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Manufacturers’ unprecedented opportunity

We’re looking forward to meeting manufacturers from across the country at MACH 2024, to hear about their strategies for the year ahead and discuss how we can support.

Here David Atkinson, UK Head of Manufacturing SME & Mid Corporates, Lloyds Bank, and James Selka, CEO of Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) discuss their ambitions for the sector in 2024.

Dave Atkinson: “Lloyds Bank has been working with the MTA for more than 14 years now and the organisation has been led by James Selka for almost a decade. During that time, I’ve seen first-hand his dedication to the advanced engineering sector and his inspirational work to raise the profile of UK manufacturers.

“He started as an apprentice and has more than 25 years of manufacturing experience, so there are few better people to sit down with and consider the state of the sector going in to 2024.

“Thank you for your time, James. I wanted to start by asking what is your outlook for manufacturing in the year ahead? It seems that the macro trends are in the sector’s favour at long last.”

James Selka: “I’m very excited. We have a once in a generation chance to rebuild UK manufacturing and reindustrialise in the most advanced way.

“We went through a big phase of globalisation, but what we’re seeing now is a partial deglobalisation. That’s partly down to recent geopolitical events, which helped expose the potential pitfalls of global supply chains.

“But it’s also because the need to act more sustainably means importing things from all over the world that have been made with coal fired energy is not viable anymore.

“There’s no other industry that’s got the same multiplier factor for wealth creation and I absolutely think that manufacturing can give a real boost to the UK economy.”

Dave: “And how can manufacturers make the most of this opportunity to make manufacturing more sustainable, but also more productive?”

James: “Improvements in manufacturing technology mean we can move away from batch manufacturing and towards mass customisation; producing goods to demand, both in terms of the product specification and volume.

“That means we’re using fewer resources and therefore automatically improving our carbon footprint.”

Dave: “So, what do manufacturers need to crack the sector’s longstanding productivity problem and make themselves more internationally competitive?”

James: “There are three things you need to improve productivity: the latest technologies, skilled people and finance.

“At the biennial MACH Exhibition, which has been sponsored by Lloyds Bank for 14 years now, most of our visitors are SMEs seeking technologies that can make them more productive and competitive.

“We host a series of Knowledge Hubs, designed to encourage manufacturers to adopt new technologies and techniques that can enable them to compete globally in a sustainable manner.

“The advice we offer is brand agnostic and MTA is a not-for-profit organisation, so manufacturers can tell us about their problem and get an expert recommendation. That helps bring down barriers to sourcing the right solutions.

“In 2024, MACH will also incorporate the Engineering Supply Chain Show, to shine a light on the UK manufacturing technology supply chain and allow more solutions to be sourced in the UK.”

Dave: “So, how do we attract the people we need, including improving diversity in the sector?”

James: “Organisations like the MTA need to step up in terms of demonstrating what an attractive career manufacturing is. We’re inviting 3,000 students to MACH, who will be shown around by manufacturing apprentices, so they can have those peer-to-peer conversations that we hope will inspire them.

“The old idea of dirty factories just doesn’t reflect the reality of manufacturing today. It’s far more sophisticated.

“But we also need some fresh thinking, and we need to be able to tailor our education system to be much more inclusive.”

To discuss your 2024 ambitions and find out how we can help support visit us on the Lloyds Bank Stand 18-310.

Lloyds Bank plc. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under Registration Number 119278.

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