include the Industrial Metaverse (highlighting how engineers can virtually collaborate on projects and designs in real time) and advancements in cobots and autonomous mobile robots. Grace concluded: “Smart Factory Expo has attracted more than 1,000 different global manufacturing companies, representing ten percent of the UK’s annual GDP. This is where decisions on future technologies are made, and the next big projects are started.”


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