An Outlook For The UK Manufacturing Sector In 2019

The major talking point of 2018 in the UK was indisputable. Brexit has been splashed across the front pages almost every day since Downing Street triggered Article 50 back in March 2017. And now, like so many other modern British industries, manufacturing is feeling the pinch – especially given the sector’s reliance on overseas trading.

Great Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union caused havoc in the final third of 2018, and there’s likely to be little respite from the unrest in the upcoming year. Whilst Brexit continues to cast an indecipherable yet intimidating shadow, it is by no means the only factor that will play a big role in shaping the next twelve months for manufacturers.

In this blog, we offer a more comprehensive outlook for British manufacturing in 2019. We’ll look beyond Brexit and focus on the agents we’ll be reflecting upon come next year.

Wider adoption of waste-cutting programmes

Economists are still scrabbling around trying to predict the outcome for 2019. Whilst keeping the scales balanced in an uncertain economic climate is a real test for any business, there is a silver lining.

This year, manufacturers are increasingly looking to implement strategies that eliminate waste – both in the physical and temporal sense. Ultimately, we’re set to see these businesses adopt processes that produce exactly what is required and keep anything extraneous down to a minimum.

Many manufacturers already have one hand wrapped around the purse strings, ready to tie them tight in the wake of any worrying Brexit announcements. But refocusing on waste removal is one of the most effective ways in which to trim costs and save money in the future, regardless of any reshuffling at the very top level.

This is why the industry is currently abuzz with operational excellence seminars and continuous improvement workshops. Raising efficiency is part and parcel of permanent progress, and this in turn creates a new kind of positive culture within the business.

Instead of panicking about political fallout they cannot control, shrewd manufacturers will commit to changing things within their own environment. They’ll do this via lean manufacturing techniques and a carefully-designed operational excellence management system.

Eliminating every possible source of waste is going to be instrumental to success in 2019 for manufacturing businesses – and the great news is there are many ways in which to do it.

Tech trends start to take shape

Technology will take another great big leap in 2019 as more manufacturers commit to investing in campaigns powered by smart devices and innovative ideas.

Process optimisation will be the umbrella term under which the in-vogue trends (like Internet of Things and digital transformation) will fall, as businesses embrace all types of tech that work in perfect harmony with each other (as opposed to using isolated programmes or devices).

Through the combination of new platforms, big data and cloud software, organisations have the means and opportunities to optimise processes. In turn, this yields higher quality results at faster speeds.

As all this exciting new tech continues to take shape during the early part of the year, we’ll see manufacturers seize the chance to modernise their respective organisations and add value through efficient, contemporary means.

For more information on the types of improvements you can make across your business during the course of the year, you can read our exclusive article and/or speak to our support team. Every manufacturing business is different – it’s simply a case of finding the right solution for you.

Strong leadership will be more important than ever

There never seems to be any middle ground when it comes to manufacturing economy news: it’s either clear blue skies ordisaster in the distance. The outlook for the industry swings from “new dawn” to “the end of days” and back again, failing to fall anywhere in between.

The big Brexit ambiguity has caused many manufacturing firms to prefer not to act in any significant way until a final announcement is made. This has left potentially lucrative trade deals hanging in the balance, stirring anxiety throughout manufacturing organisations.

It’s easy to steer the ship when all looks well on the horizon, but real leadership is required when navigating through troubled waters. The climate is unclear right now and could change dramatically at any time. It is therefore imperative that manufacturers have excellent managers at the helm to keep everyone motivated and performing to the highest possible standards.

Some manufacturing staff are born leaders. If they want the responsibility and rewards that come with it, there has never been a better time to encourage these individuals to take up higher level leadership courses. These educational programmes are designed to give participants an acute awareness of what being a leader really means in modern manufacturing. They combine niche industry techniques with interpersonal skills for enhanced team bonding.

2019 will undoubtedly prove to be a considerable challenge for all. With this in mind, manufacturers will need all the committed leaders they can get. There is little doubt that businesses are going to switch up their hierarchies and push hungry, capable employees into positions of real power for the best chances of success.

Need manufacturing support going into 2019?

There may be a lot up in the air for the time being, but it’s certain that 2019 is going to be another year where manufacturers are put to the test.

At The Manufacturing Institute, we pride ourselves on supporting industry businesses in any way we can – from study tours of high-performing sites and educational courses to improvement services.