Mike Houghton is Director of Industry Services at Siemens
Manufacturing is changing faster than ever before. The drivers for this include globalisation, personalisation, time-to-market and sustainability. Domestic manufacturing interest or localisation has become apparent all over the world as nation states seek to maintain or grow their manufacturing footprint.
Energy and resource efficiency increasingly impact competitiveness, even in developing economies which are adopting automation technology at rates that look set to further their traditional cost advantage. Complexity is on the increase too with the amount of data generated through design, production and the supply chain growing exponentially.
To respond to these challenges and address the need for shorter innovation cycles and greater manufacturing flexibility, industrial technology and the skills to implement it are becoming ever more important.
The UK has historically under-invested in technology such as automation but it is increasingly evident that technology and innovation plays a central role if we are to realise our aspiration to rebalance the economy in favour of high-value and customized manufacturing and production.
The UK Government has embarked on a headline Industrial Strategy underpinned by specific initiatives such as enhanced capital allowances for automation and ongoing support for industry-led training schemes
To boost UK manufacturing and employment and as a means of achieving a greater import/export balance, further international investment in Britain is vital. With in-creased foreign investment comes an improved capacity to both produce previously imported goods at home, and export these goods to the rest of the world.
To ensure Britain remains an attractive investment target, domestic advancements in research and development, progressive green technology, high-speed transportation and other new technologies such as additive manufacturing and automation technologies must be championed.
If Britain can continue to make head-way in new technologies, we will ensure investment continues to come to our shores. These are the technologies such as renewable energy and digital design that will ensure the UK as a nation maintains its competitive advantage. More jobs will be created, greater regional growth achieved and the UK's trade deficit positively reduced.
Britain must ensure it provides the most attractive in-vestment environment as possible through continual development of new technologies, and maintain a stable framework for longer-term business decision-making and confidence. If it can do so, the possibilities are vast.