Manufacturers now rely on a plethora of sophisticated equipment to help them function. For example, many take advantage of various forms of touch screen available to enable their personnel to function more effectively and efficiently.
Indeed, demand for resources like this may be on the increase. New figures from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) suggest that English manufacturers are seeking to enhance their facilities.
Its latest Barometer of English small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the sector revealed that many intend to invest in new equipment over the coming months. A record number of 864 SME manufacturers responded to its poll, and of these 86 per cent revealed they plan to invest in capital equipment over the course of this year.
On average, these organisations are planning to spend £121,000. The MAS noted that given the fact that there are more than 80,000 English manufacturing SMEs, this could equate to hundreds of millions of pounds of new investment. Some of this may be spent on new touch screen technology.
Two-thirds of the organisations questioned revealed they are keen to purchase new plant and machinery. Meanwhile, just over half intend to upgrade their IT and communications infrastructure and a third want to improve their premises.
The MAS also found that 62 per cent of the organisations it polled had experienced an increase in sales over the last six months. This was a rise of six per cent compared with the previous report. Furthermore, 76 per cent of the businesses expected to boost their level of sales between now and June 2014.
When it comes to financing their investments, 19 per cent of respondents said they plan to approach banks, while 21 per cent revealed they hope to secure money from the Regional Growth Fund and 27 per cent said they will seek funding via grants. Just over one in ten stated that they will use their own internal funding to make the investments.
A strong base for the recovery
Responding to the statistics, business and energy minister Michael Fallon said: “These figures point towards signs of a renaissance in manufacturing. SMEs are increasing in confidence and looking to both recruit and invest. We’re committed to working closely with the manufacturing sector to provide a strong base for the recovery, and create growth for the future.”
Also commenting on the findings, head of the MAS Steven Barr commented: “There is a definite feel good factor around English manufacturing at the moment and these latest figures reinforce positive reports from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders together with encouraging Purchasing Managers’ Index data.”
He added: “Importantly, six per cent of smaller businesses are looking to spend more than £500,000. This is a significant figure and proves that SMEs are prepared to invest ‘big’ in order to take advantage of opportunities presented by the upturn.”
Mr Barr also praised those firms that had saved up money during the recession. He said this suggests manufacturers have been “prudent through the recession”, adding that they are trying to be more self-reliant when it comes to funding their investments.
Anna Longdin writes regularly about UK manufacturing. To help ensure she’s always up to date with the latest industry news and developments, she visits sites including Distec.