Annual Manufacturing Report 2018

We are pleased to support the 2018 edition of The Manufacturer’s Annual Manufacturing Report, the barometer for The Manufacturing Industry

About the findings

The UK Manufacturing Industry is facing a more complex environment than ever before. Cara Haffey, UK Industrial Manufacturing & Automotive leader talks to Nick Peters, Editorial Director of the Manufacturer about the key findings from this year’s report.


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Smart factory

The results of this year’s report demonstrate conclusively that the argument for new digital technologies has been won: manufacturers accept that the future of (successful) manufacturing lies in the adoption of advanced technologies we classify as Industry 4.0, or 4IR. 80% see the impact of digital technologies on the supply chain as beneficial. The core benefit of 4IR technologies is the ability they offer manufacturers to monitor, and act upon, data flowing from connected machines. IoT (Internet of Things) sensors pour data into locally- and cloud-based computers where the data is crunched almost instantly to provide a moving, real-time picture of manufacturing processes.

Finance and investment

87% of manufacturers say they are ready to invest in productivity enhancing digital technologies while 61% say they can self-finance investment or raise money from lenders. Respondents are split regarding the post brexit investment climate.

Tax regimes play an important part in business planning and sentiment, and our respondents are broadly uncritical of the tax system as it pertains to the manufacturing sector. Investment allowances and R&D tax credits are generally favoured even though there is a question mark over how many companies actually claim all the credits they are due.69% Of manufacturers said they benefit from tax incentives such as R&D tax credits.

Skills and training

The Skills & Training category generated the most comment in this year’s Annual Manufacturing report. This is unsurprising as manufacturers face a talent shortage in the UK and from overseas as well as the need for a future pipeline able to deal with the challenges and opportunities of the ongoing 4th industrial revolution. While the importance of STEM skills should not be underestimated, manufacturers will need to ensure they balance critical technology skills with innovation, creativity, empathy and leadership capabilities. Those with relevant industry and sector experience will be as important as engineers and technologists

71% of manufacturers believe apprenticeships are developing into a proper alternative to higher education for school leavers%, while 86% agreed that Manufacturers have a responsibility to get involved in schools and training, to shape the workforce of the future. We believe there is also a place for reskilling in the workplace particularly around digital skills.

The UK also needs a regionally-orientated action agenda to address the wider needs of industry over the long term including talent and skills. The United Kingdom can take advantage of its apparent lack of remaining heavy industrial legacy to build a brand around the technology of tomorrow. To succeed we must work together to enable and empower the workforce and future talent pipeline to harness the opportunities of 4IR. The UK led the 1st industrial revolution. What part will it play in the 4th?

Industrial digitalisation

UK Manufacturers are now understanding how technology can unlock some of the long-term value embedded in their products through service offerings, performance monitoring and upgrades; 66% said digital technologies will be a massive growth driver in UK manufacturing, while 79% agreed digital technologies will help broaden their customer base via service-based offering (servitization).

Policy & Industrial strategy

Brexit, will have a direct impact on the UK economy, and manufacturing in particular, through its effects on trade and exchange rates. The survey suggests sentiment is broadly split on whether Brexit will have a positive or negative impact. The 2016 Brexit vote took place just as UK manufacturers were coming to the realisation that new technologies were going to change the way they did business, which would require a new kind of compact with government that takes into account our responsibility as a nation to compete, and succeed, in the global digital marketplace. 84% of manufacturers said that, whatever happens, we have the drive to succeed as an industrial nation.

Growth and exports

Over 70% of manufacturers that conditions are right for improving exporting, while 30% of manufacturers say they are unclear how they can grow their exports or build their trade overseas. The impact of the weaker pound was felt in two ways: Exports were boosted for nearly 60% of manufacturers (57%) but also for over 40% of manufacturers, import costs of raw materials rose along with the positive impact on exports.

84% of UK manufacturers say that, whatever happens, we have the drive to succeed as an industrial nation

Contact us

Cara Haffey

Partner, Corporate Finance, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 7809 551 517

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