Supporting UK supply chains
With the UK's future trading relationship with the EU still unclear, many British OEMs and higher tier manufacturers are looking to strengthen their ties with local suppliers. At the same time, it makes sense for suppliers to build stronger bonds with UK customers.
The UK Supply Chain Zone at MACH 2020 presents an ideal opportunity for manufacturers and suppliers, exhibitors and visitors, to build relationships and network with industry experts.
The timing is right too. With the accelerating rate of innovation and new product development, combined with a desire to have closer control over production processes, an emphasis on quality and more competitive pricing, the balance has tipped in favour of UK supply chains over sourcing from low-cost economies.
UK suppliers are also poised to take advantage of new markets opening up in electric, autonomous and connected vehicles -- which could represent a UK supply chain opportunity worth over £8bn. Other opportunities include a planned 40% increase in rail capacity by 2040, enabled by digital technology, and new sustainable energy technologies.
Digitalisation is certainly a key theme across all UK manufacturing supply chains. The MTA, which organises MACH, was a key participant in the Made Smarter Industrial Strategy Review headed by Jurgen Maier of Siemens, where it helped to identify barriers to the adoption of digital technologies and made sure that that the recommendations were relevant to SMEs as well as larger companies.
Made Smarter is now bringing industry and Government together to provide support for SMEs to adopt digital technology to support advanced manufacturing. The initiative includes matched funding opportunities and dedicated technical and business support.
A pilot project is currently underway in the North West, with the participating companies set to benefit from technologies including artificial intelligence, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), additive manufacturing and robotics.
One participant, Tim Maddison of T&R Precision Engineering, said: "This project will lead to a critical advancement in our machining capability. New machining methods and component handling, along with the integration of IT software, will push the boundaries of our current manufacturing thinking. The up-skilling of our engineering, operations and quality personnel will be essential to take advantage of the technology advancements we need to implement to secure future extended contracts."
Manufacturing SMEs recognise that MACH is the place where they can access the innovative manufacturing technology that is vital for a digitally engaged, productive UK supply chain.
George Dingley, Technical Director of Sub CNC Precision, says that it is important to visit MACH to see the wider picture.
"When you are machining components in-house day in, day out, you don't have an outside view of what is going on."
He says that the MACH exhibition gives him that fresh view and the chance to see how new approaches and innovations in manufacturing technology can help his business.
"That innovation is passed on to us in shorter cycle times and newer processes that allow us to be more productive."