Manufacturing in the UK

Question for ARRSE users - how many of you work in manufacturing and are still working? Can some things like cable assembly, other light fabrication, and some inspection be performed from home?

Presumably social distancing measures are taken by employees at essential manufacturers of food and pharmaceuticals, and companies building ventilators such as Dyson, JCB, or BAE Systems.

Thinking of a local company that did contract electronics manufacture and design and production of electromagnetic components for aerospace, defence, and similar demanding sectors - including medical, and had an ESA approved clean room for producing satellite parts, they could carry on. However the need for social distancing would reduce their output. 50% or 60% is better than 0% surely?
My son works in the food industry, managing on call maintenance for a number of food factories across the East of England; East Midlands, East Anglia and up to the North East. He’s also sometimes on the tools

I asked him a similar question a week or so ago. His comment was that the factories are highly automated; few workers operate adjacent to one another so social distancing hasn’t made much of a difference.
 

Yokel

LE
My son works in the food industry, managing on call maintenance for a number of food factories across the East of England; East Midlands, East Anglia and up to the North East. He’s also sometimes on the tools

I asked him a similar question a week or so ago. His comment was that the factories are highly automated; few workers operate adjacent to one another so social distancing hasn’t made much of a difference.
Food manufacture is seen as a critical activity - which begs the question of what about the suppliers of the equipment used, from automation systems and robotics, to lighting or spares for the delivery vehicles?

For some reason I cannot open the website for www.mactag.com - but it proves operating with precautions is possible but obviously it lowers the output level. Even during the Second World War Britain produced things for export, and we and other countries still need to keep the economy going.
 

Yokel

LE
Many local manufacturers remain working - including one that has been making PPE with 3D printers, another that makes medical equipment, and one making circuit boards. It is this one, Graphic PLC, that I want to mention. Quoting a local (not to me, but to the town the company is in) newspaper article:

"These medical orders are given top priority by our highly skilled workforce, with many of the pre-production orders manufactured in under 24 hours!

"The first of these deliveries has already been produced and assembled by the end customer.

"I am immensely proud of all our team at Graphic who are working exceptionally hard 24-hours, seven-days-a-week, in order to produce the medical printed circuit boards as quickly as possible to help in the supply of thousands of ventilator parts which will help to save people’s lives.”

Mr Pike explained: “On Thursday night (April 9) at 8pm we were set a challenge by our customer to deliver a new set of prototype boards to be delivered to Scotland by midnight on Good Friday (April 10).

"The boards were completed in record time at Graphic and couriered into Exeter Airport.

"Due to the urgency of this project the end customer had organised for Exeter Airport to remain open long enough to accept their specially chartered plane and on picking up its urgent cargo it flew back to Scotland where a team of Electronic Engineers worked through the night to assemble the boards and have them ready for testing on the Saturday morning.

"This was such a success that the production was released and Graphic staff worked tirelessly during the rest of the Easter weekend to continue to produce 10,000 boards as soon as possible.

This could not have be done with offshore manufacturing.

Getting out of the post COVID-19 rut will depend on engineering and technical enterprises, not only manufacturers, but also repair and modification, design services, and consultancy, such as Stirling Dynamics.

Remember over 600 British companies produce parts for the F-35 Lightning - not just big players such as BAE Systems and Rolls Royce. The future is STEM!
 

Yokel

LE
I have neglected to ask about whether anyone has experience of the Exporting is GREAT campaign and support resources?

The Government's plan is to increase the percentage of GDP provided by international trade, with a real part played by manufactured products and technical services. Add to that re-shoring from the PRC.
 

Polyester

Old-Salt
I have neglected to ask about whether anyone has experience of the Exporting is GREAT campaign and support resources?

The Government's plan is to increase the percentage of GDP provided by international trade, with a real part played by manufactured products and technical services. Add to that re-shoring from the PRC.
The romantic part of me would love to see restoration of even fairly low end manufacturing (to be clear, any is better than none) but I fear that even with Brexit and the pandemic that the UK will struggle to see a renaissance in engineering capability. It has to be profitable and I don’t think the conditions are right here at the moment.

I really hope I’m wrong though.
 

Yokel

LE
UK trade in numbers

From the PDF - 10 top exports:

Cars
Mechanical power generators (Intermediate)
Medicinal and pharmaceutical products
Crude Oil
Precious metals
Aircraft
Refined oil
Scientific instruments (capital)
Works of art
Non ferrous metals

A bit confusing if you ask me. Does electrical generation equipment get counted as a mechanical power generator if it involves an engine of some sort? Does the 'Aircraft' category include components and systems, from PCBs and cable assemblies to jet engines and ejection seats? Does 'Scientific instruments' include things like electronic instrumentation from Wayne Kerr?
 
UK trade in numbers

From the PDF - 10 top exports:

Cars
Mechanical power generators (Intermediate)
Medicinal and pharmaceutical products
Crude Oil
Precious metals
Aircraft
Refined oil
Scientific instruments (capital)
Works of art
Non ferrous metals

A bit confusing if you ask me. Does electrical generation equipment get counted as a mechanical power generator if it involves an engine of some sort? Does the 'Aircraft' category include components and systems, from PCBs and cable assemblies to jet engines and ejection seats? Does 'Scientific instruments' include things like electronic instrumentation from Wayne Kerr?
Is the Non- Ferrous Metal including aluminium recovered from the waste stream?
 

Yokel

LE
1Cars$38,517,179,000-8.3%
2Turbo-jets$26,313,270,000+5.6%
3Crude oil$23,712,222,000-4.6%
4Gold (unwrought)$23,489,760,000-26.1%
5Medication mixes in dosage$17,967,674,000-4.9%
6Aircraft parts$16,272,011,000-2.3%
7Processed petroleum oils$11,850,592,000-13.4%
8Hand-drawn paintings, drawings$8,852,573,000+88%
9Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$7,837,981,000-1.4%
10Blood fractions (including antisera)$7,256,509,000-17.3%
11Platinum (unwrought)$6,829,187,000+12.5%
12Jewelry$6,622,434,000+49.8%
13Automobile parts/accessories$6,381,944,000-9.9%
14Phone system devices including smartphones$5,056,609,000+2.5%
15Computers, optical readers$4,778,547,000+10.5%
16Engines (diesel)$4,273,326,000-4.7%
17Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$4,013,940,000+68.8%
18Taps, valves, similar appliances$3,173,791,000+5.9%
19Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$3,006,749,000-2.1%
20Petroleum gases$2,757,699,000-26.6%
21Iron or steel scrap$2,583,530,000-18.1%
22Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$2,581,438,000+4.4%
23Printed books, brochures$2,544,518,000-4.7%
24Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$2,416,278,000-2.5%
25Physical/chemical analysis tools$2,360,001,000+1.6%
26Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$2,222,922,000+0.7%
27Liquid pumps and elevators$2,178,205,000+1.2%
28Lower-voltage switches, fuses$2,113,344,000-1%
29Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$2,018,897,000+12.4%
30Other diagnostic/lab reagents$1,960,408,000+4.9%
31Diamonds (unmounted/unset)$1,924,397,000-6.7%
32Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$1,839,240,000+64.4%
33Orthopedic appliances$1,827,007,000+9.7%
34Trucks$1,826,445,000-9.9%
35Regulate/control instruments$1,769,219,000+32.9%
36Piston engines$1,765,560,000-1.3%
37Aircraft, spacecraft$1,743,024,000-25.3%
38Other food preparations$1,735,841,000+1.8%
39Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)$1,640,472,000+4%
40Miscellaneous machinery$1,639,383,000-5.6%
41Piston engine parts$1,636,026,000-14%
42Insulated wire/cable$1,626,153,000-4.1%
43Printing machinery$1,613,739,000-18%
44Air or vacuum pumps$1,582,293,000+1.4%
45Tractors$1,528,103,000-13.8%
46Integrated circuits/microassemblies$1,516,840,000-5.1%
47Other measuring/testing machines$1,511,536,000-9.9%
48Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$1,464,044,000+8.7%
49Miscellaneous plastic items$1,454,855,000-7.7%
50Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$1,454,601,000-7.6%
51Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$1,421,383,000+5.3%
52Electrical machinery$1,387,086,000+1.8%
53Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$1,382,565,000+2.1%
54Machinery parts$1,381,665,000-5.9%
55Sculptures, statues$1,368,139,000+34.3%
56Precious metal waste, scrap$1,362,410,000+33.6%
57Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$1,332,567,000-5.9%
58Liquid/gas checking instruments$1,299,023,000-4.1%
59Fork-lift trucks$1,292,465,000-1.1%
60Antiques (over 100 years old)$1,290,193,000+31.3%
61Sort/screen/washing machinery$1,258,940,000+1.1%
62Hormones, miscellaneous steroids$1,258,887,000+54.7%
63Unrecorded sound media$1,244,890,000-23.1%
64Electrical converters/power units$1,226,253,000-8.8%
65X-ray equipment$1,204,201,000+3.8%
66Other organic cleaning preparations$1,187,033,000-8.1%
67Silver (unwrought)$1,186,150,000-18.1%
68Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates$1,181,319,000-9.1%
69Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$1,181,292,000-4%
70Chemical industry products/residuals$1,170,450,000-9.2%
71Footwear (leather)$1,146,812,000-3.3%
72Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$1,136,701,000-10.5%
73Miscellaneous iron or steel items$1,092,795,000-2.2%
74Acyclic hydrocarbons$1,065,965,000-34.9%
75Whole fish (fresh)$1,064,990,000+11.2%
76Computer parts, accessories$1,051,906,000-29.8%
77Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)$1,026,309,000+10.4%
78Copper waste, scrap$1,005,729,000-0.6%
79Miscellaneous furniture$1,004,742,000-4.3%
80Navigational aids, compasses$995,089,000+5.9%
81Cases, handbags, wallets$993,099,000-0.9%
82Radar, radio communication items$991,961,000+76%
83Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$978,664,000+4.6%
84Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)$951,839,000-1.4%
85Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$947,374,000-1.7%
86Personal toilet/shaving preparations, deodorants$941,363,000-4.8%
87Miscellaneous engines, motors$936,435,000+17.7%
88Temperature-change machines$902,778,000+0.5%
89Electric generating sets, converters$899,786,000-15.9%
90Cheese, curd$892,396,000-1%
91Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$887,025,000-3.3%
92Miscellaneous heterocyclics$880,905,000+1.5%
93Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing$875,295,000-9.2%
94Footwear (textile)$847,757,000+22.1%
95Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys$846,136,000-8.4%
96Electric motors, generators$846,024,000-10.6%
97Print/write/draw inks$841,601,000-16.6%
98Packaged dressings$839,630,000-14.7%
99Wine $824,611,000+0.1%
100Lifting/loading machinery$816,833,000-5.5%

From here. United Kingdom's top exports
 
Food manufacture is seen as a critical activity - which begs the question of what about the suppliers of the equipment used, from automation systems and robotics, to lighting or spares for the delivery vehicles?

For some reason I cannot open the website for www.mactag.com - but it proves operating with precautions is possible but obviously it lowers the output level. Even during the Second World War Britain produced things for export, and we and other countries still need to keep the economy going.
Distribution is complicated. Around a third of distribution vehicles in the UK are currently parked up according to the FTA
Maintenance is problematic, HGV and van MOT's have been extended, PMI's must continue and we aren't having a problem with that. The Traffic Commisioners and the DVSA are being very proactive and downright helpful
Provision has been made for drivers CPC's but there isn't an answer to expiring drivers medicals yet.
Parts supply is difficult at times, Renault only supply parts for essential users (which we are) but it takes twice as long to get them
Tachograph calibration dates have been extended, Loler testing is continuing, as is refrigeration servicing and repair.

Most distribution outfits I know well have over 50% of their drivers furloughed

On the plus side, fuel is cheap!

The Commissioners and the DVSA are really quick on providing updates and are actually being pretty damned good at finding ways to keep the wheels turning.

On the downside, many are going to go under before this is over.
We own our fleet so it isn't a disaster, those who lease and can't break the lease are probably screwed.

I've sent over 50% of our drivers home, I've VOR'd one HGV and 3 vans simply because they require deep maintenance and it isn't worth spending the money right now, it will probably be months before I need them and times are tight.
Usually I'm fighting to keep sufficient vehicles out on the road, now I've an abundance of unused vehicles.
 

Yokel

LE
Government action such as export finance can help exporters - here are three recent good news stories.

Vikoma exports pollution control equipment with UKEF support

Vikoma, headquartered on the Isle of Wight, has been exporting throughout its 50-year history – the majority of their customer base is located overseas.

The business has won 25 global tenders to manufacture and supply pollution control equipment to businesses in Europe, Canada, India, the Middle East and China using UKEF guarantees.

Vikoma recently supplied oil skimming equipment to a base in India. The equipment will be used in the event of an oil spill to protect the country’s coastlines and wildlife.

Our Bond Support Scheme freed up funds that Vikoma would previously have used on a bank guarantee deposit, enabling Vikoma’s working capital to be spent fulfilling a range of export deals worth millions of pounds in revenue.


Power Jacks enters news markets with UKEF support

Power Jacks is a leading design and manufacturing company, providing electro-mechanical lifting solutions for use in a range of sectors, including civil engineering, energy and transport.

The company exports to 80 countries from its base in Aberdeenshire. Over the last 20 years, exporting has become increasingly important for Power Jacks, with Asia becoming one of its biggest markets – 60% of the company’s business is now destined to go to overseas clients.

Exporting to the Middle East can present challenges for credit and cash flow, with an increasing demand for advance payment guarantees, performance bonds and warranty bonds to secure contracts.

The facilities offered by banks on these advance payments and bonds are often unfavourable. At the same time, cash conversion cycles in the Middle East and Asia can be 150 days long. The resulting strain on cash flows can deter many companies like Power Jacks from exporting.

Our Bond Support Scheme has proven an ideal solution for Power Jacks. Through the scheme, we have underwritten up to 80% of commercially issued bond guarantees.

Since 2017, our support has helped Power Jacks to win £9.5 million worth of export contracts.

Propeller manufacturer secures order to Bangladesh with UKEF support

Teignbridge Propellers International is a manufacturer based in Devon. It produces propellers and sterngear for small to medium sized boats. The company, which has been operating for 45 years, exports around 80% of its products to customers across the world.

As a major exporter, it has a commercial insurance policy, which normally provides the necessary insurance for Teignbridge’s export orders.

However, it was unable to obtain commercial credit insurance for an order from a new customer in Bangladesh that wanted to purchase propellers for its ferries. Teignbridge turned to UK Export Finance, which provided the cover that the company needed for the contract, allowing it to proceed with the order.

The cover we provided enabled Teignbridge to increase shipments by £300,000. This has had a dramatic impact on the company’s growth, allowing it to secure jobs and target new markets.
 
Yeah I think that's the Vauxhall Vivaro in its various guises.
 

Yokel

LE
I have wondered if there were any websites which collate news relating to our exports. It seems there are.

British Exports - UK export news: Some of the news stories are recent - within the last week or so.

The Institute of Export and International Trade: It does not appear to have been updated post 'Lockdown'.

Manufacturing and exporting are going to be crucial for recovering from the economic fall out of COVID-19. At the same time, some manufacturing operations with be reshored as Western governments including our own think of the security of supply chains.
 
Last edited:

Nornironman

Old-Salt
We've worked through. Can't be done at home so come to work. I've managed a plant throughout this, and bar the absences and sales slowing down all is well. Union have been brilliant, we've been flexible and consistent. We actually may come out of this in better shape as some people have stepped up a bit.
 

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