https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/07143950/Automotive-Systems-engineering-640x360.jpg
    Automation

    How is the manufacturing sector in the North East evolving & how can STEM support growth?

    • By MTDCNC
    • July 13, 2021
    • 4 minute read

    Jon Alderson, Special Purpose Business Development Manager at ALTEC Engineering, a Kuka Robotics Gold System Partner offers his perceptions and perspectives on the region, its manufacturing dynamic, sector strengths and growth within UK manufacturing.

    There is little doubt that the automotive sector plays a key role in the North East. The area is supported by the presence of the Nissan plant and also the many Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers who are located in the area. This presence looks set to continue, if not grow, with the ongoing drive for EV’s (electric vehicles) and plans for a Giga-Factory in the region. To some extent, the North East mirrors other manufacturing areas in the UK that also have a large automotive manufacturing presence. However, the Nissan plant is one of the most productive worldwide and it was perhaps instrumental in setting the standards that have been adopted by other OEM’s.

    Businesses across the North East manufacture all manner of goods, including foodstuffs and packaging, though the region’s industry is best known for the production of pharmaceuticals and vehicles. The latter with a focus upon integrating innovative technologies.

    As an early adopter of new and emerging technologies, substantiated by the number of robots now in production across the sector, the automotive sector has recognised the benefits delivered by robots and automation. This includes the flexibility needed to respond to dynamic changes in production schedules, multiple product iterations and the increasing trend of vehicle customisation. Such principles are slowly but surely being adopted in other areas.

    Advanced manufacturing in the North East contributes over 15% of its GVA (Gross Value Added) and 11.3% of the employment, (www.neconnected.co.uk) Whilst the adoption of robotics and automation are supporting a significant productivity shift, there are also the advantages that disruptive technology affords businesses in the region. Manufacturers who embrace the benefits that automation and robotics, can deliver and capitalise on the competitive advantages these technologies bring. Aside from the benefits to their in-house manufacturing processes, the ability to demonstrate a track record of automated manufacturing will enhance opportunities for new contracts with existing and potential customers – as purveyors of dynamic, forward-thinking and ‘smart’ manufacturing solutions.

    As with many manufacturing regions, the challenge of bridging the skills gap is omnipresent. Many of the UK’s ‘traditional’ manufacturing processes are not as favoured by our millennials, as are topics aligned with robotics and automation. Consider welding. Traditional joining and welding are now being integrated into automated applications with robots executing the weld, addressing considerations such as quality, consistency and throughput.

    Those students studying STEM subjects and passing through the North East’s Universities’ Engineering & Technology streams will be valuable and much-needed assets for the future of manufacturing in the area.

    According to Invest North East England, over 100,000 students’ study at the region’s five universities, with more than half studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. The region, like much of the UK, is now suffering as a result of under-investment in training apprentices and engineers, resulting in the current skills shortages. Funding for apprentices and adult learning, in general, has fallen by 45% since 2009-10. Estimates suggest that by 2030, nearly 20% of the workforce will be significantly under-skilled. This is a worrying statistic at a time when the UK should be positioning itself as a competitive force within the global manufacturing arena.

    Those of the current generation entering a manufacturing environment at the end of their training can make a valuable contribution to changing attitudes and perceptions around established manufacturing practices and automation. In what could be termed a ‘role-reversal’, this generation can help reassure, educate and train a legacy workforce in the use of new technologies, ultimately raising the skill level across the whole workforce.

    It is essential that businesses in the North East and further afield, embrace disruptive technologies to meet the evolving demands of customers and consumers alike. As forward-thinking businesses, manufacturers must continue to develop their offering through the evaluation and implementation of new and emerging technologies. robots, cobots, mobile robots and AGV’s will increasingly become an essential part of the future and comprehensive automation solutions for many manufacturing businesses in the North East and beyond.

    The UK’s manufacturing sector is now more important than it has been for decades. If the UK is to succeed, we need to increase levels of manufacturing overall. We can do this by achieving the highest levels of productivity and keeping manufacturing costs under control. To remain competitive in world markets, UK manufacturing must adopt much greater levels of automation.

    https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/07143950/Automotive-Systems-engineering-640x360.jpg

    How is the manufacturing sector in the North East evolving & how can STEM support growth?

    Jon Alderson, Special Purpose Business Development Manager at ALTEC Engineering, a Kuka Robotics Gold System Partner offers his perceptions and perspectives on the region, its manufacturing dynamic, sector strengths and growth within UK manufacturing.

    There is little doubt that the automotive sector plays a key role in the North East. The area is supported by the presence of the Nissan plant and also the many Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers who are located in the area. This presence looks set to continue, if not grow, with the ongoing drive for EV’s (electric vehicles) and plans for a Giga-Factory in the region. To some extent, the North East mirrors other manufacturing areas in the UK that also have a large automotive manufacturing presence. However, the Nissan plant is one of the most productive worldwide and it was perhaps instrumental in setting the standards that have been adopted by other OEM’s.

    Businesses across the North East manufacture all manner of goods, including foodstuffs and packaging, though the region’s industry is best known for the production of pharmaceuticals and vehicles. The latter with a focus upon integrating innovative technologies.

    As an early adopter of new and emerging technologies, substantiated by the number of robots now in production across the sector, the automotive sector has recognised the benefits delivered by robots and automation. This includes the flexibility needed to respond to dynamic changes in production schedules, multiple product iterations and the increasing trend of vehicle customisation. Such principles are slowly but surely being adopted in other areas.

    Advanced manufacturing in the North East contributes over 15% of its GVA (Gross Value Added) and 11.3% of the employment, (www.neconnected.co.uk) Whilst the adoption of robotics and automation are supporting a significant productivity shift, there are also the advantages that disruptive technology affords businesses in the region. Manufacturers who embrace the benefits that automation and robotics, can deliver and capitalise on the competitive advantages these technologies bring. Aside from the benefits to their in-house manufacturing processes, the ability to demonstrate a track record of automated manufacturing will enhance opportunities for new contracts with existing and potential customers – as purveyors of dynamic, forward-thinking and ‘smart’ manufacturing solutions.

    As with many manufacturing regions, the challenge of bridging the skills gap is omnipresent. Many of the UK’s ‘traditional’ manufacturing processes are not as favoured by our millennials, as are topics aligned with robotics and automation. Consider welding. Traditional joining and welding are now being integrated into automated applications with robots executing the weld, addressing considerations such as quality, consistency and throughput.

    Those students studying STEM subjects and passing through the North East’s Universities’ Engineering & Technology streams will be valuable and much-needed assets for the future of manufacturing in the area.

    According to Invest North East England, over 100,000 students’ study at the region’s five universities, with more than half studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. The region, like much of the UK, is now suffering as a result of under-investment in training apprentices and engineers, resulting in the current skills shortages. Funding for apprentices and adult learning, in general, has fallen by 45% since 2009-10. Estimates suggest that by 2030, nearly 20% of the workforce will be significantly under-skilled. This is a worrying statistic at a time when the UK should be positioning itself as a competitive force within the global manufacturing arena.

    Those of the current generation entering a manufacturing environment at the end of their training can make a valuable contribution to changing attitudes and perceptions around established manufacturing practices and automation. In what could be termed a ‘role-reversal’, this generation can help reassure, educate and train a legacy workforce in the use of new technologies, ultimately raising the skill level across the whole workforce.

    It is essential that businesses in the North East and further afield, embrace disruptive technologies to meet the evolving demands of customers and consumers alike. As forward-thinking businesses, manufacturers must continue to develop their offering through the evaluation and implementation of new and emerging technologies. robots, cobots, mobile robots and AGV’s will increasingly become an essential part of the future and comprehensive automation solutions for many manufacturing businesses in the North East and beyond.

    The UK’s manufacturing sector is now more important than it has been for decades. If the UK is to succeed, we need to increase levels of manufacturing overall. We can do this by achieving the highest levels of productivity and keeping manufacturing costs under control. To remain competitive in world markets, UK manufacturing must adopt much greater levels of automation.